Just like everything in life, the best way to get better at something is to keep practicing it. While most of us don’t have the luxury of practicing hiking up mountain passes on a daily or weekly basis, we can try to simulate the rigors of our endeavors through training. With many of SYMG’s longer high-mountain trips, the issue most people have physically isn’t whether they can climb the pass, but instead is one of repeat performances. That is, can they hike with a full pack day after day over high passes? With that goal in mind, it is the concept of recovery and rebound that we will focus on here, particularly geared towards our longer backpacking trips such as the Trans-Sierra Trail, Yosemite Grand Traverse, or the Yosemite High Passes Loop.
A slow, steady ramp-up of activity leading to the date of a trip is the ideal, starting with general cardiovascular fitness and endurance about 3 times a week, eventually growing to being able to do it everyday of the week with little or no soreness at any point in the week. Strength training can then be added in, ultimately giving you an edge for uneven trails while wearing a backpack. This schedule is by no means prescriptive, just a suggestion of what could be done. As always, consult your doctor before starting any training program or embarking on any trip.
- On “Cardio” days, go for a run, a hike with loaded pack, or a bike ride. For an additional challenge in later weeks, train onhilly terrain.
- On days when the schedule says, “Do something Fun!” do exactly that. Do something you enjoy outside like go to the beach, play frisbee, hike in your local park; whatever you like to do that’s active and fun. Keep it fresh!
- On strength training days, be sure to warm up for at least 10 minutes by doing light cardiovascular exercise, ideally including stretching and range of motion exercises.
- Lower body strength work would be things like squats, lunges, and step-ups.
- Core strength includes sit-ups, planks, and mountain climbers.
- Upper body strength exercises includes push ups, pull ups, and upright rows.