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on December 30, 2008
This is excellent reading (and reference) for anyone who is active in outdoor sports from hiking to paddling to biking. There's no fluff or hype here at all. It is a dense (in a good way) book full of detailed information and exercise science that should help anyone who is serious about improving his/her performance and, importantly, who is interested in remaining injury free. If I were to choose one book on outdoor fitness this would be it. (It's far better than Conditioning for Outdoor Fitness, which I have also read.)

The book is organized into three parts:

1) Foundation for Outdoor Fitness.
If you wanted, you could skip this chapter and just move on to the specific conditioning programs for the activity you're interested in, BUT you'd be missing a critical point of the book: creating an understanding of why a foundation is important and how to build it for your activities. And besides this, it's surprisingly interesting. This section covers everything from basic training to assessing your fitness, increasing your endurance, maximizing your strength, nutrition and overcoming environmental obstacles. There are tons of nuggets here. A few that I like:

* The Components of Sport-Specific Fitness chart, which breaks down the needs for each sport into aerobic conditioning, anaerobic conditioning, upper-body strength, lower-body strength, flexibility, skill, cross-training (e.g. off-road biking rates a 4, 4, 3, 5, 2, 4, 1 in each of these areas respectively, which makes total sense). This is very helpful for setting priorities, especially when you have limited time to workout.
* FITT (frequency, intensity, time, and type of exercise) parameters.
* Advice on establishing training blocks.
* Cross-training chart which shows the activities that have low to high overlap with the sport you're interested in.
* Very specific guidelines for assessing your cardiovascular and strength fitness (e.g. vertical push is measured with an overhead dumbbell press. Completing 5 reps with 25% of body weight rates a 1. 70% of body weight rates highest and is a 5. Of course not all outdoor sports demand a level 5 for vertical push--for climbers this is ideal, for trail runners it's overkill.)
* Developing your own, personalized aerobic/anaerobic and strength programs--The Tabata Intervals are not for everyone, (they're killer), but have been great for me.

There's just tons of info in this first section, some of which I haven't gotten to yet.

2.) Conditioning for Specific Activities.
This is the section that most people will probably turn to quickly as it provides detailed info and guidelines on the needs and training for seven areas of outdoor sports: hiking, trekking and backpacking; scrambling and mountaineering; climbing; trail running; off-road biking; canoeing, kayaking and rafting; snowshoeing, cross-country and backcountry skiing. The chapters are about 12-20 pages in length and offer practical and insightful advice for building endurance, strength and stamina for everyone from beginner to advanced. For example the hiking, trekking and backpacking chapter offers detailed training (aerobic and strength) programs for a moderate hike (8 miles, 17 lb. pack, 3,400 ft. of elevation gain), an intermediate backpack (3 nights, grand canyon rim-to-rim, 35 lb. pack, 5,000 ft. elevation gain), and an advanced high-altitude trek (6-day Kilimanjaro at 19,340 elevation, with 20 lb. pack, long days with great vertical). Each training program is highlighted in carefully constructed charts and there are numerous helpful tidbits that you sense are derived from personal experience (e.g. sore quads are often a problem after a high vertical descent with a pack--authors recommend reverse step-ups, Bulgarian squats and backward lunges to help avoid).

3.) Exercises for Peak Performance.
The final section offers up the specific exercises they recommend. The Exercise Finder chart is useful for adapting or creating your own training programs as it not only notes the goals for each exercise (e.g. body stabilization, flexibility, etc.), but also the most applicable sports. Each exercise is clearly explained, demonstrated in photographs and precautions and variations are noted.

There are a few negatives that bug me so far:
* It is very dense. Future editions would benefit from a better, more reader-friendly layout--more white space, more sub-heads, and more photography.
* There's no index. A real pain in the butt especially for a book that has so much information.
* At times the charts are a bit difficult to understand or refer to exercises many pages away.

In the end, however, these irritants are easy to forgive because the book is just loaded with tons of useful information. I'd like to see a sequel entitled The Outdoor Athlete II: More Performance Training for...
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on December 11, 2008
Wow this book is comprehensive! It is a complete cookbook of recipes to improve your physical ability to have fun in the mountains. It's deceptively easy to imagine that a Pilates class and a couple hours a week on an elliptical trainer are all it takes to play safely and comfortably in the mountains on the weekends. Many of us over 30 with career and kids have learned the hard way that this isn't enough.

Strength training, endurance training, aerobic conditioning, balance, flexibility, periodization, cross training, sports nutrition - it's all there. It is the best description of both the need to vary your training and practical ways of doing so that I've ever read. It is reminiscent of the Bill Pearl classic "Getting Stronger", yet immeasurably better in its comprehensive approach. There is a fitness evaluation to help you identify your needs. It has suggested daily and weekly training regimens for varying levels of fitness for each sport, some lasting as long as 23 weeks. There is a long section of recipe cards (if you will) for each stretch and exercise prescribed. Each of these "recipes" includes a detailed description of the exercise, photographs demonstrating the suggested form and movement, precautionary suggestions to prevent injury and suggested variations. I have a lot of books on my shelf and I've never seen anything better.

