Whether you are trekking through the snow on flat ground in the dead of winter or hiking in the summer with significant elevation gain, there is a lot of strength, endurance, coordination, and agility involved.
Most of us don't have the luxury of spending everyday hiking, so the best way to stay in shape for those outdoor adventures is to develop a regular fitness routine that allows you to hit the slopes or hiking trails whenever your schedule allots without worrying about your physical capabilities.
I've been living in Denver, Colorado for the past two years and even with a regular fitness routine, the elevation can still be a challenge at times depending on the hike. This is exactly why I have continued to change up my routine to optimize my overall performance when hiking.
As a preparation for elevation, uneven terrain, and walking long distances (often up), I like to do a combination of cardiovascular, resistance, and plyometric training.
Here are my top 3 ways to prepare for hiking:
1. Sprints + 30-Minute Medium-Intensity Cardio
Sprints are one of my favorite exercises to incorporate into my weekly routine as they not only improve your endurance for steep uphill climbs, they train your mind to push past your limits when the going gets tough on a hike.
I recommend starting with the following routine (perform cardio at the park on a trail or on any cardio machine available to you):
Two days per week:
-sprint for 10 seconds followed by a 15 second slow recovery pace; repeat 10-15 times followed by a 20-30 minute medium-intensity run
**At the medium-intensity pace, you will be struggling to talk without taking regular gasps for air.
2. Glute, Leg, and Core Training
Another important component of hiking is having proper leg, glute, and hip strength. Cardiovascular endurance will only get you so far if your muscles do not have the strength and stamina to make those climbs and long treks.
I recommend doing the following 3 exercises 3 times per week for 12-20 reps each @ 3-4 sets:
1. Front Squats
3. Step Ups
3. Bodyweight and Plyometric Training
With uneven terrain, jumping across water, maneuvering across slick surfaces, and the like, the deep core and stabilizer muscles are essential for keeping you injury free during a hike. .
The best way to train the stabilizer muscles is to perform exercises standing on one leg or an unstable surface such as a bosu. Another method of exercise that challenges the balance muscles along with developing power, strength, and speed is plyometric training.
I recommend doing the following exercises 3 times per week for 15-20 reps or 1 minute @ 3-4 sets:
1. Plank (lift one leg off of the ground for 30 seconds; then switch holding plank for a total of 1 minute).
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