How To Train For Mountain Hiking

When Nath and myself were first setting out on our mission of conquering the three peaks, we knew that it was always going to be a bit of an operation. Being situated on the border of Devon and Cornwall gave us limited options for mountain training. We are a little under 200 miles away from the Brecon Beacons, a little over 300 miles from Snowdonia, a little under 400 miles from the Lake District and Ben Nevis was over 600 miles away from our front door.

Snowdonia Mountain Hiking, Tryfan, in Wales

Nath taking in the views from Tryfan in Snowdonia

It seemed obvious that the best training ground for us was going to be Dartmoor, with its tors and mountainous hills looming above the Devon skyline, seen for miles away. The definition of a mountain is a bit of a grey area and some would argue that many of the Tor’s of Dartmoor are mountains; in fact, has 80 of Dartmoor’s tors listed as mountains.

Regardless, Dartmoor’s highest Tor and the highest spot south of the Brecon Beacons is High Willhays, so this seemed like a great place for us to start our mountain hiking training, and so we did. We soon began to pick away at the moor, ticking off tors and clocking up miles, and yes, Dartmoor is a great place to train for mountain hiking.

However, we would only manage to get out once a month, and so, by the time we finally went hiking up our first mountain, Snowdon, Wales tallest mountain, it became apparent that I was completely underprepared. It was one of the hardest hikes that I had ever done.

Hiking on Dartmoor, How to train for Mountain Hiking in the South West

Trev stood on Yes Tor on his first Dartmoor hike

We (or mainly I) was constantly feeling the need to stop and regroup, catch my breath, or as I explained to Nath, ‘take in the views’. We were constantly being over taken by people of all ages, of all shapes and sizes, even those in comedy outfits raising money for charity. It was a shameless first attempt at a mountain. Granted, I had only been walking and hiking for about three months up until then, but it was obvious that monthly excursions to the moor wouldn’t cut it.

I needed more training to keep me busy in between those days that both Nath and myself were available for a hike on Dartmoor. You may suggest the gym as a place to train and keep fit, which I have tried, yet I find the sterile environment, and monotonous regime of repetetive excersise completely and utterly dull. I need to be outside.

So, in preparation for our next mountain excursion, when we would be hiking up England’s tallest mountain, Scafell Pike in the Lake District, I turned to the coast.

North Cornwall South West Coast Path, Newquay

Walking the South West Coast Path

Using The Coast To Train for the Mountains

My first coastal walk was fairly local to me, and a generally easy stomp of barely 6 miles on the North Cornwall coast. Starting at the National Trust car park at Sandymouth, I headed south to Compass Point in Bude and then headed back again. Not a huge walk, I know, (I literally had a free handful of hours to get there and back), and doing this a few days before our Lake District road trip, it not the best preparation for Scafell Pike either, which still ruined me, and although a good 100 metres shorter, it seemed harder even than Snowdon.

However, by taking and enjoying this coastal walk something stirred in me.

By now, as you all know (if you follow the Summit or Nothing YouTube Channel that is… if not, why not?) I was soon to become obsessed with the coast walking, and have even taken on the challenge of walking all 630miles of the South West Coast Path entirely… slowly but surely. At the moment I’m 250 plus miles into this walk. But, the point that I am trying to make is, there is no where quite like the coast to train for a mountain hike.

Walking the South West Coast Path is the Equivalent of Climbing Everest 4 times.

The Rugged North Devon Coast Line

Ok, so the coast walk it is not a constant climb as it often is on the side of a mountain, but throughout each walk, the rise and fall of the coast is a great way to get used to ‘all the up.’ If you were starting to train for running a marathon, they recommend that you begin to run for 3 minutes and then walk for 3 minutes and slowly progress to longer stints of running. Well, coast walking is no different. The alternation between ascending and descending slowly but surely builds up your muscles and your stamina. Plus, walking is such a great relief for your mental health that doctors in Scotland are now prescribing it to patients suffering from depression.

