One of the most asked questions we get about hiking is how to get in shape for hiking. While we are not trainers or athletic coaches, we do know what works for us. Here are our top five tips on how you can get in shape for hiking:
1. Start hiking! Just start small. Go on short, flat hikes and increase mileage and elevation gain slowly. Really the best way to get in shape for hiking is to hike.
2. Start weight training 3x a week. Focus on leg strength, back strength, and core strength since those are the three muscle groups you use to propel yourself up a trail.
3. Add intense cardio 3-5x a week. Stair stepper, elliptical, stationary bike, and the treadmill with an incline will all help get your cardiovascular system ready for hiking. Switch it up so you don’t get bored and will work your body multiple ways.
4. Use food as fuel. Once we changed our mindset on food from eating just to eat and eating to fuel our bodies, our hiking game went to the next level. Clean eating is a huge part of this, but also learning what our bodies need in terms of carbs vs. protein and when to eat them was just as huge. Figure out what works best for your body and stick to it. It will change the way you feel not only when you’re climbing a mountain but all the time.
5. Be patient. All of this takes time so stick with it. The payoff is huge and you will feel better all of the time, not just when you’re standing on top of a mountain.
Consider starting a yoga practice to help improve balance, gain core strength, and help with recovery after hikes. It is a great practice to add to improve your hiking.
Keep in mind, hiking can be as much mental as physical. Your mind can give up way before your body does so a determined mindset can help you get further on the trail.