How To Build Up Hiking Endurance: 5 Fundamental Methods
If you plan to go on a hike soon, you should think about building up your hiking endurance before this hike. Especially if you are a beginner hiker, this can prove helpful in getting you through the hike. For experienced hikers, staying in shape and keeping your endurance levels high is also a must.
Once you understand how important it is to have good hiking endurance, you will want to start working on it immediately. Luckily for you, we have a list of the most important things you need to try out while working on your endurance. Let’s get into the list and see what you should do.
1. Train More
One of the most important things, if not the most important, is to start training. It doesn’t matter if you visit the gym, work out at home, run, or just take simple walks. All of these things prove beneficial when it comes to improving hiking endurance.
If you are still contemplating the type of training or exercise you want to do, we have a few suggestions. Let’s see what they are and how often you need to do these exercises to start benefiting from them!
- Run or walk more often: Taking walks regularly and even running occasionally is recommended for everyone, not only hikers. These activities can improve your overall health and help you shed a few pounds. If you are training for a serious hike and want to work on your endurance, try walking or running 2 to 3 times per week. As you get better at it, you can increase the time you spend either running or walking.
- Try cross-training: Cross-training is another good idea. People mistakenly think that if they are training for a hike, they should only practice hiking, but that is not necessarily the case. You can swim, ski, ride a bike, or do any other exciting activity that comes to mind. All the cross-training will also help you build up your endurance; it will not be harmful to you.
- Build muscles: When a person is hiking, practically all muscles in the body start working together to help them get through the hike. The muscles in the legs take the most beating, so it is vital to work on them and strengthen them. We encourage you to go to a gym and work on building muscles. As you will find when you start hiking, this will really help your overall endurance. Further reading: Does hiking build muscles?
- Lose weight: Being a heavier person can really slow you down when hiking. That is not even the only problem. You might find yourself gasping for air and dealing with severe fatique and muscle pain. This is why we recommend that all wannabe hikers think about their weight and make a plan to lose the extra pounds. Just remember – it is not about being thin; it is about being healthy and being your best self!
- Practice hiking: If you want to, you can mix some running or walking with a few hours at the gym and a few practice hikes here and there. After all, no exercise in a gym can prepare you for what you will be experiencing on the actual hiking trail. So, it can be a good idea to do a few practice hikes. Start with shorter ones and work your way towards the longer, more demanding ones.
- Improve your balance: You will need to deal with narrow passages and uneven terrain on most hiking trails. We recommend working on your balance to avoid having problems when coming across such paths. Try walking barefoot on uneven ground, sand, or even rocks. That will undoubtedly be a great starting point, while you can further improve your balance as you hike more and more.
2. Work On Your Mental Strength
Having the physical strength to go through a hike is a must. That much is clear. However, mental preparedness and psychological strength are equally as important in situations like this. Let’s see the best ways to work on your mental strength as you are trying to build up your hiking endurance:
- Daily affirmations: Daily affirmations are a must for all days of the year, not only those when you plan to go hiking. Being in a good mental state can help you do whatever you set your mind to, and this is where we think daily affirmations can come in handy. Instead of thinking, “I’m not prepared for this” or “I will never get in shape for hiking,” try telling yourself positive things to keep pushing forward.
- Work on mental toughness: To overcome whatever hardships you have come across on your journey to build endurance, we suggest that you try to improve your mental toughness. Instead of thinking you can’t do something, do it and show yourself that you can! That will help you get in a better mindset and make you tougher than before.
- Set clear goals: No matter if your initial goal is to hike the shortest trail ever, set that goal and start working towards fulfilling it. When you set a goal for yourself, you make your body and mind focus on it. So, always have clear goals and don’t be afraid to challenge yourself as you do that.
- Practice yoga and meditate: Yoga and meditation are perfect for people who want to clear the clutter from their minds. These exercises are by no means easy, but they can be very beneficial. With meditation, you will surely improve your mental strength. In contrast, yoga will help you improve both your mental and physical strength.
3. Improve Breathing Techniques
When it comes to building endurance, breathing correctly plays a crucial role. You cannot be hiking if you can’t catch your breath. You will start feeling lightheaded and might even need to stop the hike. This is why you need to work on your breathing techniques and improve them as you work on your endurance.
As you are practicing for an upcoming hike, try to work on your breathing. You can also do that while running, walking, or exercising in the gym. Whatever activities you are doing, breathing correctly can help you do them better. Usually, we recommend that you start by taking regular, controlled breaths in and out of the nose.
As you master the regular breaths and learn to think about your breathing, you can start practicing deep breathing. You will need to place a hand on your stomach and feel the air moving it back and forth. Remember that it is not the chest that should be moving but the stomach.
Try to think about your breathing tempo, do some breathing exercises, and with that, prepare for the upcoming trip. We do not doubt that you will feel so much more at ease if you learn how to properly distribute the air in your lungs and breathe correctly while exercising.
4. Think About Your Gear
The hiking gear that you have also plays an important role. You cannot expect to be working on your endurance with a pair of shoes that hurt your feet or make them blister. Also, if any of your clothes make you feel uncomfortable, it is less likely that you will be able to go through with the hike.
Because of these reasons, the gear you use should be comfortable, lightweight, not too baggy or too tight, and it should not cause you to feel either too cold or too hot. At the same time, the shoes you use should be of perfect size, worn-in, and provide support for the foot and ankle.
We mention these things because we want you to feel nothing but comfort and support as you are practicing for your upcoming hikes. But there is another thing to think about – that is your backpack!
Investing in a proper hiking backpack is smart, considering you will be wearing the bag for hours while hiking. The backpack should fit nicely, but you should never overpack it, as that will cause you to feel way too much back pain. Take only the essentials that you cannot live without.
Once you have the mentioned backpack, try using it on those practice hikes you will be taking in preparation for the main thing. That way, you can see if the pack needs adjusting or if you need to take fewer or more things. Practicing with the backpack will help you build endurance and see what the actual hike will look and feel like for you.
5. Think About Diet Plans
When talking about training for a hike, we mentioned that you need to think about losing the extra weight. That is a smart thing to do as you will feel so much healthier, and you will be able to get through hikes you would never even think about before. As much as exercising can help you lose weight, having a good diet plan can also be quite helpful.
Under a diet plan, you should think about your overall diet and the foods you should consume less or more. For example, eggs are a great source of protein and energy. You can eat them while preparing for the hike and when you go on the actual hiking trail.
Eating quality food filled with fats, protein, and carbohydrates can help you feel more energized, which can help you build endurance. After all, no one wants to hike or exercise while feeling exhausted or hungry! So, think about the food that would help you stay on your A-game during the hike.
Conclusion: How To Build Up Hiking Endurance
A lot of practice and careful planning goes into preparing for a hiking trip. Whether you have never hiked before or are a professional at it, having the endurance to go through the hike is a must. So, use our helpful tips listed above to improve your endurance and prepare for any trip coming your way!