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In the Mountains are Calling Part 1, we discussed how to prepare for the next hiking season during the 0ff-season. In this Part, we will discuss how to prepare a month or two away from the season’s beginning.

In The Mountains are Calling Part 1, we discussed the importance of general health and fitness during the off-season. But now the hiking season is just around the corner, and we need to get more specific with our training. The law of specificity is a fitness term that tells us that to get better at a sport or activity, one must practice that activity. Hiking is no different. To get better at hiking, you need to hike. That is why to avoid getting beaten by the unbeaten trail, you must begin to practice hiking before the season begins.

That doesn’t mean completely stop your general health and fitness routine that you were doing during the off-season. It just means that a month or two before you get back out hiking, you should ease back into it. To practice getting back into hiking shape, you should first set your goals for the season. If your goal is to through hike a thousand mile section of trail, then your training will take longer than someone trying to accomplish a 15-mile day hike. Regardless, it all starts with strapping on your pack and getting out walking as part of your workout. A couple months away from the hiking season, start with shorter hikes with the weight you plan on carrying with you during the season. If you plan on having a 30-pound pack, then throw on 30 pounds and go for a three-mile walk. If you feel like your goal weight is still too heavy, start with lower weight and work your way up to it. To add weight to your pack without actually loading it up with food and water, you can put a medicine ball or a plate weight in the pack to give you the weight you want. If you are unable to get outside to do some pre-season hiking and/or walking, then you can use a treadmill to train. This works very well when it’s cold out, or when you want to train for steep hills. Just set the treadmill to the elevation you want to keep walking!

As the season draws closer, you can walk more and add additional weight. During this time you also want to continue with your general fitness routine. Keep doing resistance training a couple times per week, eating healthy, doing calisthenics, and jogging/running. Here is what a sample plan may look like for someone preparing for a 1 week, 100-mile hike in the mountains with a 40-pound pack.

Last Week of Off-Season Training:

  • Sunday: Recovery day
  • Monday: Resistance Training Upper Body
  • Tuesday: 3-mile walk or jog
  • Wednesday: Resistance Training Lower Body
  • Thursday: Cardio exercise of choice
  • Friday: Recovery day
  • Saturday: Full-body calisthenics circuit

First Week of Pre-Season Training (4 weeks until hiking trip):

  • Sunday: Recovery day
  • Monday: 3-mile variable incline walk on treadmill with 30-pound pack
  • Tuesday: Resistance Training Upper Body
  • Wednesday: Resistance Training Lower Body
  • Thursday: Recovery Day
  • Friday: 3-mile walk or jog no weight
  • Saturday: 15-mile outside day hike with 20-pound pack (trail food permitted)

Second Week of Pre-Season Training (3 weeks until hiking trip):

  • Sunday: Recovery day
  • Monday: 3-mile incline walk on treadmill with 40-pound pack
  • Tuesday: Resistance training (upper and lower body)
  • Wednesday: 3-mile walk or jog no weight
  • Thursday: Recovery Day
  • Friday: Full-body calisthenics circuit
  • Saturday: 15-mile outside day hike with 30-pound pack (trail food permitted)

Third Week of Pre-Season Training (2 weeks until hiking trip)

  • Sunday: Recovery Day
  • Monday: 3-mile incline walk on treadmill with 50-pound pack
  • Tuesday: Full-body calisthenics with a focus on your legs
  • Wednesday: 4-mile walk or jog no weight
  • Thursday: Recovery Day
  • Friday: Full gear test – Overnight camp with approx 5 miles of hiking after work
  • Saturday: 15-mile day hike with 40-pound pack (trail food encouraged)

Final Week of Pre-Season Training

  • Sunday: Recovery Day
  • Monday: 3-mile incline walk with 40-pound pack
  • Tuesday: Full-body calisthenics workout
  • Wednesday: Recovery Day
  • Thursday: 3-mile walk or jog no weight
  • Friday: Recovery Day
  • Saturday: Depart for Hiking Trip / Recovery Day
  • Sunday: Begin 100-mile hike

Hiking can be a strenuous activity, and like any activity or sport we should train up to our more difficult events. By training your general fitness during the off-season and gradually getting more specific with your training as your hiking season or trip grows closer, you will find yourself feeling better than ever while overlooking the mountain range you just finished climbing, or after finishing a hike you never thought was possible.

Posted by Scott V.H.

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