Every multi-day hike requires a good deal of preparation. The same is true if you are starting a brisk walking fitness program. Endurance walking requires you to be physically and mentally prepared.
If you’re planning a long-haul hiking trip, you need to create a program that will prepare you for every eventuality. For example, building strength in your legs will enable you to climb hills and walk further in a day.
It’s worth bearing in mind that most multi-day hikes require you to meet a certain distance from one camp to the next. If you’re not able to cover the ground before nightfall, you could be putting your life at risk – especially in places where you will encounter extreme conditions.
If you’re not sure your muscle strength or fitness levels are good enough to cover long-distance walks, physical training exercising for endurance walking can help.
You also need to prepare yourself mentally as well. We have covered the psychological challenges of endurance treks in a previous article which you can read here.
Start With Shorter Routes
Depending on your walking experience and current fitness levels, you will need to embark on a staggered training program that builds resilience for endurance walking.
Ideally, you should physically prepare for hiking at least two to three weeks in advance of the endurance walking. If this is your first trek, or you don’t exercise on a regular basis, give yourself at least six months to build up your fitness levels.
In the week leading up to the trek, however, it is recommended that you take easy walks. Start with shorter routes, from 30 minutes on a flat surface, then increase the time to 45 minutes (5 minutes more each day) and increase the slope.
These short preparations can also be done on a treadmill where it is possible to adjust the incline, so you can simulate climbing.
Don’t overdo it in one workout because you will get muscle inflammation and you will not be able to devote yourself to other activities for some time.
Use a Staircase
A steep hill in the mountains, and the difficult terrain that often accompanies it, can be inconvenient for your feet. Experienced hikers often prepare by climbing stairs. This helps to build up your leg muscles and gives you an indication of how much you can take before the burn gets too much.
You may also do step-ups using a staircase or a box and target your quads, hamstrings, and glutes this way. Alternate feet each step, and stand all the way up at the top of the bench/box, each rep.
Include Running And Squats
As you run, develop and improve your breathing, you will need it for long climbs on steep slopes. Running also strengthens ankle muscles that are exposed to increased stress and strain when walking on uneven terrain with a heavy backpack on your back.
In addition, running allows you to strengthen many other muscle groups that will be involved in hiking: lumbar belt, abs, and legs. But running tracks should not be short – ideally, you need to run several kilometres a day to develop endurance.
Squat exercises are even more useful. At the same time, it is desirable to carry them with a load – a belt with weights or the same backpack, in which you need to put something heavy.
Do squats 30-40 times two to three times a day. With such intense training, even a week will be enough to get the muscles used to the load and there are no pain – painful feelings that occur after unusual aerobic exercise.
Stretch your legs, arms and shoulders before walking. In addition, do pelvic opening exercises such as deep cones, wide cones, and stretching the sides of the torso. Also, warm your ankles, knees, and hips.
After a walk, it would be good to do simple stretching exercises as this will help your muscles to recover as soon as possible.
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