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.
- STEP 1: Assess your Fitness Level
- STEP 2: Start with a Shorter Hikes & Progress Gradually
- STEP 3: Train Your Cardiovascular to Built Your Endurance
- STEP 4: Strength Your Muscles
- STEP 5: Balance, Stretching & Mobility
- STEP 6: Wear Proper Gear
- STEP 7: Plan Your Diet Habits by Staying Hydrated and Fueled
- STEP 8: Understand Where you go Hiking and Know the Trail
- STEP 9: Build a Schedule and Train Consistently
Overview of How to Train for a Hike in 9 Easy Steps
|STEP 1: Assess your Fitness Level||Before 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 Endurance||To 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 Muscles||Hiking 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 Mobility||They 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 Gear||Wearing 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 Trail||Before 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:
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.
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.
STEP 3: Train Your Cardiovascular to Built Your Endurance
OPTIONS FOR CARDIOVASCULAR: Treadmill, stairs masters, elliptical, bike, spinning bike, running, interval training
WHAT IT DOES:
- 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
FREQUENCY & DURATION:
- 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.
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.
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
WHAT IT 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 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.
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.
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:
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
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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
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!
You may also enjoy these articles:
- How to Train for a high altitude hike
- Fitness for Travel; 12 Tips on How to Be in Shape for your next vacation
- 5 Tips on How to find life balance between travel & Fitness
- Best energy food for hiking: 16 easy and cheap ideas
- Efficient hotel room workout for busy travelers
- Build strong legs with these sissy squat equipment: Expert Review!
- 150+ Funny hiking captions for Instagram!
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6 thoughts on “How to Train for a Hike: 9 Steps to Hiking Like a Pro!”
This is great! I loved that you combined fitness and travel, my faves!
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!
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.
I am glad you enjoyed this article Katy, travel, and fitness are my passions too.
Do you have any more posts on this subject? This was really useful
I do have a couple of articles about fitness on my site – Please, visit the Healthy Lifestyle & Fitness session. Thanks