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Training for Hiking: The best ways to get in shape

Some tips, exercises and a couple of workouts to help you get in the best shape for hitting the trails.

The three pillars of Nefeli Nine Retreats are movement, food and Greece. These three attributes offer a well-rounded experience that combines wellness, culture, and nature. We believe that hiking and yoga are complementary activities that can help you lift your mood, lower your stress levels, and improve both physical fitness and stamina. Both activities are very effective when practiced alone, but the combination intensifies the benefits.

It goes without saying that to enjoy hiking in the mountains it is incredibly important to have a strong and flexible body. However, many of us take for granted the importance of keeping our bodies in good condition to help us enjoy the sports we do and love.

One of the things I love the most about hiking is that it can be enjoyed by almost everyone, irrespective of age and/or fitness level. It is a fantastic way to explore a new location, to see extraordinarily beautiful places and to stimulate both your body and mind. However, it can really ruin things if you find yourself gasping for air, bent over with a cramp or too tired to complete steep climbs. Being in shape for hiking is critical.

While a gentle walk through your local park won’t offer too much of a challenge, hiking may push the body a bit further. A good training program for hiking offers a combination of endurance, strength, flexibility and balance training. Most hiking trails are uneven and have some elevation gain, so even the easiest hikes require balance and strength to avoid injury.

Regardless of skill level, or goal – whether you’re training for a massive thru-hike or you’re simply a beginner interested in taking up a new hobby – the following tips will help you to get in better hiking shape.

A quick, general overview of the main elements required for hiking:

  • Increase strength in major muscles that hikers depend upon. Stronger legs and core muscles will help to sustain the load in your backpack and help you to hike longer and more arduous trails.

  • Build endurance in those same muscle groups, as well as the shoulders and lower back. Hiking can be a full-day activity.

  • Boost your balance, providing you with a more stable base that will allow you to tackle uneven terrain in stride.

  • Don’t forget cardio. A very important element of hiking. Complement this exercise plan with any aerobic exercise that you enjoy – trail running, biking etc.

How to get in shape for hiking:

Get Hiking! Ready, set, hike! Want the best results? Slow and steady wins the race - start with shorter hikes to build your strength and stamina before venturing out for an extended trek. Practice makes perfect. This applies to hiking too – if getting fitter for hiking is your goal then it should be one of your main forms of training.

It goes without saying that you should start with smaller, more manageable hikes and slowly, progressively ramp up the difficulty over time. Hillwalking is a great tool for establishing your baseline fitness. Over time you can work towards steeper, and taller gradients. Your body will quickly acclimatise.

If you aren’t quite ready to take on hills, start slowly with whatever is feasible for you. You can gradually increase the distance every time you walk. Consistent small steps make for BIG changes over time.

Walking with a loaded pack If you are training for a longer hiking trip you may well be required to carry a backpack for significant lengths of time. It is very useful to develop both upper and lower body strength in order to carry the extra weight over long distances.

Cardiovascular Activity

Hit the ground running so you can hit the trail later! Regular cardio is essential for keeping your stamina up on those long hikes. To build up your stamina it is important to include some cardio in your training plan. Whether it's running, swimming, cycling, or anything else that you enjoy – this will significantly improve your overall fitness and make your time on the mountains much more enjoyable.

Strength Training

Climb any mountain you want with strong and powerful legs and core! Strengthen your key muscle groups with regular resistance training - think squats, calf raises, and lunges. Adding these exercises to your routine a couple of times a week is a fantastic way of preparing your body for the mountains. Some of the best exercises for hikers:

· Goblet Squats: a great exercise for the quads and glutes, they also activate your hamstrings and adductors as well, making them an excellent drill for hikers. Start slowly and gradually increase weight over time. You can also further challenge your core and balance by doing these on a bosu.

· Step Ups: It is hard to think of a more functional hiking exercise than step-ups. Step-ups are a compound exercise that work all the major muscles of the lower body. Start doing this bodyweight and then add weight with a weighted vest or dumbbells.

· Single Leg Romanian Deadlift: Hiking requires excellent single-leg balance. The single-leg Romanian deadlift strengthens the glutes, hamstrings, and stabilizing muscles which are crucial for injury prevention on the trails. As you get stronger you can also perform these standing on a yoga block or Bosu ball for added balance work.

· Bulgarian Split Squat: The Bulgarian split squat is an exercise which requires coordination and balance while also increasing the demand on your muscles.

· Raised Single Leg Glute Bridges - The hamstrings play a key role in the uphill sections of your hike. This exercise also works your abs, glutes, and hip flexors, which helps to coordinate your stride and in turn maintain your balance on the trail.

· Core Exercises- Bird Dogs, Dead Bugs, Plank, Prone Cobra, Plank - Core strength is the foundation of your house. Without it, we would crumble.

· Push Ups - Strengthen your chest, shoulders, and back to increase your stability and assist if you need to scramble. Single leg push ups also help to work on your core stability.

Dabble in a sport or physical activity

Have a sport or physical activity that you enjoy doing? Then keep doing it!

Staying in shape for your next hiking excursion doesn't have to mean hitting the gym - why not find a sport or activity that you enjoy? It's a fun way to stay healthy and increase your cardio. Essentially, any activity that gets you moving and gets your lungs working is going to help to boost your cardiovascular system.

Follow a stretching routine

Having an active and flexible body is the key to a successful hiking experience! Make sure you don’t overlook stretching; it's important for avoiding injury and increasing your range of motion. Take a holistic approach and take care of your whole body so you can get the most out of your trekking adventures! Hiking (particularly longer distances) can cause both soreness and stiffness. Including stretching as part of your routine is the easiest and most effective way to relieve this and stave off injury. This also applies to when you are out on a trail, including a cool-down can boost your recovery.

Training for a hike – weekly exercise schedule

Since everyone has different lifestyles, fitness levels and commitments, it is impossible to write a cookie-cutter training plan that everyone can follow.

Nonetheless, training for hiking is not rocket science…

The goal is to try and get in 1-2 hikes in a week plus some supplementary activities.

Conclusion – how to train for a hike

Sticking to a regular hiking exercise routine can be the key to success! Start small and increase your mileage at a steady pace - you don't have to do it all in one go. Consistency is essential and will help you progress healthily and avoid injury. If you are new to hiking, jumping in at the deep end can leave you worn out, demotivated, and possibly injured, so start slow, and enjoy it!

Happy walking 🚶 🚶

Strength for Hiking Workout

Warm Up

3-4 Rounds

8-12 Weighted step ups

8-12 Goblet Squats

45second plank

2 minute break

3-4 Rounds

8 – 10 Bulgarian Split Squat

10-12 Single Leg Glute Bridge

12 Dead Bugs (each side)

2 minute break

3-4 Rounds

8-10 Single leg Romanian deadlift

8-12 Single leg push ups

10 Prone cobras

Body weight workout for hiking

3 Rounds

10 Jump Squats

8-12 Single leg glute bridges

12 Dead Bugs

2 minute break

3 Rounds

12 Split Squats per side

12 Single leg squats per side

45 second plank

2 minute break

3 Rounds

12 Reverse lunges

8-10 Push Ups

30 seconds side plank (each side)

1 Comment

What can i say, live today and everything else will take care of it self…

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