Tag: core training

Reverse Hyper Core Training

Reverse Hyper is the name often given for the opposite of the Back Hyperextension. In the latter you stand in the foot pads with your heels held firmly in place. Then leaning the quads or the upper part of the front of your legs on pads you lean forward hinging at the hip toward the floor. You go down to approximately 45 to 60 degrees and then rise up to parallel or more above the ground.

Reverse Hyper on the bench named for the exercise
Reverse Hyper on the bench named for the exercise

With the Reverse Hyper you can use the special bench shown. You place your chest and torso on the bench with your hips extended out over the edge. Then you grasp the handles and hold yourself steady while hinging at the hip joint to lift your legs to above parallel to the floor. You then lower your legs under control to perpendicular below you.

In the video demonstration I’m doing sets of 12 with no additional weight. I’m lifting my heels up fairly high with a good degree of flexibility and mobility in my lower back.

Disclaimer: Obviously this might differ between individuals and is best determined by your own self-awareness or the advice of a qualified professional familiar with this movement and the requirements to perform it safely. Be careful and don’t become injured.

Reverse Hyper Video Demonstration:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w8xyR6i97ho

This type of reverse hyper bench has a swing arm that you can slip around your ankles to add weight. The lever arm itself adds in about 5 pounds or so of resistance but it takes a little getting used to. If you want to add weight perhaps just using the empty lever tubing would be a good way to start to see if you like it or not.

I think you could also add ankle weights when you do the reverse hyper. For an exercise like this that I consider an accessory movement I prefer 3-6 sets of 12 with no or little weight added. An accessory movement supports another more primary movement, such as the RDL. Otherwise known as the Romanian Dead Lift this is itself an accessory movement for Squats and Deadlifts.

I’ve seen demos of the reverse hyper holding a dumbbell in between the toes of the feet, but I think this would be too dangerous for most normal people and recommend against it.

The “Superman Plank”, a bodyweight, no bench version of this, is one of the main core exercises in my Mountaineering Fitness: Beginner Training Manual INFO HERE

Hanging Knee Raises

Hanging Knee Raises are among my favorite core training exercises. I like to use the arm straps that connect to a power rack, or pull-up bar (or some other way to connect them).

Slip your arms into the straps until your elbows poke out the end and if your shoulder and elbow mobility allow, reach up and gently hang onto the large snap rings (carabiners) that you use to connect them to the rod). From there lift yourself up with your lats and abs until you’re hanging straight down from the straps.

Starting position for hanging knee raises with your elbows just coming out of the straps and hanging onto the carabiners loosely.
Starting position for hanging knee raises with your elbows just coming out of the straps and hanging onto the carabiners loosely.

For strict hanging knee raises you’ll need to avoid using momentum to accomplish the movement. Use your core to pull your knees up as high as you can without hurting your back. If you can gently tap your elbows with your knees, all the better. Again, without momentum, finish each rep of your hanging knee raises by lowering your legs and straighten them as you go down. Try to not touch the floor with your feet and try not to let your feet swing behind you. This will add momentum as you go forward and reduces the strictness of your hanging knee raises. Use tension in your core to slow the motion of the hanging knee raises at the bottom so that your feet stop just under you.

Upper position of the hanging knee raises with your knees touching the tips of your elbows using tension to pause to prevent the assistance of momentum.
Upper position of the hanging knee raises with your knees touching the tips of your elbows using tension to pause to prevent the assistance of momentum.

When you do these correctly and with proper tension in your core, you should only be able to do a dozen, give or take. If you can do a lot of hanging knee raises, you’re using momentum to assist the motion. This isn’t necessarily bad, since momentum and dynamic motion are valid means of training hanging knee raises, but you should mix it up and use them without momentum on a regular basis for best benefit to your core.

I recommend doing 5 sets of 10 to 12 hanging knee raises without momentum with every other workout session.

Hanging Knee Raises Video on Youtube:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L6-CXiwoYVs

Disclaimer: If you have shoulder, elbow, wrist, or lower back mobility issues (or any other type of issue) that could result in pain or damage, either stop doing hanging knee raises or find a variation that you can safely do. If you don’t have commercially available straps and a safe place to fasten them, please find training or information for another variation.

Be sure to look for my upcoming Mountaineering Fitness: Beginner Training ManualDETAILS

Shoes, Boots and Socks for Hiking and Mountaineering

I’d like to share my own recommendations for footwear for hiking, mountaineering and training from my current training program:

Mountaineering Fitness: Beginner Training Manual

If you’d like more info, please check out the page HERE to subscribe to the blog or the program.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFim2gFp-N4

If you’d like to subscribe now, you can do it below or from the CharlesMiske.com page linked above. It’s $30 for 16 weeks of training and includes the eBook text of the training manual, as well as 16 full weeks of training to get you to the top of your mountain this Summer. The form below will reveal the Buy Now button, so submit it and don’t reload the page. Thanks.

