How to Prepare for a Hike

A life outdoors is a life well lived. I can never wait for the weather to warm up to spend more time outside, exploring my lovely Colorado town on my bike or by foot.

One of the best ways to get outdoors is to go on a good hike. Hikes often include some elevation gain that ends in absolutely stunning scenery. They’re worth the trek, but many people don’t understand that you might need to train a bit for a hike.

If you’ve not ever been on a hike or it’s been a few years, there are things you can do to prep near home – even if you’re going to fly to a different destination to do your hiking.

One of my favorite outdoor stores, REI, put together an excellent workout plan so you can get prepared for any hiking experience.

How You’re Training

Hiking is such a great physical activity because it works so many different muscle groups. It’s an excellent cardiovascular workout and it decreases anxiety, reduces arthritis, and can even increase cognitive functions.

But because of these benefits, it might also take some work to be ready to hike.

With REI’s workout plan, you’re aiming to:

  • Increase your strength in your legs and core – to support your hike and anything you’re carrying
  • Build endurance in your muscles for longer walks
  • Improve your balance to handle uneven terrain
  • Increase your cardiovascular endurance for thinner air and longer days

When you have the right foundation for hiking, you’re able to go further and spend longer days on the trail.

The good news is that you don’t need to train for months before you get to the trail. REI recommends you just plan to start their workout 8 weeks prior.

Workouts for Hiking

According to their research and experience, REI recommends the following weekly schedule for your training:

  • 2 nonconsecutive days of strength training 
  • 2 nonconsecutive rest days; take more any time you feel your body needs it
  • 3 nonconsecutive cardio sessions weekly until the final two weeks before a major hike
  • Two weeks before your trip: Change your cardio days to long day hikes (60+ minutes each) with a pack that’s close to the weight you’ll be carrying on your trip. Also add a fourth day-hike training session to one of your strength-training days.
  • One or two days prior to your trip: Ease up on all training.

With this schedule, you’ll be able to be fully prepared for any hike and have fun on the trail instead of thinking about how hard it is while you’re huffing and puffing.

Get Prepared to Hike

Want ideas for your workouts or want to dive deeper into preparing for a hike you have coming up?

Use the exercises REI outlined and modify them as needed.

You may not be going on a multi-day hike, but if you’re going to be spending time on a mountain, it’s never too late to get ready to make it a great experience!

Grab all the details and plan, then make sure you don’t forget the gear, too.