10 Ways To Stay In Shape For Backpacking
When it comes to backpacking, you want to make sure that you are as prepared as possible. From learning the trail route to researching and discovering what to pack, choosing the right hiking boots, and bring with you on this backpacking adventure, you want to be as prepared as you can be. The more prepped you are, the better. And that includes preparing your body for backpacking.
Hiking through the wilderness for multiple days, carrying a pack that could weigh up to 40 pounds, along different kinds of terrain can really challenge your body. So, it’s incredibly important that you prepare your body for what is about to endure. This can be done with some exercises at home, in the gym, and of course, outside. Some primary areas to focus on when it comes to backpacking and how best to stay in shape are cardio, circuit training, and stretching/flexibility.
These are all incredibly important areas that require a large amount of focus to get and stay in shape for a backpacking trip. It is recommended, for instance, that someone training for a multi-day hike should complete 30-60 minutes of cardio training, at least 3-5 days a week. Circuit training is a series of exercises performed continuously, without any breaks. It’s meant to build strength, as you’ll need it while backpacking, but a good hiker’s circuit training can be completed in only 10-15 minutes. Below is a list of 10 more specific exercises that will help you to stay in shape for backpacking.
1. Hiking. The first and most effective way to stay in shape for backpacking is to be an avid hiker. Start out with short hikes. Once you feel that you can do that one with more ease then before, it’s time to gradually increase. Increase your trail length, elevation height, and even the weight of your pack, just a little bit more every single time.
It’s a good way to challenge yourself and get yourself progressing. Once you can complete some short hikes, it’s time to take on a day hike. By going on day hikes as often as every other week, you are preparing yourself for hiking long distances with a weighted pack and on rugged terrain. If you prepare by doing a lot of hiking beforehand, it’ll be easier for you to adjust to backpacking.
2. Use those legs! Whether it’s running at the track by your house, or on the treadmill at the gym, any cardio is good cardio when it comes to staying in shape for backpacking. And mixing it up with different cardio workouts will continue to work all those different muscles.
3. The gym is your friend and offers a variety of machines that can be used for cardio training. The stair stepper and elliptical provide great cardio workouts, and especially when combined with each other, or some running.
4. Another good exercise when it comes to backpacking is cycling. Yes, they are two different outdoor activities, but they can benefit each other as they are both cardio workouts. Cycling is a great way to build your cardio fitness, plus get in a different workout at the same time.
5. With cardio, it’s important to incorporate some high-intensity interval training into your workout. If you work cardio 5 days a week, then 2 out of those 5 workouts should be a high intensity interval training, so you can really push your body. A great starter workout I found for some high-intensity cardio starts with 2-3 minutes of stairs, followed by 40 seconds of jumping rope as fast as possible, finished by a 20-second walk cool down. Do up to 5 sets of this as a great starter high intensity interval cardio workout.
6. Strength is important when backpacking. Your body can really take a toll from the weight of the pack you carry while backpacking, not to mention trekking on for 10 miles a day. a great way to build up strength when trying to stay in shape for backpacking is circuit training. This is similar to the constant motion of a cardio workout; however, the workouts done during a circuit training are different since focus on different muscles.
A great hiker-specific circuit training workout starts with 12 squats (while holding weight overhead), 12-20 pushups, 5-8 squat jumps, 20 mountain climbers, 20 Russian twists, 10 split squats (per leg), finishing with 12-20 pushups. This is a great circuit training that can really benefit you while backpacking.
7. Another great way to build strength for backpacking is by lifting weights. A hiker doesn’t want to be all muscle up top, but balanced muscle and strength are important. Your body should be a top priority. It needs to be in good shape since you will be enduring day-long physical activity. Especially if it isn’t something you are normally used to.
8. Stretching is more vital then you realize when on the trail. All-day physical activity is a lot on the body, and it’s normal for the body to tense up after enduring more than usual. By stretching your limbs, it can assist in decreasing injuries, as well as speed recovery a bit from hard hikes. Plus, it helps with those harder, more strenuous hikes.
9. Lunges, squats, and crunches will also help you stay in shape when it comes to taking on that 10-mile trail. They work out your leg muscles, as well as your core. These are two key parts of the body when it comes to backpacking. Your legs and core are what keep you pushing forward, so taking the time to do these exercises will help you to stay in shape for backpacking.
10. Make use of the world around you. There is a lot that you can make use of and use to your benefit. If you can, and the weather’s nice, choose to walk instead of drive. Take the stairs over the elevator or escalator anytime the opportunity presents itself. You’ll get out moving more, and keep those muscles active and awake so that when you go backpacking, it doesn’t hit you as hard.
There are so many great ways to stay in shape for backpacking! From hitting the machines at the gym, to going on some regular hikes prior to going backpacking, and even by taking advantage of the world around you, there are countless ways to stay in shape for the trip. You just have to find the best way for you!