Mountain hiking is a challenging adventure for a beginner, but if you’ve made the decision then I respect your determination and spirit.
Hiking in the mountains presents a unique set of challenges and rewards that make it different from all other outdoor activities.
It is necessary to know that mountain hiking is not like average running in the park although it also requires stamina but mountain hiking demands more physical fitness, stamina, and endurance especially for beginners.
The steep and rugged terrain will push your body to its limits and will test your strength and agility. So to prepare for this adventure, it’s advisable to engage in regular cardio and strength training exercises.
Building strong leg muscles, improving cardiovascular health, and enhancing your overall physical condition are essential for a successful mountain hike for beginners.
In this session, we will discuss how we can build ourselves for mountain hiking, I will also tell you my ways of training.
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How To Train For Mountain Hiking For Beginners
Mountain hiking is a tough activity and it challenges your body, so training is necessary. To ensure a safe and enjoyable hiking experience, it’s essential to follow a structured exercise plan that I have designed for beginners.
Before any exercise, always do a warm-up session to prepare your muscles for activity and finish with a cool-down to aid in recovery.
You can run on the spot for 10 to 15 minutes or you can run 1 mile in moderate pace for warm up. After that stretching is crucial for flexibility and injury prevention and it is also considered a cool-down after training.
Non-Gym Exercises for Beginners For Mountain Hiking
Most beginners do not have access to a gym so it’s my responsibility to teach the ways I have done before performing this hiking adventure.
1. Hiking/Running for Building Stamina
Aim for 3-4 hiking or walking sessions per week.
Start with 30-minute sessions and gradually extend them to 1-2 hours.
You can start with 30-minute daily running on flat terrain at a comfortable pace and gradually increase the duration to 45 minutes by the end of week 2.
After that add interval training to your routine. Walk briskly for 2-3 minutes, then slow down for 1-2 minutes to recover.
Then gradually increase the intensity and duration of your intervals. You should aim for five running sessions per week, alternating between interval days and steady-paced days.
2. Stair Climbing for Strengthening Legs and Cardio
Stair climbing 2-3 times a week into your routine.
Begin with 10-15 minute sessions and progressively increase the time.
Find a set of stairs, such as those in a stadium or a building, and climb up and down. This exercise will effectively build leg strength, boost cardiovascular endurance, and prepare you for uphill sections of your hike.
My suggestion is to do it by wearing your actual hiking backpack. It will help you more to build your endurance.
3. Bodyweight Exercises for Convenient Strength Training
Push-Ups Perform : 3 sets of 10-12 reps
Bodyweight Squats : Complete 3 sets of 10-12 reps.
These straightforward bodyweight exercises can be easily incorporated into your daily routine.
Push-ups effectively engage your upper body muscles, promoting increased strength and toning in the arms, chest, and shoulders.
Meanwhile, bodyweight squats focus on the lower body, working the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes.
Over the time, you’ll experience improved strength and endurance, providing you with the physical foundation needed for a more fulfilling and sustainable hiking journey.
Gym Exercises For Beginners For Mountain Hiking
Before you hit the trails, spending some time at the gym also significantly boosts your strength and endurance. Here are some gym-based exercises to incorporate into your routine:
1. Leg Press Machine: Strengthening the Foundation
The leg press machine targets your quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes and provides the strength needed for uphill climbs and uneven terrain.
Sit comfortably on the leg press machine, place your feet shoulder-width apart, and push the weight upward using your legs. Avoid locking your knees at the top of the movement to prevent strain.
Sets and Reps
Do 3 sets of 10-12 repetitions per set. Gradually increase the weight as you progress.
2. Dumbbell Squats: Building Leg Strength and Stability
Dumbbell squats help to build leg strength and core stability, which are essential for maintaining balance on rocky trails.
Hold a dumbbell in each hand, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, and squat down as if you’re sitting in an invisible chair. Keep your back straight, and ensure your knees align with your toes.
Sets and Reps
Start with 3 sets of 10-12 repetitions per set. As you gain strength, consider increasing your weight.
Lunges are a fantastic exercise for enhancing balance and strengthening your leg muscles.
Take a step forward with one leg, lowering your body until both knees are bent at approximately 90 degrees. Alternate legs with each repetition. This exercise you can also do at home.
Sets and Reps
Do 3 sets of 10-12 repetitions per leg per set into your routine. Gradually increase the repetitions as you get more comfortable. You can also hold weight by doing lunges for some beta training.
Step-ups simulate the act of ascending steep slopes or rocky outcrops, making them a valuable addition to your training routine.
Find a sturdy bench or platform. Step up with one foot, followed by the other, and then step down one foot at a time.
Sets and Reps
Aim for 3 sets of 10-12 repetitions per leg per set. Adjust the height of the platform to increase the challenge.
A strong core is crucial for maintaining stability on uneven terrain. Planks help develop the core muscles necessary for this.
Hold a plank position on your forearms and toes, keeping your body in a straight line. Engage your core muscles throughout the exercise.
Sets and Duration
Perform 3 sets of planks, holding each plank for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Gradually increase the duration as you build core strength.
Do’s And Don’t
These do’s and don’ts will keep you active, motivated, and healthy while preparing for mountain hiking. With dedication, patience, and a mindful approach to training, you’ll be ready to tackle the trails with confidence and enthusiasm.
If you’re new to mountain hiking training, begin with less challenging exercises and gradually progress to more difficult ones. Build your stamina and confidence over time and don’t rush it.
Create a Training Plan
Develop a structured training plan that includes a mix of cardiovascular exercises, strength training, and hiking-specific workouts. Having a plan keeps you motivated and on track.
Don’t do a single exercise daily instead include a variety of exercises in your training regimen.
This prevents boredom, works for different muscle groups, and prepares you for diverse hiking conditions.
Focus on Leg Strength
Hiking places significant demands on your leg muscles. Incorporate exercises like squats, lunges, and step-ups to strengthen your legs.
Gradually Increase Intensity
It is necessary as you progress, to gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts and hikes to mimic the challenges of mountain terrain. This will make you strong day by day.
Avoid the temptation to rush into challenging hikes before you’re physically and mentally prepared. Take your time to build your fitness gradually.
Don’t Neglect Warm-Up and Cool Down
Always warm up your muscles with light exercises before starting your workout, and cool down with stretching after to prevent injury.
Don’t Overexert Yourself
Pushing too hard too soon sometimes lead to burnout or injury. Listen to your body and know your limits.
Don’t Ignore Rest Days
Rest days are essential for recovery. Don’t skip them, as they allow your body to heal and grow stronger.
Don’t Compare Yourself to Others
Everyone progresses at their own pace. Avoid comparing your progress to others, and focus on your training. Remember you are just a beginner and the person you are comparing to yourself training for months. So just focus on your exercises.
Consistency and gradual progression are key to your success. Preparing for mountain hiking as a beginner requires a balanced approach that focuses on both physical and mental preparation.