How To Train for a Hike: Build Strength & Endurance

July 06, 2020

How To Train for a Hike: Build Strength & Endurance

Are you new to hiking? Dear reader, take heed: the biggest mistake you can make when planning a hike is not planning.

You may be thinking, "How hard can hiking be? Isn't it just like walking, which I do every day?" 

Those were the famous (and naive) last words of the universal group of friends who planned a hiking trip with no training or expertise. 

Whether you're a thrill-seeker or simply love the outdoors, hiking can be an exhilarating way to experience the world. It also helps you maintain your fitness and health, often in the most beautiful environments. This beginner's guide to hiking will help you to make the most of your hiker's journey. Read on to learn about conditioning, building strength, and improving endurance—the vital steps in training for hikers.

Training for Hiking Beginner Tips

Putting together a hiking training plan is a wise thing to do. If you're a newbie and have never hiked before, then building your strength will go forever in your favor.

If you're training for hiking as a beginner and unsure of where to start, here are some tips:

Uphill climb

Focus on Stamina and Strength

You should build and increase your strength in your most vital muscles, particularly the legs. Having stronger leg muscles will make it easier for you on an endurance hike. The increase in muscle will allow you to walk further and through tougher terrains with ease.

Also, focus on the back and shoulder muscles. Targeting core areas for improving stamina and strength will allow you to carry heavier bags. You can transport the essentials you need easily and for longer distances and periods. 

Start Small

Train yourself to go for short walks at first. Eventually, you can increase your steps and mileage to what suits your body. This regular training will get you used to walking longer distances and slowly increase your endurance on a hike.

Training equipment

Do More Than Walk for a Daily Exercise

Make time in your week for regular workouts to boost your cardiac health. Often when hiking, terrains can be rough and steep. Building your physical fitness will enable you to deal with harder scenarios. 

Work on Your Balance

It's not just your physical fitness that will help on those uneven surfaces. Having good balance and posture will come in your favor during the inevitable trying moments of your hike. 


Conditioning for Hiking

As you are training for hiking, beginner outdoor enthusiasts should focus on conditioning as well. It is vital if you want to have a positive experience.

Don't rush into anything, though. Work toward your final goal at a comfortable pace. If you have a hike booked in on the calendar, a good time to start training would be eight weeks before. This period gives you a generous amount of time to train, build strength, and prepare for an endurance hike. 

Create a Strategy

Proper training for hikers involves building up a strategy. Set yourself a hiking training plan with training days and rest days.

A general schedule is walking and exercising with two days on and two days off. Rest periods allow your body to recuperate and replenish itself. You should never overwork yourself as you could risk injury and fatigue.

Make sure your diet is nutritious, too. A healthy, balanced diet will keep up your energy levels when training and walking and benefit your stamina and endurance.

Try Different Routes

Variety is always a sound idea when heading out for walks. Not only will it allow you to get used to different terrains and enhance resilience, but also it will let you see and experience different areas and parts of nature.

It's a known fact that being outdoors is good for your health. Constant fresh air is vital for a healthy body and a healthy mind. If you've had a bad day at work, and are still training for that exciting hike, go for one of your planned walks. It will do wonders for your mind.

Walking different routes allows you to gather your thoughts, relax, and appreciate the different beautiful parts of the natural world.

Add Weights as You Walk

Specific exercises can improve your strength and endurance. The foremost of these are cardiac exercises. During those tougher periods of your hike, your fitter body will come in handy. 

One of the best things for conditioning for hiking doesn't require much exertion. All you need to do is add weights to your wrists, arms, or ankles while walking.

As the hike comes closer, try adding more weight. If you slowly increase the amount you carry on your walks, it won't feel as hard in the long run. You won't notice the added extra weight if you keep adding to it each time. Plus, your muscle memory will improve.

As the date of your hike looms, try taking a substantial walk with the exact amount of weight you will carry on your hike. This way, you will know what to expect and whether you need extra training.

Exercises to Improve Strength and Endurance

Need some inspiration or unsure of which exercises will benefit your hike? Take note. There are a variety of different workouts you can add to your hiking training plan. These activities will help you increase stamina, strength, and endurance. They are all excellent for a professional hiker in the making:

Always Warm-Up

It is imperative that you loosen up your muscles and body before taking part in any exercise. Try going on a short, brisk walk before you embark on a longer one. You also can do some stretches to awaken your body.

Push Up


These simple exercises can be excellent training for hikers:

  • To get your heart rate going, try a series of jumping jacks or lightly jogging on the spot. Ideally, you should get the heart pumping for about 20 minutes to achieve a true cardio workout.
  • You can also try push-ups and sit-ups to work the arm and abdominal muscles. These movements will ready you for the weight that you'll be carrying on your hike.
  • Squatting is another excellent exercise to enhance your strength. Your legs will be carrying you on your adventure, so you will need them to be strong and firm.
  • Step-ups are another form of training that will benefit you. Start off doing solo step-ups and gradually work towards carrying the exact amount of weight you will be taking on your journey. Step-ups will replicate the uneven surfaces and steep hills you might face when walking, preparing you for the tougher challenges you may face on your hike.

Post-Workout Cool-Down

Always cool down your body and muscles by stretching the areas of the anatomy you have worked. This post-workout stretching will prevent any aching limbs and stop the tightening of your muscles when you hit the hills hard on an endurance hike.

Man resting

Be Cautious

A note of caution: make sure you don't overwork yourself in the days leading up to the mission. Conditioning for hiking takes time.

Around 2 or 3 days before the hike, schedule some rest time into your hiking training plan. You want some time off so that your body doesn't get too tired.

Avoid any strenuous exercise that could cause injury or exhaustion. You'll want to be fresh and full of vitality when the expedition day arrives. Avoiding any rigorous exercise or training will ensure that your body has had proper time to preserve its energy.

No Gym Required

The great thing about these mentioned exercises is that you can do them all from the comfort and confines of your own home. There are no excuses when it comes to your training workouts. You can start small and increase the amount of time you spend working out. The ultimate goal is to ensure your body is ready to take on the challenge of your anticipated hike.


Have you been looking for a new hobby or feeling uninspired when it comes to your training methods? Then hopefully, this training guide for hiking has been of some help.

Hiking can be a great form of exercise, socializing, and seeing the world. There's no downside to it, really. People have met friends for life through hiking and seen some of the most amazing wonders of the world through the sport. It's no wonder that it's one of the most popular hobbies and ways of exercising.

If you want to build your strength and endurance, there's no better way to do it than hiking. Just always make sure that you train correctly, exercise, and embark fully equipped on your adventure.

Follow this guide to implement the top tips on training for hikers. Just like anything, practice makes perfect, so the more you train and prepare, the more comfortable and less strenuous the journey will be.

Be sure to join our mailing list to keep up to date on the best exercises, programs, and information on hiking. We'll make sure that you are a seasoned adventurer in no time.

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