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Back Hyperextension to Superman Plank

I do Back Hyperextensions regularly in my training. I usually do them as a warmup for my other training especially on leg days. Getting the lower back prepared for squats and deadlifts is essential. In the video below I demonstrate a decent lower back position when doing Back Hayperextension exercises. Be sure to keep that back straight and don’t let the curve in your lower back collapse, like the classic angry cat image.

Back Hyperextension: close up of lower back and glute area

From the Youtube Page: I keep my lower back static while feeling the emphasis in my hamstrings and glutes. It’s not really a workout, but it’s a great way to warm up and cool down from your other posterior chain training.

In that back hyperextension video you probably notice that I don’t go for a large range of motion. About 45-60 degrees of movement is plenty. If you see someone doing this in a dynamic swinging movement with their shoulder pushed down and pulled back at the bottom and top, don’t imitate them. You can get hurt very badly. I think you should do back hyperextensions slowly and under control. It’s not strength training. You probably won’t be doing this with 200lbs on your shoulders. Ever.

Back Hyperextension to Superman Plank

I was talking to one of the people I train about fast uphill motion and they noticed some definite nagging pain in their Quadratus Lumborum area. I recommended back hyperextensions and Superman planks.

Back Hyperextension target muscle Quadratus Lumborum c/o Wiki
Back Hyperextension target muscle Quadratus Lumborum c/o Wiki

While training the other day it suddenly struck me to combine the two exercises into one set. It’s a lot easier since you are already set up to do the back hyperextension, and just lift your arms out for the plank. Here’s the Facebook Video I posted for this combination exercise.

The usual disclaimers apply. If you are hurt, injured, have some disability or pain or other issues that prevent you from doing this, please, check with a qualified professional before attempting it.

Weighted Backpack Training – 60 lb pack

Weighted backpack training is almost essential for mountaineering success. Most types of climbing and hiking adventures require you to carry a backpack. If you train with a heavy backpack previous to your trip, you will most likely do better.

weighted backpack training is a necessity for alaskan mountaineering
Glacier travel in Alaska with 85 lb pack. It’s much easier if you train hard for it first.

I went in and put my bags through the x-ray, forgetting my passport in my bag, causing the poor door guards minor consternation, since I had to go past the gate to collect my passport, but could not pass the gate without one. We got it sorted out, and I went to the check in desk. My completely full backpack was only 14 kg. — Elbrus, My Waterloo (Seven Summits Quest)

Some mountaineers will have a few different backpacks for different conditions. Having one just for weighted backpack training probably won’t work for everyone. If you use the one you will be using for your trip, you will have a chance to work out any bugs or fitting issues. Begin with an empty backpack, with just an old pillow stuck in to keep it stable in use.

Hiking and Weighted Backpack Training – New Book “Rucking Simple Treadmill Training Guide” CLICK HERE

weighted backpack training begins with an empty pack
Start your workouts with a light pack and work your way higher and higher in weights

Over time you can add more and more weight as you improve endurance and strength. For my weighted backpack training I use bags of rice, since we usually have a few in the pantry. I double bag them in the disposable thin plastic shopping bags in case the paper rips. The rice is very close to the same density and feel as other backpacking gear. Slide it in near your back, and stuff another pillow between the rice (or beans, wheat, etc.) and the outside of the backpack. This will keep it from moving around while in motion.

Weighted Backpack Training helps you maneuver a heavy backpack
Be strong enough to hold your 45 lb pack off balance

When you get past 40 pounds or so, you’ll probably want to use something with more density. Unless you get a lot of rice or beans or get the 50 pound sacks if you can. Some people use gallon jugs of water. If you do a lot of weight training and have them handy and available, you can use weights. Steel plates, kettle bells, dumbbells, are all excellent additions to your weighted backpack training loads. Pad them well with pillows since they will have more inertia when you jostle in training. Just be very careful when setting the bag down. Dropping a ten pound bag of rice on your toe is very different from dropping a ten pound kettle bell on your toe.

Exclusive Offer: Hiking and Weighted Backpack Training PROGRAM HERE

weighted backpack training on a jacobs ladder machine can be risky
Be very careful if training on a cardio machine that requires you to lean in odd angles

If you have access to cardio machines, and it’s okay to use them for weighted backpack training, start slowly and be careful. Some machines, like the Jacob’s Ladder, can put your back at a dangerous angle. You might not be able to use as much weight on it. I like the Incline Treadmill the best, and just go steady and slow. I love the elliptical machines too, as it reduces greatly the impact you’ll feel while still providing a great leg workout. Set the resistance up high and go slow. This is more realistic for steep hiking. Stairmasters work good, and again, go slow. Also be sure you know how much you and the pack weighs so you can set it correctly. Most gyms have a scale that should go up to your weight plus the backpack.

