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Training for Hiking: Get in Shape with Resistance Training and Exercises

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Hiking and trekking trips are fun and being in incredible shape right before the start of your trip definitely makes a huge difference as to how much you get to enjoy your adventure. If you have been on backpacking and trekking trips before, you must know the importance of remaining fit and training for hiking.

However, if this is your first time, understand that you would have to carry a pack on your back that might weight thirty or more pounds. You would be walking up and down on a variety of terrains that is going to challenge you in a lot of ways. You need to be both mentally and physically strong and need to possess an excellent degree of cardiovascular fitness. This is where training for hiking comes to light.

When you opt for training for hiking and are physically fit, you are guaranteed to enjoy the trip more than an out-of-shape trekker who has a high chance of getting injured.

Why do You Need Cardio and Strength Training for Hiking

If on your hiking trip, you are hoping to walk at least ten miles or more a day, you would need to perform a minimum of three days of cardio training in a week. Average exertion levels would be rather crucial and while high-intensity exercise is quite a rage nowadays, you need to work on training the energy system of your body that would be under constant pressure on the trip.

Now, your cardio workouts when training for hiking should last around thirty to sixty minutes. The routine must include a mix of hiking, walking, and cycling.

This way you can be sure that you would be safeguarded from exertion and injuries. Also, if you are including three to five days of cardio training, keep at least 2 high-intensity workouts that are primarily focused on intervals so as to develop your anaerobic systems.

This would come in handy when you are dealing with the trail’s steeper section or are really pushing your pace.

Resistance Training and Exercises for the Next Adventure

Backpacking training
Training for a good Hike

As discussed above, when you are on a hiking trip, you are sure to move up and down quite a number of times. It could be to collect water, to set up the tent or for some other activity. Also, the backpack that you would be carrying is expected to have some substantial amount of weight and that raises your center of gravity. This, in turn, means that the pressure on the muscular system would increase as compared to when you are walking without any load.

Thereby it is crucial to include resistance training in your routine when you are training for backpacking. This kind of training would make your body fit enough for the stability challenges as well as the impacts of walking on uneven terrain that you would be facing.

Before you begin your exercise, be sure to perform at least a five to ten-minute warm-up. Some aerobic activity followed by a minute or five of dynamic stretching would be enough.

Step Ups

When it comes to weighted backpack training, step-ups cannot be forgotten. This is an exercise which mimics the way you hike in an upward direction while carrying a certain amount of load. This thereby aims to build power in the glutes, quads and the hamstrings.

Step ups
Step up

To begin:

  • Take a 12-inch to 20-inch box and stand facing it ( a bench could also work)    

  • Now leading with your left leg, step up on the box or the bench and by keeping your left leg straight, lift your right leg knee and hip at a 90-degree angle. (attempt to raise as high as you possibly can)

  • Step back from the box and take your original position and repeat approximately ten to twenty repetitions before you perform similar movement with your other leg

Rotating Upward Chop

Another fantastic exercise that can be included in your routine when training for hiking has to be the rotating upward chop.

Rotating Upward Chop
Rotating Upward Chop (source)

To begin:

  • Get a resistance band and fix it to a somewhat low anchor point. Once done, with both of your hands, hold the handles while standing in a lunging position and with a foot forward. Stress must be paid to the torso and to the glutes

  • Next, as you attempt to come out of the lunge, get up in such a way so as to pull through the torso and the upper body facing away from the leg in front. The handles must be pulled at an upward angle right across your torso’s front and allow your feet to turn. This way you would be facing the opposite direction to where you started from. Arms must be straight and pay attention to keeping your hips and shoulders pointing and aligned in the similar direction

  • On your way down, have control over the opposite motion and get back up again with approximately ten to twenty repetitions

Heel Downs

These are great for strengthening the calves and hips. Perfect training to prepare you for the long walks and weight on your shoulders.

Heel downs
Heel downs

To do this exercise:

  • Begin by standing on either a bench or a 12-inch to 20-inch box and allow one of your feet to hand off its side

  • Lift the toes up of the foot that’s free and then attempt to lower it onto the floor.

  • Your hips must be pushed back as if you were attempting to sit on a chair. Remember to have complete control over the movement and allow your heel to hover above the surface before you return back to the original position

  • Approximately ten to twenty repetitions must be completed of the same before you alternate with your other leg

Shuttle Runs

Shuttle run is one simple cardio exercise that would help you to get in shape for hiking.

