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6 Amazing Tips To Prepare Physically for Mountain Hiking
Mountain hiking is more demanding than taking a stroll in your local park. You will need stamina and strength. Success depends on the amount of training you put in beforehand. The following are six tips to help you prepare physically for mountain hiking.
1. Start Training Early
Completing a mountain hike for most people is the culmination of an extended training plan. Over several weeks, they have improved their cardiovascular system and strengthened their body. Most mountain hikers take between 12 and 16 weeks to train before a hike.
Several variables will impact the amount of training you need, including your fitness level, your tendency for injuries, and your job and lifestyle. If you are not very fit or a little overweight, you want to build up your fitness levels over a longer period. This will allow you to take the needed time for recovery during your training.
2. Strengthen Muscles and Improve Balance
You should include a variety of basic exercises to warm up your muscles and increase your heart rate. One of the most common hiking injuries is an ankle sprain. Walking and running in the sand builds strength while protecting your knees and ankles.
Using a resistance band allows you to strengthen your muscles through their full extension. Standing on a balance disc or a tennis ball will enable you to build the stabilizer muscles around the ankle and the knee while increasing the range of motion.
Crunches, squats, and lunges help you build your core strength and increase your balance on uneven surfaces. Push-ups increase upper body strength and give your back the added endurance and balance needed while carrying a heavier pack.
3. Build Lung and Cardiovascular Endurance
Cardio will increase lung capacity and build cardiovascular endurance. Step-ups and wearing a backpack will increase leg strength and endurance. It’s recommended that you start with a lower weight in your backpack, perhaps around 20 pounds, and every week add 5 pounds until your pack weighs as much as it will during your trip. The goal is to do step-ups three times a week until you can complete 700 of them in less than 30 minutes.
4. Take Day Hikes to Prepare for Mountain Hiking
Taking several day hikes before your mountain hike will prepare your body for the strain of something more than just an afternoon stroll. Try to go for a walk between two and three times a week. Use a brisk pace to raise your heartbeat, and then keep it high for at least 30 minutes.
Hike in the same shoes you will wear on your mountain hike. If your feet are not prepared in advance for your hiking boots, you’ll likely get painful blisters.
When you do your weekday walks, carry a lightly weighted backpack. This will get your body accustomed to the balance needed to move at a swifter pace while toting essential gear.
5. Do Exercises to Strengthen and Protect Your Knees
During the week, do exercises to strengthen your calves, hamstrings, and quadriceps. Riding a bike, running on a treadmill, and brisk walking can accomplish this.
Exercise using ankle weights. Something small, like 5 pounds, is a good starting point. Lay on your back, bend one knee, and slowly lift the other leg, keeping your knee flexed. Repeat this with both legs.
Strengthen your hamstrings by standing and lifting one leg behind you, which is at a 90° angle. Hold this for a few seconds, and then slowly lower it to the floor.
6. Talk to Experienced Mountain Hikers
Talking to experienced mountain hikers allows you to benefit from the knowledge they’ve garnered over the years. Talk to them about training programs that work and those that don’t. Get recommendations for the right shoes for your feet, and learn tips on preparing your body for altitude sickness and other challenges you will face during the run.
As you can see, training for a hike is more than just going on a few hikes. Your goal should be to increase major muscle strength, improve endurance, build balance, and focus on strengthening your cardiovascular system. Taking the time to prepare your body for mountain hiking can make the difference between a good hike and one you would rather forget.