Tag Archives: hiking

My Grand Canyon Adventure

About 10 days ago, I hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon with a Boy Scout troop. That’s 4,800 vertical feet down. Of course, I had to hike back out, too. I wrote a short piece about it at one of my other blogs. Click if interested.

-Steve

Week 2 Recap of the Parker Paleo Diet Trial

It’s going well.  (Click for the Parker version of paleo.)

Overton trail at Cave Creek Regional Park, Arizona

Only one transgression.  I attended my son’s Boy Scout troop campout last weekend and had some salad with a small amount of cheese and salad dressing made from industrial seed oil.  Not a big deal.

These campouts are often carb-heavy affairs involving copious grains and refined sugars.  The adults get together on meals so there’s usually some compromise involved.  We always have meat or eggs at mealtimes, along with fresh fruit.  It’s not too hard to eat paleo, particularly if I bring some nuts.  I was sorely tempted by blueberry muffins, white chocolate/macadamia nut cookies, and oatmeal raisin cookies.

Although I’m not trying the paleo diet to lose weight, I lost 3.5 lb (1.6 kg) in the last week, adding to the 1.5 lb I lost in the first week.  Starting weight was 171 lb and I’m down to 166.  I gotta admit I’m pleasantly surprised.  I haven’t even been exercising for the last couple weeks.

—Steve

PS: The paleo diet is also known as the Paleolithic, Stone Age, Old Stone Age, hunter-gatherer, or caveman diet.

Hamburger, mixed veggies, raw cucumbers

Go John trail at Cave Creek Regional Park, Arizona, where the troop camped

Rosemary Chicken (garnished with pico de gallo) and Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

Review of Chris Highcock’s Hillfit

 

Chris Highcock over at Conditioning Research has just released a new ebook on strength training for hikers: Hillfit: Strength.  Hiking is one of my favorite hobbies.  I particularly like walking up hills and mountains.  If you’re ready to reap the benefits of resistance training, this jargon-free plan is an excellent starting point, and may be all you’ll ever need.  Even if you never go hiking.

Chris is a fitness columnist for “TGO (The Great Outdoors).”  He lives and hikes in Scotland.  Chris’s goal with the program is to increase your enjoyment of hiking by increasing your level of fitness. 

He clearly presents four basic home exercises requiring no special equipment; they’re bodyweight exercises.  You get it done in 15 minutes twice a week!  The key is to do one set of each exercise, slowly, to exhaustion.  What’s slow?  Ten seconds for both lift and lowering.  For instance, when you do the push-up, you push up over  the course of 10 seconds, then let your body down slowly over 10 seconds.  The exercises are for both upper and lower body.

I’m reading about similar exercise ideas from Skyler Tanner, Doug McGuff, Nassim Taleb, Jonathan Bailor, and Doug Robb.  Bailor, in his recent book, also recommends only four exercises.  Highcock’s look a little safer for rank beginners. 

The idea is to recruit three different types of muscle fiber during the muscle’s movement.  If you move explosively and finish too soon (get your mind out of the gutter!), you’re only using  one type of muscle fiber (fast twitch, I think).  You want to stimulate a strength and growth response in all three types of muscle fiber.  And explosive or rapid movements are more likely to cause injury, without any benefit. 

Once you get the basic program down, Chris takes you through some easy variations (called progressions) to make the exercises gradually harder, so you continue to improve your strength and fitness. 

Chris understands that many folks can’t do a single push-up.  He takes you through pre-push-up movements to get you prepared  to do actual push-ups.  This goes for all four exercises.  I bet even my little old lady patients could use this program.  (This is not blanket clearance for everybody to use this program; I don’t need the lawsuits.  Get clearance from your own doctor first.)

The exercises incorporate our five basic movements: push, pull, squat, bend/hinge, walk/gait.  The four exercises are: wall sit (squat), push-up, modified row, and hip extension.

My only criticism of the book is that Chris should have used young, attractive, bikini-clad models to illustrate the exercises.  (That’s right, my wife doesn’t read this blog.)  The existing photos are clear and helpful, however.

But seriously, the only suggestion I have for the next version of Hillfit would be to mention that it will take a couple or three weeks to see much, if any, improvement in strength once you start the program.  Same for when you increase the workload with the exercise progressions.  Perhaps this is in there, but I missed it.  You don’t want people quitting in frustration that they’re not seeing progress soon enough.

The author provides scientific references in support of his program, so he didn’t just make this stuff up.  Only one of the references involved mice!

Several “take home” points for me personally are: 1) stretching before or after exercise does nothing to prevent injury or soreness, and may hurt short-term athletic performance, 2) don’t hold your breath, 3) train to “momentary muscular failure.”  I’m not entirely sure what momentary muscular failure means.  It may not be Chris’s term, but it’s prominent in one of his best scientific references.  I use free weights and don’t think I can safely go 100% to momentary muscular failure.  Hitting momentary muscular failure, by the way, is more important than the amount of weight you’re moving.

Highly recommended.

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: I’d like to see Hillfit available on Amazon’s Kindle and Barnes and Noble’s Nook.

PPS: When you go to the Hillfit website to order, you’ll find the price is £9.95 (that’s GBP, British pounds sterling).  I’ve never ordered anything priced in GBP.  In today’s U.S. dollars, that’s a little under $16.00.  You can pay via PayPal or a major credit card.  I assume the conversion from one currency to another is automatic and seamless.  I don’t know if there’s a extra fee by the payment processor for doing the conversion.

Disclosure:  Chris kindly sent me a free digital copy of his ebook.  I don’t know Chris.  I will receive no remuneration for this review, nor for book sales.