New Article: Weighted Backpack Training On Stairs

Weighted Backpack Training Outside

Some people can just toss 24 pounds of rice in a backpack and walk 3 or 4 miles every day in their neighborhood. That’s probably good enough for most people and adventures, and it’s a great scenic workout. Some people can do a lot of hill climbing, or better yet, steep mountain trail ascents. If that’s the case consider using gallon jugs of water for weight. At the top you can dump the water on a handy needy shrub. This lightens the load to protect your knees on the downhill.

Weighted backpack training can make hikes like Half Dome seem mild
Carry a daypack on a long hike

Weighted Backpack Training – What’s in the 60 lb pack?

Weighted Backpack Training Warnings

  • Don’t try so much to improve your speed and resistance. That’s nice and all, but your first priority in weighted backpack training is to increase the weight of the backpack. You can train up to a weight much higher than your anticipated on-mountain weight. This will make all your climbing feel a lot easier in general.
  • Be very careful and go slow. Putting on a heavy backpack can be difficult and a strain on back muscles that can cause damage or worse. If you start with a light pack and work your way up, you should be strong enough for each increase.
  • If you try to put your backpack on and just can’t do it, maybe that’s not the session for weighted backpack training. Relax and do something else.
  • Weighted backpack training is good for your core, but don’t try too hard. It’s potentially a lot of weight in a strange place at strange angles. Avoid hanging on for your life. If you have to, it means you have the machine set too fast.
  • In fact, mix it up. Do different machines, at different angles, at different speeds. Most hiking trails are a combination of things anyway. Try to avoid downhill under heavy load, just for knee and back safety.
  • I wear a tech tee under a cotton tee to provide resistance to the abrasion of the straps.

Good luck, and train safe. Only do what you are capable of safely.

Bodyweight Exercise One Legged Band Sissy Squat

I like to do some type of bodyweight exercise for warming up. It’s also great for working the smaller stabilizing muscles that I think shouldn’t be trained under heavy load. Unilateral bodyweight exercise is particularly good for the stabilizers and core.

bodyweight exercise is one tool in quad development
Quad definition is a combination of nutrition and training

In this example, the one legged band sissy squat, it takes a lot of effort to stay level. It’s definitely not for beginners. You should get in a few hundred reps on the two leg version of this bodyweight exercise before trying the single leg version. Try it with your feet and knees together to work your way into it. This simulates the balance of doing it with one leg.

If you’ve done the band version of the sissy squat all you need to do to convert it to the single leg bodyweight exercise is to lift one leg and place the ankle over your knee. Lower slowly the first time or two and don’t try the full range of motion until you get a feel for it. It’s quite different.

Bodyweight Exercise Video for One Legged Band Sissy Squat

The blue band I am using is the Jumpstretch Strong Band #6 but similar products from EliteFTS will work as well.

Setting up the bodyweight exercise for legs

I’m looping mine over the pullup bar on my power rack. You can use just about anything that will hold your body weight and is a little over head high. Like the top of a door. Think simple. You could loop a piece of webbing with a knot in it and slam it in a solid door. Be careful though to make it strong enough. This is a bodyweight exercise. Test your system with full body weight before you drop backward into the squat.

If you feel any level of pain or major instability stop immediately. You might have to work your way into this gently with something like one legged chair sitting or partial squats with one leg. I’m including the video for this easier bodyweight exercise below:

Concept2 SkiErg Upper Body Warmup Series

I have been using the Concept2 SkiErg for a while now for cross training primarily. I also like it as a warmup for upper body training. The resistance is a large fan, similar to the Concept2 rowing machines, only upright. Inside the post are ropes exiting the top at two rotating swiveling pulleys. There are 10 resistance settings, depending on your training goals and personal fitness level.

Concept2 SkiErg upper body training
Getting my back and Lats ready for Ice Climbing

For my upper body warmup, I set the Concept2 SkiErg (Ski Ergometer – the movement simulates the arm/hand motion of Nordic skiing) to level 5, about halfway on the resistance scale. I mix it up a bit, but in general do a little Lat work and a little Pec work. I do some Core work and occasionally a little Tricep work.

For a more advanced warmup, especially if I’m doing a few extra minutes of core work, I keep a wobble disc [Reebok Balance Board] or pad handy to add some instability. I like how it helps me use my core and leg stabilizers. It’s also a pretty cool mind game, since it’s tough doing a few different things at once.

Concept2 SkiErg Warmup Video

Concept2 SkiErg Warmup Ideas

Some things to keep in mind when using the Concept2 SkiErg for training other than as intended. The pulleys will go a lot of different directions. Experiment and see what different angles you can come up with. Keep in mind that the rope is thin, and limited in length. Don’t try too hard to go past the internal stop. Protect your back, keep your lower back flat. Don’t hunch unless, like ab curls, it’s part of the motion. Even then, do what’s right for your body.

