Basic Fitness for Hiking

Basic Fitness for Hiking

Getting out on the trails and hiking is the best way to actually improve your fitness for hiking. I know that’s not always practical and some people like to hit the gym so I will explain here some ways to improve your fitness for hiking without having to put your boots on!

First of all it’s not all about cardio. Slogging away on the treadmill for hours on end may improve your stamina and cardio ability but there are other areas you need to consider when training for hiking. Core strength and flexibility will help when the terrain gets rough of you find yourself on a steep climb.

If you haven’t done any exercise at all and want to prepare for a hike aim to do 15 to 20 minutes of cardio work at least three to four times a week. This can be running, riding a bike, using a cross trainer or swimming – whatever you prefer. If it’s something you enjoy and its easy to start you’re more likely to stick at it!

As your fitness level improves, add minutes to each cardio workout until you've increased your total weekly workout time by 10 percent.

Don't assume that more is better. Increasing your cardiovascular exercises by more than 10 percent won't give your body time to recover and is more likely to result in injury than improved fitness. Latest research into exercise and fitness suggests very short bursts at a high rate are more beneficial than long sessions at the gym. The old ‘no pain no gain’ is a load of bull too – if it hurts you should listen to your body and stop!

Hitting the trails with a loaded pack is by far and away the best way to develop your fitness for hiking. It’s a mix of stamina and strength working your legs, back and arms to maintain balance. Gym work will help but it’s no substitute for doing it!

If you’re taking on something a bit more challenging you should look to develop a strength building routine to improve your fitness for hiking. I have my own views on hiring personal trainers (I wouldn’t waste my hard-earned dollars!) but if you feel they help then by all means use one. Look to develop a routine you can do anywhere so you don’t have to get to the gym every time you want to train. This is easy – a mix of push ups, calf raises, lunges, squats and crunchies. If you have a couple of dumbbells bring those into it and build in some bicep curls and other basic weight lifts. Always warm up and stretch before and after your routine.

Outdoor adventures don’t have to be strenuous and I have older mates who just enjoy a gentle hike over a few miles. It’s all about what you enjoy and are capable of. But taking time to improve your fitness for hiking will bring rewards. Less aches and pains and the stamina to go further and climb higher included!

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