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On the Outside Health and Fitness Podcast we explore new and fun ways to get fit on the trail, on the water, on the slopes and outside. Discover the latest in health and fitness from leading experts and get tips on fun ways to get fit. We're getting outside the box, outside our comfort zone and outside and in shape.

Mar 21, 2016

Prepare for Hiking

In this episode of the Outside Health and Fitness podcast...

On Today’s show you’ll discover we're talking about exercises that can get you ready for a great hiking season. Also, we're touching on 10 of the top hiking trails in the U.S.

    • …some ideas for getting in shape for hiking season;
    • ...and 10 hikes to add to your bucket list!

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Fitness Training for Hikers

Even if you’re in good shape there are unique demands hiking places on your muscles, joints and cardiovascular system. For example, when you’re hiking downhill, your legs have to work harder to help keep you balanced. Fitness training helps improve your muscle strength, bone density and joint health. It can also help reduce the risk of injury when hiking.

Stuart Young from Take Fitness shared some great ideas for pre-hike training in an article on Outside Health and Fitness and I wanted to share some of his ideas.

Include Hiking Related Activities

Your training should include activities that closely resemble hiking. For instance, you want to find a way to replicate walking uphill with a weighted pack, ideally by including steep outdoor trails in your training program.But what do you do if you live in a place that is relatively flat?  He suggests training on an incline treadmill or even using stairs at home to go up and down.

Make sure your training includes a pack and hill work. Multi hour hikes and sessions at the gym will help you train:

  • ...your hips to support your weight over variable terrain;
  • ...your quads for descents;
  • ...your upper back, shoulders and traps to hoist your gear and carry your pack.

You also want to train your lower back, abdominals and obliques...all important for transferring power to your legs to move you forward. You'll need strength to navigate boulders, rock scrambles, cross streams and traverse tricky slopes.

Best Fitness Training for Hikers

Progressive Hiking

Nothing prepares you to hike better than hiking. (it’s the same reason runners run to prepare for a race). Just like a runner builds up their distance, speed and intensity you should start your training with short, less-strenuous hikes with a light backpack or daypack, and slowly increase the elevation and length of your hikes.

As you do, gradually increase the size of your pack. Overtime you’ll get stronger and want to take on bigger challenges and longer hikes with the load you’ll carry during your targeted trip.

Light Cardio

Lighter cardiovascular exercise is useful for improving your aerobic conditioning.  Aim for a 5-mile hike, including walking for 30-45 minutes across varying incline, 3 days a week. It’s worth including a longer walk on a hilly terrain on a 4th day and increasing the long walk every week until at least two-thirds of your target hike distance is covered.

In the gym, you can use elliptical trainers, climbing machines and stair-steppers to isolate the lower-body and improve your cardiovascular endurance.

Strength Training

Finally, Strength training will help increase your flexibility, balance and strengthen your back and legs as part of your overall conditioning. The shoulders and back should also be strong enough to carry a pack.

Some useful strength training exercises include:

To improve flexibility stretching warm muscles will help and Yoga is excellent for improving both your flexibility and balance.

10 of the Best Hiking Trails in the U.S.

The U.S. is full of excellent hiking trails so as you plan your next hiking trip keep these 10 locations in mind:

The Appalachian Trail

Yosemite National Park

Green Mountain National Forest

Hudson Highlands State Park

Rocky Mountain National Park

Mount Whitney

The Pacific Crest Trail

The Grand Canyon

Acadia National Park


Clean Eating Program

Last week I mentioned that I’m starting a clean eating challenge on the 21st and I wanted to update you on my progress and the progress of those I’m coaching through the program. I ordered my program on Friday and I’m super excited to get started. This Monday I’ll be added to the Facebook group. The group has amazing coaches, recipes, snack lists, and salad dressing recipes (all designed by top registered dietitians and doctors) you’ll also find other people who have embraced clean eating sharing their amazing success.

Contact me and I’ll get you more information on this amazing program and we can do it together. Did I forget to mention I’ll be your personal coach during the program? It will be great to get to know you and help you take this fantastic step toward changing your life.

Call me at (207) 370-9797 or email and let's get you started!