It is 2020 and you’re probably tired of looking at your stacked bucket list and are finally committing yourself to go on that hike. That’s great news because there is a myriad of benefits gained from hiking. These include lowering your risk of heart problems, weight management, as well as improving your mental health. But are you up for it? Have you familiarized yourself with the terrain? How about the weather?
This information is crucial because you don’t want to be caught off-guard. I remember the first time I went on a hike, and I was entirely unprepared. I didn’t carry the proper gear, and neither did I train beforehand. I could barely walk the next day and would wobble down the stairs for two days.
That was a rookie mistake that I’m hoping you will avoid after reading this post. Having proper gear such as a flashlight, backpack, gaiters, and hiking shoes is excellent. However, getting fit and gaining strength is pivotal in ensuring a successful hike. Here are the few trips I learned over the years.
Strength Training Before Hiking
Walking is perhaps the most basic exercise that requires no props but will gear you up for that future hike. You may want to start taking walks three or even six months before going for that hike.
According to the CDC, adults need to undertake 150 minutes of physical activity to stay healthy. One can achieve this by walking for approximately 30 minutes every day. Make sure you increase the pace weekly, walk on uneven surfaces, and incorporate arm swings. This will create endurance and strengthen your leg muscles.
Doing the Squat Properly and Why It Matters
Doing proper squats can help strengthen your lower body parts, such as the knees and glutes, as well as strengthen your core. Like walking squats do not require expensive equipment. However, it’s important to do squats the correct way to prevent any spine injury.
You start by standing with your feet wide apart, either holding your hands straight in front or putting them on your hips. You then gently squat down without pushing your knees too forward. Remember to keep your heels on the floor and keep your back straight.
Lunge to Improve Your Balance
There are various types of lunges ranging from the forward lunge, reverse, walking, and the lateral lunge. Similar to squats, lunges help strengthen your lower body by targeting your thighs, glutes, and hamstrings.
I started doing lunges two years back, and I have always incorporated dumbbells. My favorite ones are the 10 pounds vinyl dumbbells sold on Amazon. The reason why I love these dumbbells is that I have tried the plastic ones which didn’t last long. They also had this pungent plastic smell that did not wear off even after using them for months. My friend once gave me the metal ones, and I got injured by the metal fragments.
Perfecting Your Form and Acing the Deadlift
The deadlift helps build both lower body and core strength. The dumbbells come in handy in case you don’t have any barbells or weights lying around. Using dumbbells simulates the lifting of heavy items such as laundry baskets or moving furniture. They engage all your muscles and, as a result, increase your grip strength and improve your stability.
Doing calf raises strengthens the calf muscles and as a result, help improve your stability and balance. You will need this when hiking due to the rough and hilly terrain on most trails. Ensure you are doing them correctly, which means that you shouldn’t feel any pain when doing this exercise.
Side Planks to Strengthen Your Core
There are various ways of doing the plank exercise; however, the side plank is the most useful. It targets all the underutilized body muscles and increases both form and endurance. There are a variety of side plank styles that cater to different people depending on their fitness levels.
You will need a good yoga mat that has an excellent grip and is not slippery. You also don’t want to feel your tail bone while lying, so you need one that is sufficiently thick. I got mine from amazon and so far, so good.
It is an all-purpose yoga mat that is suitable for people with weak knees. It comes with a knee pad and is easily portable. It is also affordable and essential for hard floor surfaces.
Go on A ‘Mock Hike’ and Bring Your Gear with You
Taking a ‘mock hike’ is recommended to help you gauge your readiness for the actual hike. You should take short trips with similar terrain to your hiking destination. Ensure to carry all the equipment but don’t overpack. Just ensure that you have enough water and food depending on the distance. Carrying your backpack will help you know what items to leave behind on the day of the actual hike.
Finally, you must regularly exercise if you want to be fully equipped and fit before going on a hike. The exercises mentioned can’t be substituted, so the earlier you start, the better. I highly suggest you start gearing up to go on a hike by following these tips.