Preparing for Your First Hike of the Season

With the coming of spring and hopefully much warmer weather soon, many people are preparing to get outside and do some hiking and camping. If you don’t backpack or camp during the winter months you’re probably going to find out really quick how out of shape you have become during the past winter.  Even if you do workout in a gym or at home, carrying a backpack up a mountain is much more difficult than running on a treadmill on an incline. I’m not saying that you should stop working out, far from it. If you do some sort of physical activity during the winter you’ll be much further ahead than those that don’t. Here are some tips to get your body back into hiking condition and ready to carry that pack up the mountain with ease.

I assume you are or have already gone through your gear to see what needs repairs, replacing or just some TLC. If you haven’t, you better get a move on because the trails are calling. Either load up your pack with all the gear you plan on using for your spring hiking or add weights to your pack a little at a time until you reach your pack weight with all of its gear. You can start with only 10 lbs in your pack and put it on your back and take a walk down your road each evening or morning whichever works best for you. You can also wear your pack for your morning jog or well you are on the treadmill, adding however much weight you would like. Not only will this prepare your body to be carrying weight on your back again it will also give you a great workout. The nice thing about doing this ahead of time is that you can slowly work your body up to your full weight pack and get your body conditioned over time with as many breaks as you need.

Another great workout would be to find a short steep hill, steps or a steep road and walk or fast walk up and down as many times as you can. This will not only give you a full body workout but it will get your lungs conditioned as well. If you have a set of stairs in your house you can do your work out right in your own home. Make sure that you are stretching before doing any strenuous physical activities and be careful if you have heart problems or any other medical issues. By conditioning your body to carry a pack again, and to walk up steep grades well carrying weight on your back ahead of time, you will be ready for a much more satisfying and easier than you expected spring hike. Wouldn’t you rather be full of energy well passing everybody else that’s winded because they didn’t prepare for hiking season? The other nice thing about training with a pack on ahead of time is that your body will have already learned to stabilize itself again when hiking with weight on your back. So you won’t feel all clumsy on your first hike and hey your heart and body will thank you for the physical activity. What are you doing to prepare for hiking season?

3 thoughts on “Preparing for Your First Hike of the Season

  1. I was out in the woods just yesterday with a 50lb training pack walking in the snow. The tiny pack muscles that hold the legs on to the hips weren’t too thrilled about it. Better to work that stuff out now as you say than suffering when we finally get a chance to get out on the trail.

  2. I should make it clear that wasn’t my first time with the pack this year or my first work out. Your use of the word gradual made me realize what works for me right now would be terrible advice for someone else perhaps if they were just getting up off the couch 🙂

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