BWCA Getting in portaging condition Boundary Waters Listening Point - General Discussion
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04/28/2021 03:11PM  
Just curious if anyone has any kind of workout strategy to get conditioned for portaging. I work out at an athletic club and have been taking 20 minutes walks with a partially loaded pack in which I slowly increase the weight (and get some looks from the neighbors). But nothing ever seems to totally condition me for portaging the canoe (54lb Wenonah Seneca) and the packs. I'm now over 50, but that doesn't mean I can't still do this. Just curious if you do anything to try to get into shape?
 
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04/28/2021 03:32PM  
Lunges simulate rough portage conditions very well
 
WhiteWolf
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04/28/2021 03:33PM  
Nothing ever will unless you mimic the roots and hills /rocks of the BW. I suggest you do as you are but with interval training. say you start out with a 20 min walk - fully loaded or doesn't matter- make that "distance" you make in 20 min become greater and greater. Until it really sucks. Then add more weight and hills and do in same time if not quicker. Sounds easy. It's not. Your basically driving the line between aerobic and anaerobic workouts-- the BW with a 50lb canoe and 40lb pack - pushing it hard - is borderline anaerobic. You do that enough - you'll be fine. Heart rate 130-159 bbm for sustained periods is what I mean.
 
schweady
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04/28/2021 04:36PM  
I spend three days a week trying on boots at REI. Those little rocky ramps are killers. Mimic trail conditions so perfectly, too.

Oh, seriously? We've been hiking the horse/snowmobile trails at Maplewood State Park. 6- or 7-mile jaunts up and down those hills in the southern half of the park are a blast.
 
04/28/2021 08:26PM  
This seems to be a recurring topic. I simply go to a local nature center where I am a volunteer and carry a 60#+ canoe around the trails. I start when the snow is not a problem (this year late February) and after 3 or 4 times per week have worked my way up to about 1/3 mile. I only thing lacking is a rough trail, the nature center trails are all smooth with few trip hazards. I work in a few short hills. This routine works very well for me and I will be 74 this fall.
 
user0317
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04/28/2021 09:35PM  
I've been a long time jogger, but lately I've been using a row machine a lot as well to stay in shape. It works over 85% of your muscles, and it is low impact on your joints.
 
DRob1992
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04/28/2021 09:36PM  
The way I approach trips in regards to getting my body and mind ready for potentially grueling portages (especially in severe weather where portages could be slick, muddy, flooded, etc.) is a ton of loaded/weighted hiking. Not sure if that is a real term, but basically hiking with heavy gear bags. I try to challenge myself with difficult hikes. Depending on where you live, you may even be able to do some steep hiking in high elevation. All the better. I particularly focus on the decline aspect of my training hikes.

This aspect requires sustained laser focus. In the BWCA/Q, we've all faced adverse portage conditions at some time or another. If your mental focus is positive and attention-to-detail, you're far less likely to get hurt.
 
GopherAdventure
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04/28/2021 10:16PM  
There’s lots you can do, but I’m going to pick the three that I think are the very best portage prepping exercises and why.

1. Squat Press - start in standard squat position, but hold two dumbbells at your shoulders. Do your squat, and once you are back to standing, perform an over head press with the dumbbells. 12-15 reps per set for three sets, and you can vary the press and the squat. You could do a sumo squat with a lateral arm raise at the top to mix it up for example. This builds stamina in the legs, back and shoulders and will help you hoist that pack/canoe up and on down the trail. Keep your core tight during this exercise, back straight, with abdominal and lower back muscles engaged.

2. Jump Lunges- start in a lunge position with right leg forward, but instead of just standing up like in a standard lunge, you jump up and switch your feet and land in a lunge with your left foot forward. Do this for 24 reps (12 per leg). You will be huffing and puffing after this one, it’s explosive and high intensity. Do 3 sets.

3. Burpees- everyone hates the burpee, but it builds unbelievable strength and stamina. Start in a standing position, reach your hands to the floor, jump your feet back, do a push-up, jump your feet forward close to your hands and explode up (jumping) as you reach for the ceiling. Do 10-12 reps making sure to keep the core engaged as you perform the pushup. Also, really explode up on the jumping phase, your legs will feel awesome on the portages later. Hope these help you! Good luck and stay healthy.

