HIKING ON VACATION – A COMPLETE FITNESS PREPARATION GUIDE
In this fitness preparation guide for hiking during your vacation, you will find advice on how to prepare for this big adventure, separated in 9 easy sections, from exercises, diet, and many other tips and tricks for you to be in the best shape for your hike during your vacation.
Getting ready for a vacation is so exciting. Getting ready for hiking during a vacation is twice the fun! All you need to do is have a plan for your trip and a fitness preparation plan to make the most of your hiking during your vacation.
Preparation is essential to increase the potential for any successful trip. I am an athlete and a world traveler, and hiking during my vacation is my number one favorite thing to do. I put together some training and preparation to help me to get ready for long hiking, and I am so happy to share with you what I have learned, and have been using.
The best way is to train properly and regularly, plus, following a healthy routine that will put you in the best condition for your physical challenge. This journey should be fun and you should feel proud to be here, taking the first step towards your biggest adventure.
Be healthy, and safe travels!
HIKING ON VACATION – 9 STEP FTNESS PREPARATION OVERVIEW
1- Plan and Prepare – Where and what type of hiking
2- Foundation of your preparation – Talk to your doc, training schedule, diet habits
3- Training Schedule for Hiking – Your training routine is the most important of all
4- Cardiovascular – Training routine to improve the endurance
5- Strength – Training routine to increase muscle strength
6- Balance & Stretching – Training routine to have a stable base
7- Diet Habits – Healthy diet habits to enhance your results
8- How to Choose the Right Gear – Your gear can make or break your hiking
9- Additional Tips – What else can you do to achieve your fitness goal
A healthy lifestyle not only changes your body, but it also changes your mind, your attitude, and your mood.
1- Plan and Prepare for your hiking on your vacation
#1 WHERE GO HIKING –
My adventurer friends, the first step is to decide where in the world you want to hike. I worked with travel adventure bloggers from all over the world, and together, we have prepared this list with the Best Hiking on the Planet.
#2 WHAT TYPE OF HIKING –
What type of hiking you want to do during your next vacation. It will depend on the level, you will need to plan and prepare accordingly.
- Will it be a full day hiking on easy terrain?
- Maybe a strenuous day hike to a mountain summit?
- Or rather several days of hiking in extreme conditions?
- Maybe it will be overnight in the wilderness?
- If you are planning to hike in high altitudes, I have prepared a complete guide on how to train for hiking in high altitudes, since you will need to follow additional steps.
#3 STEP – HOW TO PLAN YOUR FITNESS JOURNEY
If you have an average fitness condition, you should be able to complete a day hike. But there is a difference in preparation for a day hike and long-distance backpacking at the high altitude of the Himalayas while carrying a heavy backpack all the way up, for example.
Getting ready for hiking on your next vacation, should also be a great fitness goal. Use it in your favor to start a fitness program and a routine, including making changes to your diet and lifestyle.
Here I focus on a fitness plan for long-distancing hikes, but of course, all the tips here are very useful for day hikers or anyone who wants to get into great shape.
2- The Foundation Plan for your Fitness Preparation
Hiking is a very natural form of exercise for us humans. But with the busy lifestyle and lack of time, we tend to go long periods of time throughout the day without taking a step or practice physical activities with frequency. Great start here! Now you have a strong reason to get into shape for the hiking during your vacation. Next let’s see the 5 foundations to plan for your fitness goal:
- Check with your doctor: Before you get started, I recommend checking with your doctor to start a new workout routine;
- Training Schedule: Get into the habit of a training routine, and schedule a time in your day where you can fully engage with your training and improve your body strength. I am covering types of exercises in more detail below. Plan your duration of time for better hiking performance.
- Diet Habits: I am a big believer that a big part of our physical and health improvements starts in the kitchen. You can spend hours a day training, but if you don’t get into healthy diet habits, you are most likely not going to see results. I have a whole session to guide you on better eating habits.
3- Training Schedule for Hiking on your Vacation
I am a gym rat! But anytime when I am training for hiking, I adapt my training and also take my workout outdoors, and still keep one session in the gym, and one session outdoors per day, for 2 months.
It is very important that we distinguish between different types of training. Like any other sport, there are different aspects for us to work on, strength, cardio, and balance, and I will be covering each one in detail and give you great examples of how to accomplish the best results:
- Plan to start training with 8 weeks in advance to your hiking
- Engage in a routine of at least four to five 45-60 minute workouts per week.
- Workouts should mix cardio, with strength exercises and balance.
- You can separate by 3 days of strength training per week, 3 days of cardio, and 2 sessions of balance/ stretching.
- Listen to your body, do not push too hard. If something hurts, take a break, or modify your exercise.
- Allow your body to recover in order to avoid injuries
- Whenever you begin to feel breathless, concentrate on taking deep breaths and smaller steps until a more normal breathing pattern returns.
- Remember to always warm-up before you start your training and finish with stretching.
