Machine vs. not very steep terrain

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  • #65661

    Hello again,

    I’m about to head out the door for another moderate hike in nearby Forest Park (Portland, OR) and am wondering if using the stair stepper and/or treadmill at the gym would provide better training. For reference, my outdoor hike yesterday was 7 miles and I only gained 2000 feet. I can find steeper options, but they are limited right now due to downed trees and I’ve hiked the other steep options so many times that I might lose my mind if I hike them any more than I do already (BPA road again?). I appreciate what Steve said in the last Zoom meeting about doing whatever keeps you fresh and motivated, and another foray in Forest Park is hardly motivating. So, what I’m hoping to find here are strong opinions about the effectiveness of stair steppers and treadmills vs moderate outdoor terrain.

    Thanks in advance,


  • Moderator
    MarkPostle on #65663

    Brad, In the scheme of things I think that 2000′ in 7 miles is not horrible. I have many folks that don’t have access to terrain that steep outside. That said you may be able to benefit from a mix of outdoor “rolling” terrain and dedicated indoor mileage. If possible I would use a stairmill type device with some pack weight. This will help simulate some very continuously steep uphills fairly nicely and will be a nice pairing with your outdoor terrain. Another option (although certainly not very mentally exciting) is do a mixed workout and pair an outdoor hike for a portion of the time period with immediately doing weighted box steps to simulate steep vertical. For example: 2:15 hours of outdoor hiking on rolling terrain followed by 45 min of continuous box steps with weighted pack. This could easily result in 3-4,000′ of gain total and would be a good simulation of the vert required on typical mountain days.

    bradjcoombs on #65674


    Thanks, that’s super helpful. My training today was more fatiguing that I thought it would be, so maybe the terrain yesterday was more effective than I thought. That said, I think I’ll incorporate some stairmill training in order to get the continuous uphill fatigue…but, what I’m really hoping for is to get a full day out on some real mountains…maybe next weekend.


    mattmay3s on #65681

    Hi Brad – due to work travel I have just switched from outdoors to gym based and found the 2.5 hours on Sat and 4 hours on Sunday on the incline trainer @ 25% very different to being outdoors.

    It felt that different muscles were getting fatigued and it was a ‘harder’ perceived effort for the same heart rate workout overall – probably not helped by it being 32 degrees C and high humidity in the gym! Certainly wasn’t motivating through and I’m not looking forward to doing it all again next weekend.

    bradjcoombs on #65690


    Thanks for the response. Reading about the experience of that kind of training from someone who is currently going through this program helps a lot. Work has ramped up lately and the idea of just going to the gym to bang out a workout in the least amount of time is very appealing and is at times all I can manage. This is helpful for prioritizing when I drive to workouts.


    MarkPostle on #65697

    The best workout is the one you actually get done!

    bill on #65708

    Brad – Forest Park is fifteen minutes from home and the nearest steep hills are more than an hour away, so I end up there once or twice a week. One thing you might try, if you don’t mind doing repeats… the steepest section of trail I’ve found there starts at the steps on thurman, to aspen, along wildwood, and to the top of birch (1.6mi, 625 feet). The longest climbing section starts at aspen and ends where wildwood levels off (about .78 miles and 540 feet or roughly 692 ft/mi gain).

    There is a bit of steepish terrain, but not much, and it takes four round trips to get 6.25 miles and 2160 feet of climb. Not as good as Defiance or Hunchback but a lot better exercise-to-drive time ratio.

    If you want steps, Mt Tabor probably has the two longest runs in the area, on the east side and between the reservoirs. That will give you more steep, at the price of a lot of mind numbing repetition.

    bradjcoombs on #65773

    That’s great! I’ll try that route. Anything to mix it up and keep it close. What are you training for if you don’t mind my asking?

    bill on #65854

    Brad – This summer I am planning to do a series of hikes/scrambles including South Sister, the peaks around Crater Lake and a group in Indian Heaven Wilderness. Then I am shooting for Mount Saint Helens, Mount Hood, Mount Adams, and finally, Rainier. Hope you enjoy the route in Forest Park! – Bill

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