If you want to watch any of the videos I’ve made with other canoe trip exercises (another one coming soon), they’re here:
GopherAdventure Videos

Tony
 
dschult2
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04/29/2021 02:35AM  
For lower body i like weighted lunges and dead lifts. For upper I like pull ups, chin ups, and push ups. For Cardio I like a spin bike with hill climb type ride. And if I can get a long hike with a small backpack in on the weekends of 8 miles or so all the better.
 
siusaluki23
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04/29/2021 06:44AM  
I don't care if I get a few weird looks, I carry the canoe on some local trails that are a great facsimile of BWCA portage trails.
 
PeaceFrog
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04/29/2021 07:37AM  
I'm just shy of 50 and my plan consists of simple stretching, push ups, and sit ups on a daily routine. Then I will begin hikes at a local park with varied terrain and trail conditions while wearing a weighted vest. Keeping it simple yet beneficial. My canoe is not for portaging or I would have it on my shoulders too.
 
04/29/2021 07:56AM  
I paddle a few miles, get on trail and portage a mile with canoe and pack, then paddle back. Bike and sit-ups.
 
Bearpath9
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04/29/2021 08:20AM  
Like a few others, I hike at a local park. Every day, all seasons. I started that regimen last year, after doing the Mudro to Sandpit portage. No pack just yet, probably start that in June, with about a 20 pound load. The hiking trails don't really mimic the portages, but I discovered that the mountain bike trails do. Roots, rocks, narrow, down and uphill, all the ingredients you need. They are usually closed after a good rain, so there are no issues with the bikers. I try to stay out of their way, but some days I can't resist, as the hiking trails get pretty boring. See more critters on the bike trails too, which is a temptation I find hard to resist. Ran into 5 deer this morning, all in one group, which was a treat.
 
Wharfrat63
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04/29/2021 01:33PM  
I hate working out for working out purposes. I have to have some kind of goal at the end. Think, nice vista. Beautiful waterfall or may favorite: Walking 18 holes while carrying my bag. If I am playing great, it doesn't even feel like work. If I am playing bad, I just remind myself I am training for BWCA.

It is typically a 7 to 8 mile walk with 35 + lbs. I am lifting and shouldering my bag 50+ times as well.

I will also hike the Appalachian Trail to some of my favorite views.

Being older as well, I just double portage. That saves on wear and tear and hopefully allows me to come back next time. I know I have less trips in front than in back at this time...So, preservation is my motto.

 
outsidethebox
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04/29/2021 01:33PM  
Working out in the gym with some measure of strength and aerobic fitness is good. The shortcoming with this is the uneven, and unlevel trails that must be portaged. I am 68 but remain very active and athletic. Our walking of 5 to 8 mile nature trails several times a month has generally served us very well in maintaining the strength and flexibility of not only our feet, ankles, knees and lower body in general but all other moving parts as well.
 
EddyTurn
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04/29/2021 01:36PM  
In a gym I just try to work out all major muscle groups, including oft-forgotten obliques and erector spinae (torso rotation and back extension exercises). What did miracle to my portaging ability was hiking with a 30-35lbs pack (I used my toddler son as a load) while wearing ankle weights. If you regularly hike trails carrying 10lbs weight on each ankle I bet carrying 100lbs over a portage will be easy.
 
LarryS48
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04/29/2021 02:34PM  
I don’t do specific training. However, my regular activities help. Those include canoeing or hiking three or four days a week in the local area. Hikes are without anything more than a day pack and between 1.5 and 9 miles a day (average about 3) over forested trails with roots and sometimes boulders. Canoeing includes carrying the canoe to and from the car to the lake. Paddles are from 4 to 12 miles (average day 6). Where I live, I can do this year round.

 
straighthairedcurly
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04/29/2021 09:50PM  
We have an Old Town Tripper that no longer goes on trips due to its weight, but it great for training! We have a path through the woods on the property where we are building a house.

Then at the house where we live, we portage our Mad River. We built a portaging obstacle course with stacks of wood blocks to act as "stepping stones", a balance beam (as I age, this is my biggest issue), ramps, steps, other items to balance on or step over including some old sawhorses that we swing one leg over at a time. We just used whatever we had lying around in the garage or yard (buckets, wood, branches, old tires, etc). I'm sure the neighbors think we've lost it, but we have fun. The whole family uses it :)
 
Colt
 
04/29/2021 10:05PM  
Getting that blasted canoe down from storage is my portage prep. Balance, strength and perseverance all come in to play.
 
pswith5
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04/30/2021 05:31AM  
Blatz: "Lunges simulate rough portage conditions very well" I'd like to see you do lunges down the street with a full pack on your back. That would be amusing.
 