The climbing can knock you for six at first, but once at the top you are soon awarded not just some fantastic ocean views, but also with a more level walk or a descent back down to sea level. By the time you reach your next ascent, you are relatively recuperated.

They say that walking the South West Coast path is the equivalent to climbing Everest four times. In fact, on one day, I walked a 12 mile stretch of Coast and clocked up a total ascent of 4597feet or 1401 meters which is 50 metres more than the height of Ben Nevis.

Recently, in the back of Trail Magazine, I saw a chart to fill out entitled #EverestAnywhere. where you can add your own walks together until your total ascent is equal to the 8848 metres that make up the tallest mountain in the world. I’m a geek for these things, so needless to say, I decided to start it myself, and added my most recent 18 mile hike along the North Devon coast. I was astounded to see that in just 18 miles I had managed to ascend 1798 metres, which was practically one fifth of the height required!

Ben Nevis was a doddle

Mounain hiking uk, Ben Nevis, Scotland

Trev and Nath on top of Ben Nevis

Anyway, Ben Nevis, was the next mountain on our list; Scotland’s tallest mountain, the largest mountain in the UK, the biggest of the three peaks, this was going to hurt. And so, in the summer of 2018, after a 12-hour car journey and a night in the hostel beneath the Ben Nevis Inn, we embarked on this, our crowning achievement. After a lot of panicking and discussion of what gear to take and what to leave, we set off up the Tourist Path (aka the Flip-Flop route). And a funny thing happened.

It seemed that my coast walks had paid off. The climb, whilst still challenging, was not as hard as I may have expected. We walked for ages before needing our first break. We were the ones doing the overtaking, and not the other way around for once. I felt both physically and mentally more attuned to the climb, and I knew that it was the coast walks that had helped me to build me up.

So, if you want to climb a mountain, but you are nowhere near any, please do not be discouraged. There are always alternatives training grounds nearby. Ok, so some of you may reside in landlocked counties, so ask yourself, where are the best hills near me. How much ascent can I get out of local circular walks? If you are a city dweller, why not pick the tallest block of flats and take the stairs to the top? But never give up! Where there’s a will there’s a way.

Thanks for taking the time to read. Please note that I am taking part in the MacMillan Mighty Hike in June – a 26-mile day hike along the Jurassic Coast. If you wish to donate, then please check out my Just Giving Page! Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Here are Amazon links to some great maps/books for Mountain Hiking, Coast Walking and Dartmoor exploration that helped us along the way.

Strength Training for Hiking: A Step-By-Step Workout Plan To Prepare You

training for hiking tips

Strength training is an important part of preparing for your hiking trip. You’re likely working on your cardio, but are you ignoring this important part of your training?

Table of Contents

You’ve reserved your big hiking trip, like the Self-Guided Tour du Mont Blanc, Alta Via 1 or one of the other hiking tours that we offer. Strength training is what you need before you get all excited to take in all the splendid views! But you want to be sure that you’re fit enough to actually enjoy those views.

That’s why it’s so important to prepare for your big hike. There are various forms of strength training for a short and extended period of time, and I’ve got the perfect hiking training plan for you.

Read Post  A Guide to Hiking in the Smoky Mountains

Before getting started with any new fitness plan it’s always good to have a medical check-up. This is to avoid the risk of injury and know your starting position before strength training.

If you have any old nagging injuries, get these assessed by your doctor or physiotherapist. Your body will thank you and you’ll know how to get your muscles stronger too.

Your hiking training plan should include both strength training and cardio.

It’s important to take these small aches and pains into account when training for hiking. Depending on your body weight, body fat, muscle mass and strength training goals you’ll need to consider the amount of time you have to train before hiking a trail.

If you have any joint pain/injury (ankles, knees or shoulders) it is imperative that you seek professional advice in advance. You won’t want your quality of life and damage your muscles be affected just because of one hike.

You’ll want to ensure that you work specifically to increase muscle strength in those areas to prevent any serious problems during your hiking trip and decrease your risk of fracture and muscle damage.

Hiking poles will take some of the pressure off your joints but you’ll still want to strengthen these areas before.

