Course Preparation

While you do not have to be a gifted athlete or in peak physical condition to attend an Outward Bound course, you do have to prepare for the challenges of Outward Bound.

There are two kinds of strength necessary to complete your course; physical and mental. Your body needs to be strong, but you must also come with an open mind, willing spirit and a cooperative attitude. Whether you paddle a canoe or kayak for six or eight hours, expedition with a 50+ pound pack for 10 miles or scale a rock wall, you will be pushed and rewarded on many levels.

Note to caffeine drinkers: If you drink coffee or caffeinated teas you will have access to these items on course.  However, they will not be available in the amounts that you may be used to. You may want to cut back a bit before course because you will not be able drink these beverages on your regular schedule. 

Note to tobacco users: If you smoke, chew or dip, you will be able to engage in these activities at times and places determined by the instructors. You may want to taper off a bit before course because you will not be able use tobacco products on your regular schedule. 


Have fun and enjoy the adventure of preparation while training for your course! This is an excellent opportunity for you to get outside, get fit and explore your neighborhood's parks and recreation areas.Your attitude of commitment and willingness to try new things are two of the most important contributions you can bring to your course. Prepare yourself to take on new challenges and try new activities.

Your ability to interact well with a group is also important to successfully completing your course. Plan to be patient, to persevere, to expand your limits and to have a positive and memorable adventure! We strongly suggest that applicants who are overweight or have high blood pressure, family history of heart disease, diabetes, a prolonged sedentary lifestyle or smoke more than one pack a week consult with their physician to establish an exercise program.

You DO NOT have to be an athlete or highly-trained to attend an Outward Bound course.

You DO have to be physically capable and active. Our courses are demanding. You will use your muscles in new and challenging ways or ways that you have not used them in a while!

It takes strength and fitness to carry a 50+ pound pack for 5 miles or climb a rock wall. If you aren’t already involved in a fitness program, now is the time to start. Your efforts will pay off in enjoyment, comfort and fun.


For most people, the best and most accessible exercise is jogging—a combination of walking and running compatible with your current level of fitness, ability and interest. Why jogging? It’s the simplest, cheapest, least encumbered, most available and most efficient way to use your large leg muscles—requiring the heart and circulatory system to pump large quantities of blood and oxygen.

The most important thing is to find an activity that you enjoy doing. While exercising three times a week for thirty minutes is the minimum, five times a week is optimum physical preparation for your course.

Build in 15-30 minutes every other day for light weight training. Weight training helps build strength which will complement your aerobic fitness.


Endurance train at least three times a week on a rowing machine. If a rowing machine is not available, supplement with strength training three times a week by including sit-ups, pull-ups, push-ups or weight training that concentrates on your shoulders, stomach and back.

As always cardiovascular exercise like running, walking, swimming or riding a bike will get you heart pumping and set you up for success on course! 


Hike with a weighted backpack. Start with 20-30 lbs., then build to 50+ lbs. If you do not own a backpack, you may be able to borrow one from a friend, family member or rent one from an outdoor sporting goods store. If none of these options are available, try a smaller "book bag" style backpack with approximately 15 lbs. in it. Start out hiking just a couple of miles on hilly terrain or stairs and increase your intensity and mileage as you gain strength and endurance. On course, you can expect to carry a backpack that weighs approximately 40 to 55 lbs. and you may be hiking for distances of five to 15 miles per day.