Train to hike/Hike to train.

Hiking, and especially backpacking with a loaded pack, is hard work.  It’s tough enough that I often use strenuous hikes as cross training/conditioning for another sport.  Here in Boise, Idaho though, hiking is a way of life.  Here, we squeeze every ounce of fun we can from our mountains.  Some hike for pleasure; others to reach fishing holes, camp sites, or hunting grounds.  Here’s how to get the most out of your time out on the trail:

Whether you’ll be hiking for fun or for conditioning, you might regret setting out before preparing your body.

First-  Build an aerobic base.  Simple, “slow”, cardio training below your anaerobic threshold will allow you to train your heart and lungs before your muscles get too tired to keep up.  Make sure that you’re a little winded, but still able to speak 2-3 words between breaths; this will keep you below that anaerobic threshold.

Second- Build some basic strength.  Try weighted step-ups onto a box or step.  Lateral lunges.  Lots of squats. Back extensions.

Hiking Time-  Start with short, easy hikes.  Then build to longer and steeper ones.  Introduce a loaded backpack now, on your training hikes, if you plan to carry a load for backpacking later.

Post Hike-  Take 15 minutes to stretch.  Focus especially on the glutes/hamstrings, low back, and hip flexors.

Here’s a sample strength training day for backpacking conditioning:

1- Dynamic warm-up

2- Barbell weighted step-ups: 3 x 15

3- Cossack Lunge: 3 x 15

4- Barbell Deadlift: 3 x 5

5A- Reverse Hyperextension 3 x 10

5B- Bird Dog 3 x 60 seconds