Besides getting you ready to take on that big hike, strength training also has other great health benefits like increasing your cardiovascular health and bone density.

It’s important to take these small aches and pains into account when training for hiking. Depending on your body weight, body fat, muscle mass and strength training goals you’ll need to consider the amount of time you have to train before hiking a trail.

If you have any joint pain/injury (ankles, knees or shoulders) it is imperative that you seek professional advice in advance. You won’t want your quality of life and damage to your muscles to be affected just because of one hike.

You’ll want to ensure that you work specifically to increase muscle strength and not just do cardio for weight loss. Strength training in those areas to prevent any serious problems during your hiking trip and decrease your risk of fracture and muscle damage is a priority.

Hiking poles will take some of the pressure off your joints but you’ll still want to strengthen these areas before.

Besides getting you ready to take on that big hike, strength training also has other great health benefits like increasing your cardiovascular health and bone density.

How to Train for a Hike When You Don’t Live Near the Mountains

If you don

Now you might be asking yourself, how do I train for hiking when I do not live near a mountain nearly as big as where I plan on hiking? I have good news for you.

To prepare for hiking, strength training and resistance training can help with improvements of strength before your trip. The days per week of strength training can help you improve your body’s ability to handle the physical demands of hiking and make recovery easier.

There are many ways to prepare and various methods of strength training. The first step is mapping out just how many weeks you have left until your trip. Then determine how many hours per week and days per week you have to dedicate in order to meet your goal.

Get motivated and stay active by incorporating small physical activities in your everyday activities. If your goal is to lose some body weight or increase your metabolic rate it may be helpful to consider tempo runs, higher-intensity strength training (HIIT) training and strength training sessions.

If it’s keeping fit, increasing lean muscle mass a jog on the spot or a stationary bike or weight training could be handy. But sometimes the best way to get started is just to set yourself a realistic goal for how long you wish to work out. Set yourself challenges like ‘I will increase my hours of cardio every week’ or ‘I will focus on my progressive exercise training this month”

Resistance training is also a great way to improve strength and your metabolic rate in the comfort of your own home. This method of strength training involves the help of resistance bands. These are the go-to equipment for improvement of strength, power, and muscle tone. Unlike free weights that attach to a bench, resistant bands require zero space to work out. A favorite amongst strength trainers too!

Here are some ways that you can train for your hike:

Train for your hike now so that it will be more enjoyable.

    • Plan on walking 3 – 5 times per week. Vary your speed and distances. Be sure to include long-distance and brisk walks – this could be part of your daily activities. If possible take the hilliest routes in your area. Consider bringing a backpack with you so that you can get accustomed to carrying weight. Each week can add more weight to your pack – this also helps to train your upper body. Ideally use the same backpack that you’ll use when hiking so that you get used to it.
    • Take the stairs. This is important not only to build your cardiovascular endurance but will also strengthen your quads which will help you with the ascents throughout your hike.
    • BUILD YOUR CORE! It’s a major muscle but is often overlooked. Abdominal crunches are a go to for homework outs. Having a strong core (I’m not just talking six-pack abs) will help you more than you think. When carrying a heavy backpack and as fatigue sets in, a strong core foundation is invaluable to get you up the mountain.
    • If you have a gym membership, take advantage of the incline setting on the treadmill and the stair climber. Look for other equipment geared towards building leg strength and getting your heart rate up. Progressive resistance training with the use of resistance bands doesn’t hurt.

    It is important that you get in the miles on your feet. Whenever possible use the same hiking boots you plan to wear on your trip. If you plan on getting new ones, now is the time to break them in. Make sure to buy light weight hiking shoes with ample cushioning

    Strength Training Exercises for Hikers

    Be sure that your strength training for hiking program includes lots of squats and lunges.

    Depending on how much time you have on hand add the methods of strength training you want to incorporate in your everyday activities to round out your training, here is what you should prioritize in order to get the biggest bang for your buck.

