How to Get In Shape for Hiking – 5 Invaluable Tips

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What’s the best way to wind up in the hospital as a result of going hiking without adequate preparation? We asked the experts at AZ Central for worst-case scenarios, and they’re gems.

These are short and sweet – memorize them. And never, ever do any of them.

Six Hiking Mistakes to Avoid

  • Pick a boiling hot day
  • Fail to hydrate
  • Pack junk food filled with salt and sugar on your hikes
  • Wear thick garments and your favorite pair of flip flops
  • Wander off the trail and don’t tell a soul where you’re going
  • Hike alone. It’s a recipe for disaster.

Master 4 exercises guaranteed to train your core muscles

The folks at Backpacker.com know a thing or two about toning core muscles, so you enjoy your experience no matter how many hours you trek, yet your body remains appropriately balanced, and you don’t strain muscles.

“No offense to your legs, but it’s your abs and lower back that matter most when it comes to managing pack weight–and not just those superficial six-pack muscles, either,” says Colorado fitness trainer Robyn Fog.

Photo by Francesco Perego on Unsplash

Fog suggests four moves that can accomplish this goal, though if you are already a bit obsessive about undertaking the fab 5—squats, planks, bear crawls, shoulder openers, and push-ups—feel free to skip this section and move on to the next.

If you’re a newbie, Robyn urges you to “Ditch the workaday crunches for these whole-system exercises to target the deeper back and abdominal muscles.”

Do these four exercises three times a week, starting a month before you intend to embark on your hike.

Robyn Fog

The Uneven Farmer’s Carry

The Uneven Farmer’s Carry won’t require you to take up farming. You simply grab and fill a couple of backpacks. Fill one with objects totaling 40-percent of your body weight. The other should be 10 pounds heavier. Keeping your back straight, push into a squat through your heels while keeping your torso upright.

Take 12-inch strides that cover 30 yards. Switch the packs and walk back. Do 5 reps on each side with 30-second rests in-between. Keep adding five pounds of weight to the bags every other week until you’re ready to leave on your hike.

Hanging Leg Raises

Hanging Leg Raises will require you to hang from a bar with your feet flexed, arms straight and shoulders engaged. Lift your knees to your chest for a count of 2; pause. Lower them for two counts while keeping abs and glutes engaged.

Do five reps with 30 second rests in-between. Show-offs are welcome to make this exercise even harder by raising their legs parallel to the ground and touching toes to the bar from which he or she hangs.

The Bosu Bicycle Crunch.

Yes, we’re asking you to acquire one of these weird contraptions because they offer an unstable surface for a workout, and that’s precisely what you need to strengthen your core when you’re walking on uneven terrain.

You lie back on the dome, move into a sit-up, bring your elbow to the opposite knee for the count of 2, release, and relax for a count of 2.

Do eight reps on each side in-between 20 seconds of rest. If you’re a glutton for punishment, keep arms and legs extended, so only your heels touch the floor (not your arms).

Rather than connecting elbow to the opposite knee, reach your hands toward the different feet instead.

Modified Side Planks

With your body on side plank position and body parts aligned, tighten your core while extending the upper arm toward the ceiling. Twist into a 1-arm plank position while curling your arm under your opposite hip.

Feel like a pretzel? That’s the idea. As you uncurl, keep your core tight while once again reaching toward the ceiling. Repeat 10 times on each side with 20 seconds of rest between. Done right, this will do wonders for the load-bearing muscles on your lower back and sides.

Do this exercise holding weights if you’re a masochist.

Undertake these cardio training tips designed just for hikers

You want to become a badass hiker, right? Follow the advice of Philip Werner, a dude writing for SectionHiker.com. You already know that walking, cycling ( here you have some nice bikes for big guys ), climbing stairs, and jumping rope are ideal for getting your heart rate up faster than it does each time you spot the person currently occupying your nocturnal thoughts, right?

Photo by George Pagan III on Unsplash

If you prefer not to master those 10 moves, these tips will get you where you want to go in terms of maintaining a healthy heart rate, both on the trail and off.

  • Recognize the fact that balance is the key to endurance
  • Learn to recognize signs that your lungs, heart, and muscles are out-of-balance (increased breathing rate, spiked heart rate, leg power drain)
  • Pace yourself so breathing, heart rate and leg strength are in harmony to prepare for anaerobic exertion (e.g., hills) that will impact all three
  • Keep 75-percent of your cardio workout at a pace that is so comfortable, you need only to breathe through your nose to get sufficient oxygen
  • If you can’t sing a song comfortably while your hiking, “you’re going too fast,” writes Backpacker.com’s Cassandra Majewski
  • Keep tabs on your heart rate either via your pulse or a device. The formula to remember is: 220 minus your age. Inclines and grades will add intensity
  • Understand that shortness of breath or a racing heart are both signs that call for stopping until both slow down to normal.

Hit the trail after mastering the arts of stretching and warm-ups

If your brain is overloaded with suggestions but you know that stretching and warming up are essential moves for anyone hoping to hike for more than 5 minutes, memorize these 5 essential stretches that ready you for your hike so you can keep going for as long as you like.

Photo by Christopher Campbell on Unsplash

1) Engage in alternating knee lifts that slowly stretch out all of your leg muscles. Keep moving as you switch legs.

