Training for a Grand Canyon Hike
The Grand Canyon is an extremely popular destination for hikers and backpackers alike. This geological marvel may look beautiful from atop but below the rim, there are steep trails, loose footing, and drastic temperature changes, all requiring thoughtful planning and concerted training. This article will address how to physically prepare for your Grand Canyon hike so that it can be as enjoyable and rewarding as possible.
Training for a Grand Canyon Hike
- First of all, start training now. You don’t want to put this off until two weeks before your hike. Proper training involves a gradual build towards longer distances, greater elevation changes, and if backpacking, a gradually heavier load. If you’re not already in good physical shape and your trip is next week (or even just next month), you might consider postponing this until you have plenty of time to properly prepare.
- Next, it will be important to strengthen the muscles that will be most needed for those steep descents and ascents. Most backpackers tend to find the downhill hike to be the most challenging part (day hikers might find the opposite). Therefore, exercises that strengthen the quads and calves will be of paramount importance. Certainly, hiking on local trails with a backpack on is the best approach. But short of that, practicing on stairs is a great alternative. Perhaps your office building offers a few stories of stairs that can be tackled during lunch breaks or you might have a high school stadium nearby that will equally suffice.
- Now it’s time to bump up your cardio for those long uphill climbs. Exercises such as cycling, swimming or running can help train your heart, muscles, and nerves for endurance. If you have a gym membership, you might join a spin class, boot camp-style class, hop on the treadmill with some incline, or try out the stair-master. All of these options will get your heart pumping, blood moving, and lungs working hard.
- Consider training in different types of weather conditions, as it’s important to know how your body will deal with different types of weather. Grand Canyon is well known for being hot and dry. Though this certainly isn’t always the case, it might be worth working out in a warmer environment if possible. If you will be visiting Grand Canyon during the warmer months of the year, then doing all of your training in an air-conditioned environment will not offer you the ability to see how your body responds to vigorous exercise when it’s hot. But don’t overdo it. Make sure you always well hydrated and well-nourished and don’t forget to maintain good salt intake, since sweating will deplete your body of valuable electrolytes.
- Lastly, it’s time for yoga, Pilates or stretching on a regular basis. Many people believe that it’s all about muscle strength when it comes to training for a Grand Canyon hike. In truth, having well-stretched muscles and limber joints will give you a valuable advantage. The benefits of stretching, breathing, and balance-focused exercises will be felt throughout your whole body and are well worth incorporating into your conditioning. Yoga isn’t just for hippies, folks – it’s also for adventurers.
If the idea of training for a Grand Canyon hike seems overwhelming enough, and you’d rather not worry about the remaining details of the adventure, it’s often certainly beneficial to hike with an experienced outfitter. Companies like Four Season Guides will provide all of the gear, food, permitting, route planning, and transportation to and from Grand Canyon. They will also provide you or your group with a professional and medically-trained guide that will allow you to keep your mind off the details and eyes on the beauty surrounding you.
To learn more about Grand Canyon Hikes with Four Season Guides, check out the:
Canyons Classic Backpacking Tour
Grand Canyon Complete Adventure
Joining up with a professional Outfitter will leave you with nothing but the physical training to worry about. Everything else will be taken care of for you. Just get yourself to Four Season Guides in beautiful Flagstaff, Arizona, and leave the rest to their top-rated crew of guides and staff.