    Leg strength is paramount for hiking. If you have wobbly legs your hike will feel very long and difficult and not enjoyable. And you want to enjoy this. Many of these workouts can be done with bodyweight alone or with weights. This is where resistance training really comes in handy.

    Resistance exercise training increases muscle strength by making your muscles work against a weight or force. A resistance exercise is an activity where you use your own body weight to challenge your muscles. For example, in push-ups you are challenging your arms and chest muscles. If you don’t use enough weight, it’s easy to get bored with this type of exercise and not see results that is why progressive resistance trainings should be part of your daily activities.

    Don’t be afraid to start with a lighter weight and work your way up. You can see photos and more explanations of each of the exercises mentioned below by clicking here.

    Strength Training Leg Routine for Hikers:

    Repeat this pyramid 2-4 times.

    10 – Glute Bridges

    20 – Reverse Lunges (10 each side)

    20 – Steps ups (10 each side)

    10 – Side lunges (5 each side)

    Strength Training for Your Core (Important for Hikers)

    Core strength is the foundation of your house. Without it, we would crumble forwards. These exercises will activate and reconnect you with your core (and were not just talking abdominal crunches):

    Repeat this routine 2-4 times.

    20 – Bird Dogs (10 each side)

    15 – Overhead reaches (Deadbug if more advanced)

    15 – Side plank with hip dips (knees bent or legs fully extended) (each side)

    Strength Training for the Upper Body for Hikers

    Last but not least, this routine targets your upper body, specifically your back and shoulders to build that much-needed strength when carrying your backpack all day. Note this plan is if you’re planning on carrying a day pack. If you’re planning on backpacking, see the plan below this section.

    Repeat this routine 2-4 times.

    15 – Shoulder retractions

    10 – Wall angels

    10 – Pike push-ups

    It is also important that throughout your hiking preparation that you take time to stretch and rest. After each strength training session is sure that you stretch your quads, hamstrings, glutes, back, and arms. This is also a great way for muscle gain.

    Muscle tightness can lead to imbalances and ultimately pain or injury. Be sure that you do no “overtrain” and that you include at least 1 full day of complete rest to allow your upper body to regenerate and recharge.

    Preparing For Carrying A Backpack During Your Hike

    Backpacking workout plan for hikers.

    First things first. Ensure that you choose the right backpack for your body type and the type of hike that you’ll be doing. You’ll find lots of great tips and recommendations in our article 13 Best Hiking Backpacks.

    Strength Training Specifically For Backpacking

    It’s important to strengthen your posterior chain, neck, and shoulders. Doing so will minimize aches and pains throughout your hike. Before we get into a specific backpack training program, let’s start with the most obvious way to train.

    Carry a weighted backpack during your weekly training. Each week you can add additional weight to your pack in order to build up strength and endurance.

    Strengthening the “Posterior Chain”

    Wear your hiking boots when doing the walking or hiking parts of your training plan.

    Now let’s get back to that “posterior chain”. What’s that you ask? A posterior chain is a group of muscles comprised of the calves, hamstrings, gluteus muscles, multifidus, erector spinae, trapezius, and posterior deltoids.

    This group of muscles is essential in keeping us erect and keeping our hips stable. More often than not we have an imbalance between the anterior chain and the posterior chain from an over-focus on quad and ab exercises like abdominal crunches.

    This can lead to pain and weakness in our backs and our hips. So how does this tie into hiking? Carrying a heavy weight backpack for multiple days at a time is taxing on the body. And it’s especially taxing on your lower back, neck, and shoulders.

    Strength Training Workout for Backpackers

    Backpacking workout plan for multi-day hikers.

    When you’re traveling, you’ll have to find time to work out. We’ve prepared some tips for when you’re on the road: Increase your cardio to long day hikes (60+ minutes each) with a pack that weighs about 80% of the weight you’ll be carrying on your trip. Also add a fourth day-hike training session to one of your strength training days. One or two days prior to your trip: Ease up on all strength training and resistance training, but keep workout routine relatively simple by incorporating easy walking between sets and resting more often between hard runs. This keeps your metabolic rate and blood pressure on peak for your next hike.

