Topic

Do hiking poles build upper body muscle?


Forum Posting

A Membership is required to post in the forums. Login or become a member to post in the member forums!

Home Forums General Forums General Lightweight Backpacking Discussion Do hiking poles build upper body muscle?

  • This topic is empty.
Viewing 25 posts - 26 through 50 (of 87 total)
  • Author
    Posts
  • #1502054
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    "But everyone keep telling how trekking poles add propulsion?
    If highly competitive runners don't get any advantage from them, why should walkers?"

    Hi Roger,

    I think running and walking are very different activities. Different rhythm, different pace, different purpose, and hiking with a backpack introduces yet another element into the mix. I was a pretty competitive runner for a number of years, on the roads, on trails, and off, and I cannot imagine being able to use them productively in any of those activities, just as you have observed. When hiking, I find them extremely useful, not only on down hill sections to protect joints and add an element of stability in certain dicey situations(talus, stream crossings, etc), but also on uphill sections to assist in high step-ups and generally transfer part of the work load to my upper body, thereby slightly delaying the onset of glycogen depletion in my legs. I have done it both ways, having backpacked for 24 years without poles before I started using them, and I have noticed a definite difference. For me it is not adding propulsion in the sense of "going faster" but, rather, distributing the workload over a wider set of muscles. Glycogen, as I understand it, is not mobile much beyond neighboring muscle cells and if I can conserve a bit of it in my legs, all the better. My 2 cents.

    Cheers,

    Tom

    #1502055
    Nick Gatel
    BPL Member

    @ngatel

    Locale: Southern California

    "I cheerfully make exception for those who find that poles are useful for bad knees on downhills – no argument there."

    Ah… but in a race you want/need to run downhill. Maintain your pace/place on the uphills, increase speed and pass people on the downhill. Let gravity do the work. Experienced runners make up time on the down hills, while others worry about falling down.

    Two different sports… hiking and ultra-running.

    #1502057
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    "Ah… but in a race you want/need to run downhill. Maintain your pace/place on the uphills, increase speed and pass people on the downhill. Let gravity do the work. Experienced runners make up time on the down hills, while others worry about falling down."

    That's one strategy, Nick. There are other runners, strong on hills, who choose to nail their opponent on the uphill, open up a lead with a kick, and then try to maintain their lead. It can also be devastating psychologically when someone passes you on a hill and then kicks coming off the hill to open up a lead. Both tactics have their following.

    #1503034
    Loco Rogue
    Member

    @locorogue

    Toning: Trekking poles will stimulate upper body muscles, primarily shoulders, back, arms(more details if you need). Using poles is not a 'muscle building' exercise, mostly repetitious aerobic. Another factor in seeing any "toning" or benefits of muscle stimulation, is the amount of body fat that one has. Obviously the less BF means that you'll see muscles more than someone that has a higher BF%. When one is doing more aerobic functions(with proper diet), usually the leaner one gets, the more definition they'll see, it's not that they are building muscle, they are just seeing the 'hidden' muscles they already have.

    Musculoskeletal: Poles will reduce musculoskeletal stress on the lower body. Those who never used poles will 'feel' the almost immediate relief on the structure before they'll see any muscle "toning". Don't ever place weights on your limbs as one has suggested. It's unnatural and usually causes injury, usually minor to start. The injuries usually start in the muscles(micro tears, etc). Then potential harm to the rest of the musculoskeletal, because people don't realize that this new 'pain' they are having is caused by the 'new' unnatural addition they added(weights).

    My professional opinion:(via extensive/exhausting field testing and thorough research): Trekking/hiking poles are an absolute necessity for those doing any kind of extended walking, and when weight is added to their structure, and especially on prolonged outings. And an absolute benefit to elderly, or those with structural issues.

    Sorry to ramble.

    #1503085
    Roger Caffin
    BPL Member

    @rcaffin

    Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe

    > My professional opinion:(via extensive/exhausting field testing and thorough research):
    > Trekking/hiking poles are an absolute necessity for those doing any kind of extended walking,
    > and when weight is added to their structure, and especially on prolonged outings.

    Oh dear. My wife and I have been doing these 2 and 3 MONTH long walks in Europe with full packs without any trekking poles. How did we survive in that case?

    For that matter, how did ANYone survive in the days before trekking poles were invented?

    Cheers

    #1503157
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    "For that matter, how did ANYone survive in the days before trekking poles were invented?"

    Probably the same way people survived before cars, airplanes, refrigerators, washing machines, etc were invented. Survival and optimization are two different things.

