Be Ready for your Next Outdoor Adventure! Blog 2: Hiking
One of my favorite things about putting together a workout program for a client is when it is for sport specific training. Hiking, cycling, triathlons, running, obstacle races and more!
For the outdoor enthusiast, being prepared for your next adventure will make the trip or race so much more enjoyable. I am sure many of us have decided to go hiking, but haven’t been in the gym in months or even gone for long walks, and halfway through that hike you are miserable. Obviously, you vow to never hike unprepared again! Until it happens again, lol!
So, I am here to help you be prepared for your outdoor passions. Today we will go over being prepared for hikes. It is definitely much more involved than walking up an incline. Having spent many hiking vacations, and even being a geologist where part of my job I was paid to hike, has led me to really understand all the different ways in which to prepare our bodies for the most enjoyable experience possible.
Let’s get the obvious out of the way - walking at an incline and taking stairs. What else needs to be a focus of your training?
Core: Strength and Posture
Hiking trips always involve some sort of backpack, even if it is only to carry water and a snack. Having the core strength to stand up straight with proper posture and letting the weight of your pack sit on your hips instead of dragging your shoulders down is of utmost importance. The less stress we have on our shoulders, the less we are likely to strain our back or neck.
Core includes abdomen, obliques and back, so just doing sets of crunches isn’t going to cut it!
Shoulders and chest: Working your rear deltoids is a very important part being able to keep shoulders in a neutral position. Weakness here and tightness in the chest is what gives most people that ‘hunched’ over position in our upper back. Long days in front of a computer and holding your phone down and dropping the head forward is continually weakening the shoulders and tightening the chest.
Glutes and Hamstrings: Most people are quadricep (font of thigh) dominant. You walk up the stairs on your toes, you spend too much time sitting and of course - you never focus on glute and hamstring activation and movements in day to day life or in the gym! Strengthening the glutes and hamstrings will help with your overall endurance, because the muscles are larger, and once properly strengthened in balance to your quads, you will be able to have more powerful movements in hiking and not wear out your knees and quads in the first few miles.
Inner and outer thigh: those are 2 muscle groups that are very often overlooked as part of training. You may be thinking “I do squats and lunges and so that also works those other muscle groups.” My answer, yes and no. While they are activated during those movements (if done properly) they are not the main focus and you need to work those muscle groups specifically to increase that strength and indurance in them. The benefit is more stability when hiking which then translates to more stability of the knee and ankle - vitally important in hiking!
Flexibility: The Key to Injury Prevention
This one is left out of so many peoples workouts, but it is just as important. The more you work your muscles, the tighter they will become if you don’t take great care to stretch and put specific attention on muscle recovery and flexibility. When you are inflexible you are at higher risk for injury. Tight hamstrings and glutes are often the cause of lower back pain. Tight chest effects the upper back and neck. Tight calves effect the feet.
So now that you know that the whole-body needs attention - not just your quads and walking up a hill, what exercises should you do?
Here is a sample workout, but remember we have lots of body parts and you can plan entire workouts on 2 body parts only! (Ex: Day 1: abs and back, Day 2: shoulders and chest, Day 3: glutes and hamstrings, Day 4: Inner and outer thigh, quads, Day 5: biceps and triceps.)
Always spend 5-10 minutes warming up. 10-15 reps of each, 3-4 sets
Proper form is imperative! Don’t cheat yourself by using poor posture or form.
Overwhelmed and no way you can fit in 5 days of weight training? No problem! Determine how many days/week you can devote to working out and combine the above exercises so that you include all in the number of days you will be working out. Reduce reps/sets to accommodate the time frame you have!
3 days/wk Day 1 Back, shoulders, chest, abs. Day 2 Glutes and hamstrings. Day 3 Inner/outer thigh, quads, arms. EVERYDAY: STRETCH
Follow this program and be ready for an enjoyable hike! Maybe even go to a hike that you felt was really a struggle and try it again after you have been working on this hiking workout for a few months and see the difference.
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