    Here are some simple exercises that you can incorporate into the above hiking training program.

    You can see photos and more explanations of each of the exercises mentioned below by clicking here:

    – Good mornings or Romanian deadlifts

    – Bent over rows or cable pull-throughs

    When trying to go on a hike and become a more fit you need to be prepared. The best way to get ready for the hike is to gain muscle tissue, improve body composition and muscle gain. Muscle tissue is simply the part of the body that gets stronger when you work out. With that in mind, people who train for long periods of time tend to develop a greater amount of muscle tissue within their bodies. In order to gain muscular strength and size, one must first have enough muscle tissue to begin with. Whatever types of strength training you do ensure that you do the stretches listed above when you’re finished.

    Hiking can bring you to the most marvelous and wondrous places but having a weak back can ruin the experience. These different types of strength training and this recommended work out routine, you will be well on your way to ensuring you are prepared to take on the mountains!

    8 Weeks to Awesome – Hiking Training Plan

    This is the time of year when everyone resolves to somehow change their lives for the better in the coming year.

    This past year, my goals were pretty easy to define – at least for the first couple of months.

    You see, I’d been battling a really vicious head and chest cold – since late November.


    I hiked on New Zealand’s North Island – where all the volcanoes are!

    Then, that turned into an infection (of lung and sinus type) for a few weeks and that went away but the original cold came back!

    This illness plus inclement weather and Holiday shenanigans kept me from doing my usual basic maintenance workouts or scheduling as many hikes as usual.

    AND – here’s where the goals come in – I’d planned a hiking trip to New Zealand for early Spring.

    So, my goal was to be healthy and strong enough to do all the things in New Zealand without any struggle.

    I had about 8 weeks to make that happen. The good news is I did the training, went to new Zealand and had an awesome time hiking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing.

    I squeaked back into the US literally hours before they shut down international travel to New Zealand.

    Fast forward to now, and we’ve had some version of COVID-19 lockdown in place, limiting our activities, since I got back home in March.

    That Man and I had planned a trip to Hawaii – Kauai, to be exact – for April that had to be rescheduled for this coming winter’s Holiday season.

    That’s where my training program “8 Weeks to Awesome” – or Auckland, to be specific – comes back into play.

    I’ve got to get back on the plan to be ready for the Hawaii trip – assuming we’re allowed to go this time. (As of this writing, prohibitive quarantines and testing requirements are still in place for out of State visitors…)

    If you’re looking for a way to get back into shape before the Holidays – even if you don’t have a big trip coming – maybe you’d like to do it with me!

    NOTE: I’ve updated this for 2022 with a new post you can see here. It’s the same workout, but with more current commentary

    My swimsuit for the trip, or is it my P.E. uniform from Junior High…?

    Did I mention there was going to be even more swimming on this trip than the New Zealand trip?

    I also still want to lose about 5 lbs, but I figure just returning strictly to my anti-Asthma diet after all of the lockdown/depression eating will be a good start.

    That, plus remedial training (with a little bit of Hawaii-specific bits thrown in) should take care of it.

    If the diet and training don’t work, I’ll need to find one of those old swim outfits with the leggings and the parasol….

    But, not to worry!

    I have a plan to get back into fighting form and rock the hikes AND a modern swimsuit, too. Maybe you’d like to join me…

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    How to Train for Hiking


    We’re planning for some longer hikes – and one specific one – with high elevation gain, on the trip to Kauai.

    Long-distance hiking, even if its just a dayhike, can be a pretty intense athletic activity – so we’ll need to train for it.

    Hiking in the snow in Big Bear, California.

    Hiking in the snow in Big Bear, California.

    It’s always a good idea to do some training in advance to be able to do a significant hike and make it back to the trailhead without injury – and hopefully be in good enough shape to enjoy the experience!

    Preparations for the hike will include physical training, research of the terrain you’ll be hiking on, and learning how to use your gear.

    In addition to actually getting out on the trail, there are some indoor exercises that can help you get ready.

