I hear the upcoming training plan

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Developing a training plan for a hike

Data shows that most first-time trekkers have not undergone extensive training prior to the attempt (curiosity from The Trek website under FAQ). It is true that you can have little hiking experience coupled with limited training and still make it all the way. There is a level or risk involved in this strategy. To reduce the level of risk, I’ve put together a (hopefully) comprehensive training plan to make sure my body and mind can meet the physical and mental demands of this adventure.

Lifelong fitness

I’ll be 44 at the end of next month and I’ve had varying levels of fitness throughout my life. I played sports in middle and high school, stayed in shape through the military, and tried cross fit, triathlons, and long-distance cycling. Using all of these experiences and knowledge of my own body (it’s absolutely important to listen to it), I came up with a weekly workout plan to include the nutritional aspects. Quick disclaimer though: I do not have certifications in fitness, nutrition, or a competent medical authority. Most of my knowledge comes from reading and trial and error.

A reflection on training and its correlation with resilience

I consider fitness and training for an event as a running account. Imagine your body is the checking account and every workout you do is deposited into that account. This establishes a fitness balance that you can then withdraw while you compete or perform. If you have no balance in your account, well your body is laughing at you and the check is bouncing so to speak. I had that first experience going from training at 100 feet to over 6,000 feet. My checking account was not ready for this withdrawal.

Constant training will also help with resilience. When the body begins to feel fatigued in regards to performance, the mind will either push through or decide that today is not the day. When you’re in this spot, you can counter that thought by remembering how many workouts you’ve done so far and push further. The mind will stop long before the body. So to help prepare yourself mentally for a tough task, practice (for me) is key.

What to train and how

I looked at which muscle groups and types of workouts will pay the most dividends for regular hiking. Strong legs, back and shoulders, and a sustained level of exertion for hours. I focused on three tenants to improve my endurance and overall physique: muscular strength endurance, cardiorespiratory endurance, and joint/ligament stability.

Can this be achieved just by hiking? I’m sure it’s possible, but I figured I’d “just hike” for 5-6 months. I wanted to have a plan that didn’t make me dread a workout or mentally exhaust myself before I even started the actual conquest.

When training, there is always a line between intensity and madness. Intense training is beneficial in many ways, but lack of intensity can be detrimental. On the other hand, training too hard to insanity will likely cause injury and take time to heal. Finding the “Goldilocks zone” between these two aspects is essential.

I’m a big proponent of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workouts because of this concept; these types of workouts can really bridge the line between intensity and insanity. Don’t mention too much intensity is in the name too! There is a veritable goldmine of fitness articles out there describing the benefits of HIIT, from weight loss to VO2 Max and health maintenance.

Another important aspect of training is recovery. A simple rest day or a lower intensity day (especially after a toning day) can do wonders for the body. Sprinkling stretching and flexibility throughout a workout program pays dividends with joint stability and injury prevention.

Sample plan

With all the previous aspects mentioned, I came up with a 7 day workout plan that looks like this:

Key Example___Day #: First workout is done in the morning (mileage, minutes, or target heart rate); the second training session is carried out in the afternoon or evening

  • Day 1: Hike (5-7mi) or cycle (20-25mi) additional spin course option; second session of weightlifting exercises for the back
  • Day 2: Cardio recovery (60min) either elliptical or light spinning (126-148BPM with 30min 140-148BPM); weightlifting shoulder exercises second workout
  • Day 3: Weightlifting exercises for legs with a stair master while wearing a backpack as a finisher; only one training session today
  • Day 4: Hike (10 to 15 km)
  • Day 5: HIIT cardio training (e.g. Cindy, Ivan the Terrible, Helen, etc./148+BPM); weightlifting concentration arm exercises second workout
  • Day 6: Hike (7-10mi) or bike (25-30mi) additional ski option!!
  • Day 7: Recovery walk (2-4mi, THR 126-148BPM)

This plan allows some flexibility to change days and workouts based on how my body feels and weather conditions. Here is an example of one of the weightlifting workouts:

Legs

  • Start the workout by walking backwards on a treadmill for 5-7 minutes (this works wonders for knee pain and joint stability)
  • Then move on to the leg extension machine. Choose a weight that you can hold extended for 30 seconds. Rest 1min, then repeat 3x more times (this strengthens the joints and ligaments around the knees)
  • Squats or leg press: 8-10 reps for 4 sets
  • Lying leg curls: 8 to 10 reps for 4 sets
  • Weighted step ups (with dumbbells) or walking lunges with dumbbells (15 steps per leg)
  • Calves: 10-12 reps for 4 sets
  • Finisher: Stair master with weighted pack (30 min {10 min going forward, 5 min going sideways up left leg first, 5 min going sideways up right leg first, 10 min going forward}) or 30 min going up the stairs. With Stairmaster’s 5-minute intervals, I choose two songs on my playlist that are about 5 minutes long, so I know exactly when to switch up versus constantly watching the time.

Ready to train!

So that’s my workout plan that I’m going to follow for at least the next four weeks. After that time, I will do an assessment to make sure I’m doing things right and doing the right things. I usually keep data logs (hours, weights lifted, etc.) to help with the evaluation process and show improvement. Sometimes it’s hard to see improvement when you train regularly and don’t monitor progress. If anyone has any tips or tricks, please let me know. My next post I will cover nutrition for the workout plan which is very important. Thanks for following and have a nice weekend!

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Richard V. Johnson