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5 Functional Movements to Keep You Adventure Ready

Wanna be ready for anything but not spend every waking hour in the gym? Give these five functional movements a try to be ready for whatever your next adventure throws at you.

By: Jen Weir + Save to a List

There’s a lot of talk about functional fitness – fitness that transfers to real-life activities or scenarios. This includes training to pack heavy loads, walk or run on uneven terrain, or moving heavy objects as opposed to pumping out 10 sets of biceps curls (Unless they’re 12 ounce curls, then you have my full support.)

So when it comes to getting and staying adventure ready, no matter what said adventures may entail, what are the most efficient movements we can do? I’ve put together a list of five exercises that you should most definitely be able to do without additional resistance but, ideally, should be able to do with a full pack, an elk quarter, a kid or an injured/inebriated hiking buddy on your back.


By squats, I’m not inferring you should be able to squat 500 pounds. You should, however, be able to squat yourself up off the ground. Have you ever tried getting up with a pack on? It’s not always an easy task, especially if the wind is whipping or you have horizontal snow assaulting your face.

The biggest issue with squats isn’t necessarily strength but flexibility. Not everyone can get ass to grass because they lack the mobility and flexibility in their ankles and hips. My advice, rather than loading up a barbell, is do bodyweight squats and do them often. Work on your depth; work on your flexibility; work on your balance. Heck, you can even pop a squat on the floor in front of the TV to really let things open up.

Once you’ve mastered the basic squat, you can move on to more challenging versions such as a single-leg or pistol squat. When you think about it, how often do you actually have both feet squarely on the ground when you’re out trapesing around a mountain side?


You know how sometimes you fall down? Well, how do you get back up? You push yourself up, right? So, why not practice that movement on a regular basis? The more you do push-ups, the stronger you’ll get and the more efficient you’ll become at the movement (not to mention, they're great for core strength). You never know when you might eat it backpacking up or down a slope. It’s always better to be prepared for those crappy circumstances that always sneak up on us.


Just like you sometimes have to push yourself up off the ground, every once in a while the situation arises where you have to lug all of your body weight upward. Pull-ups are hard for most people but I’m a firm believer it’s better to suffer privately than get your ass handed to you publicly. Whether you’re climbing a tree, bouldering up a vertical face, pulling yourself up out of the water after you flipped the paddle board......again, or climbing anything you can to get away from squatch, you’ll most definitely want to have the capacity to maneuver your bodyweight wherever necessary.

Turkish Get Up

OK, this one may not seem overly functional because it’s not every day you have to stand up while holding a heavy weight over your head. However, if you can perform this exercise with ease and efficiency, I assure you, you can move into a standing position holding just about anything at any point on your body (“If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball,” type of deal).


Walking is a movement we all take for granted and yet, many of us fail to take advantage of it. Walking works and conditions pretty much every muscle in the body and you can do it anytime and anywhere. It may not be acceptable to show up to work sweaty and panting after running the whole way, but slightly flushed and energized after a morning walk is A-OK. Walking can also help you get into shape for just about any outdoor pursuit, especially if you throw in hills and/or a pack.

One other point I’d like to make about walking, do you do it right? Are you allowing gravity to do all of the work for you or are you engaging the muscles your supposed to? Your arms, back, core, glutes, thighs and calves should all be creating the motion. Next time you’re out for a stroll, consciously take stock of how you’re moving and make corrections where needed. It’ll make your time on the trail a lot more efficient.

Hope this helps, even if it's just a little bit. Happy hiking! 


We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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