Look at it outside. The leaves are changing colors; the air is nice and crisp, and to me, this means it is perfect hiking weather. I love to hike when it is not hot outside so then I can go further and challenge myself more. I like to keep fit all year round because of this, but here are five exercises you need to master to best prepare yourself for hiking. You will be happy you worked on them before a long hike. I guarantee you will not be tired after a 5-mile hike!
*Note: The 4th exercise is squats. You may need to consider choosing a pair of suitable knee sleeves for you to prevent injury as well enhance your experience.
1. Aerobics training
This is the best way to get your heart pumping and your heart rate up while having fun. To me, an aerobics class is upbeat and fun and goes by so quickly after you have done a couple. My recommendation for an aerobics class is not to walk into it thinking that it is easy and for middle-aged women, because of surprise, it’s not. You are jumping, squatting, dancing and spinning for the entire class. The shorter the class, the more intense the workout is. Mine is around 45 minutes, and we do not stop moving for the entire class. If you can do this without getting tired, then a hike will be a piece of cake.
I recommend doing aerobics training three times a week to build up your endurance. If doing it three times seems too much in the beginning, then cut it down to 2 and build it up to 3. It is important to challenge your mind and your body when it comes to preparing for a hike.
Squats are great to build strength in your knees, legs and bum. Not only will your legs look sleeker and shapelier, but your bum will be more toned as well. It is a win-win situation. The muscles in your legs and bum will help you with more challenging courses with steeper climbing and other obstacles. For more of a challenge, try doing jump squats to help with your cardio. You will feel exhausted doing just ten of them, so you will want to build up endurance before a big hike.
I recommend you three sets of 20 squats 3 or 4 days a week while preparing for a hike. When you are beginning, just do it for three days a week, but build it up to 4 days closer to the hike. It is easier to do them one day, and do another exercise the next day to give your legs a break.
3. Traveling lunges
Because making a lunge in place is just not good enough for hiking. You want to build up leg strength and mixing up exercises is great for that. Squats are perfect, but I always like pairing my squats with lunges. The lunges will work different muscles than squats and increase strength in your legs, knees, and bum. And when you are making traveling lunges, you are moving your body more than if you made lunges in place. Another great lunge activity to try is jumping lunges. This will help with cardio so you can build up the endurance for a long, tedious hike.
I have to give you the same recommendation with the lunges that I did with the squats. Do three sets of 10 lunges 3 or 4 days a week. Do a set of squats, and then a set of lunges and then return to squats and so on. That way you can do your leg exercises all in one day.
4. Resistance training
This is quite similar to HIIT training because you are working your muscles to the max. This means lots of lunges, squats, push-ups and planks. This will train your body and your mind into it thinking it can be challenged more and more each day. And guess what, it can be challenged more and more each day. Your bones and muscles will be receiving quite a workout here.
Since resistance training is more challenging for your body, muscles, and bones, you only need to do it once or twice a week. Start off once to get your mind in gear, and then add a second-day closer to a big hike day. Since it involves lunges and squats, I recommend doing your resistance training on days you do those exercises.
5. Step ups with hip rotation
You need to work on your steps, so no better way than to do some step ups to build strength in your lower and upper body. Find a park bench, and bring your weights so you can do it outside in the fresh air. Step up on the bench and lift a weight with your opposite arm. Then rotate and do the same thing with your opposite leg and arm.
Step-ups are a great way to prepare for a hike, so I recommend doing them 2 to 3 times a week. It will help with endurance and muscle strength with your hike. Challenges that seem really difficult will become even easier when you practice your step ups with hip rotation.
These are just five great examples of exercises you need to master to prepare yourself for hiking best. There are numerous other exercises you can do to help build endurance and strength that you will need for extra-long hikes. Remember to bring plenty of water and a healthy trail mix along for the hike. You never know when you will be hungry or thirsty during the hike. Plus, if you are exercising you should always have water at hand. Good luck on your long hike, and I hope these exercises help. Be sure to let us know how you did preparing for your hike, and how the hike went afterward. I guarantee is better than going at it alone.
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Paul Vandyken is a personal trainer, nutrition coach. His personal website is RigorFitness.com. His blog has articles, videos, and pictures with tips, tricks about fitness, nutrition, and healthy lifestyle. If you are on the journey to your healthy and happy lifestyle, visiting his blog may worth a look or even help you enhance your process.