04/30/2021 06:49AM  
walking up and down stairs is great , pausing/holding a little bit when walking down.
 
Duckman
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04/30/2021 06:55AM  
I'm in decent enough shape to go to the BDUB and handle most any of the portages.

But I have always doubled. Canoe one trip, pack the next. The unloaded walk back is something I look forward to. Lets the dog burn some energy and I get to stretch out some between paddles.

I would imagine if I wanted to single portage it would be necessary to get some conditioning in. Funny that in the BDUB me being too lazy to condition beforehand means I triple the amount of walking I have to do!
 
NordSteve
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04/30/2021 06:55AM  
schweady: "I spend three days a week trying on boots at REI. Those little rocky ramps are killers. Mimic trail conditions so perfectly, too.

Oh, seriously? We've been hiking the horse/snowmobile trails at Maplewood State Park. 6- or 7-mile jaunts up and down those hills in the southern half of the park are a blast.
"


Going to have to find a different option this year. Was in REI over the weekend - no boots. Apparently they are stuck in a canal somewhere.
 
MReid
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04/30/2021 08:07AM  
pswith5: "Blatz: "Lunges simulate rough portage conditions very well" I'd like to see you do lunges down the street with a full pack on your back. That would be amusing."
I think Monty Python did a skit on that.
 
GopherAdventure
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05/01/2021 05:14PM  
Just finished a new canoe country prep workout video. Hope this helps some of you. Canoe Trip Prep Workout #3

Tony
 
Stumpy
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05/02/2021 12:26AM  


You get in portage shape, by portaging.
 
05/02/2021 08:37AM  
I just wing it and drink whiskey when needed
 
05/02/2021 02:43PM  
pswith5: "Blatz: "Lunges simulate rough portage conditions very well" I'd like to see you do lunges down the street with a full pack on your back. That would be amusing." To avoid being in the Ministry Of Silly Walks. My lunges are confined to my basement with 40 lb weight in my hand
 
R1verrunner
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05/03/2021 05:20AM  
I take the canoe down.

Throw it on my shoulders and walk up and down my 300 foot drive way.
 
05/03/2021 06:51AM  
I do a lot of the things mentioned above, but, mowing the lawn with a weighted pack is the one thing that has made the biggest difference for me. It burns additional muscles compared to a hike with a pack does. I enjoy the odd looks from people driving by. Sometimes they even circle the block to get another look. Apparently I’m known as “the backpack guy”.
 
PeaceFrog
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05/03/2021 07:03AM  
I used to mow with my son in a backpack. The type designed for carrying toddlers. It worked great and he would cry at the back door if I didn't take him out to mow with me. Well past those days. He graduates HS in a few weeks.
 
Speckled
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05/04/2021 09:57AM  
I once read a quote from Eddie Hall, where he said weight moves weight. Meaning the more he weighed the better he performed in the strong man comps. With that in mind...I implemented a winter eating and drinking program that packed on about 20 lbs...i'm looking forward to easier portaging this year.
 
05/04/2021 11:08AM  
You've been busy rounding out your conditioning . . . Let me know if it works. I'm busy trying to un-round mine . . .
 
WIMike
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05/04/2021 11:18AM  
Lunges are a big step forward. ;)
 
05/04/2021 12:08PM  
:)

 
05/04/2021 02:10PM  
x2jmorris: "I just wing it and drink whiskey when needed"

I find that alcohol while working makes you feel worse and tires you out faster. I made that mistake last year when we were staying at a cabin with my dad. We took the 80+lbs of canoe that was provided, a couple mixed drinks in plastic bottles, and portaged in for a day trip. The way back was rough. Drinks afterward work very well though.

