Advanced Fitness for Hiking and Outdoor Adventures

Advanced Fitness for Hiking and Outdoor Adventures

I guess I’ve been pretty fit most of my life because of my love of the outdoors from a young age. There were no computer games when I was an ankle biter! I was out there climbing trees, riding my bike and generally tearing around most daylight hours I wasn’t at school. But there’s fitness and there’s fitness. I can hike 7 or hours carrying a full pack but I’m pretty beat at the end of it.

If you want to develop advanced fitness for hiking and outdoor adventures it takes commitment and discipline. My mate Jonny is a machine when it comes to stamina and I’ve seen him virtually run up Bimberi Peak carrying a full pack! And the night before he’d downed enough snake juice to kill a kangaroo but showed no signs of a hangover. Jonny was in the army for many years and has been pushed to fitness and endurance levels most of us will never come close to.

If you want to push your limits and get into some more intense hikes you’ll need to develop fitness for hiking with some proper training. Getting out on the trails is great for fitness but most of us can’t do that as often as needed.

Intense cardio workouts are key. Of course you should always check with your doctor if you haven’t exercised for some time so I’m assuming here you’ve got half a brain and aren’t going to go out and run a marathon without some basic preparation! Running, power walking, swimming and cycling are all great. Once you’ve started a routine you need to bring in weekly increases. These should be no more than 10 percent of your total minutes from the previous week. Following this protocol will ensure that you don't injure yourself or overtrain. The improvements you can make over time are amazing with this simple yet sensible approach.

To make your cardio workout more specific to hiking and backpacking, add some weight to your pack and get to a hill or decent slope. Hill running is a great way to improve fitness for hiking. Run from bottom of the hill to the top at a good pace and then jog back down. Repeat this for a total of 6 to 10 intervals and when you can feel improvement find a steeper hill or add more weight to your backpack.

Eventually you will be ready for an advanced hiking strength program. This will work wonders for your stamina and also build your strength which can help reduce injuries and general aches and pains. Always warm up with 10 minutes of cardio activity before any strength training. Much as I hate them, you may have to visit the gym for strength training but don’t think that’s your only option. I have a couple of dumbbells and a kettle bell in my garage and I’ve got my own routine using these. It’s not about ‘power lifting’ and building huge muscle – just increasing the efficiency of your muscles in general. My own routine is alternating 10 minutes of weights and 10 minutes of cardio and this produces good results.

One of the most important things to remember when you are training to improve your fitness for hiking is to take rest days. These are just as important as the days you spend pounding up the hill with your backpack loaded! Your body needs time to recover and if you over train you’re wasting your time and may see your fitness go backwards.

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