    Click this photo to subscribe and get your FREE pdf of this training.

    Click this photo to subscribe and get your FREE pdf of this training.

    Get The FREE PDF!

    Everything that you need to start your 8 Week training is included in this post.

    But it’s a long read and inconvenient to refer to online while you’re training.

    For your convenience, you can click here to sign up and download your FREE “8 Weeks to Awesome” PDF file.

    Then you can print it out and refer to your plan anytime you want. Happy training! LJ

    Aerobic/Cardio Exercises

    Spray from one of the waterfalls on the Whiteoak Canyon Trail

    Aerobic/cardio exercises get the heart pumping, which provides oxygenated blood to the muscles.

    Aerobic exercises are perfect for hiking because they train your heart to allow you to keep going for long period of time.

    Of course, eventually you’ll get tired, but this kind of training will help keep you going strong through your whole hike.

    Examples of aerobic/cardio exercises include dancing, hiking, walking, spinning, and kickboxing.

    Resistance/Strength Training

    Resistance training will build your muscular strength and boost your muscular endurance.

    Photo from my home gym. Really.

    Building up the muscles in your legs and arms is important for long-distance hiking, due to the intensity of the activity.

    Strength training doesn’t have to be done with weights in a gym.

    Instead, you can train using your own body weight.

    These types of exercises include push-ups, squats, lunges, crunches, and pull-ups.

    Shorter length hikes with a heavy pack is also a good form of strength training.

    Train For the Terrain

    All hiking trails are different and getting to know the trail before you go for a long-distance hike is very important.

    For instance, you’ll want to know if you’ll be hiking on the flat or at a steep incline, or on a rocky surface or snow, etc.

    If you can, you should train in similar terrain as what you’ll see on your long distance hike.

    Another great reason for training on similar terrain is it will help you to pick out what kind of gear you’ll need for your hike.

    Packs with rain covers in Torres del Paine, Patagonia

    Packs with rain covers in Torres del Paine, Patagonia

    Practice With Your Gear

    Once you know what kind of terrain and weather you’ll be dealing with, it’s a good idea to break your gear in, and hike with it a few times before you go – especially if you’re getting new boots for the hike.

    If you’re unsure of what you might need, take a look at my Gear page , or my Dayhike Gear Guide for some ideas.

    If you’re brand new to hiking, check out the Hiking Tips page for some good pointers to get started.

    Weekly Training Plan for Hikers

    You may already have a maintenance workout schedule going that keeps you in generally good shape. You can add to that or modify it to focus on areas that need building up for hiking.

    If you’re just starting out – or coming back from an extended illness or forced inactivity – below is a good weekly training plan for hiking beginners.

    You can start at your own level and go from there.

    Plan your work and work your plan!

    From week to week, you’ll build on the progress you’ve made in the previous weeks.

    1. Weeks 1-3: Strength-training 3 days per week, 1 hour/session.
    2. Weeks 4-6: Keep doing the Strength Training, and add one additional endurance workout every week for 45 minutes at moderate intensity (like jogging or hiking).
    3. Weeks 7-8: Continue Strength Training, increase the length of your weekly endurance workouts to 1.5 to 2 hours, and add 1 day of high-intensity exercise with high output but less weight (like speed hiking).
    4. Begin and end each workout with a 10 minute stretching routine.

    So, at the end of the 8 weeks, your weekly training will include:

    The above is a basic weekly maintenance schedule (after an 8 week buildup), which uses a once per day moderate workout to stay in reasonably good shape.

    To train for a specific hike (like I am) you’ll want to already be at a maintenance schedule, then add some training hikes tailored to your specific hiking goal.

    Hiking to Get in Shape for Hiking

    Hiking on a treadmill at an incline is a great workout!

    The best way to train for a hike is to go hiking.

    That said, you don’t need to do a training hike every day of the week.

    You should aim for one longer training hike per week, with walking/jogging and strength-building throughout the rest of the week (see weekly maintenance training schedule above).

