How to Be Adventurous - The Series
Getting Into Shape... and Then Staying There
Life may be for play, but adventure is serious business.
Which is why you’ll need a body to do it.
Notice how I didn’t say great body? That’s because a great body, or what today’s society deems a great body, is far from necessary for good adventure.
Raging thighs and pecks that dance to music are nice to look at, and maybe even enjoyable to build, although I somehow doubt that. Necessary for health, or healthy adventure, they are not.
The job is to get yourself in good enough shape to tackle the adventures you want to take, and perhaps a bit more.
Let your adventure goals inform your fitness plan.
If you’re hiking, that means legs, specifically the old ba-dunk-a-dunk. Junk in the trunk wasn’t put there just to jiggle. We’ve got powerful hips and big glutes for a reason - to power up hills, to leap over rocks, to let us change direction without crumpling like pop cans and landing in a heap.
Climbers and paddlers will need to focus on arms and back, as well as core. But in truth, your fitness should be a holistic thing. Isolation is for body builders, and bodybuilders are for mirrors, not adventuring. If you want to be more adventurous, skip the bicep curls and get yourself a chin-up bar. Better yet, drop and give us 20. Men’s style or women’s, we’re not picky. As long as you feel the burn, you’re doing something right.
To squat, or not to squat? Shakespeare wondered the same thing. Wait, we’ll have to get that fact checked. In any case, we say squat if you want, but don’t over do it. Unless your adventures have you lifting a lot of canoes over your head, a super heavy squat won’t give you much of an advantage on the mountain. Better to be nimble and firm than bulking and hulking, but we recognize beauty comes in all shapes. Just keep it practical, and remember if your goal is to lift more canoes, a good place to start is lifting more canoes.
Cardio… what to say? Some people enjoy it. Most of them are crazy. There’s no denying that all adventures call for cardio, but the key is to get your cardio while you’re adventuring. That way you’re distracted by all the awesome you’re witnessing, and don’t even notice you’re wheezing loud enough to scare the bears off.
The best tonic for a more adventurous physique is simply more adventure. Sink or swim, do or die. By walking up the mountain, you get better at walking up the mountain. By falling down the mountain, you get better at… well, you get it.
Good training should resemble the thing you’re training for. You don’t go ice skating to perfect your golf swing, so why train for adventure by bench pressing in the gym? Unless you’re training to push a fallen log off your chest, but you might be better off training your legs to get you out of the way faster.
The key is to be mindful of what you’re training and why. On most adventures, the legs are for pushing (walking up trails, leaping heroically over creeks) and the upper body does the pulling (rock climbing, paddling, digging up buried Spanish treasure), but this isn’t a fixed rule. Choose exercises similar to the things you do in the outdoors and you won’t go far wrong.
If you can get all your training done in the outdoors, even better. More and more fitness programs have come out championing the benefits of outdoor workouts, and we stand behind that. Trees and hills make wonderful sculpting tools for the adventurous body, and the ground is a natural platform for push ups and crunches.
If you’re a city dweller, make do with what you have. There’s no one-sized fits all program, and if punching a hunk of raw meat will get you in better shape for the outdoors, then swing away, Rocky.
Just remember that it’s true what Aristotle said – “You are what you frequently do.” The question is, do you want to be a forward lunge, or a long trek into the wilderness?