Hulk-ing before Hiking.
Time and again we have agreed and emphasized the fact that hiking trips are one of the best kinds of ‘get-away’ trips. Every hiking trip is full of moments ranging from attaining inner peace to heart-pounding-adrenaline rushes. But here’s the catch. An’ impromptu’ hiking trip as much fun it may sound, is definitely not the best ideas especially if you are once in a blue moon hiker.
Hiking physically tests every aspect of your body from core strength to balance and coordination to stamina, everything. And what happens if you leave for a hiking trip without preparing your body for it? You’ll be exhausted within an hour of your trip (really!). You’ll end up with injuries and sprains. In short instead of the get-away trip, you’ll want to ‘get away’ from the hiking trip.
Here’s what you should ‘advisably’ do in order to remain unscathed and truly enjoy your trip. Two things you must remember. Assuming you are a healthy, under-exercised person, you’ll want to begin with light exercise and take it up a notch gradually. Secondly, exercise is something that needs to be done following the correct method. If you fail to do so you might actually end up injuring yourself. So if you are unsure do not hesitate to consult a trainer.
» How far ahead should one start exercising?
At least start 5 weeks prior to departure. This way you get enough time initially begin with a lighter regime and taking it up to required difficulty.
» What should one begin with?
Start with basics. Since your ankle and knees are most prone to injury, you would want to make the ligaments there strong and flexible. So you can begin with:
1. Running: Go for a morning run. Running is a kind of cardio workout. It will get your heart rate up and help you build stamina. Plus it will strengthen your leg muscles. You can take it a notch up by running in sand
2. Step up: Climbing a set of staircase is an actually amazing workout. The climbing motion strengthens the ligaments of the ankle and to some extent the knees too.
» Exercises for enhancing balance and coordination:
1. Lunges: Helps with balance and workout for legs.
2. Poor Man’s Leg Curl: Maintain balance and coordination bot. plus enhances core strength
3. Band Walks: Improves core strength, coordination, and workout for legs
4. Standing single leg balance: Improves balance and stability of the body
5. Jump Squats: Works on balance. Plus strengthens leg muscle
6. Jump down to soft surfaces helps your body with maintaining the centre of gravity.
» Strength Training Exercises:
1. Mountain Climbers: Full body workout. Particularly strengthens back, arms and legs.
2. Hip Bridge: Works on strengthening butt hips and lower back.
3. Russian Twists: Great abs workout. Strengthens abdomen muscles.
4. Forearm Planks: Builds and Strengthens core. Plus great workout for shoulders, arms, and legs.
5. Side Planks: Strengthens abdomen muscles, side muscles, and shoulders.
6. Supermans: Also called swimmers exercise. It’s a full body workout.
» Cardiovascular Exercises:
These form the most important part of pre-hiking exercises. Cycling, swimming, running, jogging, all of these comprise of cardio exercises. They basically improve your stamina, raise your heart rate, build your lung capacity and tune your body to cope with long continuous hours of physical work (aka hiking). Include at least one of these in your regime. And if you had to choose one, opt for running/jogging since that is what is going to help you most in your trek. Engage in these exercise 5 times a week at least for 30 to 60 minutes.
The most important thing you must remember is while exercising (especially running/jogging) use the shoes/socks that you are planning to carry along with you. Since those special high ankle hiking boots require some ‘breaking in’ time. Secondly, as you near your departure date try jogging with a loaded backpack. Begin with less weight and take it up to the arbitrary weight you plan to carry with you on your trek. These both are a big must since your body must get used to carrying a hefty pack on shoulders. Otherwise, you might end up with horrible shoe bites and backpack that will simply weigh you down to exhaustion.
Lastly, it’s not must to follow exactly this regime. If you are in a very good physical shape you can perhaps start training just a couple of weeks prior to your trip. If you have been lazing around then you might need to start 2 or 3 months prior. But all in all, make sure you follow a wholesome workout curated as per your body built and needs, and helps you build a sustainable stamina, core strength and balance that you need, to be able to enjoy your hiking trip! And yes people make sure you eat healthy, plenty of protein-rich food and drink lots and lots of water! Let us know in comments if you have any queries or if you need some extra motivation! We will help you ‘work out’ your work out! Happy hulking!