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Essentials of Hike Training

Updated: Aug 7, 2019

The bread-and-butter necessities that must be in your training program when preparing to conquer the mountains.

So you've committed to doing some magnificent climb later this summer, or maybe you just want to be able to keep up with friends on monthly getaways into the woods. How are you going to get yourself ready, while still maintaining a regular job and miles from any tall hills?

Success in the mountains, often starts with preparation in daily life. Enter, your training program.

"By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail" -Benjamin Franklin

Let's go over the three most important training protocols to consider when creating a regiment specific for hiking

Strength Training

More specifically, strength endurance. There are a lot of different aspects to strength training- pure strength, training for size (hypertrophy), etc. However, as hikers, we care about two things when it comes to strength- being strong enough to go long, and being stable enough to not get hurt. That's why a solid program must include exercises that test large, compound movements, such as squats, deadlifts, and carries, with both moderate and high rep ranges to create resistance to fatigue. It must also include enough unilateral exercises (think single leg squat) to insure that as you get more tired, your legs will be strong enough to keep from twisting, turning, or failing at just the wrong moment. Strength training should be incorporated in a hiking program at least twice a week, with some clients of mine training up to five times a week to prepare for serious treks.

Cardiovascular Training

Probably the most obvious part for hikers, training your cardiovascular system allows you to maintain a fast pace, for a longer amount of time. Cardio can be broken into two groups for hikers; long, slow to moderate cardio, and fartlek (yes that's a real word) training. Fartlek training involves increasing and decreasing pace at different intervals, often combined with changes in incline. This type of training not only more closely mimics most hiking, it also is a more effective test on your heart and lungs than just going for a walk. Cardiovascular training should play a part in a training program 2-5 days per week, depending on factors such as the specific types of hiking you're training for, your current fitness level, and your daily routine.

Stability Training

The number one way that you can prevent yourself from being injured on the trail, is to have a stable foundation. This stability starts at the core (think planks, side planks, single arm carries) and works it's way down to the legs (think single leg squats, glute bridges, standing on a soft pad). Stability exercises should start off as basic movements or anti-movements, and then be progressed from there. For example, you can start by doing a plank for 30 seconds, then move a dumbbell side to side while holding a plank, then doing the same with one foot off of the ground. By building overall stability in the body, you'll have more control over sudden movements and falls, and ensure you get to hike healthy, long into your life.

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