Adventuring into the great outdoors – there is no better feeling. Walking holidays and summit climbs really are magnificent things; with one of the most rewarding elements being the challenge itself and the huge sense of achievement you feel from completion.
However, before you begin any multi-day hiking holiday or summit trek, one of the most important elements you need to consider is – am I fully prepared?
Although many of these climbs can be completed from mental toughness alone; your health and physical ability are still of great importance. Now, you do not need to be a professional athlete or a marathon runner, but a basic level of fitness is needed and training for these trips is highly recommended. As long as you set time aside to prepare for the challenge ahead, success will always be on your side!
Whether you are submitting the great Mt. Kilimanjaro or simply strolling through the hills of the Lake District, putting some time aside to make sure you’re in good shape is a no-brainer. With that said, before you begin spending countless hours in the gym and stressing over your calorie intake, you need to first work out exactly how fit you need to be.
So, How Fit Do You Need To Be?
Walking holidays and summit treks range from easy and moderate, to hard and extreme. As such, before choosing your holiday, be realistic and understand the level of fitness that is required to complete the task ahead. Find out how long you will be walking for each day, how much elevation you will be gaining, and be honest with how much walking experience you have had prior to this commitment. Knowing these essentials, make it much easier to prepare for your challenge ahead – and will help prevent you from either undertraining or killing yourself in the gym for no reason at all.
Yes, we all love the sense of achievement you get from completing a strenuous challenge and hike, but balance that with working within your physical capabilities. A walking holiday is much more enjoyable if you’re prepared and ready for the terrain ahead. Plus, you don’t want to be the person holding your group back.
So, now you know a little bit more about how fit you need to be – let’s dive into the nitty-gritty and find out how exactly how you should train for your challenge ahead:
How To Train For Any Hiking Holiday:
1. Aerobic Training: We recommend light-to-moderate intensity activities such as long-distance jogging, swimming, cycling and walking 2-3 months prior to your trip. Aerobic exercise builds the cardiovascular system which is key when training to climb in these regions, as a strong cardiovascular system will help you process limited oxygen in a more efficient way. Remember though, there is a flip side to being super fit. The fitter you are, the harder and faster you can push yourself, and the quicker you think you can ascend the mountain. This is a huge mistake! Going as slow as possible, even when you are on the lower reaches and feel great, is key to your success. This is possibly the best advice you will get!
2. Strength Training: In addition to aerobic exercise, you should also be doing light strength training, particularly for your legs, core and upper body. Building the strength of your core muscles (stomach and lower back) and upper shoulder muscles is also important as you will be carrying a lightweight pack for up to 6-7 hours a day. You can do this by putting weights into your backpack while going to ‘practice hikes’ or getting into the gym once a week for the universally feared leg-day. Light-weights here are fine – the point of leg training isn’t necessarily to build muscle but to get your legs used to excess weight and strain
3. Practice Hiking: Honestly, the best way to prepare for a long hike is to do a few yourself. We recommend doing at least two long-distance hikes (over 5 hours) before embarking on any multi-day hiking holidays. If you can do back to back days that would be even better. Doing a few practices hikes as part of your training has many benefits, so we highly recommend this.
4. Mental Stamina: So often, the thing that leads to a successful trip is their mental stamina. There will be times during the trek night that you will want to give up. Being able to dig deep and pull on your mental reserves is so important. Thankfully strength and aerobic activities train your mental stamina, so the more time you put in beforehand, the easier the climb. As such, if you really wish to put your mental strength to the test before the climb, sign up for a half-marathon run. Long-distance running truly is a test of mental endurance and will help you on the final few days on summit and base camp climbs.
IN CONCLUSION: We truly believe most people – regardless of age or physical condition – can complete almost any GoKo multi-day hiking trip. All you need to do is ensure their cardiovascular system is firing on all engines before departure, stick to the training advice at least 2 months prior to your trip and have the mental strength to see the hike to the end.