    If the weather is bad, or you don’t have any hills around, you can do this kind of training on a stair-climber, treadmill at max incline, or actually going up and down the stairs wearing your pack.

    If you can, add an additional weekly shorter hike with some elevation gain and a heavy pack to be one of your weekly strength building workouts.

    Your Unique Hiking Training Plan

    Your current fitness level shouldn’t define your adventures.

    Instead, acknowledge your current fitness level, decide where you want to be, and create a plan to bridge the gap between the two.

    If you have a specific goal in mind, you can use that as an end point to help you plan a series of hikes that will prepare you for your goal.

    Start with the goal distance and elevation gain on week 8 (the last week of your training) and work backward for 8 weeks, starting from the goal hike length and elevation to your current fitness at Week 1.

    As you train, also try to work up to the pack weight you will be hiking with on your goal hike.

    On my New Zealand trip (with my favorite adventure travel company) the hardest day of hiking was a 12 mile hike in Tongariro National Park, so I did my training plan with that hike in mind.

    The Tongariro Alpine Crossing, a 12 mile day hike on New Zealand

    The Tongariro Alpine Crossing, a 12 mile day hike on New Zealand’s North Island, is one of the most popular day hikes in the country.

    For the Hawaii trip, we plan to do a lot of hiking – but none as long as the Tongariro hike.

    That said, it’s good to train for a goal and we do have one: the Kalalau Trail.

    Kauai’s Kalalau Trail

    Kauai’s 11 mile (one way) Kalalau Trail leads from Ke’e Beach to Kalalau Beach along the Na Pali Coast.

    The Kalalau Trail is definitely a “bucket list” hike for those of us who live to hike the world. 🙂

    Traversing five valleys, the Trail terminates at Kalalau Beach, providing the only land access to this rugged stretch of Kauai’s coast.

    We plan to do only a portion of this hike to keep it to a day hike – the 5.5 miles from Ke’e Beach to Hanakoa – to make it 11 miles round trip. Elevation gain will be about 5000 feet.

    For experienced hikers in excellent shape, they recommend allowing for a long day (8+ hours) to complete this section. (Day hikes on this trail beyond Hanakoa are not recommended.)

    The famous ridges on the Na Pali Coast in Kauai.

    After a summer of local hiking (packing all of my water for the day due to COVID-19 restrictions) – doing Virginia’s Triple Crown hike in July, and summiting Mt. LeConte in the Smoky Mountains in August – I’m not starting from zero.

    That said, I really need to stay in shape – not so much for the hike length, but for sure the 5000 feet elevation gain.

    If we give ourselves 8 weeks to train to comfortably do this day hike, the Tongariro hike (or something like it), the training plan hike progression would look something like this:

    WeekMilesElevation / Pack Weights
    15.5-6mi, Lake Crabtree100 ft / No extra water
    26-7mi, Loblolly Trail500 ft / 2 extra bottles
    36.5mi, Co Mill Trail1,000 ft/ 3 extra bottles
    47.2mi, Sycamore Trail1500 ft/ 3 extra bottles
    58-9mi, Loblolly-Schenck2000 ft/4 water bottles
    68-9, Co Mill-Sycamore Loop2500 ft/4 water bottles
    710-13mi, Co Mill-Big Lake3000 ft/ 5 water bottles
    812-14mi, Loblolly-NCMA3500 ft/ 5 water bottles

    NOTE: For training purposes, to create extra stress to simulate more steep elevation gain than is available locally, I’ve added more water bottles to the pack each week, starting with a base weight of 10 lbs. (A 500ml/16 oz water bottle weighs around 1.1 lbs.)

    If you’re training for strength as well as endurance, you can do that at the gym and/or add a shorter hike each week with increasing pack weights.

    This is especially helpful if you know you’ll be hiking with a heavy pack and need to work up to it.

    In my case, I know I’ll only be hiking with a day pack, so I’m only training with a pack weight of up to 30 lbs.

    These strength building hikes are not about speed, but I would recommend maintaining at least a 2.5-3mph pace to get the results you want.

