How to Train for Hiking to Able to Hike Anything
Are you looking for best practices for how to train for hiking?
The more you train to be a better hiker, the better at hiking you can get. That means it’ll be easier for you to hike longer and take tougher trails.
By training for hiking, you can work hard enough to be able to do overnight hikes and even thru-hiking.
And it’s easy to train for hiking if you have good instructions and techniques in front of you. And that’s why I wanted to create this article.
Please make sure you seek advice from your physician before attempting anything suggested below. This is not medical advice.
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How to Train for Hiking with Physical Fitness
Physical fitness is one of the best ways to train for hiking. The stronger your muscles and body are, the more you can commit to hiking. When you’re in bad shape, hiking isn’t very easy and can often be miserable for some people. It’s better to be in great physical shape and enjoy all aspects of hiking.
It’s important to strengthen your heart, blood flow, and muscles if you want to improve your hiking abilities. Cardiovascular training will help you improve these three important factors, and it’s simple to start doing it.
You can do simple activities such as walking daily. Try to consistently get a set number of steps or miles each day. It’s good to walk on surfaces that are both flat and hilly. You can also walk at different paces and speeds to improve your abilities.
Running is a great way to train for hiking. You could add trail running as an activity, but you shouldn’t pack as much weight on your back when trail running like you would with normal hiking.
Other great cardiovascular activities to improve hiking abilities are cycling and swimming. If you throw running into it, you might even attempt to complete a few triathlons.
Cross-training and cross-fit exercises are another great way to improve your cardio health to get better at hiking.
Strength and Weight Training
Strength and weight training are two great areas to improve on when training for hiking. You want to make sure you strengthen more than just your legs. You need to strengthen your back and shoulders, which are required to carry the weight of your pack.
Do various weight-assisted exercises such as leg weights, dumbbells, and bench pressing. Just use caution and don’t try to lift more than you can.
Do strength-inducing exercises like squats, step-ups, calf raises, and planking. The better you get at these types of exercises, the easier it will be to go hiking.
Push-ups, sit-ups, and pull-ups will also work great for strength training. You can add wrist and ankle weights for extra muscle strength work.
The idea behind effective strength and weight training is to be consistent with these activities and try to turn them into a safe and healthy habit without pushing yourself too hard and getting injured in the process.
Balance and Flexibility Training
Improving your balance and flexibility is important in hiking. It can help keep you safe from falling. It can also help you maneuver in nature much easier when you’re flexible.
Practicing yoga is one of the best ways to train for hiking to build your balance and flexibility. If you’re new to yoga, try starting with basic positions and moves. Work your way up to more advanced yoga techniques as you improve.
Balancing exercises such as walking in a straight line, walking on your tip toes, and jumping from one square to another can also help you improve your hiking activities. You’ll want to have a great balance when crossing creeks and other areas that you don’t want to fall at.
Stretching is a great way to be more flexible. As you warm your body up, stop once in a while and stretch your arms, hands, back, neck, legs, and feet. Everyone should stretch at least once a day to improve flexibility.
Another great and fun way to improve your balance and your flexibility at the same time is to dance or do martial arts. You could even do both if you’re comfortable doing them.
How to Train for Hiking with Mental Fitness
Your physical strength isn’t the only thing that you need to improve to be a stronger hiker. Your mental health and well-being are also just as important to strengthen to be a better hiker. Luckily for you, there are many great ways to do this. And you don’t need dangerous drugs to do it either because you have nature on your side.
Consistency and Persistence
Consistency and persistence is a great way to train for hiking. Consistency is when you conform to practice on a set schedule, and persistence is when you prolong your practice. When you combine the two, you can work to get better at keeping up your schedule.
Try to schedule your workouts meant to get better at hiking. Working out on a routine schedule will help you train your mind and be disciplined to do the activities. After you decide on a good schedule, try and set some reasonable goals that will be easy to accomplish if you keep your schedule.
Reward yourself for achieving your goals. Track the progress you make with your goals. Increase your workouts and goals the more you meet your objectives. Try to consistently perform a little better than the last time.
Take a rest day every now and then. It can be a recovery rest day, and you can do very light activity.
Find a buddy to work out with and keep each other motivated by assisting each other with completing goals and celebrating completed objectives.
Relieving your stress is an important aspect of getting better at hiking. The less stressed you are, the more focus you can put on your hiking activities.
To relieve stress, it’s important to look at the causes of stress. Maybe you’re not getting enough rest at night. Maybe you’re sleeping too much. Maybe you’re not eating enough. Maybe you need to quit smoking or drinking. Maybe you need a different job. Find out what stresses you out the most and change it to where you’re less stressed.
Many of us choose unhealthy methods of stress relief. Some smoke cigarettes. Some drink alcohol or use controlled substances. Some eat too much or binge on junk food. It’s important to replace bad habits with better ones for you when trying to reduce stress.
If you get rid of stress plaguing your mind, you’ll have a much better hiking experience rather than stressing out over issues you’re having while on the trail.
Meditation and Mind Training
If you want to be a stronger hiker, you should work on your meditation and mind-training techniques to clear your mind for focusing more on your hike.
Meditating before your hike is good, even just sitting down, relaxing, and clearing your mind. A clear mind before hiking will allow you to focus more on the hike and less on the stress of life. You might think meditation isn’t that important, but a clear and stress-free mind is healthy for you.
Going into a hike stressing over problems from work and life will only make your hike unpleasant because you’ll be thinking about the things you get stressed about the most.
The trick is to enter the woods with all your stress and pain behind you. Make a pact with yourself to leave all that in your car when you step out at the trailhead. Open your mind and enjoy the hike. Take in what you see along the trail and keep that in your thoughts.
