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I always try to get out into the mountains as much as possible as the season approaches because no matter how fit I think I am by September after a summer of evening league soccer, getting out on the trail with a backpack for a few days reminds me how important your "big" muscles are. Plus the mountain context keeps it real. Descending slopes with a pack seems to work out pretty much the same muscles as a day of skiing. Of course this begs the question about how to get in shape for backpacking!