So, you want to go hiking and explore the forests, lakes, and vast wilderness that is out there for the taking? Before we do that, we want to make sure that we are physically fit for the task at hand. When you see people in the magazines or on the internet going on a hiking trip. They make it look like an easy task.
If you think about it. It really is as simple as putting one foot in front of the other. As human beings as we were evolving before the advent of other modes of transportation. Walking was what we had to do and there was no way around it.
Fast forward to modern times, we now have the modern conveniences that can carry us from point A to point B. And for the most part walking now mostly consists of walking from the car to the house, and the kitchen to the bedroom or bathroom.
Generally, most of us fall under this category. So, before we head out on these beautiful hikes, we need to prepare ourselves both physically and mentally.
In this post, I am going to give you some ideas on how you can physically prepare for a hiking trip. I am going to go over aerobic, strength, and mental training. All three of these will help in deciding whether you have an enjoyable hike or one that you will despise at the end of the day.
During my time during basic training in the military, the focus was aerobic training. We ran and marched everywhere we went. As I look back now, in the short span of time that we were forced to do that, our fitness level aerobically increased dramatically.
Now I’m not saying that you have to go to that extreme like that to prepare for your hikes. So, when you are starting off, you should at least start by taking walks in your local park or even around the block close to your home. Even during your lunch breaks at work, you can take a walk. Remember the more steps you take, the easier it will be on you during your hikes.
Once you start getting in the habit of taking walks daily, you can incorporate swimming, cycling, jogging, or even walking up long flights of stairs. The thing that you want to keep in mind is that what you are trying to accomplish here is to build up your aerobic endurance.
One thing that you can do during aerobic exercise is to do what is called interval training. And all that is whether you are walking, swimming, cycling, or jogging. You would go at a faster pace for a short period to get your heart rate up.
And you would do this at intervals. This will help you during your hike especially when ascending up hills.
After a while, you will notice that your walks will get easier as time goes on. What you want to do is use either the backpack that you will be taking on your hikes and add weight to it. Or you can use a weight vest and go on your walks. This will serve two purposes.
One it will condition your upper body for the weight that you will be carrying during your hikes. And two you will be adding resistance while doing your aerobic training.
For aerobic training, you will want to do this at least four times a week.
With strength training, you have several options as well. You can either join a gym, cross-fit or do calisthenics. All three will help you in your hike endeavors.
The focus here is to build up the other muscles besides your legs that you will be using less of during your hikes. Building up those other muscles helps a lot when you need to traverse rough terrain or when you have to climb up or down hills when the need to use upper body strength is a must.
For your strength training, you should be doing this three times a week. Switching out between your aerobic exercises. Again whether you are going to the gym, doing cross fit, or calisthenics. Start off slowly and as time goes on add more resistance to your workout.
What I do when going to the gym for strength training, I do one workout per body part. And since I’m going for endurance, I would do 15 repetitions times 3 sets. That way I’m building up my fast-twitch muscles which are ones we use for endurance. Slow-twitch muscles are the ones that bodybuilders mainly build.
This is what a workout at the gym for me looks like.
- Warm-up on the treadmill for 10-15 minutes
- Bench press 15 reps x 3 sets
- Lat pulldowns 15 reps x 3 sets
- Shoulder presses 15 reps x 3 sets
- Stomach crunches 20 reps x 3 sets
- Barbell curls 15 reps x 3 sets
- Tricep machine 15 reps x 3 sets
- Leg press machine 20 reps x 3 sets
- Calf machine 20 reps x 3 sets
You might be wondering why I do 20 reps on my legs. Well, the leg muscles are what you use the most daily, so the larger reps really work on the fast-twitch muscles.
Now that is just an example that works for me. If you do decide to go to a gym or cross fit, I would recommend you talk to the fitness trainer there and let them know what your goals are and what program you should be doing.
If you are going to do the calisthenics route, you can do the following.
- Jumping jacks 10-20 reps x 4 sets
- Sit-ups 10-20 reps x 4 sets
- Push-ups 10-20 reps x 4 sets
- Dips 10-20 reps x 4 sets
- pull-ups 10-20 reps x 4 sets
- lunges 10-20 reps x 4 sets
- squats 10-20 reps x 4 sets
At the beginning of these strength training exercises, you will feel the aches and pains especially if you haven’t been doing any sort of physical activity. So, start off lightly and work your way up to more resistance.
Mental Game Of Hiking
Back in the military part of our training was to be mentally prepared for any type of environment or situation that we encountered. One of the training that we would go on was called a forced road march. This entailed getting up at one or two in the morning, getting our gear on. Which by the way back then we would carry anywhere from 80 up to 100 pounds plus and off we would go on a road march.
We would go anywhere from a five-mile walk on the side of the road. Or they would take us somewhere on a plane and drop us off in the wilderness. We would then spend a whole day walking through the forest from point A to point B. Ah, the good old days.
During these long walks, your mind can really play tricks on you. Especially when it was dark and you didn’t have the foggiest idea of where you were being led to. So, you are probably asking yourself what in the world does this have to do with hiking?
Well, it deals with what is going on in your head during your hike. Going on a long hike can be not only physically but mentally challenging as well.
Here are things that you can do to overcome this. It is good to know beforehand what your destination is and the obstacles that you will be facing along your journey.
Also, looking at books, magazines, or online to see the major points of where you will be hiking can make your hike that much more interesting.
Hiking in a group or with someone else there is better than going solo. That way you can all enjoy the experience together.
You can look for wildlife along the trail, enjoy the various wildflowers and plants. And one of my favorite things to do is listening to the birds, water, and wind blowing through the trees.
I have seen other people bring along a pair of headphones and listen to their favorite music or audible book. You can do that too, although you will be missing the part as to why you are hiking in the first place. But to each is own.
There you have some things for you to do to physically and mentally prepare for a hiking trip. Remember to start off slowly especially if you haven’t done any kind of physical activity in a while. And as you go along, add more resistance to your training. By doing this, it will help you to prepare and make for a more enjoyable hiking experience.
Thanks for stopping by and I would like to hear about your experiences. Just drop a comment below. And remember to enjoy the journey.
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