- Go on Hiking: Yes, start to walk outdoors, try to add some variations such as a walk at the sand, hills, parks, and ideally if you have access, go on shorter hiking on the weekends.
- Cardiovascular Endurance Training –This is the most important part of your preparation for your hiking. The cardiovascular ultimate goal is to optimize your body’s recuperation power, it improves endurance and also increases your body’s capacity to repair itself.
- Strength Training: It is very important to increase strength in your core and major leg muscles, and it helps build endurance in those same muscle groups.
- Balance & Stretching – Extremely important to build a more stable base that allows you to take uneven terrain, and to help to protect your knees and back.
PRO TIP: It is important to take it slow and increase the training program daily, and gradually. Also, remember to pay attention to your inhale and exhale. I focused on developing a breathing rhythm and deep breathing. Your ability to control and conserve your breath and expand your breathing capacity will come in handy when the oxygen supply is reduced.
4- Cardiovascular Training Program
GO ON HIKING –
What it does: It is obvious, you need to start hiking to mimic your hiking during your vacation. It trains your feet, legs, knees, back to get used to walking for long distances. Slowly start adding some length and elevation to your hiking.
Frequency and Duration: You can start by going on long walks outdoors. Start to increase your walking distance, for at least 60 minutes once a week.
Tip: Eventually you should do hikes using your backpack and all your hiking gear. By doing it, you allow your body to get accustomed to the weight that you will need to carry during your actual hiking trip. Another tip, if you live on flat areas, just like me here in Florida, besides outdoor training, I train on a treadmill with elevation.
PRO TIP: If you’re joining a backpacking trip, we recommend putting 25-30 pounds of weight into a backpack and hiking with it during your longer, once-per-week workouts. The hillier the terrain, the better.
What it does: Next to actual hiking, running will be the most similar type of training in terms of movements, so this will be a great way to get your legs and lungs prepared for what lies ahead.
Frequency and Duration: I target to run 5K (3.1 miles) 3-4 times a week for 40 minutes, including 10 minutes of warm-up.
Tip: During each session, I try to train at a pace that keeps my heart rate at 70% to 85% of my maximum heart rate.
OUTDOOR INTERVAL TRAINING
What it does: Interval training is a method of training the cardiovascular system by elevating the heart rate significantly and then allowing it to recover for a period before elevating it again, this prepares the cardiovascular system to deal with the stress of limited oxygen levels at higher altitudes
Frequency and Duration: I incorporate interval training 2-3 times a week, alternating with my running days. You can Warm up for 5 minutes, then move into short high-intensity interval training (HIIT) intervals, each interval can last from 30 sec to 2 min with one minute to recover. Go for about 20 minutes of training.
Tip: I like to do sprints outdoors. But you can also do your interval training on a bike, up the hill, treadmill, or any gym equipment that you may have access.
CLIMB STAIRS –
What it does: Climbing stairs helps to strengthen leg muscles and lungs and this is another great way to do something that resembles what the hiking will be like.
Frequency and Duration: You can use a Stair Master at the gym, or at the stairs at a park or your apartment or a school stadium. You can do the stair training on alternate days of running, each session with 20 min of high intensity.
Tip: I like to incorporate the use of a resistance band around my quads, as it helps to add some additional resistance and helps to build more strength in your legs and glutes.
PRO TIP: To make your training more fun and easier to adapt to the routine, I recommend to mix and match, or pick at least 2 from this list of exercises below, as you will need some variations to stick with the plan.
5- Strength Training Program
WEIGHT TRAINING –
What is does: I think you already realized I am a big fan of weight training. I have been training with weights since I was 16 years old. Some of the benefits include: it makes you stronger and fitter, but it also good for your bone density and muscle mass and helps to develop better body mechanics.
Frequency and Duration: 4-5 times a week, during 45-60 minutes sessions.
Tip: When training for hiking on my vacation, I always prioritize legs workout for hiking and incorporate more exercises such as squats, stiff-legged deadlifts, leg press, and calf exercises. It is also very important to train your upper body, as a strong body is very important. 3 days per week of legs training, 1 day for back, 1 day for shoulders and 1 day for arms (biceps and triceps)
BUILD A RANGE OF MOTION –
What is does: It is very important to build range of motion exercises to help the small muscles stabilization, especially around knees and ankles
Frequency and Duration: I recommend starting at least with a 10 minutes of exercises a day 3-4 days a week and you can increase the duration as you advance.
Tips: You can use resistance bands to strengthen your muscles through a full extension and concentration. You can add bands walk, bands squats, and band sidewalks. The good thing is that you can do these exercises on the go and you don’t need much space.
6- Balance and Stretching
YOGA – balance and stretch
What is does: Yoga helps to reduce both, the risk of being sore after your hike and the risk of injury. It helps build strength and stamina so you can hike longer, more intense, and easier. Stretching is imperative to ensure you avoid injury and recover as quickly as possible
Frequency and Duration: 1 full hour a week, and associate some yoga moves prior and/or at the end of your daily workout routine.