    What I ponder is how people survived before cell phones, I Pods, and video games were invented. :-)

    #1503195
    Loco Rogue
    Member

    @locorogue

    Oh dear. My wife and I have been doing these 2 and 3 MONTH long walks in Europe with full packs without any trekking poles. How did we survive in that case?

    For that matter, how did ANYone survive in the days before trekking poles were invented?

    Cheers

    I LOVE Sarcasm? It's usually a sign of being unbalanced, haunted by anger. People with unmet goals, people who were emotionally abused and people with violated rights may end up being angry at everything. They live a miserable life and curse everyone they find in their way as if others carry part of the blame for what happened to them. Those are the overly critical and the overly sarcastic people you meet in your life. Some people are overly critical because this is just how they were treated as children. Whether it was by their parents or colleagues it won’t matter much, what matters is that the child becomes wounded and then carries the wound into his subconscious mind then without noticing this wound makes him overly critical and UNBEARABLE to everyone around him. The mind of the person lacking self confidence is usually full of negative messages and that’s why the excess negative messages travels to the other people around him in the form of criticism. The conclusion is, The overly critical person usually lacks self confidence. Irony is wasted on the stupid. Satire is a sort of glass, wherein beholders do generally discover everybody's face but their own.

    Thanks 'tom' and 'roger', i'm sure there will be more to come, and not just from you, as your type seems to be the norm. It sickens me, and it's also embarrassing(as an american) that your type is the unfortunate majority(any wonder why most of the world hates americans)? But what is nice is that you let me know that i am indeed better than some.

    Sorry to 'ramble' again, but i did want to apologize, my post directed towards "Do hiking poles build upper body muscle?" was not directed to you, i just felt compelled(as a professional in the field, for where the question was directed)) to post a 'credible' response to a specific post/person. Why? It was answered by 'some' in ways that's dangerous. And my post receives only idiocy? I'm not a fan of these forums, as they tend to open a person up to scrutiny from the naive, ignorant/stupid, jealous?

    Your 'faux' campaign's(treks to the great unknown) that you engage, are second to your real, true passion(drive)… negativity. It's usually not something one is proud of, but they say ignorance is bliss, right?, and heck, your good at it, so stick with it! I won't expect less, don't let me down, and your welcome(you won't understand that one, i just love toying with your kind). I loved the "CHEERS" at the end, by the way.

    Buddha speed εˆγ—γγ‚ŒηŒΏγ‚‚ε°θ“‘γ‚’γ»γ—γ’δΉŸ?

    #1503196
    Ashley Brown
    Member

    @ashleyb

    Chill out Loco. =-) Best not to jump to conclusions about people's personalities based on a sentence or two they have written. If you hang around BPL for a while you will discover that Roger and Tom are nice guys. I think you've misinterpreted Tom's post, and have taken Roger's comment a little too personally. Unfortunately it's difficult to convey the tone of the speaker's voice when writing, but if you know him a little bit then you would realise that his sarcasm is not malicious or nasty. Hence the 'cheers' at the end of the post. A classic case of internet forum mis-communication, where the writer thinks he is saying one thing, and the reader mis-interprets the tone of the comment and thinks he is saying something else.

    ps. you may be pleased to hear Roger is Australian, not American ;-)

    #1503199
    Mark McLauchlin
    BPL Member

    @markmclauchlin

    Locale: Western Australia

    With a total of 4 posts….I would back right off and not make assumptions about others.

    Cheers

    #1503244
    Dean F.
    BPL Member

    @acrosome

    Locale: Back in the Front Range

    Wow. No kidding.

    That's quite a manifesto, 'Rogue'.

    Talk about being "unbalanced" and "haunted by anger"…

    Cheers.

    #1503246
    Lynn Tramper
    Member

    @retropump

    Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna

    I also trekked for almost 30 years without any poles or walking sticks. And when I first tried them I disliked them intensely, but a bad ankle injury forced me to try them in earnest, and now I wouldn't go back. I still can't stand to use the straps on poles though, and this was the thing that put me off them most when I first tried them.

    Loco, you may have professional experience to add, but when you make absolute statements suchs as "trekking/hiking poles are an absolute necessity for those doing any kind of extended walking", you not only leave yourself open to attack, but you bait attack from even the most balanced and non-angry kinds of folks like Roger and Tom.

    #1503271
    Roger Caffin
    BPL Member

    @rcaffin

    Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe

    Hi all

    I must say I was impressed by the eloquence of the opening paragraph from Loco Rogue. A genuine work of art. I was filled with admiration.