Remember it’s only a warmup. A good burn is a great feeling, but if you can’t lift your arms after, you might affect your other training negatively. Be very careful of what’s in your blind spots, or behind you. Notice that for the high and low diagonal movement I have to clear the racked squat bar.

I use a Nordic Grip on the handles. This is probably the best way to use it, since it’s originally intended for Nordic ski training. But whatever works for you, just grab the handles and go.

Concept2 SkiErg warmup for full body cardio
Warm up for full body cardio on the SkiErg

The Concept2 SkiErg is a little expensive to use only for an upper body warmup. I generally do a few 15 minute sprints at level 10 (max level) every week for cross training, as well as endurance training for Ice Climbing. I noticed a huge difference in my endurance last season after using it in the Fall prior. I’m looking for even better results this season, having worked my way up in levels over the Summer.

If you have a Concept2 SkiErg and want to share your own warmup videos, please post them to my Facebook Page and share with all of us. We’d love to see what you have for us.

Core Week – Standing Side Abs with Barbell

You need to work your obliques, including the abs on the side. Bending side to side is a pretty good way to train your core and improve strength that applies to mountaineering, like picking up your really heavy pack, lifting a sled over a crevasse lip, digging out a tent platform.

The instructions for this one are pretty simple. In my case I like to use a barbell for the instability, but you could use something more compact and stable, like a kettlebell, dumbbell or weight plate. I grab the middle from a mid-thigh position off a rack, straighten my back and shoulders for good posture, then dip the bar up and down, lower and lift, pulling with my side muscles.

I avoid tilting my hip, bending my elbow and wrist, so that the force is applied better to the side ab muscles.

As for the other exercises, guard your back and joints, be careful, and really, you don’t need a lot of weight for this one. I usually use an empty bar (45 lb) for about 25 reps, but anything from 10 to 25 reps is good. These are tiny muscles overall, and don’t worry about bulking them up grotesquely – it would be really tough to do with a movement like this.

Core Week – Standing Band Ab Curls

The Standing Band Ab Curl is a pretty cool exercise for your core that works a lot harder than you would think. Gravity really doesn’t give you a boost, since you’d be pulling against the resistance from above and/or to the rear. Typically you’d use a little over-the-shoulder yoke hooked to a cable and a pulley to a weight stack, like in a lat tower. I prefer to use bands crossed over my chest. Pretty cheap and simple, and you can adjust the resistance by stepping forward or back as needed.

Lean into the bands and use your core to curl forward into a “C” shape, pulling your chest toward your knees. This can be as hard or easy as you like, but be careful not to go too heavy with bands that are thicker than you can handle. If you can’t make the curl correctly, you won’t get the best benefit from it. I also arch backward a bit at the top, but let your own flexibility and condition of your lower back be your guide to your range of motion.

I have my bands girth hitched to my power rack, but you can hang them from your door frame, or stair railing or something else convenient. If you do things like this a lot, you might consider a pullup bar that fits over a door or in the frame for the best multi-tasking opportunities.

Go easy on your back, be safe and in control. Steady and slow is the right way to progress for these. I’d say anything between 20 and 50 reps would be good. If you can’t do 20, then step back or use longer or thinner bands. If you are comfortable with the power to do sets of only 10, then I’d say 3 sets with about a minute of rest between. FWIW I normally do 2 sets of 25.

Core Week – Inverted Situp

So you want a set of six-pack abs? Or at least a strong core, which is probably more meaningful for ice climbing and hauling around an 85 lb pack while dragging a 45 lb sled (standard fare in Alaska). I really like this exercise – the inverted situp.

I do it a few different ways, but one of the easiest for me is on the Glute Ham Raise bench. If you go to a gym, there is probably some type of bench designed for inverted situps, or something you could improvise. At home you might be able to figure out how to use a deck or staircase, but don’t blame me if something goes horribly wrong…

Lock in your feet with the back of your knees up on the pad, and drop back down slowly and carefully. Use your core muscles to thrust/pull yourself up quickly, pause, and drop back down slowly to repeat for sets of 10 to 25 reps. This can be pretty intense for some people, and there might be minor risk of back and joint pain, so be careful and check with your health provider if you have any questions.

A couple of notes. I have a jacket under my knees so I can slide around a bit without sticking to the vinyl. At the bottom I almost touch the floor, so I hold my fingers out as feelers so I know how close I get without bonking my head. Don’t crank on your neck with your hands, in fact, don’t use them at all for any normal ab curl/crunch/situp motion. Especially be careful with your back in the extreme forward position like when I’m starting and stopping to free my feet (barely visible at the very beginning and end of the clip).