Mountain climbing is a rush that can only be felt through first-hand experience. People have described it as exhilarating, breathtaking and life-changing, even after only one climb. They all agree that any energy consumed while climbing comes back tenfold once you reach the top of a mountain. If you decide to explore this type of exercise, it’s important to first understand how to properly train for it.
People come in all different shapes, sizes, and ability levels, so whichever training program you choose, be sure to employ a basic, common sense approach. It’s important to customize your training to your personal needs, start out gradually and never push yourself when sore. Keep in mind that you might be training a whole new muscle group and that takes time. It’s always better to ease into something than risk injury. A minimum of one full day of rest per week is necessary while you train. If you do sense an injury, using cold/heat therapy can be helpful such as 10-15 minuets in a sauna combined with cold water exposure and always make sure you drink a lot of fluids before, during, and after every training session. Some hikers also recommend taking supplements such as Creatine, Glutamine or Vitamin C while training.
Preparing your body for mountain climbing requires a combination of aerobic and resistance training, as well as possible altitude preparation. For an aerobic workout, start by carrying an empty pack during your workouts, gradually adding more weight until you reach the amount you would be carrying on a real hike. For resistance training, experts recommend lower-body exercises such as squats, lunges and step-ups (preferably with the heaviest weight possible for 20-30 reps – dumbbells are also a safer choice than a bar on the shoulders).
Before venturing out into the world, it helps to practice in the safety of an indoor environment. Fortunately, there are plenty of indoor climbing gyms to choose from. This is an ever-increasingly popular form of exercise and gyms are continuously sprouting up all over the place.
Once you feel prepared to tackle a real mountain, it’s wise to go on guided group expeditions before venturing out on your own. There are many guided tours to choose from these days. Group adventures can help boost your confidence, as well as keep you in the safety of a community environment when just starting out.
In addition to being physically prepared, it’s also important to be mentally ready for hiking. Out in the real world, anything is possible, so it’s important to let go of any preconceived notions of how your hike should go. That being said, you should still plan your route ahead of time. Maintain an open mind and focus on taking small steps to keep you mindful during your hike and increase your overall enjoyment. This awareness will also prevent you from making potential mistakes.