Go on any hiking, trekking or adventure forum and you will see the same words repeated over and over:
'The best way to train for hiking, is to go hiking'...
And this is true, but only up to a point...
There are many times when hiking isn't the best way to train for hiking.
And when doing all your training on the trail, might be doing you more harm then good...
7 Times When Hiking Isn't The Best Way To Train For Hiking
#1 You Are Always Puffed On Hills
Are you constantly puffed at the top of long hills?
Well no matter how much you hike, this probably isn't going to change...
The fact is, to make hills easier, you need to be doing additional training away from the trail!
If this is you, you will get a lot of benefit from:
#2 You Have A History Of Injury
If you have a history of any type of lower limb history or pain - doing all your training on the trail is not a good idea.
While hiking is great for aerobic fitness, it really does nothing for injury prevention. And if you have suffered from something in the past (and are not regularly doing specific exercises to prevent it) it will most likely come back to haunt you...
If you have had any type of injury history, you need to be including specific mobility, stability and strength training to bulletproof yourself from recurrence.
#3 You Are Overweight
Hiking is a sport for all body shapes and sizes. And absolutely everyone be happy to step onto the trail But lets face it, if you are carrying a few extra kilos you are going to be at a much higher risk of an overuse injury (such as plantar fasciitis, shin splints or knee pain).
And if this is you, deciding to do all your training on the trail is asking for trouble.
Instead, your hiking needs to supplemented with:
#4 You Are A Slow Hiker
If you are a naturally slow hiker, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. But if you are always concerned that you are holding up the rest of the group, are tired of being the last one in the pack or simply want to increase your walking speed, hiking will not help you.
Instead, you should include time working on:
These are much more beneficial for improving hiking speed.
#5 You Are Time Poor
If you are short on time, hiking just is not practical.
Instead, making your workouts as convenient and realistic as possible is the best course of action
If this is you, strength training, interval training or circuit training are all great, time efficient options here.
* Read here for a list of trekking workouts you can do in 20 minutes (or less)
#6 You Are Traveling
If you are traveling for work or holiday, you are kidding yourself if you think you can regularly commit to hiking.
During these periods you should focus on short and simple.
#7 You Don't Live Near Any Trails
Many of us are not blessed to live near any significant trails. But if you mention this on the internet, you will be blasted with comments like "well you just have to drive to one" or "you have to make time".
But that doesn't help anyone...
If you don't live near any trails, schedule your hiking in a couple of times a month (or whatever is realistic).
And around that focus on:
When you are training for a trek, don't blindly believe the internet 'experts' when they say "the best way to train for hiking is hiking". Instead, do training that is right for you, your body and your personal situation. And you will have a much great chance of success on whatever adventure you have ahead.
Rowan is a personal trainer who specialises in training for hiking, trekkers and mountaineers for their bucket list adventures.
Summit Strength is a personal training for hiking service created specifically to help hikers have the best chance of a safe, enjoyable and successful adventure.