    But then I started to wonder. It seemed too good to be true, so I did some research. Guess what? Most of the big first paragraph was cribbed, exactly word for word, from pop-psych publications on the web. Have a look at
    http://www.selfgrowth.com/articles/Why_Are_Some_People_Overly_Critical_And_Sarcastic.html
    for an example.

    Troll. Boring. Plonk.

    Cheers

    #1503272
    Lynn Tramper
    Member

    @retropump

    Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna

    Roger, you sound angry ;)

    I also think Loco mistook you for an American!!

    #1503273
    Jolly Green Giant
    BPL Member

    @regultr

    Locale: www.jolly-green-giant.blogspot.com

    I personally like the "Americans suck" in his "about me" section. Anyone else picking up on his pathetic little agenda…..

    #1503280
    Rick Cheehy
    Member

    @kilgoretrout2317

    Locale: Virginia

    'Roid Rage?

    I think poles help build arm strength and I like 'em. You know what else builds arm strength? Pumping my darn MSR Hyperflow.

    And for the record U-S-A U-S-A USA USA!!!

    Cheers!

    #1503425
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    "You know what else builds arm strength? Pumping my darn MSR Hyperflow."

    Too freakin' funny, Rick. You just made my good day a little better.

    Loco, are you still with us? If so, check this one out and maybe get with the general tenor of the Forums.

    #1503492
    Nick Gatel
    BPL Member

    @ngatel

    Locale: Southern California

    Okay, I am not an expert. However, hiking long distances is going to build muscle tone, and more importantly the cardio system. As for using trekking poles, I would say it would improve muscle tone, but not "build" muscles. Same for the legs, the muscle tone will improve, but I would guess the majority of thru hikers end up with smaller muscles at the end or their journey.

    For me the jury is still out on the benefits of using trekking poles. Doing a lot of continuous uphill hiking wears on my legs, no matter how fit I am. At the end of the day, my legs are the most tired part of my body. So if I use poles and transfer some of that effort to my arms, and 'gives my legs a rest' that is probably a good thing.

    Trekking poles are also good for shelter poles.

    Nevertheless, I still question whether poles are that beneficial over the long haul. I find that on flats, hills and down hill I move faster without the poles (or just carrying them without using them). I haven't given up on trekking poles yet, and perhaps I am not using them optimally, but except for really steep hills, some stream crossing, and using them to rest on after that ump-teen switchback, there is a extra complexity of carrying two objects.

    #1503497
    Tom Caldwell
    BPL Member

    @coldspring

    Locale: Ozarks

    I once had an idea to make a weighted set of hiking poles. Each would be 4 lbs, 8 lbs per set. The center of gravity would be 3/4 to 5/7 of the way to the top, just where you would naturally hold them when you weren't actually putting them to the ground. I just never figured out how to make them and get the weight balanced out appropriately. If you took short hikes with these, I promise you it would do something to your muscles, and probably wouldn't be as much of a burden as you would imagine 4 lbs on each arm to be.

    #1503501
    Lynn Tramper
    Member

    @retropump

    Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna

    As already mentioned, whether or not your muscles become 'toned' (a rather ill-defined term which usually just means you can see them better) depends on your starting condition. For me, any long distance endurance event will cause me to lose muscle (at least the showier fast-twitch type two stuff), but gain cardio fitness. My muscles appear 'toned' right now, not because I'm lean, but becasue they are relatively big, so can show through my bodyfat better. Of course, they would look even more 'toned' if I dropped some fat :(

    "but except for really steep hills, some stream crossing, and using them to rest on after that ump-teen switchback, there is a extra complexity of carrying two objects."

    Totally agree. They can be a real hindrance in dense bush, and boulder fields, but are very nice to have for steep hills (more downhills for me), river crossings, probing mud of unkown depth, ice and snow, and to just rest on. Also nice if integrated into your shelter, or if you're carrying a lower body injury. Most assuredly not a necessity, just a nice accessory IMHO.

    #1503537
    Brian UL
    Member

    @maynard76

    Locale: New England

    Building muscle: low reps with high weight

    getting "toned": clean diet with lots of cardio

    trekking poles: extremely high reps with extremely low weight.

    the answer is no. Maybe some improvement in strength IF you can get the diet right, eating at the right time. But it is a very inefficient way to go about it. I would think there would be an small improvement in strength in the first few months, then you will hit the Plateau and improvement will stop since you are no longer increasing the weight or changing up the routine. And when I say "small" strength gain- I mean small.

