Today we’re going to talk about the 5 most common myths about hiking training that might be slowing you down.
Before I learned these, getting in shape to backpack and climb mountains was a slow and painful process. I seemed to be putting in tons of work without getting the results I wanted.
Now, things are on easy street. (Well, not all of the time. But learning the exercise science related to your sport really helps.)
Getting in hiking shape every season is a now much easier and faster. And it started with breaking down these myths.
Myth #1: All you need is CrossFit.
CrossFit markets itself to outdoor athletes, and for the most part, it’s awesome. But if you don’t work on your stamina and aerobic fitness at the same time, you won’t be able to get out there and hike long distances. I know people who have tried. They’d hike hard for an hour or two … and flame out. (Their bodies looked great though!)
Myth #2: All you need is long, slow distance.
This one has unfortunately been popularized by the best-selling book Training for the New Alpinism (which is otherwise an awesome book). I personally know a lot of outdoor athletes who have cut back or eliminated high-intensity interval training after reading it. This is too bad, because interval training has ton of benefits, even for endurance athletes. To name a few, it boosts your metabolism, fights the effects of aging, and makes you faster all-around. Who doesn’t want that?
Myth #3: Endurance athletes (that’s us) don’t need strength training.
If you’ve been away from endurance training for awhile, you will probably notice a new emphasis on strength. And it’s definitely a positive development. Strength training will improve your hiking and climbing stamina, especially when you’re carrying a heavy backpack. It can also help to control your weight (which makes you faster!) and slow down aging-related muscle loss.
Myth #4: Endurance athletes shouldn’t lift heavy.
Until recently, strength workouts for endurance athletes focused on lots of repetitions with lighter weights. And there’s still a place for that in your training. But you will get even more benefit if you first do a few weeks of heavy lifting. Lifting for strength helps your body recruit new muscle fibers. And for women, it’s one of the best ways to slow down bone loss that can lead to osteoporosis.
Myth #5: The best way to train for hiking is to hike.
This one is partially true. You wouldn’t want to train for a big mountain climb 100% on the treadmill or Stair Master, right? On the other hand, gym and track workouts allow you to push yourself in ways you can’t on trail. For example, you can control the speed and incline on a treadmill, which makes for a much more effective interval workout. By the way, this is great news for people who are training for mountain hiking at sea level.
So, I bet your next big burning question is, How do I train for hiking the right way?
If you’re very new to working out or currently working out less than three hours a week, definitely check out my FREE Intro to Training ebook and workout plan. It helps you establish consistency with walking and low-impact cardio workouts and full-body strength workouts you can do at home. On week four, you’ll exercise 7 days a week, which is pretty cool.
Just fill out the form below to grab your copy:
Ready for more? In my humble opinion, the best way to kickstart your hiking training is my 8-week Beginner’s Training Plan. It shows you how to get in solid hiking shape one day at a time!
Some blog posts you might find helpful:
- The #1 thing you can do to train for Mt. Rainier (talks about the importance of building an aerobic base)
- What mountaineers need to know about strength training
- How to train for a Colorado 14er
- How to train for high-altitude hiking when you live at sea level
So there you have ’em. The 5 biggest hiking training myths that may be slowing you down.
Hope this was helpful. See you soon with more hiking training tips and tricks! Oh, and if you’re training right now, be sure to hop in the Facebook group for advice, fun, and support.
Originally published January 4, 2018.