If you’re familiar with trails, you’re familiar with hard physical work.
Hiking comes with its own risks, but you don’t need injury and weakness to hold you back or put you at risk. Fitter, stronger hikers are going to be safer and healthier: better health, better stamina, and healthier joints.
If you want to get better at hiking, you can put your weekdays to work with a preparation workout. In this post, we’re going to take you through an example workout to prepare for hiking and the challenges that come with it.
Hiking: A needs analysis
What should a workout look like to prepare you for hiking? After all, it’s not as simple as getting bigger muscles or burning fat. That helps, but you’re not here for bodybuilding.
To start with, you need to ensure that your leg and back strength are well-developed and well-balanced. You’re putting some serious mileage through your legs and with a series of different, uneven surfaces. They need to be strong enough to carry you and your pack without getting tired too easily.
This is also true of the back – your hips are a key player in controlling your knees and their injury risk. It also needs to be strong enough to support your rucksack, as well as developing a strong pair of hips to handle the positions you’ll be walking through.
The core and muscles of the back are also crucial to posture. While you might not always feel the effect and impact of posture, it’s crucial to how your body deals with any loading and the impact associated with a trek. This is split between the muscles of the back, core, upper back, and various others.
You might consider it as being two distinct categories of exercise: building strength and controlling joints, posture or both. The former is going to make everything feel a little easier, while the latter is about keeping your
Example hiking-prep workout
This workout is designed to be balanced between basic strength and joint-health focus. It’s also designed to account for the fact you’re probably getting a lot of mountain-side cardio: you can perform the workout without cutting out your hiking. It’s an accessory to your treks – not a replacement for them!
The focus of the workout is primarily legs and lower back. The focus on strengthening and preparing these muscles is simple: you’re going to be using them extensively, so they need to be prepared for endurance and joint-stability. You can also find some crucial leg-strengthening progressions to add or scale difficult movements.
Dumbbell Row: 4 sets of 10
Shoulder Press: 4 sets of 10
Supinated Barbell Row: 5 sets of 8
Death March: 4 sets of 1 length
Bulgarian Split Squat: 4 sets of 12
Back Extension: 3 sets of 15
Lying Leg Raise: 3 sets of 15
High-Incline Treadmill: 10 sets of 90 seconds for maximum distance
The important aspect of this workout is that you should focus on control and technique. Aligning your joints properly, focusing on using the right muscles, and performing every movement deliberately is going to be essential to getting the most out of this workout.
You should also be performing these movements with a slow eccentric (or lowering) phase. Slow on the way down, pause in the bottom position, and then controlled but powerful on the lifting phase. This is a great way of improving the strength and resilience of your tendons, as well as the reactivity of your muscles. These are key to keeping your joints healthy – a key aspect of hiking preparation.
You might also want to consider this home gymnastics workout, which is great for stretching, strengthening your body and improving your coordination.
Finding balance and getting the most from your training
There is always going to be a certain challenge to balancing the different demands of preparation for hiking and the time you spend on the trails. There’s no point preparing if you never spend time on the trek, and there’s no point being on the trek if you’re simply damaging your body.
You also need to focus on what you’re doing between training sessions. The way you recover is key to increasing your strength, keeping the joints healthy, and progressing in every area of your training. This means sleeping, drinking, and eating properly: a high-protein diet with plenty of vitamins and minerals from plant foods is a key way to improve your overall wellbeing.
You should also be focusing on basic bodily maintenance – especially if you’re training or hiking at a relatively high frequency.
The way you prepare for your hike and deal with the challenges of joint and muscle health will change how you age and how long you can enjoy hiking for. Being prepared now and keeping your body in tip-top shape isn’t just for abs and biceps.
Training is a process of bulletproofing your joints and muscles so that you can spend more time on hikes and less time at the osteo. It’s about empowering yourself to hike longer, harder, and increasing the time you can spend enjoying the things that make you happy.
Prepare now and insure your hiking health and performance in the future.
Last modified: December 7, 2018