Shuttle runs
Shuttle runs

To begin:

  • Set two cones (you could use other objects if you don’t have cones) approximately forty-feet apart from each other

  • Start at one end and run from one of the cones to the other and go around them

  • Finish a total of about three to four laps

Scotty Bobs

Along with leg strength, upper body strength is equally important and helps with stability when you are hiking on uneven terrain. This exercise works effectively on your chest, arms, core and back simultaneously and thereby must be included in your training for hiking beginner routine.

Scotty bobs
Scotty Bobs for upper body strength

To begin:

  • Take a dumbbell in both of your hands and get down in a plank position (15 pounds dumbbell for women and 25 pounds dumbbell for men)

  • Now, do a push-up and as you do that, stop in the up position and with your right arm, perform one dumbbell row. Once done that, repeat the same using your other hand and this would form one repetition

  • Repeat approximately for three to four repetitions

Biceps Curl to Shoulder Press including front Squat

Biceps curl to shoulder press
Biceps Curl to Shoulder Press including front Squat

To begin:

  • Stand upright while your feet are at shoulder-width apart. Once you have taken your position, hold dumbbells in each of your hands at the side in a neutral position

  • Push your hips backward and perform a squat as if you were about to sit on a chair. Your neck and back must be absolutely straight or rather in a neutral position as you are performing this exercise

  • Your thighs must be brought in a parallel position to that of the floor. As you are raising your torso and hips up, the upward momentum that is generated by the glutes must be used in order to help you raise the dumbbells above

  • Get back to the starting position and repeat this exercise for approximately ten to twelve repetitions

Side Plank with Hip Dips

Side Plank with Hip Dips
Side Plank with Hip Dips

For this exercise, begin:

  • By lying down on one side with one of your elbows right under your shoulder while your forearm remains perpendicular to the body. The top foot must be stacked on the bottom foot as shown in the picture

  • Once done that, begin to raise your hips upwards into a side plank. This would create an absolutely straight line from the head to the feet. Your body must be in absolute alignment the whole time when you perform the exercise

  • Lower your hips slowly and then get back into the plank position while pressing onto the ground with the forearm that’s below

  • Repeat for approximately five to ten times

Check out the Complete Guide to Training for Backpacking: Fitness Regime for Hiking Enthusiasts

Tips to Prepare Yourself for that Difficult Hike

Apart from including the above-mentioned exercises in your training for backpacking schedule, you must also consider a few other things. This would make you absolutely ready for the big adventure.

Go on Hikes to Train Yourself

In the months leading up to the much-awaited backpacking trip, try to go on hikes every other week. The hikes could be short ones but would give you a fair idea of what you can generally expect on such trips. Eventually, increase the elevation and the distance of your hikes.

The general idea here is to build up the level of intensity which approaches what you are going to be experiencing on the trip. Also, when you go on hikes, you would be able to familiarize yourself with the equipment used.

You would be able to judge more confidently the kind of clothing that would be perfect for the weather and temperature.  

Also, if it is your first time, consider packing light. This way you are guaranteed a memorable trip that you would cherish for a lifetime.

Check out all about Ultralight Backpacking: Your Answer to a Smart Trek

Include a Backpack

Carrying a train backpack and walking for miles isn’t an easy task and load can even leave the best hikers with sore necks, shoulders, and hips. When you go on small hikes months before the actual big backpacking trip, carry your backpack with you.

This should be the one that you plan on carrying on the trip and fill it up with a few water bottles. Wear this backpack on the short hikes or the workouts that include stair climbing as a part of your cardio.

Train with a backpack
Use a backpack to train

Try to keep the total weight less than fifteen pounds for the first week and then gradually keep adding mileage and weight every week. The weight of the backpack doesn’t have to exceed 35 pounds unless and until you are planning to go on a mountaineering adventure that would require trekking in high-altitudes and carry lots of equipment.

Check out How to Select the Best Hiking Backpack

Active Resting is Crucial for the Body

Considering that you are behind on your cardio workout for your training for backpacking and it's a Sunday, instead of working out, give your body the active rest it needs. This means that you could either go cycling, rock-climbing, playing tennis or simply indulging in some rejuvenating yoga.

The importance of cross-training cannot be ignored and that aids in keeping the backpacking training interesting. It would also help in working the muscles which otherwise might have been neglected.

Active resting
Active resting

Learning how to go backpacking properly can really help on deciding the number of clothes that you must pack and the other things that you would be taking. Remember to take care of your physical fitness. By being fit, you would not only be able to complete the hike easily but also be able to prevent a number of injuries.

Know all about How to Get Rid of Trapezius Muscle Pain from Hiking

Happy Hiking Fellas!

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