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How to Make a Hiking Training Program

Hey WILDR folks, I’ve recently got a lot of questions on how to put together a hiking training program.

But if you Google “hiking fitness”, most of the videos and information that trainers put out there (myself included) talk about the best exercises to do for hiking season. They don’t necessarily tell you the number of sets, number of reps or length of the program.

This part of the equation is going to determine whether or not you're going to see results and if all your hard work in the gym is going to translate into fun when you're out hiking.

The Two Traps to Avoid

I see a lot of folks fall into one of two traps when they make a hiking training program themselves.

The first trap is the too much, too soon trap. Usually, someone is super stoked to get into the gym. They are so excited and I love this enthusiasm being inspired by a trip they have planned is awesome.

But, they head into the gym and they do too much.

During that first week, they end up too tired or maybe tweaking an injury, and so then their training drops off after that.

The second trap is the too little, too late trap.

This is where folks do a couple of exercises once or twice, but it's not enough to actually tell your body to make real structural change.

How Do I Plan a Hiking Training Program?

Everyone comes into getting ready for hiking season with a different level of fitness and preparing for a slightly different hiking load.

Instead of telling you sets and reps and rest, I'm going to give you the power to customize a training program for yourself by telling you about two secrets to making a great program.

Progressive Overload

The first secret is progressive overload. Now, that might not sound sexy, but it’s life-changing.

This concept acknowledges that you need to stress your body in order for it to make a change. But that stress has to get bigger as your training goes on for your body to continue making change.

As trainers, we use the concept of training load to make sure that we are increasing the amount of stress we're giving your body slowly over time.

Now, training load has been measured in so many different ways over time, but a great simple way to do it in the gym is to multiply the weight your lifting times the number of reps you're doing, times the number of sets you're doing.

This is going to give you a number. As the weeks progress in your hiking training, you want to gradually increase this number.

When you're starting your program, you should do a very conservative number of sets and reps with a conservative amount of rest. And then as you progress, you can increase those numbers.

Cardio Training

For cardio, follow the 10% rule.

Take a look at how much cardio you're doing now and try to increase it by between two and 10% per week, building up to the amount of time that you're going to be out on the trails.

Plan a Deload Week

Every 4 to 8 weeks, you're going to want to do what's called a Deload. This is sort of like a rest week.

You're going to reduce the amount of exercise you're doing while keeping the intensity the same.

This is going to allow your body to make all those changes that you've been asking it to make by doing these workouts.


Now, the second secret is called super compensation. All it means is when you are actually doing your workout, you are not getting fitter.

In fact, it's after that workout while you're resting and recovering that your body is able to build you up to be stronger or more enduring or more powerful than you were before.

Resting well is when the magic happens.

After a cardio session, your body's creating new blood vessels, maybe making your heart stronger and your lungs bigger. After a weights workout, your body is actually laying down new muscle tissue and strengthening the neural connection between your brain and your muscles.

But it's not going to happen if you don't have enough rest and nutrients available for your body. The super compensation essentials are the

  1. Right Amount Of Work,

  2. The Right Training Load,

  3. Enough Food, Nutrients And Building Blocks And Sleep

Do this over and over and over again while following that progressive overload secret and bam, you are going to be ready for hiking season!

The Exact Numbers

Now, if you came here looking for exact numbers, you're in luck.

We created a 30-Day Couch to Summit free program to get you ready for hiking season.

This program is geared toward the person who is restarting their fitness routine after lower activities over the winter or is just getting started with hiking!

I just I absolutely love helping people get fit for life-changing adventures.

If you have any other questions, you can leave a comment below or send me an email. I love hearing from you so much

And, no matter what trail you're on this week, I hope you have a WILDR one!



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