How to Train for a Hike: 9 Steps to Hiking Like a Pro!

If you have been searching for information on how to train for a hike, you have got to the right place! As an experienced hiker, I can confidently say that hiking is one of the most fulfilling outdoor activities out there. But, it’s important to understand that it’s not just a walk in the park. Hiking requires proper training and preparation to ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable experience.

Whether you’re planning a day hike or a multi-day trek, it’s essential to train your body for the physical demands of hiking. I have learned that preparation is key to enjoying any hiking adventure. Over the years, I have developed a training routine that has helped me conquer some of the most challenging hikes in the world.

With all my years of experience as a world traveler and hiker, I have seen first-hand the consequences of not properly training for a hike. From blisters to dehydration and even more serious injuries, the risks are high if you’re not adequately prepared. That’s why I’m passionate about sharing my knowledge and experience to help others train for a hike like a pro. In this blog post, I’ll share my top tips and advice on how to train for a hike, so you can embark on your next adventure with confidence and ease.

Hiking during my vacation in New Zealand
Tongariro Alpine Hiking in New Zealand

Overview of How to Train for a Hike in 9 Easy Steps

STEP 1: Assess your Fitness LevelBefore embarking on a hike, it’s important to assess your fitness level to determine the type of hike that is suitable for you. You can start by taking a fitness test or consulting a healthcare provider.
STEP 2: Start with a Shorter Hikes If you’re new to hiking or haven’t hiked in a while, it’s best to start with shorter hikes and gradually increase the distance and difficulty level.
STEP 3: Train Your Cardiovascular to Built Your EnduranceTo build endurance, you can engage in aerobic exercises such as running, cycling, or swimming, which will help to strengthen your heart and lungs.
STEP 4: Strength Your MusclesHiking requires the use of various muscles, especially in the legs, core, and back. You can strengthen these muscles through exercises such as squats, lunges, and planks.
STEP 5: Balance, Stretch, and MobilityThey are essential components of any hiker’s training routine, and incorporating these elements into your training regimen can help to improve overall performance and reduce the risk of injury on your hiking.
STEP 6: Wear Proper GearWearing proper hiking gear such as hiking shoes, a backpack, and comfortable clothing will help to prevent injury and make your hike more comfortable.
STEP 7: Plan Your Diet Habits by Staying Hydrated and Fueled Bring enough water and snacks to keep you hydrated and fueled throughout the hike. It’s also important to know how to purify water from natural sources.
STEP 8: Understand Where you go Hiking and Know the TrailBefore embarking on a hike, it’s important to know the trail and its difficulty level. You can research online or ask experienced hikers for advice.
STEP 9: Build a Schedule and Train Consistently it is extremely important to build a schedule of training that allows you to be consistent. As important as it is to train, resting breaks are also very important to prevent exhaustion and injury. Take breaks when needed and listen to your body.

9 Steps on How to Train for a Hike

STEP 1: Assess your Fitness Level

The first step when you decide on how to train for a hike is to assess your fitness level. This will help you determine where to start and what you need to work on to improve your overall fitness. Hiking is a natural form of exercise for us humans, but with our busy lifestyles, we tend to neglect physical activity. This can lead to a lack of strength and endurance, making hiking more challenging than it needs to be.

Once you’ve assessed your fitness level, it’s time to plan for your fitness goal. Here are three foundations to help you get started:

CHECK WITH YOUR DOCTOR: Before you start any new workout routine, it’s important to check with your doctor to ensure that you’re healthy enough for physical activity. This is especially important if you have any pre-existing medical conditions or if you’re over the age of 40.
TRAINING SCHEDULE: To improve your body strength, you need to get into the habit of a training routine. Schedule a time in your day when you can fully engage with your training and make it a part of your daily routine. Plan the duration of time you will train for better hiking performance. Some exercises that can help include cardiovascular workouts, strength training, and flexibility exercises. You will see more in detail below 😉
DIET HABITS: A big part of physical and health improvements starts in the kitchen. You can spend hours a day training, but if you don’t have healthy diet habits, you’re unlikely to see results. Incorporate nutrient-dense foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins into your diet. Avoid processed foods, sugary drinks, and excessive alcohol consumption.
How to train for a hike
Hiking in extreme conditions in the Himalayas – Annapurna Mt.

STEP 2: Start with a Shorter Hikes & Progress Gradually

WHAT IT DOES: It is obvious, you need to start hiking to mimic your hiking during your vacation. It trains your feet, legs, knees, and back to get used to walking for long distances. Slowly start adding some length and elevation to your hiking.

FREQUENCY & DURATION: You can start by going on long walks outdoors. Start to increase your walking distance, for at least 60 minutes once a week.

WHERE: Start to walk outdoors, try to add some variations such as a walk in the sand, hills, and parks, and ideally if you have access, go on shorter hiking on the weekends.

Expert 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 in flat areas, just like me here in Florida, besides outdoor training, I train on a treadmill with elevation. The hillier the terrain, the better.

How to train for a hike
Hiking in high elevation in Machu Picchu in Peru

STEP 3: Train Your Cardiovascular to Built Your Endurance

OPTIONS FOR CARDIOVASCULAR: Treadmill, stairs masters, elliptical, bike, spinning bike, running, interval training


  • Running: This is 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.
  • Gym cardio equipment: Climbing stairs, bike, and elliptical helps to strengthen leg muscles and lungs and this is another great way to do something that resembles what hiking will be like.
  • Interval training; This 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. 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


  • I target to run 5K (3.1 miles) 3-4 times a week for 40 minutes, including 10 minutes of warm-up.
  • 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.
  • You can use cardio equipment at the gym, at the stairs at a park or your apartment, or at a school stadium. You can do the stair training for example on alternate days of running, each session with 20 min of high intensity.

