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Mountains are fun. Those of us who hike have our favorite local trail where we head to enjoy a chill afternoon walk or utilize as a place to get some outdoor cardio. Now before moving ahead let’s talk about “fun.” There are scales of fun if you haven’t heard. The most well known is Type I. Meaning it’s leisure, it’s enjoyable, mentally easy. Type I is a smooth bike ride or making flowy turns down a ski slope. Type II fun, now that’s where we are heading with this challenge. A mountain challenge. Type II is rewarding fun. Brutal while doing it but looking back the sense of accomplishment looms higher than the pain. Even more, the more brutal an investment you make the more elation at the accomplishments. Type II can be finishing a marathon, doing a Crossfit competition, or perhaps completing this here Mountain Challenge. So yes, all those torture workouts where you’re getting your ass kicked, you were probably having fun and didn’t even know it. 

Trail Selection

The trail you choose for this should have a few parameters: 

  1. At least 3-4 miles 

  2. At least ~ 1000 ft. elevation gain

Of course, work with what location you have but these two attributes create the challenge. Let’s get started. Remember, the longer and steeper it is… the more “FUN”. A couple prime examples are Camelback Mountain in Phoenix, The Hollywood Sign hike from Canyon Drive, or my own selection, Horsetooth Mountain in Fort Collins. 

Specs of the Workout

This will be done interval style. 2 min walking then 1 minute in agony. Start your stopwatch at the beginning of the trail. 

  • 2 minutes, walk as normal 

  • 1 minute of lunges 

  • 2 minutes walking 

  • 1 minute push-ups

  • 2 minutes walking

  • 1 minute frog jumps

  • 2 minutes walking

  • 1 minute mountain climbers

  • Repeat until you reach the top of the mountain

Since the downhill is where we all sprain ankles and get hurt, it’s rest time. Make your way back to the car. To put it simply: there are 4 exercises that we do in between walking to the top: Lunge, pushup, frog jump, mountain climber. 

Finish this and you get a Bronze Medal. Congrats. This is not easy folks. You are looking at about an hour of accent time or fun time, however you want to phrase it. 

Now, for the Silver Medal candidates. Your interval is now 1 minute walk to 1 minute exercise. That equates to more of a 1.5-2 hours uphill ordeal. Good luck.

Upper echelon athletes may be thinking they want to get the Gold Medal and this is where the true “Full-body” work comes in. Interval time of 1/1 is adopted from the Silver. Remember those empty hands from the Bronze and Silver levels? Yeah, let’s fill those bad boys up. With some light (10-15 lb) dumbbells or kettlebells in each hand, you gotta bicep curl during the walking. I have a great tip for you from my Patagonian guide Tadeo. He used to hike palming rocks in each of his hands to work on grip strength. Plus would be curling them. He said it made him a better rock climber. What a champ. 

Guys, I personally did this up a hike near my house called Arthur’s Rock. So don’t start thinking I'm prescribing a challenge I wouldn’t do myself. This particular hike is 3.4 miles and exactly 1000ft of uphill vertical. I wore a running vest with 40 oz water and a banana. Of course I had Gold in my sights and I opted for the rock-in-hand option. So I found a couple beautiful stones to hold with me for the duration. So that’s the challenge fellas. Good luck to your legs…

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