Hiking is not just about walking up to a serene destination. It is also about having enough strength, balance, patience, and endurance. So it is best to train yourself before setting off for your hiking journey.
The fitness and training requirement for hiking depends on
- Your daily physical activity
- Your current stamina
- Current physical strength
- Type of the hiking terrain
- Duration of your hike
Steep and periodically varying terrain will require a higher fitness level while relatively uniform terrain will require a lower fitness level. Most hiking trails are bumpy and uneven, so it is best to train before your hiking trip for avoiding any possible injuries.
To ensure a smooth hiking trip, we have listed out 7 useful tips for how to get in shape for hiking for short or long hikes in just a few weeks. Get ready for any trail you plan for with these tips.
TIP 1. Strength Training
Strength is a fundamental requirement for hiking. You have to carry yourself through the trail and also carry the backpack along way. The heavier the backpack, the more strength you would need.
So it is better if you get some strength training before hiking. You don’t need to be bulky or jacked-up. Just train your muscles enough to hold you up through the hiking route along with your belongings.
Lift some weights to strengthen your upper body and legs including your glutes. Your hamstrings, calves and front thigh are more prone to cramps and fatigue. Focus more on them. Also engage your chest, shoulder, back, and arms
Go through the following strength training exercises
It is the best exercise to strengthen your quads and glutes. It is also effective for your back posture. Carry a weight of about 5 pounds and do 10 repetitions. Gradually increase the weights for 4 sets of 10 repetitions each. Repeat this exercise twice a week.
This exercise strengthens your quads and calves. Carry some weights or a dumbbell and exercise for 4 sets with 10 steps each. Two days a week should be enough for this exercise.
Poor man’s leg curl
This is a proven lower body strengthening exercise for hiking. It is very simple to do and equally effective.
Simply lay on your back and place your one leg on an elevated bench. Raise your other leg as high as you can. Lift your hips and clench your glutes and thighs. Repeat this for another leg. Three sets of 7- 8 repetitions are recommended.
This increases your hips endurance. Simply tie a resistance band around your legs above the knees. Walk sideways in the left or right direction keeping the tension on the band. Repeat 7- 8 steps in each direction.
Throughout your hiking trip, you definitely will be carrying your backpack.
Training your shoulder might be a good idea to avoid shoulder distress and discomfort prior to your hiking.
Take a weight ( 5 pounds at the beginning ) in your hands and lift them above your head to the arm length and bring them down to the initial position. 3 sets with 8 – 9 repetitions will be enough with a gradual weight increase in each set.
Train your biceps, triceps, and forearms with light weights. Do the dumble lifts, pushups, pull-ups and wrist curls. Each of 3 sets with 7 repetitions. Two days a week for each of the exercises will be enough.
Chest muscles are extensively used muscle in the upper body. Your shoulder and arms strength is hugely affected by your chest. To strengthen your chest muscles, try exercises like the bench press, incline bench press, and wide-arm pushups. Three sets of 8 repetitions each with a gradual increase in weights should be good enough. Start with 5 pounds at the beginning.
Perform the strength training a month before your hiking trip. Of course, the training duration will depend on the hiking destination and difficulty. Training might be less than a month or even more.
TIP 2. Cardio
When on a hike, your strength will keep you on track, but you will need good stamina to keep you moving ahead.
If you’ve ever been on a hiking trip, you would understand how essential it is to improve your stamina before hiking.
Here are a few cardio exercises to improve your stamina:
Walking for at least 30 minutes daily can help your body adapt to the changing momentum. We recommend walking over the commute if it is accessible and feasible. Increase your walking duration gradually over 30 minutes daily and you will be fit to hike even before you know it.
Another way to develop your stamina is by jumping ropes. Jump ropes for 40 seconds as fast as you can. Take a short rest for 2 minutes and continue jumping ropes for 40 seconds more. Repeat this each day for 3 – 5 rounds.
Hold a weight (about 10 – 20 pounds) and step up to a bench 10 – 18 inches high with one leg. Step down and step up with another leg. Repeat for 15 – 20 times with 3 sets daily. This exercise will not only strengthen your hamstrings and calves but also increase your pace while climbing the steep terrains in your actual hike.
Ride a bike downhill, uphill, through the rough trails and around the city. This is one of the best exercises for increasing stamina as it involves the movement of your entire body.
Always choose climbing steps over using elevators. Climbing up or down the stairs in your home, office and anywhere is a great pre-training for hiking. You can also imitate climbing steps with the ‘Stepping up’ exercise.
TIP 3. Proper Diet
As you will be needing ample energy to complete your hiking trip, you should maintain a well-balanced diet regime from at least a month before. Also, during your hiking, take a break every 40 to 60 minutes for a quick snack. This will keep your body energized for an active start.
TIP 4. A Short Pre-Hiking
Before going on your real hike, how about trying a quick short hike to a nearby place?
This will not only motivate you for but also will make you realize your weak points and things you are missing out on.
This would be like a pre-exam session before your final exams. Its only gist is to improve you and prepare you for the finale.
TIP 5. Stretching and Basic Warm-ups
Hiking requires continuous physical activity, and you have to give your body an ample amount of time to adjust to the situation. A few minutes of stretching reduces the chances of injury and muscle sprain. Additionally, it assists in fast recovery of the exhaustion and stress.
Pay attention to the lower body parts such as calves, ankle, hamstrings, quads, inner thigh, and feet.
TIP 6. Proper Hiking Gear
Having proper gear in your trip is great support for your successful hiking. Recommended hiking essentials are
Proper Trekking Boots
How do you know if you have a proper boot for hiking?
The main feature that a proper trekking boot should have is a comfort. While hiking, you should feel comfortable. Blisters are more common in tight uncomfortable shoes.
Next comes the shoe’s grip. Most hiking trails will have variation in its terrain. It might be slippery, muddy, dusty or rocky. Your shoes should be able to withstand all those and provide you a firm grip along with comfort.
Click here to find a proper boot for your hike.
Trekking poles can be a great support throughout your hiking. They provide you with an extra pair of limbs. They help you keep your balance in slopes as well as in uneven grounds.
While climbing up, make sure to place your trekking poles behind to push instead of putting it in front to pull yourself up. And while climbing down, place your trekking poles forward to take the pressure off your knees. Ram the poles into the ground for balance and more support.
Click here to find proper quality trekking poles.
Take a proper lightweight bag with you on your hike. Make sure that you carry only the essentials in your bag. You don’t want to be dragging the unnecessary stuff in your hiking adventure.
Click here to find quality trekking bag
Other items to carry in your hike could be a cap, rain gear, waterproof socks, headlight, and a pocket knife.
TIP 7. Strong Mindset
Mental preparedness is essential for any hiker. Setting up a goal and living up to it needs endurance, adherence, and discipline. Picturise the overall hike in your head and prepare yourself mentally. This technique can largely determine your success.
How much time would it take to train for Hiking?
This question is quite debatable. For each individual, the timeframe could be different. The level and time for pre-hike training depend on your current fitness level and dedication.
We recommend starting at least a month before your hiking schedule. This should be enough for most of the beginners and hiking trails.