Spending time outdoors is shown to be good for your health. Even if you’re not in the best shape of your life, don’t let it stop you from having a memorable hiking experience.
However, if you are planning a five-day hike, being in good physical shape helps your confidence, stamina and mental health.
A good way to start and give yourself the confidence to achieve your personal goals is by following a few tips we prepared to share with you.
How Long Is Preparation Time?
Preparing for a five-day hike is individual and your body can take from three weeks to three months to see a fitness level improvement. Don’t wait too long if you’ve already booked your trip.
Cardiovascular Fitness Focus
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of aerobic activity a week with at least 30-minute sessions at a time.
One of the best aerobic activities are swimming, cycling, brisk walking or jogging. Don’t forget jumping jacks, squats, leg raises, and planks as great bodyweight exercises that require no special equipment or skill.
In case you can’t get outdoors and make it to the gym, there are lots of great cardio exercises you can do at home to get your heart pumping.
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is particularly beneficial because it improves both aerobic and anaerobic fitness. You simply add a short period of more strenuous exertion into your daily walking, jogging, swimming, or biking routine.
If you take a 45-minute brisk walk, try to jog for 30 to 60 seconds every 5 to 10 minutes of your walk. The same applies if you swim or bike – just add a few sprints during your usual routine.
Leg Strength Focus
As your legs are doing most of the work, it’s of utmost importance to do leg strength training. Walking up hills, steps and steep inclines is good preparation too.
Don’t forget exercises like lunges, squats, and calf-raises you can do at home.
A Strong Back Carry Your Pack
Carrying a backpack for miles will put a strain on your back and shoulders. Prepare by carrying a few bottles of water in a backpack during your training.
Practising “step-ups” will get your calves and back ready for the weight you’ll be carrying on a hike. Another great training is walking up and down the stairs with your pack on.
Even better, performing push-ups and planks with a loaded pack builds up essential muscles in your core, shoulders, and upper body.
Core muscles are abdominal muscles, back and pelvis that give you balance and flexibility. To build a stronger core you can do planks, bridges or crunches. You can also improve your core by sitting on an exercise ball while you read or watch TV.
Improve Your Balance
Only a few minutes spent on improving your balance can prevent injuries and give you more climbing stability. An easy and effective balance exercise is walking heel-to-toe with your arms out at your side and your eyes looking straight ahead or simply standing on one foot for 30-60 seconds at a time before switching to the other foot.
Break-In Your Boots
If you’re considering a new pair of boots before your trip, there’s no better way to break in your boots but to practice as there’s nothing worse than hitting the trail with a pair of painful, poorly fitting boots.
Bear in mind that new boots rarely feel great right out of the box. The lighter models may break in with just a few hikes, but some sturdier leather ones may take weeks to conform to your feet.
Work On Your Mental Strength
Whenever you try something new, the worst enemy is fear. The best way to combat it is physical preparation and knowing you’re doing something positive to get your body ready for the trip.
It’s also important to focus on the “why,” the personal benefit you hope to attain by completing an adventure. Remember is like a mantra whenever you’re feeling discouraged.
Try to visualise success seeing yourself standing on the top of the mountain, a trail or a finish line. Seeing success is the first step toward achieving it.
Even the most prepared are doubtful so don’t let it scare you. Be determined knowing you are taking an adventure. Therefore, no matter how doubtful you may feel before a hike, you’ll return a completely different person, fulfilled with a sense of accomplishment.