2) Throw in some squat-to-hip flexor moves. With feet apart and knees behind toes, squat and bring one leg back into lunge position. Push your hips forward for a good stretch. Repeat on the other leg.

3) Do alternating high kicks. You don’t have to look like you’re auditioning for musical theater: With one leg in front, swing the opposite arm and try to touch your toes. Do this on the other leg. Keep it slow for max stretch.

4) Twist your torso. With feet apart, bend at the waist and touch your toes with the opposite hand. Repeat on the other leg. If you can’t quite do this, try it again with legs further apart.

5) Finish with alternating quad stretches. With feet apart, bend one leg so your foot kisses your butt. Reach behind and grab that foot, pulling it closer to extend the stretch. Repeat on the other leg. Get going, stretched-out hiker!

Start your hiking journey taking short hikes, not long ones

Why start slow? Because it’s smart. It’s wise. And you avoid the temptation of quitting that has befallen people who are gung-ho on their first hikes, wear out quickly and declare, “Enough! Who said hiking was rewarding and fun?”

Having already shown enthusiasm by adopting the aforementioned core training and cardio workouts, baby steps, Grasshopper, says Keira, the girl who climbed Kilimanjaro after learning the word “Pole” from her guide. Pol is the Swahili for “slowly.”

You don’t have to go to Kenya to understand that this word says plenty about everything you undertake in life. “Go slow until you know,” makes a great mantra if you’re tempted to hike faster than your gut says you should.

Want to have fun charting the increase in the time it takes to accomplish progressive hikes? Use this hiking calculator: https://trailsnh.com/tools/hiking-time-calculator.php. This tool factors in distance, pace, verticals, trail surface and your pack weight to give you fairly accurate assessments of how much you’re accomplishing.

Why is it important to add distance gradually? In case you haven’t noticed it, information in this article encourages readers to start slow and build up to longer distances, extended exercises and graduated pacing, all of which add up to a fact of life: Practicing moderation is the key to success.

If you start by hiking 5 miles (2.5 miles each way), listen to your body before you’re ready to up that distance to 6 miles. With each milestone, you’re going feel confident that you’ve got the stamina it takes to keep setting and making new goals. Your reward? Discovering the true joy that’s found on an ordinary day of hiking.

Eat properly when you hike by following “The Hiker’s Diet”

For Cam “Swami” Honan, hiking is life—and it’s the reason he pours his heart and soul into his website, TheHikingLife.com. Delivering on tips hikers can count on, one of Cam’s best suggestions has nothing to do with how many granola bars you pack or how much cooking gear you bring for long treks.

His philosophy is best summed up by Horace, the ancient philosopher living between 65 BC and 8 BC: “A hungry stomach seldom scorns plain food.”

Photo by Louis Hansel @shotsoflouis on Unsplash

Rather than making grocery lists of foods to pack for a hiking trip, Honan instead offers criteria for the items you intend to eat.

He theorizes that as long as you fill your backpacks with items chosen for their quantity, quality, taste, variety, and simplicity, it’s almost impossible to go wrong by selecting non-perishables that each of us craves as part of our healthy diets.

“Our body’s natural reserves are such that we can pretty much eat anything and still be relatively OK,” says Honan about how to pack for a hike that extends up to a week.

Need a more specific direction? The average hiker should carry between 2- and 2.2-pounds of food per day, balancing carbs, fats, and proteins. Dr. Brenda Braaten, a nutritionist, refines that amount by recommending a food mix of around 50-percent carbs; 37.5-percent fats and around 12.5-percent protein.

No big banquets, please! Hikers should feed their bodies by snacking throughout their day. Frequency? As often as every hour if that’s what it takes to keep you fueled.

Discover why every trail experience you undertake begins and ends in your mind

If you’ve never thought about hiking the Appalachian Trail (AT) that runs 2200 miles, you’re missing out on one of the biggest thrills of a lifetime. It’s been trekked in part or entirely by new hikers and seasoned hikers, but there’s one thing everyone undertaking this challenge has in common: a great mental attitude.

For Appalachian Trail officials, forestry, and other professionals, the way a hiker thinks about his journey is paramount to whether or not he or she is successful at completing the goal.

“It’s about more than being physically fit,” say folks involved with the trail’s upkeep, maintenance and safekeeping. “People of all ages and abilities, and with all sorts of disabilities–ranging from blind hikers to amputees–have completed the A.T.,” they note, but few things prepare a hiker more than having a combination of traits that have nothing to do with physicality.

“A positive outlook, a sense of humor, and being adaptable in the face of challenges” provide a typical hiker with everything he or she needs to succeed. This is so important,

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy has published a book on the topic and it’s an amazing read for anyone eager to find out what awaits if they take this challenge: “Appalachian Trials: A Psychological and Emotional Guide To Thru-Hike the Appalachian Trail.”

Why bring this up if you have no intention of conquering the AT? Because every trail will challenge the very fiber of your being—-which is exactly why even the most ordinary hike delivers a world of benefits that range from emotional to physiological benefits.

You wouldn’t be exaggerating if, once you get the hang of it, you concluded that hiking is like no other physical activity on earth. And that’s exactly why so many hikers can’t get enough!