Below, I will detail a few different ways that you can get faster at hiking uphill. I will warn you, getting faster at hiking takes dedication to training. You wont be faster a hiking overnight, however if you get out on plenty of hikes in the meantime, and do other physical activities, you will become a better, faster hiker.
So, how exactly can I get faster at uphill hiking? You can get faster at hiking uphill by building strength and endurance, traveling lighter, and working out in a variety of different ways. You’ll need to build strength over time. So, make sure you start working out and training long before you are ready to get out on the trails or in the backcountry with a heavy pack.
Keep reading for our tips and tricks for building that uphill ability…
Improve Your Uphill Hiking Technique For Greater Efficiency
Here are a couple of different ways to improve your efficiency when hiking uphill.
A good pace is always a great way to make significant, noticeable progress while hiking uphill. Don’t go so fast that you tire yourself out too quickly but, try to go a little bit faster than you normally might. Hiking at a good steady pace will keep you consistent and you should be able to make quick progress of hiking uphill a little bit faster at a steady pace.
Taking Consistent Breaks is another way to improve your efficiency while hiking uphill. It might sound counter intuitive but taking regular, short, consistent breaks is a great way to keeping you moving fast uphill on to the next break. The goal of moving quickly and having a break on the horizon should fuel you to go a little faster and give you the rest you need to keep going.
Switching the weight of your pack from your hips to your shoulders is another way to help you hike faster uphill. Taking the weight off of your hips to give them a small break could be exactly what you need to keep going. Then, when your shoulders begin to get a little too tired, switch the weight back on to your hips. This keeps your body fresh and no part of you should get sore while hiking steadily uphill.
Staying positive is one of the best ways to keep efficiently moving uphill. If you have a good attitude, anything can happen with regard to your pace. Keep encouraging those you are with to stay moving and you will be sure to hike faster and full of energy. Even if you find you cant keep you pace, stay positive. There is no reason to get down on yourself or stress out while out hiking and enjoying the outdoors.
Lighten Your Pack Weight To Travel Faster
If you are very worried about hiking faster, you might want to lighten up your backpack weight to increase speed. Sometimes, as hikers, we get too caught up in being over prepared. Reassess the hike you are going on and ask yourself if there is anything in your backpack that you absolutely do not need or can just have in the car after hiking.
Often, we want to bring too many layers or more than enough snacks for lunch. Furthermore, we might bring more water than is needed for the length of hike (although, you can never bring enough water). Regardless, be cognizant of what you bring and where the weight of your backpack is distributed.
Also Read: 49 Ways to Lighten Your Backpacking Load
Antiquated backpacks often have an excess of material or have features that add weight unnecessarily. Consider getting a new backpack if yours is older in age. There are many on the market today that are made to be lightweight and still have plenty of space for provisions making you a faster hiker carrying less weight.
Exercises That Are Great For Uphill Hiking
Here are a bunch of different exercises that are great for hiking. Getting good at and repetitively doing these exercises will also make you a faster uphill hiker and build a lot of leg strength.
Climbing stairs is a great way to get faster when hiking uphill because it builds both strength and endurance. If you are part of a local gym, you can use the StairMaster machines they might have near the other endurance equipment. If you do not, go to a nearby multistory parking garage and walk up the stairs to the top a couple of times and back down on the ramps to keep it easy on your joints.
You can use a GPS watch to track your elevation gain as well as distance traveled to steadily increase these workouts. If you want to make it a little bit more challenging, fill your backpack with a couple sand bags or the gear you plan to bring while backpacking. You’ll be happy you did this on the harder days of your hikes.
Inclined Treadmill Walking or Running
Running on a treadmill is a great exercise for gaining strength in your legs which will make you a faster uphill hiker. If you are concerned about your joints running both on a treadmill and on pavement, consider an elliptical machine.
Make workouts in the gym and while out running more difficult by pushing yourself on the uphills or by increasing the incline. This will help break down those hiking specific muscles so they can come back even stronger.
