Before your next serious hike, focus on sport-specific training

Magdalena Romanska hiking the Grand Canyon

Magdalena Romanska hiking the Grand Canyon

I am writing this column from the bottom of the Grand Canyon, camping alongside the Colorado River.  No matter how many times I hike this landscape, I am always stunned by the uniqueness and beauty of this majestic canyon.

Yesterday, while journeying down here, I observed other hikers of myriad ages and fitness levels.  Not all of them were at ease with the challenging trek.  In fact, I noticed quite a few who were visibly struggling.  Which made me wonder about how much enjoyment they were experiencing while in this spectacular setting.

Did you know that most visitors to the Grand Canyon stay up on the rim, walking only from their parked cars to various lookout points? I'm not suggesting we all need to be fit enough to be able to make a successful round-trip down to the Colorado River.  

But I do want to say that sport-specific training might certainly be of help to those who wish to make the journey. Just imagine committing to a given activity several months in advance and then training specifically for that event or goal.

It might be a successful hike into the Canyon, or your first 5K race (where you might commit to running, jogging or just walking). It also could be training in order to improve your golf or tennis game, or your mountain biking skills.

Without the right kind of physical preparation, it can be difficult to achieve certain things on our "Bucket List."  By focusing specifically on the end result, however, you can see results quicker than you thought possible!  

To use a journey into the Grand Canyon as an example, let's take a look at improving our hiking abilities. Several issues need to be addressed in order for us to fully enjoy the experience.

First you'll need to reproduce, as often as you can, the specific movements you'll be making while on your hike. This calls for walking and hiking much shorter distances as often as possible, doing it while carrying a backpack or using the walking poles. During your training, do not avoid the hills. In fact, bring them on! This will help accustom your body to the actions required in hiking both up and downhill.

Secondly, strengthening your cardiovascular system (mostly by participating in long, sustained efforts of walking, jogging, biking, running or swimming, rather than in the "stop-and-go" activities, such as playing tennis or badminton) is necessary for your stamina and endurance.

Third, you need to weight train in order to strengthen the main muscles involved in the hiking activity, which means a full-body weight training.

Surely enough, the muscles of the lower body are engaged the most. However, when you hike, especially with a backpack and hiking poles, your core and all upper body also work very hard.  I bet you'll have a hard time maintaining your balance without any core-specific training, or using those hiking poles for hours without doing some biceps curls in the gym weeks before your hike! 

If you invest some time and commit yourself to training, you'll not only find your big day in the outdoors more enjoyable, you'll also be able to go much farther than you expected!  

So, don't miss out on any of the awesome beauty and/or opportunities in life because of a lack of physical fitness. Sports-specific, and goal-specific training will help you reach the places in this world you've only dreamed about!  

Stay Fit-Fit!

Magdalena is the owner of the "Be Fit Fit" Personal Training Studio (www.befitfit.biz). Her "Be Fit Fit" Blog can be read onverdenews.com

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