How to Train for Hiking: the Ultimate Guide
I like to think of myself as a hike pro, I mean, not to boost my own confidence or anything. My first taste of a multi-day hike was the Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea in 2014. I was in my final year of school and the opportunity came up through the Duke of Edinburgh program.
I wasn’t overly prepared I’ll admit, at that gruelling 10-day hike was brutal. But it did open my eyes to a whole new world of hiking and adventures that I now crave so badly. Since then, I’ve trekked in Nepal several times (seriously, Annapurna Base Camp is a MUST!), and also summited Kilimanjaro in Africa. I like to encourage everyone to do the same, but I understand that knowing how to train for hiking can be the hardest part.
I’ve also come a long way in knowing how to train since the Kokoda Track in 2014. Fun fact about me: I actually studied my Masters in Strength and Conditioning and I’m a qualified coach. So not only do I know the science behind training, but I also have the first-hand experience. I love that I can combine my two passions – strength and conditioning and hiking, and help others achieve anything they want!
Which is why I’m so excited to share some of my top tips for how to train for any multi day hike around the world! I’m also passionate about encouraging people to hike solo, which can be a little daunting. But not to worry, here’s some top tips for staying safe as a solo hiker.
Train for hiking: my top tips!
Short and sweet
Ok, I’m a busy girl. I don’t have time to go out on long, all day hikes every weekend (which honestly, I don’t think is the best way to train anyways!). I think the main benefit of doing these hikes is to get your body used to walking all day, but personally, I don’t do this at all in my training. This is also important to consider if you don’t live near any mountains to use for training.
So, I try to condense my sessions into a shorter time frame, where I’m working harder over a short period of time. Find a big hill or a set of stairs. There’s one near me that’s really steep over 200m (see below!). I’ll go up and down 30, 40 times. I’ll do 20 uphill 100m sprints with 5 pushups before each one. There are so many options, but I have found this to be a hugely effective method for me!
Top tips here:
- The focus is cardiovascular fitness and getting your heart rate up. Whether you are long distance walking, using stairs or running.
- Find a steep hill or set of stairs to base your stair training or cardio training around.
- Running is also a great option to combine with stair training and conditioning for well-rounded cardiovascular fitness.
- Add your backpack with some weight in it to mimic what you will be doing during your hike!
This is my favourite but also least favourite type of training at the same time. Seriously it’s so good but it hurts so bad! Conditioning can be a wide range of things, circuits, interval training, AMRAPs, sprints, repeated efforts. There’s no single way to describe it. Basically, it gets your heart rate up and leaves you as a sweaty mess.
I do a mix of all of these, but I’m going to share an example AMRAP style workout I like to do. AMRAP stands for as many reps as possible, and you basically set a timer for the allotted time and do as many reps of the exercises as you can in that time, with as little rest as possible.
- 30 minute AMRAP
- 10 step ups each leg
- 30m sled push
- 10 single arm snatch each arm
- 10 sit up
- 1min rower
My background is strength training, and I LOVE it. It actually makes me happy (kinda sad, I know). What you might not realise though, is that strength training is important for performance across basically any sport or type of activity you can think of.
Want to perform better? Simple. Strength train.
I tend to strength training in the gym atleast 3 times a week – an upper body session, a lower body session and a full body session. Although sometimes I do all full body sessions, depending on my schedule.
I focus on compound lifts and getting strong, but also targeting smaller areas which need work. I have bad knees that are prone to playing up during long hikes, so I do a lot of work to strengthen my quads, hamstrings and calves to ensure my knees are in the best shape possible.
My favourite! I’m talking running, swimming, boxing. Anything you like. Cross training is a great way to build all round fitness and avoid your training getting too repetitive. This is where you can make your training your own!
Get a qualified coach.
Getting a coach, whether in person or online, is an amazing way to make sure you achieve your goals without getting injured, burning out or giving up. Whether you simply want to get fit enough to do a day hike comfortably, or in amazing athletic shape to conquer a mountain, or even just get fitter in general, I can help.
Get in touch with me over at No Limit Strength and Conditioning, where, as a qualified strength and conditioning coach, I offer online coaching and programs to help you conquer any goal you may have!
There is no one way answer that will work for everyone, because everyone is different. My training is a mix of things – focusing on conditioning, strength training and some cross training, for my overall goals of increasing my cardiovascular fitness, strength and my ability to conquer anything I want to do.
Disclaimer: the information on this page is for informational purposes only. Do not start new exercises or a new program without the recommendation of your doctor or health professional.
Happy training (and travelling!),