Hiking, or simply taking a walk in the woods, is both fun and calming. Apart from giving you a chance to interact with Mother Nature, hiking opens a world of exciting challenges. The fun you can enjoy through hiking can be endless. In fact, it is as beneficial as mountain biking or trail running. However, this moderate paced activity can turn out to be taxing and painful if you don’t plan for it. Whether you are a beginner, intermediate or pro hiker, trekking needs both proper endurance and stamina. Below is a guide on how to build up your endurance for hiking.
You already know that exercises can keep you fit and healthy. To achieve this, begin by adopting a healthy workout routine. Some of the exercises for hiking endurance include:
Walking and Running
On weekdays, you can engage in short walks and runs. Walking and running are simple yet great in building endurance. In case you have a tight schedule during the day, try to find time in the early mornings or late evenings to do short walks.
“Walking: the most ancient exercise and still the best modern exercise.” – Carrie Latet
Begin by taking short walks. A 30-minute walk per day is very important. Pick any pace that can make you breathe hard. Remember to have a goal when walking. It could be walking like someone in a hurry to catch a bus or a flight. In case you get enough time, you can try long walks after which you can graduate to short runs.
In running, start with simple jogs then advance to short runs. You can do two runs every week. The runs don’t have to be full sprints instead try to push your body gently. After every five minute jog, you can run for about 30 seconds. Alternate your runs with jogs. For better results, try to increase the distance by 10% every week. With time, you can create a stable base which is essential in improving your hiking goals.
Running helps to build up strength in the legs. It also prepares the entire body to take up the load. You can run for as long as you want depending on the weather, season and time. Several enthusiasts recommend that running is a simple transition to hiking.
Cardiovascular exercises like cycling, rowing, and swimming shouldn’t be overlooked.
Cycling is easy on the joints compared to running. It also challenges the body to efficiently pump oxygen to all body muscles which translates to improved growth.
Swimming works out your entire body. For full benefits, you need to learn how to swim well. Try freestyle stroke which can work your whole body.
Although rowing is a low-impact activity, it also engages the entire body and muscles. It is also safe for the joints and can help build strength in the legs.
Strength training is key. Alongside building your cardiovascular fitness, you’ll want to hone your overall strength which is essential when hiking in steep slopes. Some of the weight training exercise to engage in include pushups, kettlebell, squats, yoga, and deadlifts. When doing weight training, begin with the weights you can properly handle then concentrate on movements that help you create a good form. You can do them twice in a week. Squats and deadlifts, for instance, are beneficial in strengthening the hamstrings, quads, back, and glutes. They also help to improve your muscle strength and enhance your endurance.
Engage in breathing techniques
Breathing exercises are as good as weight training and cardio workouts. They are critical when hiking in elevated areas. Spare a little time, like half an hour to practice breathing exercises. They should be deep, well-balanced breaths that aim at pushing in as much oxygen as possible into the lungs. This aids to reduce fatigue and increase your hiking stamina. Do it a few times every day. Even if you don’t know whether you’re doing it correctly or not, with time you can adopt proper breathing methods. Just focus on using your nose to breathe in and tightening stomach muscles as you breathe out.
Increase your training frequency
After trying the above exercises, try to increase your frequency. You cannot be a full-fledged hiker by simply doing a few squats, walks, jogs or deadlifts. By raising your frequency, you can heighten your endurance when hiking. You can raise the number of times you train to around 4-5 days a week.
Moreover, your workouts should feature a combination of both strength, endurance and cross-training exercises. Keep in mind that workouts don’t have to last as long as three hours. Short exercises are good especially if you’re doing intensive workouts.
- Try to do short hikes in the course of the week. This could be 3-4 times per week. Short hikes make your body to adjust to new terrains while building the muscles needed to tackle the activity.
- Try long hikes during the weekend. Just a single long hike during the weekend can help keep you fit and prepare your body for serious hikes. When doing this, be slow and take timed breaks. Long hikes will improve your endurance.
- Stay active both in and offseason. Be it winter or summer, try to stay active by doing lots of exercises.
Develop proper mental toughness
Alongside honing your physical capabilities, you also need to create a tough mental state. Mental strength is vital in building stamina for hiking. Give your mind some attention as this can help you reach greater heights. With a determined mind, you can do things differently. Whether you are engaging in exercises such as walking, running, squatting, pushups and cycling, a tough mind can help you improve the time you work out. For best results, you can:
1. Wake up early and do exercises. Even if it is hard to get out of bed, try as much as you can.
2. Always try doing something new. Venture into new hiking trails or new exercises.
3. Have a goal and work towards achieving it. Remember to use the tricks that work.
4. Find a way to be comfortable. Even if things are challenging like hiking in the rain, snow or any other uncomfortable environment, convince your mind that all is well.
Continuous practice is key to gaining stamina in hiking. Whether you are a novice or a pro hiking enthusiast, the practice should be a priority. Walking, jogging, running, doing weight training, cardio, breathing techniques and improving mental toughness are some of the exercises that can help build hiking endurance and stamina.