Five-day hikes are a great way to explore nature, spend time with friends, de-stress and improve your health.

But five days in the wilderness can also be a gruelling experience if you are unprepared.

Preparing for a five-day hike should begin several months before you embark on your adventure. This is particularly the case if you will be walking in a climate you are not used to or if you do not regularly engage in a fitness program.

As a matter of fact, if you are not fit, you should start with a 3-day hike to test the stamina of your body.

Your training should consist of the following exercise targets: 

Cardiovascular Exercises

Cardiovascular exercises such as running, aerobics, swimming and sports help to build stamina. You will need to have a reasonable level of fitness for a moderate five-day hike. If the hike is rated difficult, make sure you are exceptionally fit.

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends engaging in at least 150 minutes of cardiovascular activity a week for at least 30 minutes at a time.

Test Your Leg Strength

Your legs take most of the brunt over a five-day hike. Your preparation should include plenty of training for your legs, not only in muscle strength but also flexibility and stamina training.

Walking up steep hills is a good way to train for multi-day rambles. Other useful exercises include lunges, squats, and calf raises.

Build Core Muscle Strength 

A lot of the burden a five-day walk will bring is felt in your abdomen, back and pelvis. Exercises that work your core muscles should, therefore, be a big part of your preparation.

Exercises that build core muscle strength include planks, crunches, abdominal press variations and sitting on an exercise ball while you read or watch TV.

Carry a Back Pack

The best way to train for any event is to enact the activity as closely as possible. You don’t want to be packing and unpacking your rucksack every day, but you do not get used to carrying the weight of the backpack on your shoulders.

The easiest way to prepare yourself to carry a backpack for miles is to fill it with weights. Put more weight in than you will be carrying to acclimatise your body to the feeling of carrying a heavy backpack. This will enable you to walk further without noticing the backpack once you are on your hike for real.

Work On Your Mental Strength 

Psychology plays a big role in a five-day walk. You need to have good mental strength in addition to physical power. Walking for miles every day is taxing for the body — which means it also taxing for the brain.

The ability to “take your mind off things” can play an important role on a multi-day hike. If you let small annoyances impact your performance and your enjoyment, you jeopardise the walk, and potentially your safety.

In addition to the physical training, also use visualisation techniques to mentally prepare yourself for the terrain you expect to face. And learn some brain hack techniques that foster mind over matter.

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