Training For Your Next Hiking Adventure
We stuffed the turkey and then proceeded to stuff ourselves. Now with another month of holiday treats and sweets ahead, I think we will all be needing a bit of shaping up before 2016’s big hiking adventures. Perhaps you have planned your own backpacking excursion or maybe you have signed up for a guided hiking adventure with an experienced outfitter. Either way, in order to get the most out of your adventure you will want to make sure you are in good shape. Here are some helpful hints on how to train for your hiking trip.
Go hiking! It’s so obvious that we often forget to train the simplest (and most enjoyable) way. Find a few trails in your area and start making regular plans to hike them. Focus on trails that will offer plenty of ups and downs so that you can work all those different muscles in your legs. Perhaps one weekend focuses on a longer hike with little elevation change and the next features a shorter hike that climbs to a summit before coming back down. Look for variety in terrain. And you will probably end up discovering some great new trails in your area.
If you live in Florida (or some other infinitely flat locale), you might need to find tall buildings or high school stadiums where you can climb stairs. But this gets pretty boring. You might find the stair climber machine gathering dust in your basement is a better option. If you live in Wisconsin and you’re looking at 5 months of snow on the ground, it’s time to get some snow shoes or cross country skis and discover the pleasure and beauty of winter sports!
Get some value out of that gym membership. Focus time on cardio workouts that will help build overall strength and endurance. Join a spin class to really get that heart pumping or consider step aerobics. Even yoga classes will help develop core strength and improved balance (which comes in handy if you will be on a backpacking vacation or hiking adventure). If there’s a pool available, swimming provides some of the best all-around, low-impact conditioning.
Add some weight on your back. This is especially important if you will be backpacking. Start with about 8 to 10 pounds in a comfortable backpack (preferably the backpack you will be using) and slowly add weight until you reach your targeted maximum weight. Try to avoid using dead weight such as dumbbells, gallon water jugs, etc. Stuff clothes into your backpack as well as smaller water bottles so that the weight is distributed evenly. After a few months of adding weight and steadily increasing the length of your hikes, your body will be nicely prepared for your trip.
In general, start training well in advance (2 months minimum). Take it easy in the beginning and slowly and steadily increase weight, time and distance. Listen to your body and don’t overdo it. An untimely injury will put your training off-track and potentially ruin your trip. A concerted effort put into physically preparing for your hiking trip is essential to your enjoyment and it’s a great way to get started on an overall exercise regimen for a happy, healthy life!