If the mountains have always attracted you, then a trek can always be a great change from your dull mundane life. However, the idea of trekking, while being insanely fascinating, is easier said than done. If you think that you are absolutely fit to trek up a mountain, you would be in for quite a shock. Without a pre-trip training, trekking is bound to take a toll on your body. But, once you actually get used to trekking, the pristine scenery awaits you.
Training is crucial and therefore it is better if you start training with due diligence. A common problem that prospective trekkers often face is that most articles do not actually offer a critical overview. Here are some prospective tips on how to train for your hiking expedition.
1) Start trek training early
It takes quite a while for your body to be acclimatized the conditioning program. And so, you should always start early. Special emphasis should be given to strength and stamina. Your body is supposed to take some time to adapt itself to the rigors you put it through and therefore, I would recommend at least a year’s head start. You should also not overexert yourself by trying too hard, this could lead to injuries.
2) Correct footwear
It is absolutely essential that you pay special attention to your choice of footwear. While a good hiking shoe is bound to support you, a bad choice would make your trek a nightmare. I will advise you to invest in a shoe with ankle protection. Also, have your trekking shoes thoroughly broken in during your practice sessions as new shoes are bound to cause blisters on your feet.
3) Socks are as important as shoes, if not more
While most people make a conscious choice while investing in their trekking footwear, they overlook the importance of socks. A clever hack to determine the type of socks would include wearing them during your practice sessions while breaking into your new shoes. You could also look at a range of products made especially for trekking like Coolmax and Gore-tex that are great at absorbing sweat.
4) Gym work should include leg exercises
Leg strength is bound to be an integral aspect of your trek. You should, therefore, not underestimate the importance of your leg exercises. These exercises should include squats, lunges and muscle building.
5) Walking training
Any training program that includes trekking training would include a steady increase in endurance level. You would be made to steadily be made to increase the distance you traverse with each passing day. You should preferably try training on ‘back-to-back’ days to replicate the experience of a trek more closely.
6) Try training on a trekking terrain
While walking training sets the ball rolling it is important to train as close to the working conditions as possible. So, instead of jogging, try some weekend scrambling that would be similar to mountain climbing. To increase your efficiency, practice with a loaded backpack – this is bound to make a difference in terms of speed.
7) Practice using backpack
To extend the point already mentioned above, you should try practicing with your backpack. Obviously while on your trek you would be carrying essential supplies like food, water, and clothes. It is, therefore, important that you start preparing for your trek while training for it. When you look for a bag, try looking for a model with straps that can be adjusted to re-distribute weight. Backpacks also come with additional features like bladder facilities.
8) Walking poles
There is a misconception that walking poles are used in trekking only by the elderly. This is simply not true. In fact, walking poles when used correctly can make all the difference in the world. There are broadly two types of walking poles available on the market – lightweight and telescopic. These poles help provide additional support can this ease pressure on the knees and the thighs. You can, thus, climb for a longer amount of time no matter how steep the terrain is.
9) Proper hydration is essential
People on treks are apprehensive about drinking water since toilet facilities are a problem. However, it is essential to keep your body adequately hydrated, failing which, you run the chance of severe dehydration.
Strength and stamina are the core areas that any trekking aficionados need to develop. Once your body can endure the grueling uneven trail you can start off with the trek. For the beginners, here is a series of exercises that you could try out at home to familiarize yourself with the trekking experience.
Mountain climbers: The exercise is designed to strengthen your core, back, arms and legs. Here are the steps:
• Assume a push-up position and subsequently bring your right foot forward so as to touch your right elbow
• In a single motion, switch your legs and assume the position with your left leg
• Continue this switching for a period of 45 seconds
You could try to increase the difficulty level of this exercise by putting cushions and furniture below your feet.
Hip bridge: This exercise is designed to develop your abs, hips and lower back. Here are the steps:
• Lie on your back on a completely flat surface and place your arms by your sides
• With your knees bent, and your feet flat beneath the knees, raise your hips
• Lift your hips so that body forms a straight line all the way from knees to the shoulders
• Relax muscles and return back to original position
• Repeat the exercise after 30 seconds
Russian twist: This exercise aims to make for an all-round development. Here are the steps:
• Assume an initial sit-up position
• Make sure that you make a 45-degree angle with the floor
• Now slowly twist your body to the right and then towards the left.
• Continue the exercise for 45 seconds
One of the most overlooked aspects of trekking is food. Most people don’t know how to balance meals on a trek and therefore end up tiring out too easily or running out of stockpiles prematurely. It would be worthwhile to carry snack bars and meals. The aim here is to have small meals at frequent intervals instead of a heavy meal.
A good choice for a snack would be fruit since it has a good water retention capacity and provides an energy boost. The overall key to success would be to have multiple try out session on your training period with the exact parameters as you would have on the trek. By following the above tips, you would most certainly be able to enjoy your treks and have the experience of a lifetime.