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Haute Route above Bovine hut

Getting Fit for Hiking – Training Tips for Hiking in the Alps

Training Tips for being in shape for a multi-day hiking trip in the Alps.

Before you book a trip with us, you should first of all make sure that you are generally in good healths.
A good idea is to see your GP and discuss and check your basic fitness and health. A visit to a cardiologist in order to have a stress test done will tell you exactly where you stand.

If you have never undergone a training regime, I would strongly recommend contacting a personal trainer in order to create a training regime, which will be both productive and also safe. If you begin to work out and injure yourself straight away, your chances of enjoying a hike during the summer are pretty slim.

Sadly, physical fitness takes a backseat to our other more pressing commitments such as raising children (I know, I have two little ones at home), work and careers and the stress of our modern, fast-paced societies. Many of you see hiking in the mountain ranges of the world as the perfect antidote to the rigours of life in the 21st Century. But we would like you to be prepared for what the trails and mountains have to offer, so you can actually enjoy them!

Delicious and nutritious!

dinner in chamonix mont blancCompromising one’s health is dangerous and we come up with many excuses why we are out of shape. The reality is that we should make personal health our number one priority.

Good nutrition is essential to staying healthy and fit. Due to our busy lives, we rarely think of eating properly when we are engrossed in work-related activities. But good nutrition is really one of the main elements to staying healthy and strong and for being ready for a multi-day hiking adventure. There is really no point in going into a blow-by-blow account of what healthy eating is, as we all know what to do but rarely do so.

To conclude, spending thousands of dollars on an adventure holiday and not being able to enjoy it because you could have been much fitter is not the ideal solution. Being well prepared and fit for your hiking tour – and life in general – is.

1: CARDIO-VASCULAR TRAINING
Getting out in the fresh air and getting in a moderately difficult run 3 times per week will do wonders for your outlook on life and will increase your endurance for a summer hiking trip.

fitness for hikingIt is impossible to replicate 1000 metres of vertical ascent unless you live in the mountains, but running will give you that added boost to your endurance and strengthen your ankles and thigh muscles, helping them to adapt to the rugged trails in the Alps.

How you run is also important. I try and mix my runs up, meaning that I have a warm up period, followed by a series of sprints, or accelerate up a hill, or even run down a hill. You need to vary your run whenever possible in order to remain interested in the activity but also in order to get your body accustomed to a variety of effort levels. Hiking is not running, but if you can run comfortably, you can certainly go on a hike.

Keeping you fit and happy!

Trekking in the Alps or in any other range with vertical gains of 1000m (3000ft) or more will tax the body. When training, you should try to increase your heart rate and difficulty in order to replicate what it’s like to hike in the mountains.
If you only run at a very slow pace and never bump up your heart rate, you will not really build strength over the season. You should also try and run on trails and not only on pavement. Easier said than done if you live in a busy city but running on terrain which forces you to adjust your gait and speed will strengthen muscles we rarely use when walking on flat, paved surfaces.

2: GETTING READY – CARRY A BACKPACK:
Another good way to get in shape is to carry a light backpack when grocery shopping and walking to the local coffee shop. Keep in mind that most of our trips require only that you carry a small daypack, or oversized daypack of no more than 35 litres.

Slowly over time, add some weight. You don’t have to carry three climbing ropes and half your garden’s stones, but by carrying more than just your telephone and keys, your joints and muscles will adjust to the increase in weight. Most hikers on their first day complain of shoulder pain and neck pain as their bodies cannot cope with the straps pulling down on shoulder muscles. If you add increments of weight over the entire winter, by summer, your body will be better adjusted to carrying the extra weight.

3: WEIGHT TRAINING:
fitness for hikingFor many of us, the thought of spending time in a gym is challenging. However, as we get older, we lose muscle mass and weight training has been shown to reduce some of the effects of ageing. By keeping your muscles strong, you are also keeping your skeleton safe, maintaining a strong core, which can help to prevent chronic back pain and other chronic problems, which come from sedentary lives.

Injuries during hiking occur primarily when our guests walk downhill, as their large leg muscles cannot cope with the up-hill they have just completed, and now have to brake and slow themselves all the way to the valley floor, sometimes in excess of 1500 metres.

Going to the gym at least twice per week is most likely not enough for muscle building but enough to maintain strength and prevent injuries.  Each workout includes some time to warm up either on the rowing machine or on the stationary bicycle.
Each work out session includes time for core training, leg and lower back training and some upper body exercises, and some stretching. You can really cover all of this in less than 40-minutes, not really that much time and you really feel better after.
If you have never been to a gym, and you can afford a personal trainer for a few sessions, go for it as they will give you a carefully adapted work out regime which you can tweak as you get stronger. The last thing you want to do is actually start working out and then get injured.
Here are some links that will help you get ready for the summer season:

A 20 minute killer core-workout
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KUjFh4J1dnc

Simple exercises for everyday, catered to women, but anyone can obviously benefit from those:
http://www.sheknows.com/health-and-wellness/articles/958067/the-hikers-workout-for-women

Getting ready for a summer of hiking, climbing and mountaineering:
http://www.bodyresults.com/e2alpinetraining.asp

 

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