What single thing can you do to bring your hiking to the next level? Add some elevation changes.
It’s springtime again, which means your deadline for that high-elevation climb is rapidly approaching. Or maybe you just want to build your capacity as a hiker, and work up to a big trip down the road.
Even if you hike in Florida or central Illinois, where you’re about as likely to encounter a steep ascent as a polar bear, adding elevation changes to your hiking routine will improve your fitness and help you conquer any trail.
The science behind elevation training
So how exactly does elevation training help you?
First, climbing hills is hard work, especially at the beginning of the season. Go out and try it if you disagree! Conditioning your cardiovascular system to tackle steep ascents will put you that much more ahead when you encounter flat areas.
Second, hoofing it up elevation changes strengthens your legs to tackle additional hikes. Strong legs will certainly help you on mountains, but it will also help on level areas.
READ MORE: Must-Read Beginner’s Guide to Backpacking
Start incorporating uphill and downhill climbs into your weekly training routine. Climbing uphill will build your quadricep and hamstring muscles, and improve your aerobic capacity. Downhill drills will reduce muscle soreness and improve strength gains.
If you really want to improve your hiking skills with elevation changes, consider also adding a weighted pack or weight vest. Any way you can simulate your real hiking trip during training will put you that much more ahead.
Use these techniques to get out hiking now!
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