Hiking may seem to be an easy sport. Many of us can hit the trail and knock out 2 or 3 miles no problem. When it comes to the Big Hike though, you are going to need to train your body a little to handle it.
You’ve got a new pack, does it fit right? Do I need hiking poles? How much should I carry? These are all questions you need to ask yourself, but the most important questions is… Is my body ready?
You will need to build up your physical abilities to progress in Hiking. If you have never really hiked before then prepare your body for the challenges that lie ahead and start out slowly. If you are a great swimmer and you think that you are in great condition and could easily hike for hours on end, you can be wrong. Hiking up- and hiking downhill on varying terrains and conditions are pretty specific fitness exercises that strain your body in ways that it may not be used to. Even if you are used to walking, strapping a 30-pound backpack will suddenly change your entire experience.
The key to training yourself lies in slow but steady progress. There is no fun in draining yourself to the point of collapse. Remember that we are walking for our enjoyment so it is alright to push your boundaries but do not go too far. Make sure to set obtainable and measurable goals. Here are some suggested schedules when you’re training for hiking:
Start off by making small 1-3 miles hikes on regular intervals (1-2 times per week) under not too challenging conditions and without a backpack. Do it near your own home so you can make sure that you are able to be back before sunset
Steadily increase the length of your hikes until you are able to comfortably make a 9 mile hike.
On your smaller hikes, you will most likely already be carrying a small day pack with some snacks and drinks.. Now work on increasing the weight of your load by adding more equipment or food/drinks.
Steadily increase the weight of your expedition pack until you are able to comfortably finish a shorter hike with 22lb. backpack.
At this stage, you are set to go on basic day hikes and you can train yourself in more challenging terrains and greater vertical gains.
From this point on, you should steadily increase your distance and the weight and size of your pack. With the proper training, you should be able to carry up to 25-30% of your body weight as Backpack Load.
There is a big difference between hiking on flat terrain and having to deal with uphill- and downhill walking. Steadily increase the number of vertical meters you gain on your day hikes. If you live somewhere flat, find some stairs to climb. A local high school football field will have bleachers you can climb.
Walking for consecutive days is very different from single day hikes with periods of rest between them. Consecutive hikes bring the added challenges of possible blisters, muscle aches and skin irritation. Train yourself by increasing the number of consecutive Hiking days.
This training routine should increase your overall fitness level and will get your body adjusted for Hiking. Before a big Hiking trip, it is always good to increase your physical fitness training intensity.
The absolute best program to help you prepare for steep climbs and long miles is Les Mills PUMP.
Pump is a barbell-based strength training program that includes all of the basic moves needed to get your legs, lungs, core and back muscles ready for carrying a large pack over many miles. The program is designed perfectly with the hiker, walker in mind. You only workout with weights 3 days a week and the other 3 you are out hiking, walking. We’ve been using this program for the past year and have had amazing results.
Still unsure? Read “Why Everyone Should Weight Train!”
We are currently training for a 2 week trek in New Zealand. I know that it wouldn’t be possible without having prepared ourselves with this program.
If you liked this post and would like me to be your personal coach, join my team and I’ll help you reach your goals no matter how high they are! Together we can move Mountains!!
Jen Leppert is a Full time Mom, Wife, Mountain Girl and fitness coach who works with clients to help them reach their goals. Jen struggled with back pain, boring exercises, and plateaus in her progress for years until she discovered the solution that helped her lose over 30 pounds, over 2 pants sizes and keep it off . Whether you need to lose a lot of weight or a little, or need a way to get out of your rut, or if you want to make an income helping others reach their goals, Jen will help you get the results that you deserve. It is never too late to start. – Click Here to get started!