    WeekMilesExtra Weight
    15mi, Co Mill-MUT10lbs
    25-6mi, NCMA-Meredith10lbs + 2 bottles
    35mi, Lake Pine-Annie Jones15lbs
    45-6mi, Bond Park Lk trail15lbs + 4 bottles
    56mi, Lake Crabtree20lbs
    66mi, Old Reedy Crk to Warren Cemetery20lbs + 2 bottles
    76.5mi, Loblolly20lbs + 4 bottles
    86.5mi, Co Mill30lbs

    In my experience, it’s the elevation gain, not the mileage, that people find most difficult. So be sure to get some training hiking up hill.

    Train hard, but don’t push yourself so quickly that you get injured. An injury will set you back, and maybe even cause you to cancel a hiking trip.

    If you find you can already hike your allotted miles comfortably, then you might add miles and elevation gain faster than laid out in the program.

    This is a very moderate training program, but everyone progresses differently.

    Sunset over Lake Crabtree, viewed from the Black creek Greenway

    Sunset over Lake Crabtree, viewed from the Black creek Greenway.

    Come Out for a Hike

    The hikes I’ve listed are actual local hikes that I’ll be posting to my hiking Meetup group . You can sign up on Meetup if you’d like to hike with me. 🙂

    If you’re not local, you can follow the plan with equivalent hikes in your area.

    Is Hiking Really Good for Fitness?

    Hiking is the single most popular form of exercise in the world, and the health benefits are tremendous.

    Walking and hiking can be used as your sole fitness routine and can even lead to weight loss if you do enough of it.

    While walking a mile isn’t going to burn as many calories as running a mile, hiking hills with a full pack can burn more.

    Here are some of the benefits you’ll get from hiking for fitness:

    1. Burn Calories
    Based on the increase of heart and breathing rates, the uphill portion of hiking will burn as many calories as a moderately-paced run.

    2. You Can Hike Anywhere
    Hiking can be done anywhere. If you don’t have access to a hill, walking on a treadmill at an exaggerated incline will create a similar experience, though it’s much more fun to get outside.

    3. It Can Be Social
    If you live in an urban area, hiking can be a great weekend activity. Instead of watching a movie or hanging out in a pub, why not take a walk outdoors with your family and friends?

    4. Hiking is a Total-Body Workout
    When you hike, your core will be more engaged to keep your body stable while going over rough terrain, and your butt, thigh and calf muscles will be burning by the time you’re through. And because it’s hard cardiovascular work, your heart and lungs will get a great benefit as well.

    5. Benefits of Green Exercise
    Have you ever noticed that you feel happier and more energetic when you’re out on the trail, or even just sitting in a park? Research shows that hiking and other Green Exercise can reduce stress and increase happiness.

    How To Get Started

    Find some hills in your local area and have at it. This doesn’t need to be complicated.

    Remember to dress comfortably and wear sturdy footgear with non-slip soles.

    Start with a small hike and see how you feel about it before you tackle something more ambitious.

    Bringing water and a cell phone is a good idea. Also, you might want to leave a note. 🙂

    But mostly, get out there and have fun! Hiking is an incredibly rewarding activity that engages body, mind and spirit.

    By following a training plan that increases your hiking mileage and elevation over time, you’ll build the strength and endurance you need to take on any trail you set your sights on.

    Taking a break on the Lac Blanc trail in the French Alps.

    Taking a break on the Lac Blanc trail in the French Alps.

    I hope this post has been helpful and motivational for you! If you have any questions or comments, please drop me a note and I’ll get back to you as quickly as I can.

    During the training for New Zealand, I made Training log posts as I made my 8-week training journey. To see them go to my Training Log.

    I hope they’ll be helpful- or at least amusing! 🙂

    Unfortunately, after updating this post I suffered a leg injury. 🙁

    Read here about how I trained back after an injury . Maybe you’ll get some ideas!

    For more posts with ideas for getting fit and healthy, go to the Fitness & Wellness page.

    Thanks for stopping by – see you next time! LJ

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