Hiking isn’t just walking in the Drakensberg or a similar setting. It necessitates strength as well as balance. If you think that you can get off the couch after a long period of inactivity, put on your hiking boots, and hit the trail, you’ve got another thing coming. You’ll find that most trails are uneven and go up at some sort of angle. This means that even the simplest hiking requires balance as well as strength in order to avoid getting injured. However, the good news is that getting back into the swing of things isn’t as difficult as you may think.
In the same breath, you might be asking yourself the question, “Don’t you just get fit for hiking by going on several hikes?” This is definitely something that you should be doing, however if you’re just getting into hiking – or you want to do longer hikes – then doing some training beforehand can be a huge help.
A cheat sheet to developing hiking fitness
Getting fit so that you can embark on your dreamed-of long-distance hike is within your reach! Here’s an overview of how you can do this:
- Increase strength in the major muscles that hikers rely upon. Stronger legs as well as core muscles will better support the load in your backpack and assist you with hiking harder, longer.
- Build up endurance in those self-same muscle groups in addition to the shoulders and lower back. This is as hiking can be an all-day activity.
- Improve your balance. This is so you can have a more stable base that will allow you to take uneven terrain in your stride.
- Don’t forget about your cardio. Complement this exercise routine with activities such as trail running, mountain biking or another aerobic exercise that you enjoy.
Walking is a fantastic way to exercise
Walking can assist with getting your heart rate up and making sure that you keep energised. The action can even improve your mood, as is the case with all exercise as the activity of exercising increases the release of serotonin which is the feel-good hormone in the body.
However, to make the most of your walking workouts, you’ll want to add a little additional variety to make these workouts more challenging. Other movements can assist with intensifying walking workouts. These can get your whole body working as well as improve your fitness in a quicker fashion.
Walking workouts definitely have their place in an individual’s overall fitness regimen. For those whose physical fitness does not permit them to run, the action of walking offers them a low-impact workout that can be completed virtually anywhere. Unfortunately, walking is limited in its ability to improve other areas of fitness. To work overall fitness, a person must engage in mobility work and resistance training.
Improve your balance for optimal hiking performance
As hiking trails are often very rocky, you’ll need to have a superb sense of balance in order to make sure that you don’t fall and injure yourself or – worse – slip and fall off a cliff face. Here are several tips that we got from expert hikers, to assist you with improving your balance before you hit the trails.
- Practise a flamingo stance on stable ground (aim for 30 seconds) before progressing to a more dynamic surface like a Bosu ball. Begin with your lifted leg bent at 45 degrees (picture the Karate Kid). To up the difficulty levels, straighten it out to the front, back, or side of the weight-bearing leg.
- After four weeks of stabilisation training, vary your balance workout by stepping out of a lunge by straightening your front leg and bringing your back leg forward to 90 degrees. Ensure that your foot is off the ground, make your thigh level with your hips. Add a weighted pack or try more powerful movements, like single-leg squats, to increase levels of difficulty.
Hiking is a super form of exercise that will increase your cardiorespiratory fitness among others.
If you want to really supercharge your knowledge of exercise, you need to do a personal training course such as our Personal Training Diploma. Follow this link for more information.