Have that big hiking trip coming up and you want to make sure you are in a good shape? Are you stuck in a city working all days, but don’t want your strength and endurance to leave your body? Hiking, especially mountain hiking is a very special activity that requires certain type of fitness, often difficult to achieve, when living an urban lifestyle. Here are several ways on how to maintain and build your fitness and strength of certain muscle groups to make your strong for your hiking trip (-s).
Road cycling is a low-impact activity suitable for people of various ages and physical states. It is an excellent choice for people, who want to do long cardio sessions without the impact on their joints. Road cycling will help you build powerful legs and strengthen your core. Do not avoid cycling hills. Climbing hills is a strength workout; it does not only build that explosive power in your body, it also toughens you, helps you develop the perseverance you need for challenging hiking trips. Finally, cycling is also a very fun and inspiring sport and an excellent way to go sightseeing or commute to your work daily.
Trail and hill running
Running is one of the best ways to keep your general fitness up. Regular running, even if for short and easy distances is an excellent cardiovascular training. If you have the opportunity, do some trail running, as it is the natural hiking environment and engages a range of muscle groups. Get a designated pair of trail running shoes with an enhanced grip soles and go for a stroll in your local hills or forests. Do you avoid running uphills, and definitely enjoy all the downhills. If you will do this regularly, you will be ready for your hiking trip in no time.
A very efficient way to build muscle strength and train your lung capacity is to do the so called hill repeats. Find a hill somewhere. Begin with an easy stroll to warm up (10-15 minutes) and then do series of “all-out” runs up the hill, with slow jogs down as recovery. Depending on your level of fitness do 4-10 repeats of 20s to 2min high uphill effort. Even though it is a very hard and painful workout, it has incredible benefits to your strength. Hill repeats is a technique many professional elite athletes use routinely for their training.
Often perceived as very passive and slow, yoga is actually an excellent way to strengthen all muscle groups of your body in a balanced and safe manner. In addition to being an incredibly soothing experience, yoga strengthens your core and back, makes you more flexible and helps to eliminate any persistent injuries, as well as avoid them by working fine muscles and massaging your connective tissue.
Hiking is a type of walking, right? So, if you are completely new to hiking, start by walking to work daily and taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Moving regularly is the key to be fit; small frequent workouts have a much bigger impact to your level of fitness than a one exhaustingly long workout. Get a group of friends and start “walking hang-outs” – it is a fun way to increase your fitness and catch up.
If you do not have access to hills, road bike, and you have to deal with bad weather and darkness, gym-work can also be a good option to keep strong and fit. Majority of the gyms these days have several good cardio machine options, such as elliptical, stationary-bikes and treadmills. They are all good options to build endurance and increase your fitness. While at the gym, it is worthwhile to do some resistance, strength work too. Depending on your lever of fitness and experience, try the rowing-machine, weight work for legs and core. Do not push too far, if you are new to gym work. Suddenly drastically increasing the weight you are working with might lead to injures. It is always better to focus on higher number of repetitions with moderate weights. Do not hesitate to get some advice from the gym trainers and maybe join for some group trainings; it is very easy to get injuries, if performing exercises poorly that will set you back with your training goals.
Swimming is another incredibly low-impact cardio exercise that does wonders for your entire body. Swimming is excellent for your core and back, as well as your hips and shoulders. It also develops your lung capacity and strengthens your cardiovascular system. If you are new to swimming and do not have a good technique, it would be wise to get some lessons to make sure you are getting the most of your activity. Join some swimming groups or ask someone experienced at swimming to look at your swimming technique.
Uphill walking with a pack
A good way to train to carrying a multi-day pack is to just to carry a pack. Fill your backpack with 5-20g, depending on your fitness level and pace up and down the stairs or some local hill. Be sure to wear appropriate footwear to avoid ankle injuries.
Eating well is an intrinsic part of training. Make sure you are getting enough protein with your diet, as well as all necessary vitamins and minerals. If you are training a lot, do not restrict your calories too much, and always make sure to get some carbohydrates and protein immediately after your workout to enable muscle recovery and strength build up. If you are vegetarian or vegan, consider making smoothies with vegan powder (for example hemp protein).
In conclusion, fitness requires effort and time. People, who are new to training, can get easily discouraged with the difficulty that comes with building your shape and strength. However, remember, what you are training for and stay focused, learn to enjoy your progress, and know that the further you will go, the more you will appreciate the difficulty and all the benefits it is brining you. Finally it is very important to find a way to make workouts fun; find an activity that is enjoyable for you, convince some friends to join or join some training groups. Believe me, it does get easier.