3 Simple Ways to Improve Your Hiking Endurance



Hiking is a strenuous activity. Even the most experienced hikers work toward building endurance and strength before, during and after the trekking season. Whether you want to expand your campsite-hiking repertoire, or train for a tough new trail, there are three simple ways to get where you're going.

Take Practice Hikes

Practice hikes allow you to gradually improve endurance. "There is no magical fix for getting fit. You need a plan that you follow day after day to build up fitness. That way you don't end up feeling overwhelmed," says Patrick McCrann, founder of Performance Training Systems.

Start in early spring before the summer season arrives. Find local trails with similar terrain and difficulty level as those you plan to hike in the coming months.

- Short weekly hikes: Taking a short hike, 3 to 4 times a week, will help your body adjust to new terrain while you build the muscles you need to tackle tougher hikes. Improve cardiovascular strength on these hikes by moving fast, and taking minimal breaks.

- Long weekend hikes: Similar to marathon training, one long hike a week is essential to seeing improvements. Go slow and take breaks; the focus of these hikes is to improve distance endurance.

Stay Active in the Offseason

Winter is a great time to add variety to your hiking and training. Here are three ways to make the most of short winter days so you can improve balance, lung capacity and overall strength during the cold months.

- Snowshoeing: This great cardio workout is affordable, easily mastered and, as a great cardio workout, it can help decrease your chance of heart disease. Snowshoe a few times a week in place of springtime training hikes.

- Skiing: This winter sport improves your ability to deliver oxygen and energy to the working muscles. As an important function of hiking endurance, be sure to make winter mountain trips a regular activity. Weekend skiing is a great supplement to snowshoeing daily; one full day of skiing per week is enough.

- Indoor rock climbing: A few hours on the rock climbing wall will not only improve your stamina, but your hiking technique, balance and coordination. If you're new to the sport, start with a guided class. As your rock climbing improves so will your hiking abilities.

Focus on Overall Strength

Your body relies on a variety of muscles during a hike, not just the ones in your legs. To successfully improve your hiking endurance focus on cross training for full-body strength.  

- Cardio intervals: Intervals are a great way to improve your hiking endurance. This method gradually and sporadically spikes your heart rate, which helps your heart muscles adapt to strenuous workouts. Go for a jog, do the elliptical, or row in your gym.

- Basic strength training: Simple exercises like lunges, calf raises, crunches and pushups will help improve your hiking abilities. Perform cross-training exercises once or twice a week in your living room, in the backyard or at your local gym.

Whether you're a casual camping hiker or veteran of the sport, improve your hikes by building your endurance. Take part in offseason activities, take practice hikes and integrate strength training into your schedule to be sure you're prepared for your exciting hiking schedule.

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About the Author

Jessica Sanders

Jessica Sanders is the former online editor for ReserveAmerica.com. After many years of camping and hiking in the Northeast, she's exploring what the West has to offer and sharing all of her knowledge with you. She's a s'mores master, campsite connoisseur, writer, runner and lover of all things outdoors. Follow her on Google+

Jessica Sanders is the former online editor for ReserveAmerica.com. After many years of camping and hiking in the Northeast, she's exploring what the West has to offer and sharing all of her knowledge with you. She's a s'mores master, campsite connoisseur, writer, runner and lover of all things outdoors. Follow her on Google+

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