How to Train for Hiking with Hiking Techniques
You must be hiking the right way to train for hiking the right way. There are certain hiking techniques you should be turning into a habit to get better at hiking. You can do several things on each hike to work on these techniques without even breaking a sweat.
Getting a Good Hiking Cadence
A good hiking cadence will allow you to hike longer and is a great way to train for hiking on more rugged and challenging trails.
The best way to find your hiking cadence is to start slowly and focus on breathing as you hike. Maintain a steady pace. Try understanding the best speed your body can take to feel comfortable and breathe well as you hike.
When you get to steeper terrain, slow down as you hike up it. This will allow you to maintain your pace and keep a good cadence.
The more you hike, the more you can improve your cadence and speed up if you think you’re up for it. Pay attention to your breathing, which will help you determine your best pace and cadence.
It’s important to practice proper footwork when hiking. This will allow you to hike better while preventing injuries that can occur on the trail.
The first thing you need to do is take care of your feet. Wear proper socks made for hiking. These will have padding and materials made for rugged outdoor use. Then you need to get a good pair of hiking boots or shoes. It’s best to wear boots that support your ankles in case your foot rolls to prevent injuries.
Make sure you pick up your foot as you hike. Don’t drag your feet on the ground. Take slower steps when going up steeper terrain and hillsides. Watch where you put your feet. Watching where you step is the number one way to prevent most injuries and accidents on the hiking trail.
Your feet are the most important assets you have for hiking. You must take care of them because you need them more than anything else to get back out of the woods.
Using Trekking Poles for Balance
Trekking poles can help you train for hiking in terms of balance and being able to hike on more difficult terrain.
For many people, hiking is difficult to balance. If you stumble a lot or fall from basic hiking trips, you might need to invest in trekking poles. Trekking poles will help you maintain your balance while hiking on the uneven terrain of many hiking trails.
Trekking poles are also great for hiking across difficult situations such as creek crossings or uneven, rocky terrains. There are areas where many people commonly have the most issues and typically fall from their balancing issues. Trekking poles will allow you to overcome these issues.
It’s just important to understand what trekking poles are and what they’re there for. They’re there to assist you. Don’t make the mistake of leaning your weight on them, thinking they will hold you up. That’s not what trekking poles are for.
How to Train for Hiking with Proper Nutrition
You must practice proper nutrition when trying to get better at hiking. Not eating and drinking right is one of the main causes of injury for hikers. It can also cause you to have a bad hiking experience, no matter how well-trained your mind and muscles are.
As a hiker, it’s important to base your diet around a fuel-burning strategy. But while carbs and calories are your friends, you should still make sure you’re choosing healthier options to get them.
It’s important to take in fresh carbs and calories while you’re hiking to keep yourself fueled and energized. You just need to choose healthy options. For carbs, go with whole grains, oatmeal, and vegetables. For protein, go with lean meats, fish, dairy, or tofu. For healthy fats, nuts are often a good choice.
Try to limit sugary and junk foods. It’s not good for you and may cause health problems for you while you’re hiking as well as they need to use the bathroom, which isn’t always available on a hike.
Be willing to diversify and try different things to meet your dietary needs. You’d be surprised what might be the best options for you.
Hydration and Fueling Techniques
While hiking, staying hydrated and fueled during your whole trip is exceptionally important. Not doing so will surely ruin your hike and hinder your ability to train for hiking.
Many hikers face health issues when they fail to properly hydrate and fuel. As you hike more and more on rugged terrain, you’ll burn more energy and lose natural sodium as your sweat. It is essential to your health and safety to refuel and hydrate to put these important things back into your body as you continue to burn through them.
My strategy works perfectly for these needs. Every thirty minutes, I eat a quarter section of my trail bar or eat three handfuls of trail mix. Then I drink about three big gulps of water to wash it down. I repeat this process every half hour. It keeps me fueled and hydrated for the whole hike.
If you want more energy and don’t want to feel worn out long before your hike is done, you have to replenish your fuel and hydration. When you start to feel bad, that is because you’re failing to do these things properly.
Snacks to Carry Hiking
There are many good snacks to carry to help you stay fueled and hydrated on your hike. Sometimes it’s best to try different ones until you find your fit.
Water is the best choice for hydration, but plain water isn’t always the best choice. Sometimes it’s best to find a good hydration powder to mix into your water to get the electrolytes you need to put into your system. Some of my favorite brands include GU Energy Labs and Hammer Nutrition.
For carbs and fuel, you need to select good hiking snacks. I typically try to focus on ones that contain good fats and carbs, such as trail bars, beef jerky, and trail mix. If it’s a longer hiking trip or an overnight backpacking adventure, I’ll take some freeze-dried meals from Mountain House with me to give myself maximum fuel to continue.
You should make sure you eat a good breakfast before you start hiking and eat a healthier lunch or dinner after you’re done hiking.
The Secret Weapon for Being a Stronger Hiker
The biggest secret on how to train for hiking is super simple.
Really – hiking more often is the best way to get better at hiking. The more you hike, the more comfortable and natural it will become.
I hike every weekend and typically one or two days through the week in the evening hours after work. I’m so used to hiking that I no longer notice the exercise parts of it. It comes to me naturally. And I’ve felt like that after the first six months of becoming a routine hiker.
The best way to get better at hiking is to go hiking every chance you get.
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Founder, Hiking with Shawn
Howdy folks! My name is Shawn Gossman and I founded Hiking with Shawn. I’m an avid hiker, cyclist and outdoorsman here in the Shawnee National Forest. I was born and raised in Southern Illinois and never want to leave. Click here to learn more about Shawn Gossman