Hiking is a well-loved outdoor activity among nature lovers and fitness enthusiasts. As studies show, hiking is beneficial to both mental and physical health. The various slopes, boulders, and hills make way for a good sweat session while the trees, birds and clean air make way for a therapeutic healing session.
Hiking is highly favoured among Malaysians due to the plethora of tracks available throughout the country, particularly in the Klang Valley and surrounding areas. While hiking is generally thought to be a moderate activity, it is actually a very flexible exercise option. Different tracks cater to different levels of fitness.
Beginners will be happy doing a track which is flat, less challenging and relatively short while hiking enthusiasts will be just too happy to hike for several consecutive days on a trek that has big boulders and steep hills. If you are tired of flat treks and would like to bring it up a few notches, you need to prepare your body to endure the strain.
Hiking for consecutive days does not come easy. It comes with conditioned mind and body. Some of the challenging treks in Malaysia include the Mount Tahan trek and the Mount Ledang trek. Internationally, some of the challenging treks are the Annapurna Base Camp trek and the Everest Base Camp trek.
If you are game for longer and tougher treks, here are some of the endurance workouts that you can do to increase your stamina and endurance.
Workouts to build hiking endurance
1. Aerobic training
Aerobic training incorporates workouts that cause your heart rate to go high. Cardiovascular activities or popularly known as cardio focuses on rhythmic activities for a sustained period.
Activities such as running, walking, elliptical and swimming, among many others involve large group of muscles and are most effective when done for longer than 15 minutes.
Start with the duration and number of days that you are comfortable with. Increase the duration, intensity and frequency gradually. Always remember to give one complete rest day per week and listen to your body.
Aerobic activities will increase your endurance and enable you to hike further and longer.
2. Resistance training
Resistance training should also be incorporated into your workout regimen to condition your body according to the needs and requirements of the hiking environment.
Resistance training strengthens the muscles, connective tissues and bones, making you physically strong to face what the trail has to offer.
Squats are foes of many fitness enthusiasts. But, squats are what make you stronger by leaps and bounds too.
Keep your feet shoulder width apart. Bend your knees and hinge at the hips. Lower your body as if you are sitting on a chair until your thighs are parallel to the ground.
Hold the dumbbells above your shoulders and push the heels to the ground as you stand back up.
Hold dumbbells at your sides. Step one foot forward. Bend both your knees to 90 degrees, make sure your knees are aligned over your feet and lower your body.
With your thighs parallel to the ground, press up powerfully from the midfoot and heel of the lead leg.
Repeat with the opposite leg.
You will need a box, stairs, bench or a higher platform for this workout. Choose a height that is comfortable and does not strain your knees too much.
Press firmly into the lead leg as you step up onto the bench. Drive the back leg up and slightly across as you rotate in with the trunk and elbow on the same side as the lead leg.
Repeat this step with the opposite leg.
- Side planks
The side plank is a variation of the plank. Be in position on your side with your supporting elbow under your shoulder.
Stack your top foot on top of the bottom foot. Raise your hips up into a plank, make sure your hip does not dip and your body is in a straight line.
Slowly lower your hips down and then back up to the plank position. Keep your abs tight and never curve your body.
Repeat on the other side of body.
- Push up with arm row
This variation of the push up requires a set of dumbbells. Hold the pair of dumbbells in each hand and get to the push up position.
Lower your body and push back up as you would with push ups. When pushing back up, row one elbow back bringing the dumbbell to your ribs.
Repeat this move with the other side and ensure your body remains in a plank position throughout the exercise.
These exercises can be done on their own as circuit training or as additions to your regular cardio. As circuit training, these moves should be done in repetitions and sets that are suited to your fitness level. If you are a beginner, it is wise to stick to 3 sets of the whole circuit with 10 repetitions on each side. As you progress, take them up a notch to reap maximum benefit.
What are you waiting for? You now have a perfect plan to hike stronger and further! You can now sign up for the tough hike you have been thinking about and make yourself proud!