I guarantee that if you buy the book, read it and follow its recommendations the day after your first workout you'll say "#@!#$%$# my legs are sore!" I know, it happened to me.
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on March 24, 2009
The Outdoor Athlete is a must read for the serious outdoor person and the weekend enthusiast alike.
The Schurmans have produced a readable exploration of a complex subject. I was very much impressed with the well engineered methodology used to assist the diverse group known as Outdoor Athletes.
The book is set into sections. The first leads the reader through the physiology of training as applied to the outdoors. The next describes evaluation of various aspects of fitness. It also introduces actual tests the reader can do on their own. The final section and one that I found most intriguing applies it to individual sports. The Schurmans present a rating based definition of several outdoor sports. Then starting from where you have tested yourself to be, they assist in defining a personal routine to build your weaknesses while maintaining your strengths. All of this is built around sample routines developed for specific sports. Each of the routines while highly modifiable can also be a stand alone program. By the end the reader also would be well enough equipped to actually build your own routine.
If you are dedicated enough to your outdoor activities to be considering training, this book is a top of the list consideration. It is well presented, straight forward, and is built around each individual finding the best route to their own goals.
I am an avid bicyclist with a lot of Rock climbing combined with some mountaineering and ocean Kayak. With the tools I have learned, I am much better equipped to be prepared for whatever I dream up next.
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on July 15, 2014
This book has detailed training plans for a variety of outdoor activities, as well as self-evaluation tests for conditioning and strength. I got the best results of my life using it to train for this summer's hiking season. Previously I was just winging it and was not incorporating enough variety and recovery into my workouts.
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on January 1, 2009
I've been looking for a long time for a book that can help me train for both winter sports and summer activities. I like to cross-country ski when there is snow in the mountains and then hike and backpack when summer comes. At last, here is a book that satisfies the needs of a variety of outdoor athletes. It includes specific training programs for mountaineering, cross-country skiing, backpacking and other active outdoor sports. (Sorry golfers, you're on your own.) There are charts that let you personalize your own training program depending on the type of activity and the time you have to prepare. I'm particularly impressed that the authors address aerobic and strength conditioning for each sport they cover. I've been using it and found it is clear, informative--and motivational.
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on February 26, 2009
Not to be confused with the Outdoor Athlete written by Steve Ilg in the 1990', which did not live up to the title (although it did have some amusing pics of Steve in leopard tights). The Schurmans have put together the long needed comprehensive manual for training for demanding outdoor sport. It can be used as a total training program for a novice to an experienced athlete, or in specific sections to fill in the gaps for those that find themselves underperforming in specific areas.

The book is jam packed with useful information and has helped me understand that performing well in the mountains is mostly a reflection of a disciplined training regimen. Outdoor Athlete is well structured and illustrated publication, a valuable addition to anyone interested in improved performance in outdoor environments.
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on April 17, 2014
I am new to outdoor sports and this book has helped me train for hiking in New Hampshire. I have noticed that I can just climb mountains without being out of breath or exhausted so the training program has been quite helpful. It has also given my exercise regiment a guide to follow with some nutritional suggestions.
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on May 20, 2014
I used the book to train for the Grand Canyon hike, down the S Kaibab Trail and up the Bright Angel Trail (on separate days). I found this book referenced in an article about training for a Grand Canyon hike. The book covers many different sports and activities.

This book was very informative. Although I knew most of what was presented, as I have been active all my life and trained for many 10K runs, half marathons, hikes, and century bike rides; I still learned a lot. Very well presented and organized, without being condescending.

I ordered the Kindle version, so as to reduce paper consumption and storage space. However, this version does not have page numbers included. The book has a lot of references to other pages in the book, so it was a significant inconvenience to say the least. I worked around that by finding the referenced pages by going to the chapter where the material would most likely be doing a text search in the Kindle. Once I found the referenced pages I bookmarked the reference in the Kindle with a descriptive name. In the course of doing this, I also documented the subject, chapter and page in separate columns of a spreadsheet, which I could then sort by column. The bookmarks and spreadsheet were a big help for easier reference during my training.

I would have given this book a 5, except for the Kindle format. Get the paperback format.
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on April 6, 2010
I had rented the DVD that Courtenay and her husband had made several years ago about training to climb Mt Rainier. When I found out they had written a book, I was very excited about getting it. Don't get me wrong, the book is packed with tons of useful information! They definitely know what they are talking about. But, for a lay reader looking to get in shape for the climb, I found it cumbersome to put together a work out program with this book. I actually felt a little discouraged because it took me so long to sift through the dense text to find the nuggets of training wisdom that I needed. Also, the exercise models they used look out of place - they don't look like people who climb mountains. Hard to explain, but you'll know what I mean when you see it.
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on April 3, 2011
I was looking for a comprehensive training guide for my outdoor sporting activities including road biking, mountain biking, hiking, back country skiing and downhill skiing. I've never really training with a structured scientific approach and I needed to improve my performance.

The first section contains the basics of fitness training and diet. The next section contains information on training for specific sports. Each section contains a sample training plan depending on your stage/level of training.

The back of the book contains a list of various types of weight training exercises and stretches. Each one has instructions and diagrams on how to do it. They are also cross-referenced in a table for what sports they are best used for.

This book is a great resource for understanding more about the basics of training for sports. It is well written and easy to read. I have built a better training program and have gotten results with it.
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