Get ready, get set, hike!

We live in one of the most spectacular settings in the world here in Grand County, Colorado.  And, now that the snow is melting after a fabulous winter sport’s season, it is time to prepare for all of the warm weather outdoor activities at our door step.

Mountain trail hiking is one of many excellent outdoor activities that provides us with beautiful views, vistas and fresh air and may be an effective form of cardiovascular and muscular endurance exercise which improves stamina and burns calories.   However, throughout the beautiful weather months, it is imperative to continue performing your regular exercise program to remain healthy regardless what season is upon us.  This week, consider adding the following exercise modalities and exercises to your macro program to enhance your hiking performance. As always, prior to beginning any exercise program, please consult your physician.

  • All forms of cardiovascular exercise such as walking, running, cycling and swimming will improve the stamina required for successful hiking.  However, cycling and swimming are basically non-weight bearing forms of cardiovascular exercise.  Therefore, since weight-bearing cardiovascular exercise, such as walking or running on an incline treadmill (i.e. 3% grade is recommended) or stair climbing (*see below for specific stair climbing guidelines) more closely simulate the stamina and muscular strength/endurance that hiking requires, these activities should be included.  
  • Stair climbing (improves cardiovascular endurance and prepares the legs and the nose to toes core dynamically for the total body strength required to hike) – Using a staircase, stair climber or a step platform, climb for one to three minutes initially and work your way up to 15-60 minutes of continuous stepping, one to three times per week. Incorporate high intensity interval training as well (HIIT) to improve your explosive power catapulting you up those steep grades quickly and efficiently.  And, if you would like to more closely simulate hiking with a backpack, then train with one as well.  Begin with five pounds in the pack and work your way up to the relevant increment of weight that you will be packing.
  • Total Body Functional Training – include the following multi-muscled and compound exercises to move the body through full and complete ranges of motion.  Such as squats, alternating squats with overhead presses with a medicine ball, body bar, or kettle bell.  Lunges, both stationary and traveling and performed through all three planes of motion (i.e., sagittal – right/left; frontal – anterior/posterior and transverse – add a torso/hip rotation as you lunge). 
  • Additionally, add full body extensions which require you to squat, then press up onto the balls of the feet as you press load over the head.  Wood chops, making certain that you externally and internally rotate the hips.  Pull ups/pushups and variations of each should be an integral part of your program.
  • Consider single leg deadlifts and squat swings with kettlebells which are excellent lower body and nose to toes core exercises and combine these with intervals of shuffle/bounce drills with a medicine ball or slam ball which also addresses the power component mentioned earlier.
  • Train on unstable surfaces such as BOSU Balance Trainers, Strongboards, wobble boards, etc. to simulate the unstable/uneven terrain.
  • Performing knee tucks, mountain climbers and hanging leg raises emphasizing nose to toes core.
  • And, remember to perform myofascial release techniques prior to your hike, directly following the hike and then, perform your stretching/flexibility segment.

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