Expert Tip:

Doesn’t matter what endurance/ cardio exercise you choose to do, make sure you target your progress. During each session, I try to train at a pace that keeps my heart rate at 70% to 85% of my maximum heart rate. To make your training more fun and easier to adapt to the routine, I recommend mixing and matching or picking at least 2 from this list of exercises below, as you will need some variations to stick with the plan. 

STEP 4: Strength Your Muscles

OPTIONS FOR STRENGTH WORKOUT: When we talk about strength workouts, the first thing that comes into mind is a sign for a membership at the gym. But if you are so busy, like I am, I have some great options for you. For a cheap and easy alternative, you can buy sissy squats equipment to strengthen your whole body, especially your legs. Another alternative is to invest in a compact home gym, as you will get the same benefits as going to the gym.

WHAT IT 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 is also good for your bone density and muscle mass and helps to develop better body mechanics.

FREQUENCY & DURATION: 4-5 times a week, during 45-60 minutes sessions.

Expert 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 presses, 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 leg training, 1 day for back, 1 day for shoulders, and 1 day for arms (biceps and triceps).

STEP 5: Balance, Stretching & Mobility

OPTIONS: Yoga, mobility exercises with a rubber band, stretching at home or at the gym


  • 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 intensely, and easier.
  • Stretching is imperative to ensure you avoid injury and recover as quickly as possible.
  • Stability & Mobility: It is very important to build mobility and stability. Mobility increases the ability to move freely and easily and, Stability develops the ability of the body to maintain postural equilibrium and supports joints during movements.

FREQUENCY & DURATION: 1 full hour a week, and associate some yoga moves prior to and/or at the end of your daily workout routine.

Expert Tip:

You can use resistance bands to strengthen your muscles through full extension and concentration and help to build a range of motion. 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.

STEP 6: Wear Proper Gear

GEAR UP: Having the right gear can make a huge difference in your hiking experience. Invest in proper hiking shoes, a sturdy backpack, and appropriate clothing for the weather conditions. It’s also important to carry essentials like a map, a first-aid kit, and plenty of water. Below are my favorite and essentials hiking gears I recommend:

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 also strongly recommend researching and investing in the best knee brace for hikers that work best for you, you will thank me later.

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 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.

COMFORTABLE 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 hiking I have done, 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.

HIKING JACKET: Also, it is very important to invest in a high-quality hiking jacket. Every hiker knows the importance of great quality jackets for hiking. Or you simply cannot function properly let alone enjoy your hike when you’re freezing (if your jacket isn’t warm enough), very sweaty (if the fabric doesn’t breathe), or struggling to move if the jacket is restricting your movement.

Expert 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. Check my expert review on all my favorite hiking gear and make sure you invest in the right ones for you!

STEP 7: Plan Your Diet Habits by Staying Hydrated and Fueled

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, such as these 16 easy ideas for energy food for hiking. Below are my 5 takeaways for you:

CHANGE YOUR HABITS: by not buy food that has an empty calorie intake. Try to change your habits one day at a time, and gradually cut sugar and processed food from your diet.
EAT SMALLER MEALS THROUGHT 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, and soda during any preparation of a fitness goal.
WHAT YOU SHOULD EAT: Proteins such as eggs, chicken breast, fish, and 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, and brown rice.

Expert Tip:

Changing 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 result

How to train for a hike

STEP 8: Understand Where you go Hiking and Know the Trail

My adventurer friends, the first step is to decide when you decide how to train for a hike is where in the world you want to hike. I worked with many travel adventure bloggers from all over the world, and together, we have prepared this ultimate list of the best hiking on the Planet. Or you can check my complete series of hiking for more fascinating locations and experiences. It is a great place to start, choose the perfect hiking for you.

What type of hiking do 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 of 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.

Expert Tip:

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.

How to train for a hike
Glacier hiking in Iceland

STEP 9: Build a Schedule and Train Consistently

Last but not least, now that you have learned all the steps on how to train for a hike, it is extremely important to build a schedule of training that allows you to be consistent. 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 8 weeks in advance for 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.

Expert 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. 

How to train for a hike
Hiking the Tongariro in New Zealand

Additional Tips on How to Train for a Hike

Now that you have all the essentials on how to train for a hike, I want to make sure to help you with all the additional tips to make the most of your hiking. Being in 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 and have your workout done from pretty much anywhere.
NO TIME 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 MY YOUTUBE VIDEOS: It is a great source to use for diverse videos of workouts, 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: Getting injuries during hiking is more common than 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 them and especially before you go on your trip.
PAY ATTENTION TO MENTAL TRAINING: Mental preparation is as important as physical training. No matter how great of a 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.

How to Train for a Hike Conclusion

In conclusion, training for a hike requires a multi-faceted approach that includes assessing your fitness level, developing a training schedule, adopting healthy diet habits, gearing up, and progressing gradually. By following these foundations, you’ll be well on your way to being physically prepared for your next hiking adventure.

By following these 9 steps, you’ll be well on your way how to train for a hike like a pro. Remember to start slow and gradually increase the distance and difficulty level to prevent injury and enjoy the experience. Happy hiking!

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6 thoughts on “How to Train for a Hike: 9 Steps to Hiking Like a Pro!”

  1. Great tips! I’m not a hiking person and the 2-hour long (one way) hike I had in my recent trip to Sri Lanka was more than enough. I have no stamina and cardio kills me lol
    I guess I should try to incorporate more strength training into my daily routine, thanks for the motivation!

  2. Hi Juliet, training and building stamina should be one step at a time. I think you have a good idea to start with strength training and slowly incorporate cardio, endurance…until you feel comfortable.

  3. I do have a couple of articles about fitness on my site – Please, visit the Healthy Lifestyle & Fitness session. Thanks

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