Total Body Trail Blaze!

The days spending hours upon hours combining steady-state cardio with monotonous strength workouts (ie: Leg Day: 4 sets x 15 reps of 10 sub-par exercises) are over!

This is what happens to me nowadays if my workouts take too long

This is what happens to me nowadays if my workouts take too long

At least this training method is over to a solid list of gnarly athletes from the Upper Valley that are among the top contenders of some of the TOUGHEST endurance races in the Northeast this year!

Conor Rowan racing on Attitash Mountain

Conor Rowan racing on Attitash Mountain

Here is what a few of our top-ranked local endurance athletes had to say when I asked them what their secret(s) to success are:

  • "I don't let muscles atrophy (shrink/weaken) because I incorporate regular strength training into my programming"
  •  "I finally figured out that - more is not better, better is better"
  • "It's true that I compete in endurance-based competitions, but my new secret to my explosive power on the bike is lifting weights... heavy and hard. The best part? A lot of the guys doing it the old school way don't believe me"
  • "My secret? That's easy, I constantly stay out of my comfort zone. I am a competitive mtn. biker so I make myself train in ways that I would have never thought of a while back.. I run, I hike, and I lift heavy weights till I am out of gas but screaming for more"
  • "The locals came in first at (blank event) 2 weeks ago. I feel a little badly, us locals train here (STAB trail) and the guys from Mass and Conn. train on city streets. Eh, I guess I don't feel that bad.. the trail systems in the Upper Valley are rugged, I wouldn't train anywhere else but here"
  • "I combine strength training, specifically body-weight calisthenics, with my endurance training.. it pushes my body AND my mind to the max and keeps things fun and interesting, for sure. I just don't have enough time to train my endurance and my strength separately, so I combo it into one session"

Without further adieu, here is a Total Body Trail Workout for all of my endurance friends; including trail runners, hikers, those crazy obstacle folks, and of course, mountain bikers! 

Here's the twist, trail blazers! I challenge you to do whatever you DON'T normally do, when you try this workout. Runners, it works GREAT with a mountain bike, especially if you are a beginner like me!. I tortured.. I mean.. I tried it myself! :)

Mtn. Bike/strength intervals up Mile Long Field with my training buddies Brandi and Deeks

Mtn. Bike/strength intervals up Mile Long Field with my training buddies Brandi and Deeks

Side Note: I hear a few of you saying, but strength training is not specific to my sport (ie. mtn biking, cycling, trail running, hiking). Oy! So not true! In short, regular strength training will:

  1. Prevent muscle atrophy
  2. Build lean muscle mass
  3. Decrease body fat 
  4. Stimulate your CNS and PNS (BRAIN POWER!!!)
  5. Help prevent injury
  6. Increase your power, speed, strength AND agility (if programmed and performed correctly)
  7. Allow your body to work more efficiently in sport

Okay, I'll stop preaching... but this list could go on and on indefinitely. 

- body (weighted vest/sandbag optional)
- mtn bike (optional)
- watch with a timer
- Mile Long Field: begin at Mountainside Drive (or any other trail, preferably with a long hill)


1. Park at Mountainside Dr. parking lot (insert other trail here)

2. Start your clock and begin running (insert other movement here ex: mtn biking, power hiking)

3. Make your way onto the trail Hayride (which weaves up Mile Long Field)

4. Run/Hike/Bike for 7 minutes. Every 7 minutes, stop and perform the following strength circuit:
      - 20 Squats (arms behind head, butt sits back and low, chest up, shoulders back, push up through the heels)
      - 20 Burpees (insert lower impact exsc. if this is too taxing on the knees/shoulders)
      - 20 Push Ups (option to do 10 eccentric-only push up if you cannot complete a full push up...YOUTUBE Eccentric-Only Push Up)
      - 20 Sit-ups
      - 20 Walking Lunges in an up-hill direction (20 total, as in 10/side)

5. IMPORTANT: When you get to the top of Mile Long Field, you will find a bench! Congratulations on making it to the top!

However, the bench is NOT to rest on.  :) Ideally, it will be just about time to perform another strength circuit. Using the bench, swap out the 1. ground push ups and the 2. walking lunges and insert:
  - push ups to the bench (standing, chest focus)
  - Step Ups on the bench (20 total; 10 leading with the right leg, 10 leading with the left leg)

6. Repeat the same sequence of 7 minutes of endurance training and strength circuit, making your way back down Hay Ride (trail racers, it is just as important to train on the down hill). If desired and you are feeling extra spunky, make your way back up Hay Ride for another round of endurance/strength intervals!

Check back this Friday afternoon for a blog on how to make your own DIY (this is the cool way to say "do it yourself") weighted sandbag!

I will also have a SUPER EXCITING opportunity for all of you that I can't wait to share! 

Stay well and DO YOU!

Erin Kershaw, M.S., ACSM-EP
Fitness Director, The Edge Fitness Center at the Ascutney Mountain Resort