Planning a training schedule is the first step to getting the most out of your trip, but how? Here are some of my top tips for organizing a training schedule that works.
The average adventure traveler should consider starting a trip-specific training plan approximately 12 weeks prior to departure. There are instances where 8 weeks is sufficient and 16 weeks is necessary.
Before I distinguish the parameters to determine your pre-departure training time, understand one important aspect of your training regimen: The training program should be geared toward the activities in your itinerary. If you booked a hiking trip, riding a bike does not provide the desired training results. If, however, you have a very flexible schedule and an abundance of time then you can definitely add biking into your fitness regimen.
Invest 16 weeks or more if you inconsistently work out or don’t train at all. And if you have some joint or muscle pain, an extended training period allows time for a physical therapist to eliminate pain and restore function so you can begin a structured training program in earnest.
Consider investing 12 weeks if this describes your current weekly training regimen. You work out 4 times per week. You perform a couple of intense group fitness classes like Orangetheory, body sculpt, or spin class. A third workout is performed on a piece of cardio equipment, such as a stepper or elliptical trainer. A fourth workout might be a long walk, jog or hike. This will provide a good fitness base to start a trekking- or hiking-specific fitness regimen that has time to ramp up in volume and intensity over a 12 week period to prepare you for departure day.
You can cut your trip-specific training down to 8 weeks if you regularly perform heavy resistance training twice per week that involves various forms of lunges, pushes and pulls. You perform vigorous endurance training like jogging or high intensity cardiovascular work on a machine like elliptical or stepper for at least 45 minutes 2 times per week. And you hike, walk or jog for several hours every weekend.
Note: An activity-targeted training plan—in most cases—is not designed to perform year-round. Certain elements of it can be incorporated back into your general fitness regimen upon your return.
Preparing for hard multi-day hiking trips does not require the same terrain and long consecutive hiking days during your training period. It can be achieved by building up a volume of activity throughout each and every week of your 12-week training cycle. Simply add up the total amount of time you perform weight bearing exercises each week and you will see how it’s possible to prepare without having to replicate the mileage and intensity of your trekking trip. Most of the your weekly training hours are performed at a much higher intensity than you will experience on your trip, and that adds even more physical performance you can unleash when you arrive.
An example of 5 hours of higher intensity work:
Train for 12 weeks and that’s 60 hours of higher intensity work. Technically that 60 hours is closer to 70 since hike time and stair climbing time increases over the 12 week regimen. It’s not an exact science but you get the idea.
A combination of weight-bearing exercise that includes stairs, elliptical, treadmill, and lunges over an 8- to 16-week training time will develop the tolerance for long hikes. Add one long hike per week and an occasional consecutive day hike. Be sure to carry pack weight that matches what you will be expected to carry on your hike. If in doubt about daily pack weight, ask your Adventure Coordinator. For more on strength training check out this feature on building strength.
About Marcus Shapiro & Fit For Trips
Marcus Shapiro has been crafting adventure travel fitness programs since 2009. His #1 goal: ensure you arrive at your destination physically fit and mentally ready to enjoy every activity—both planned and unexpected—in your itinerary. With over 20 years in the fitness industry, Marcus combines a deep understanding of exercise science and real-world experience with a whole lot of empathy to ensure every traveler is successful and every adventure is awesome. Check out Fit for Trips online at fitfortrips.com!
Legal Disclaimer: The tips and suggestions made by Marcus Shapiro are his alone and are not made by Mountain Travel Sobek. Please consult with your physician before undertaking any new fitness regime.