10. Strengthening Exercises
Proper Strength Preparation
This part of training is a little harder to learn simply by reading about it, so the best option is to get up, out, and active. Training can help make every outdoor activity feel much easier and hence a lot more enjoyable, and can help prevent injury by developing muscle balance.
Strengthening exercises can help develop balance and coordination when properly applied. They can be done standing, just as is needed for hiking, and each will help with a particular group of hiking muscles. Remember, anytime you try a new exercise, your muscles are not used to, they may feel a bit of soreness 24-48 hours afterwards. That is normal. With practice, your body will get used to the exercises and the soreness will go away. However, if you experience something beyond soreness, and the affected body part is really painful, then you may have overdone it. Any prolonged pain should be discussed immediately with your healthcare professional.
Remember, the best way to train for a strenuous hike is to do other strenuous long hikes, obviously! But before you hit the trails, you will want to do some strengthening exercises and aerobic conditioning to prepare not only your heart and lungs, but also the muscles you will be using during your hikes.
Proper Stretching, Flexibility and Balance
If you are stiff in certain muscle groups, you may want to invest in a good stretching video, take a yoga class, or seek the advice of a qualified exercise instructor to help develop a program that will address your needs. In general, stretching should always feel good, not painful. Make sure you warm up well before stretching, and if that means putting stretches at the end of the workout, that’s probably better than putting it at the beginning.
You should try holding your stretches for 20-30 seconds, and gradually increase the stretch as you ease into it, rather than going for maximum range the very first second into the stretch.
Putting it all together and sticking to the plan.
Once you have all the components you need to include for a well-balanced hiking conditioning program, the final step is to determine what your unique goals are. They require that you prepare properly and that you stick to your plan. If you have trained to walk a longer route, cardiovascular training will be essential to your success.
Add the up and downhill components as well. Remember, the type of training and preparedness practiced, determines your capabilities on “Hike Day!” You cannot switch at the last minute and expect to have an enjoyable and incident free experience. Make a plan, stick with it, and enjoy an adventure of a lifetime!