Lunges and Step-Ups
Just doing simple lunges and step-ups onto a single step makes a great workout for any hiker. Both of these workouts simulate climbing stairs but can be done holding weights close to the body, over your head, or with other variations to make them harder.
Lunges and step-ups also are great at building strength through repetition and endurance in your legs making you a better and faster hiker especially on the uphills.
Run or Walk On Sand
Sand creates a resistance that makes it much harder to run or walk on. This makes sand great to exercise in by running sprints, light jogging, or even just walking barefoot along the beach for an extended amount of time.
These exercises vary in difficulty so those of all fitness levels can start where they feel comfortable. If the sand near you is on a beach, jump in the water for a great full body workout with some long distance swimming.
Do Squats Help With Hiking?
Squats will vastly improve your hiking abilities as well as the core strength needed to live a long, healthy life. Squats are also the strength used for most everyday activities so even if you aren’t looking to hike faster, they’re still a great exercise to do regularly in order to stay in shape.
Four of the main muscles that are worked when properly squatting are the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves. These muscles also make up the majority of muscles used while walking and hiking. Thus, squatting is a great way to get into shape for hiking season or before you embark on a longer hike or backpacking trip.
Also Read: How to Get in Shape for Hiking: Training, Tips and Exercises
I would recommend squatting up to three times per week a few months before you are planing on taking a longer trip. Try to focus on maximum reps instead of high weights. Trying to do more reps will help you by building leaner muscle. When you are out hiking for a long time, you need endurance to keep going which comes from leaner muscle.
Make sure you give your muscles enough time to relax and recuperate before your trip. You don’t want to be sore from the gym while out enjoying the wilderness. Especially when you need that strength to continue hiking.
How To Increase Your Stamina For Hiking
If you love hiking, you’re in luck because the best way to increase your stamina for hiking is by actually going out and hiking! If you continually tackle longer trails and higher peaks, your stamina for hiking will naturally be increased.
Start with trails you know and are comfortable with, then take a look at trails in your area that are slightly more difficult. An app like CalTopo is a great resource to finding new trails to hike and being able to read the trail rating and other users reviews of the trail. Apps like that include information on basically every trail and campground in the United States.
There are a few other good ways to increase your stamina for hiking. Running for long periods of time, walking with extra weight on your back, and jogging a few miles a couple of times a week are all great workouts. You can also get in the gym to increase you strength and stamina for hiking. The gym will help build the muscles you need to hike faster uphill and have great stamina for hiking.
Is Cycling Good For Hiking?
Cycling is a great way to increase your stamina as a hiker. Many of the muscles used in cycling are also those worked while hiking. These muscles include the glutes, the quadriceps, and the hamstrings. Cycling uses a wide variety of muscles throughout the pedal and in your posture.
Because there is constant tension on the muscles while cycling, it is a great way to increase leg strength, stamina, and endurance. Being a better cyclist will build endurance in the legs making you a better hiker, and better athlete in general.
There are many ways to become a better, faster uphill hiker. But keep in mind that everyone is different. Figure out what workouts work for you and stick to them routinely. You need to give your body time to develop and build those muscles making them stronger and ready for long term stress that comes with hiking.
Above all, get outside to train your body as often as you can. According to this study on treadmill walking vs hiking outdoors, there is good evidence that hitting the trails is better for you than the gym. Stay consistent with your efforts and before you know it you’ll find yourself stronger than ever.
One final tip – if you have never hiked with trekking poles, try it out! Poles can greatly increase your efficiency while hiking uphill. Although, they do add some extra weight, they more than make up for it with the extra power you’ll experience when using them on steep terrain. You can even get them in ultra lightweight carbon fiber and foldable as well for easy storage.
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Cameron Bailey is a writer and musician currently living in Evanston, IL. He spends most of his time outdoors hiking and fishing but also spends plenty of time reading, writing, and working on his photography.
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