Tips: I have seen a couple of elderly people hiking on the most difficult conditions, and while I thought I was prepared, they were doing much better than me, so I asked if they practice yoga and the answer was “yes”. That proves that yoga is great for hiking, as it improves your balance, flexibility, and strength. So I strongly recommend adding yoga to your hiking training.
7- DIET PLAN FOR HIKING PREPARATION
If you are planning to increase your workout, it is very important to also have proper nutrition. Make sure that you eat the correct amount of calories, and have a balanced meal with the macronutrients: Lean protein, complex carbohydrates, and good fats.
Change your habits: by not buying food that has empty calorie intake. Try to change your habits one day at a time, and gradually cut sugar or processed food from your diet.
Eat smaller meals through the day: Eat smaller meals, and try to space them between 3-4 hours, avoid eating large quantities before bedtime. It is proven that eating frequent snacking, as long as it’s healthy, keeps your metabolism humming, staves off hunger, and controls blood sugar. Also, the longer you wait between meals, the hungrier you get, and then you’re more likely to overeat.
Drink plenty of water: Drinking Water Helps Maintain the Balance of Body Fluids. Your body is composed of about 60% water. The functions of these bodily fluids include digestion, absorption, circulation, creation of saliva, transportation of nutrients, and maintenance of body temperature.
What you should avoid eating: Processed and fried food, sugary food, and drinks – yes, it means cakes, sweets, chocolate, soda during any preparation of a fitness goal.
What you should eat: Proteins such as eggs, chicken breast, fish, steak. Add healthy omega-rich fatty foods such as avocado, oily fish, nuts and olive, coconut, and MCT oils. Complex carbs such as sweet potato, beans, vegetables, whole grains, quinoa, brown rice.
PRO TIP: Changing the diet habits is the most challenging part, and it can be very intimidating to commit, but if you plan accordingly and stick with the plan, you will slowly build up the discipline and the results will be all beneficial for your physique and most import, health results.
8 – How to choose the right gear
Best support for knees: Stability Compression Tights saved my life (and my knees) during my 7 days hiking in the Himalayas, especially on the way down the mountains. The concept is intriguing and I was skeptical when I ordered my pair, but it really adds great support for calves, knees, and hips along with quicker recovery helps during the 8-day trek to the base camp. I strongly recommend this investment.
Invest in perfect hiking shoes: This is one of the best investments you need to make when you are planning hiking, as it doesn’t matter how fit you are, your shoes may make or break your hike. I recommend trying different pairs before you make your decision. You need a great support for your feet and ankles, and make sure you won’t have blisters during your hiking. I have been using my hiking boots for many hiking, and I absolutely love them.
Invest in a perfect backpack: If you are planning multi-day hiking, besides building a strong back, you also need to make sure you have the right backpack. I finally invested in a very good backpack that is “antigravity” (Osprey magic). It was not very cheap, but it is an investment in my back.
Trekking Poles: I recommend having a good trekking pole on your backpack. While I never believed I would use one, they were great for long hiking down the mountains in the Himalayas, as I started to feel strong pain in my knees. Poles help to keep the balance on rock and uneven terrain, but they are also great for support if you are hiking downhill and feel pain, especially in your knees.
PRO TIP: Make sure that you train with your equipment prior to going hiking. Train with your compression tight, your hiking boots, and your backpack. In case you are going on a long hike, you can also simulate the weight on your backpack during your training
8 – Additional Tips for a hiking preparation
Now that you have all the essentials to get ready for that amazing hiking during your vacation, I want to make sure to help you with all the additional tips to make the most of your hiking. Being on excellent shape before your trip makes a huge difference in how much you will enjoy your vacation:
No gym, No problem: If you don’t have a gym, you still can organize a workout corner in your house, buy some portable and affordable fitness equipment do your workout from pretty much anywhere.
No time? it is not an excuse: I always say “we can make it happen, or we can make an excuse”. Wake up one hour earlier, or give up on that new series on Netflix in order to make time for your workout. Make it a priority.
Follow YouTube Videos: It is a great source to use for diverse videos of workout, just make sure you follow reliable sources and have fun. If you are interested, I have a YouTube Channel with workout on-the-go videos.
Avoid injuries: Get injuries during hiking is more common than what we think. Make any adjustments before you go. When you include more training and/or different exercise routine it increases the possibility for you to develop some kind of body discomfort or aches during the process. If this happens, take care of any symptoms as soon as you feel it and especially before you go on your trip.
Mental Training: Mental preparation is as important as physical training. No matter how great of shape you are in, you cannot physically prepare for adversity. Cold weather, surprising downpours, broken gear, and blisters are just some of the challenges you can face during your hiking. Mental strength is the only thing that will get you through them.
Travel responsibly: Always remember to travel ethical and responsible, and leave no trace.
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