For getting in shape, I recommend doing whole body workouts and find the muscles you don't use very often. I find that those muscles getting sore and compensating with other muscles is what makes the portage miserable. Fix those weak spots THEN train specific muscle groups. It takes the whole body to portage so you need to do your whole body workouts too.
 
paddler1953
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05/05/2021 02:06PM  
I didn't read all the posts so if this was already mentioned, I apologize. As to the question at hand, have you considered reducing the weight of your gear? A lighter canoe? Less extraneous items in your pack? Carrying only what is essential? I realize that lightweight camping isn't for everyone but the less you carry weight wise, the easier your portage should be; within reason. Just food for thought. Take it for what it's worth.

That's all for now. Take care and until next time....be well.

snapper
 
05/06/2021 06:31AM  
A1t2o: "x2jmorris: "I just wing it and drink whiskey when needed"


I find that alcohol while working makes you feel worse and tires you out faster. I made that mistake last year when we were staying at a cabin with my dad. We took the 80+lbs of canoe that was provided, a couple mixed drinks in plastic bottles, and portaged in for a day trip. The way back was rough. Drinks afterward work very well though. "


Very true but then I take another gulp. Finally get to camp and set up and then short nap usually restores me though.
 
cmanimal
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05/07/2021 10:01AM  
Stumpy: "


You get in portage shape, by portaging. "



Great. Now I only need to learn how to unicycle.
 
05/07/2021 01:03PM  
And if you want to top stumpy, you've got to do it in the clown suit and wave with one hand. Bonus points for pedaling with one leg.
 
LarryS48
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05/07/2021 01:23PM  
Is using an aluminum canoe on the unicycle extra conditioning because of the weight or a lack of confidence and not wanting to risk an expensive and delicate Kevlar canoe? Maybe both.
 
05/07/2021 03:01PM  
LarryS48: "Is using an aluminum canoe on the unicycle extra conditioning because of the weight or a lack of confidence and not wanting to risk an expensive and delicate Kevlar canoe? Maybe both. "

It's actually a stabilizer. More weight is more inertia and more weight further out like that is more rotational inertia. It makes it easier to keep your balance as long as you are strong enough to handle the weight. ;)
 
Stumpy
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05/08/2021 08:13PM  
LarryS48: "Is using an aluminum canoe on the unicycle extra conditioning because of the weight or a lack of confidence and not wanting to risk an expensive and delicate Kevlar canoe? Maybe both. "

It was just a show off joke. I only do that trick for laughs.
However, I do think that riding a unicycle since I was 12 has helped give me great portaging balance.
There is no resting on a unicycle Like coasting on a bike. You are in a constant state of balance and adjustment.
 
LarryS48
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05/08/2021 09:00PM  
Stumpy: "LarryS48: "Is using an aluminum canoe on the unicycle extra conditioning because of the weight or a lack of confidence and not wanting to risk an expensive and delicate Kevlar canoe? Maybe both. "


It was just a show off joke. I only do that trick for laughs.
However, I do think that riding a unicycle since I was 12 has helped give me great portaging balance.
There is no resting on a unicycle Like coasting on a bike. You are in a constant state of balance and adjustment. "


I enjoyed it. I am afraid any of this is beyond me. You have my admiration. Now how about going uphill on a unicycle with a seventy five pound canoe on your shoulders. That would be a feat of conditioning as well as balance.


 
Stumpy
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05/08/2021 11:01PM  
LarryS48: "Stumpy: "LarryS48: "Is using an aluminum canoe on the unicycle extra conditioning because of the weight or a lack of confidence and not wanting to risk an expensive and delicate Kevlar canoe? Maybe both. "



It was just a show off joke. I only do that trick for laughs.
However, I do think that riding a unicycle since I was 12 has helped give me great portaging balance.
There is no resting on a unicycle Like coasting on a bike. You are in a constant state of balance and adjustment. "



I enjoyed it. I am afraid any of this is beyond me. You have my admiration. Now how about going uphill on a unicycle with a seventy five pound canoe on your shoulders. That would be a feat of conditioning as well as balance.



"


I'm sure I could go uphill as well....No hills by me....Maybe do it on Sheridan street in Ely one day. By the way the only canoes I carry are 75 lbs or more.
 
doorbluff84
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05/09/2021 06:56AM  
Just paddle as much as possible. I also park the car further away from the landing for “fun”. Off-season: 12 oz curls and working on my dadbod.
 
05/21/2021 01:24PM  
Portages are going to be rough this trip. I haven't been exercising for some time now. Going to lean on whats left of my youth.
 
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