If you’re thinking about going on a long hike, you’ll need to make some practical preparations. Not only do you need to be smart about packing, but you also need to prepare your body for the rigors of an extended hike – if you don’t, you could put yourself at risk for injury or you might not make it through the entire trip. Keep reading to receive some fitness training tips to prepare yourself for a long hike.
Physical Preparation for a Long Hike
Depending how long a hike you are planning to take, it could involve millions of steps – is your body up to the task? If you really want to make sure that you are ready for your hike, you should start physical preparations about 6 months ahead of time.
Aim for three to four days per week of aerobic training, starting at a low to moderate intensity and working your way up over the weeks and months to build your cardiovascular fitness. Your goal with each workout is to fatigue yourself, but not to work yourself to the point of exhaustion. You should also incorporate some resistance training to build muscle, especially in your legs and core. You also need to make sure to get one full rest day each week.
Sample Workout Plan
To prepare yourself for a long hike, you’ll want to do a mixture of cardiovascular and resistance training. Here is a sample workout you can do two times per week, either as a complete workout or before shorter hikes. As you improve your fitness, you can add to it some longer hikes – just make sure to rest at least 24 hours between resistance training sessions. Here are the details of the workout:
Warm up for 5 to 10 minutes with walking and stretching.
Do two to three sets of 15 repetitions each, resting 30 seconds between sets, for these exercises:
- Squats (start with bodyweight then add dumbbells to increase the intensity)
- Walking Lunges (start with bodyweight then add dumbbells to increase the intensity)
- Deadlift (use a kettlebell or dumbbell with both hands to increase the intensity)
- Step-Ups (step up on a bench or box and bring your back leg up into a high-knees position with each rep)
- Step-Back Lunges (start with bodyweight then add dumbbells to increase the intensity)
- Side Plank Raises (lay on your side with the bottom arm bent and raise your body off the ground)
- Push-Up with Row (perform push-ups holding dumbbells and do a one-arm row on each side at the top)
Additional Tips for Thru-Hiking
Hiking a long-distance trail from one end to another within a single hiking season is known as thru-hiking. Whether you are thru-hiking or just planning a long weekend full of extended hiking trails, the physical preparation tips provided above are going to be very important. There are, however, some additional preparations you should make aside from just improving your physical fitness.
You’ll want to spend plenty of time breaking in your hiking boots to make sure that they are comfortable throughout the duration of your hike. You should also practice packing and carrying your backpack to make sure you get it balanced correctly and that you’ll be able to shoulder it throughout the trip. Finally, do some mental preparation to ensure that you have the resilience to overcome obstacles and that you can keep your end goal in mind, even when the going gets tough.
If you enjoy hiking, you should have the experience of a long hike at least once. Going for a long hike is a test of your mental and physical fitness and, who knows, you may just love it!