As the trails start to dry out and all that vertical begins to open up...welcome back the power hike!
There is nothing better than an early morning burn powering up the steep side of the “M”. There is a coolness in the morning air before the heat of the day starts to build. Amidst the morning dew and the Spring wildflowers, you are climbing.
So what is the secret to the power hike?
How to you get every bit of energy and drive from each step?
Well, first of all, many of us are quad dominant. This accounts for only one of the three major muscle groups, working over only one of the three major joints involved in climbing!
The quadriceps extend the knee. BUT the glutes extend the hip. AND the gastroc-soleus complex plantarflexes the ankle. THREE muscle groups. THREE joints.
So, the secret to the power hike is to use your glutes and your calf. To extend your hip completely and press all the way through the ankle.
To master these moves, try these:
Grab a box, a park bench, or a sturdy coffee table
Without pushing off the bottom leg, lean your upper body forward “stacking your chest over your knee over your toes”, and drive up through the hip.
When vertically climbing, you are pushing off an incline (definition of vertical). Therefore you are working in what I call the “negative space”. This is why your calf muscles are typically so sore those first few climbs back - your heel is suspended in air while having to generate force for the next step.
Off the edge of a step, drop one heel while pressing over the forefoot of the other foot. Continue to pedal the ankles.