Powerlifting Made Me A Better Backpacker
Where Have I Been?
To my fellow Backcountry Petite followers. You may have noticed this blog has been a bit slow in new content and updates. It’s taken a back road in my life as I discovered powerlifting over the last year. Yes, I very much love the outdoors, I love nature, I love hiking. Living in NYC is not an excuse not to get outdoors but it does make habitual outdoor adventures more of a challenge, especially without a car. There are plenty of hikes to access and places around the city to see and explore. But with a regular 8-5 job, exploring the outdoors doesn’t fit as easy into my weekday routine. While I have no problem with being spontaneous and trying new things last minute, I also enjoy having routine 80-90% of the time.
About 6 months after living in NYC I needed to find something to do after work, especially with my husband working nights quite often. So I joined a gym. Infact one of my initial motivators was to be a better hiker and backpacker. I’ve been 5’1″, 95lbs the majority of my adulthood and sometimes that makes backpacking a challenge. While I’m always up for a challenge, sometimes that means I’m enjoying the adventure a bit less because of the strain on my legs and back from 30-40lb pack weight. I figured if I got more in shape and a bit stronger, backpacking would be even more fun.
So I signed up for a trial at a Crossfit gym.
I know, I know. Crossfit. I started off with mixed classes doing some Crossfit, some strength and conditioning, some HIIT classes. But I found that I truly enjoyed going to the strength and conditioning classes and due to my work schedule those classes were easy to go to. I developed a routine of always going to the Strength classes and started getting a lot stronger quite quickly (this is pretty normal “newbie gains”).
I have found powerlifting to be extremely empowering, especially for a petite female. Being able to control my bodyweight on a barbell makes me feel strong, physically and mentally. Lifting weights is more than just moving weight around, it takes a lot of focus and dedication towards making progress. Being petite, I even have some advantages! My legs have less distance to travel when lowering down for a back squat. My arms have less distance to pull the barbell down to my chest and back up. I’m one of the only females in my class that can do bodyweight exercises such as full push-ups and strict pull-ups.
Strength for Backpacking
So, am I a better backpacker?
I think so.
Earlier this year, I hiked with #LHX2018, starting the trail with 40lbs on my not quite 110lb frame (yes I gained weight on purpose!). The combination of powerlifting and living in NYC where I’m used to an easy 10,000 steps a day made this backpacking trip night and day with my previous trips. I wasn’t in constant pain. My feet didn’t hurt until we had a 15+ mile day on rocky, hilly terrain. My metabolism was going so fast I out-ate everybody else in the group. My body is strong and capable and it didn’t let me down. My plan to workout for backpacking strength workout, and it became so much more. Powerlifting became another passion for me and I continue to push myself to be stronger and a better athlete.
I believe it has helped me live a better life and feel so much healthier, confident, and self-reliant.