Hiking is a physical activities that utilities all parts of your body. Other than walking long distance on foot, there are occasions where you need to climb up elevations, scramble on fours, bend your body to maneuver through obstacles, wade across streams, balance yourself over uneven terrains, etc. Such demanding requirement on the body call for a multidisciplinary approach to training.
There are three main kinds of training each targeting different but complementary aspect of fitness; Aerobic training for Endurance, Anaerobic training for Strength and Core training for Stability and Balance.
Aerobic exercise also known as cardio exercise work out your cardiovascular system by getting your heart pumps faster. A good aerobic endurance will allow you to keep up with long distance trekking without feeling exhausted easily. Examples of aerobic exercises are running, cycling and swimming. A typical training session can be a 5km run, a 1km swim or a 20 km cycle – at an average pace.
Unlike aerobic exercise which builds up endurance, anaerobic exercise builds up strength, speed and power. A good anaerobic strength will allow you to overcome a steep section of trail easier. Examples of aerobic exercises are stair climbing, sprinting and rope skipping. A typical training session can be a climb up a 40 story building.
The core is a complex group of muscles predominantly located within the torso and excluding the upper and lower limbs. Many of these core muscles are hidden beneath exterior musculatures (for example abs and chest) which people typically train. Unlike exterior musculatures which act mainly as prime movers, the core muscles stabilizes the spine and help initiate and transfer force from one area of the body to another. Core exercise strengthens your core muscles and helps to improve your stability and balance and prevent injuries during trekking. Some examples of core exercises are plank, bridge, superman, leg raises etc. A typical training session can be a few sets of exercise repeated over a 20 minutes period.
You should start your training regime at least 4-6 weeks prior to your trek and earlier if you are unaccustomed to exercise or if you are going for a more rigorous trekking.
To aid you in preparing for your hike, we have come out with three sets of training plans for various levels of hiking difficulty which you can use as reference. As individual training needs differ (age, gender, fitness conditions, presence of hiking support like porters etc.), these training plans are not meant to be prescriptive. They are not necessarily written down with the intention of you following them precisely. Rather, they are meant to provide you with an idea of a progressive training program. Feel free to tweak them to fit your specific needs or constraints (if any).