getting FIT by hiking

by site editor Rick McCharles

As a career gymnastics coach, I can assure you that hiking is NOT the best way to get fit.

For each hour of exercise, gymnastics conditioning and Crossfit are the easiest ways to get strong and lose weight. Using your own body weight as resistance works best.

However, the LSD (Long Slow Distance) exercise methods do work. But they take many, many more hours.

above Chamonix, France
above Chamonix, France

I hiked most days this past summer, many with a full pack.

Within the first few weeks my fitness (for hiking) was perhaps best of my life.

Rarely could any walker pass me, with or without a pack.

Climbing Ben Nevis in Scotland I must have passed 700 people including trail runners who walked up, ran down. None passed me. The 1,344m (4,409 ft) seemed easy in the good weather.

You need weeks on the trail if you plan to get fit by hiking. But it will work.

Leave a comment if you have an opinion on this.

4 Replies to “getting FIT by hiking”

  1. I second you on this. A few years ago at age 47, I took a commercial paddle trip down the Grand Canyon that included lots of dayhiking. I was surprised how quickly I got into shape so I made one simple resolution when I got back: TO HIKE MORE. I started logging my miles (anything more than 2 miles) and have seen my annual mileage creep up year after year. Whenever I’ve slacked off, I find it takes a couple of longer dayhikes to recover my condition. I also mix some running into my hikes which helps speed endurance development according to some reports I’ve read (interval training). I tell my friends that the best way to get in shape for hiking and backpacking is to go hiking – great idea, isn’t it?

  2. Hiking is definitely the most enjoyable way, but can be hard to find the time. In preparation for longer hikes carrying a full backpack I do shorter walks carrying the full pack to improve fitness.

  3. agreed!

    I started doing CrossFit last winter, and just recently came off my first big backpack since CF training – I was stunned at how much easier everything was! Of course, now I’m just looking for longer, more difficult trails to do …

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