    #1503661
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    "trekking poles: extremely high reps with extremely low weight."

    trekking poles: extremely high reps with extremely low weight = endurance. A good thing, IMO.

    #1503682
    Lynn Tramper
    Member

    @retropump

    Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna

    "trekking poles: extremely high reps with extremely low weight = endurance. A good thing, IMO."

    Maybe so, but that's not what the OP was wanting to know. If you are into a variety of sports, then a balance between muscle strength and endurance is my ideal. That requires all of the things Brian mentioned. I see too many endurance athletes who are anything BUT toned, so high reps per se is not the answer for getting toned. Those Olympic class 100m sprinters wouldn't be caught dead doing high reps, but they are certainly 'toned' through good training and diet, plus a few extra 'ergonomic' aids in some cases!

    #1503734
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    "Maybe so, but that's not what the OP was wanting to know. If you are into a variety of sports, then a balance between muscle strength and endurance is my ideal. That requires all of the things Brian mentioned. I see too many endurance athletes who are anything BUT toned, so high reps per se is not the answer for getting toned. Those Olympic class 100m sprinters wouldn't be caught dead doing high reps, but they are certainly 'toned' through good training and diet, plus a few extra 'ergonomic' aids in some cases!"

    A couple of posts ago you said toned has to do with appearance, i.e. being visible and, I guess, "looking strong". I know a lot of endurance athletes who fit that definition. Some of them are also actually strong , by which I mean they have a lot of strength relative to body weight. Ditto climbers, many of whom are pretty lean but who have a very high strength to body weight ratio. It comes from a combination of resistance training AND endurance training. Application of strength over extended periods of time is the name of the game in endurance sports, especially the mountain variety. When I said high reps with low weight = endurance, I was referring to one component of training muscles, not the only one. To gain muscle mass, high resistance(weight) is certainly necessary. But if you intend to actually do something with those muscles that lasts beyond an 800 meter run, for instance, you'd better include endurance work in your training. The OP wanted to know if hiking poles build upper body muscle and I assumed that he wanted to do something with them after he builds them up. My bad. :)

    #1503761
    Lynn Tramper
    Member

    @retropump

    Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna

    "The OP wanted to know if hiking poles build upper body muscle and I assumed that he wanted to do something with them after he builds them up"

    That may be. The OP didn't state whether his question was "will I look more buff" if I use poles, or "will I have more endurance in my arms" if I use poles. If the second question was what he was asking, then the answer, as far as I can figure, would be something like "sure, you will have muscles more adapted to endurance poling if you use poles". Aside from long treks and cross-country skiing, I can't think of many other endurance sports where this would be of use. So yes, long distance use of poles will make your arms stronger for long distance poling…but prolly not much use in an arm-wrestle ;)

    As an avid ex-climber, I know I spent a lot of time in the gym and at the wall working on pure strength…a lot more time than I spent on endurance activity. The strength to weight ratio comes from a good diet and lots of strength training, just like many other sports (wrestling, judo, weight lifting etc…). Yes, you need some stamina as well, but not the kind of stamina needed for many months of thru-hiking. I can't imagine a long thru-hike as being anything other than catabolic.

    #1503790
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    "As an avid ex-climber, I know I spent a lot of time in the gym and at the wall working on pure strength…a lot more time than I spent on endurance activity. The strength to weight ratio comes from a good diet and lots of strength training, just like many other sports (wrestling, judo, weight lifting etc…). Yes, you need some stamina as well, but not the kind of stamina needed for many months of thru-hiking. I can't imagine a long thru-hike as being anything other than catabolic."

    I've got to assume that you were a sport climber from your comments, Lynn, because when you climb in the mountains, be it rock, snow and ice, or mixed(alpine), multi pitch and/or multi day, if you haven't worked REAL hard on the endurance, as well as the strength, necessary to haul not just your body but your gear up a mountain, you will be in a world of hurt, period. I get the feeling you and I are talking apples and oranges again. Have you ever seen pictures of climbers at the end of an expedition or a long multi day climb? Or done one? Very catabolic. Just like thru hiking. But the combination of strength AND endurance is what gets them through, sometimes just barely, along with a whole lot of mental toughness and a bit of luck.

Viewing 25 posts - 26 through 50 (of 87 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.
Forum Posting

A Membership is required to post in the forums. Login or become a member to post in the member forums!

Get the Newsletter

Get our free Handbook and Receive our weekly newsletter to see what's new at Backpacking Light!

Gear Research & Discovery Tools


Loading...