Hello everyone, my name is Katelyn Sepmoree. I am a professional golfer who likes to do some recreational hiking on the side. Like with golf there are specific exercises that will be beneficial in training for your next time on the trail.
First, the best way to prepare for a backpacking trip is, of course, backpacking. However, here is a list of 5 exercises you can do in a gym to get you ready to hit the trail.
The first thing to expect when you are backpacking along with carrying the weight that is gain and loss of elevation will quickly raise your heart rate. As a result, most of these exercises are cardio-centric.
This will simulate the steep elevation you might encounter. Depending on the where you will be hiking, there could be a lot of elevation gained. This will quickly raise your heart rate and cause fatigue. Adjusting the treadmill to an appropriate speed and relatively steep incline will allow you to build up stamina so that you can crank out those miles.
That’s right, the one that kicks our butt the most. The dreaded stair climber. This is actually one of the best (in my opinion) cardio machine in a gym. For an extra bonus do this exercise with your pack! Start out with a slow pace to get your rhythm and then speed it up a bit. Push yourself but not past your limits. Start with 10 mins and build up.
Along with building up your cardio stamina, it is also important to strengthen your ankles and knees. We have all experienced what I call “noodle legs”. After a long walk and steep climb, it's inevitable the legs will get fatigued. Fatigued muscles increase the chance of injury. Not to mention the terrain in which you will be walking over i.e. tree roots, rocks, stairs, etc. could be tough on your knees and ankles. Side note: to increase stability while walking I also recommend trekking poles.
Walking lunges will hit almost all of the muscles in your legs and glutes. Combining this with walking rather than stationary will increase balance and ankle stability. Doing 3 sets of 15 reps will be a good start. When you feel comfortable add weight by carrying dumbbells in each hand.
This exercise can be done anywhere. Stand on one leg with a slight bend in your standing leg. Extend and elevate the opposite leg just slightly above the ground. Now imagine your extended foot is a pen and air draw the entire alphabet in script.
This basically results in you moving your ankle around in circles, but writing the alphabet is a good length of reps. Repeat with other foot. Slow and steady wins the race on this exercise. Doing this exercise slower requires more control, balance, and strength.
Same position as the alphabet ankle exercise. With the extended leg lightly touch the ground at 12:00, 3:00, and 6:00. In other words, slightly tap the ground in front to the side and to the back. While keeping a bend in the standing leg. This exercise increases knee stability, ankle stability, and balance. Complete 3 times each way on both legs.
One last important note! Do not forget to stretch and elevate the legs after a long walk! If you have access to a foam roller I recommend rolling out your legs! Stretching and recovery of your muscles is crucial to avoiding injury and also helps with soreness!
That’s a wrap! I hope these few tips are helpful and get you ready for your next adventure!
Now that you know how to get fit for your next hike, read our tips for hiking solo.