Hiking Uphill is pretty much the most difficult type of long-distance walk you will have to deal with. However, It is a great way to challenge and push yourself from your comfort zone for better fitness.
While hiking in a raised elevation that bends upward as you go will put pressure on your legs, it can be very self-fulfilling and send positive signals to your brain. Also, there are several top-notch benefits to gain from hiking uphill. It can help with how you breathe and encourage you to lose weight much faster than even surface hiking.
There are several things to learn about hiking uphill and how to start it successfully without becoming vulnerable to injury. This guide will consider all the techniques you need to learn and how long it will take you to become a master of uphill trails.
How to Hike Uphill: Getting Started
You will start to notice the difference between hiking uphill and on an even surface right from your first two hours on the former. If the terrain is significantly elevated such that your neck is almost always bent backward to get a better view of the route ahead, you will feel increased tension in your legs. It is very normal to want to take breaks often when hiking on a raised elevation.
You will definitely feel very fatigued, and you may even opt out of continuing this high-intensity hike in favor of the more tolerable leveled surface long walk you feel more comfortable with. However, you do not have to give up. You just need to start right and keep practicing. Just like any other challenging exercise or activity, you can get better at hiking uphill and enjoy its unique experience and better benefits.
Below are the major ways to start hiking, get better at it, and become the pro you desire to be.
Ensure to Warm Up
Warming up properly for Uphill hiking is one the best first steps to getting started. You do not have to start at an intense rate as if you are in a hurry to crush a record. You need to take it one step at a time, or you may risk getting injured. Our legs are quite delicate and not as strong as they look, so pushing them beyond what they can carry will cause injury most of the time.
To warm up, do some jumping jacks, like to 20 and try to be smooth throughout the entire workout. Twenty jumping jacks will only last a couple of minutes. If you are relatively fit, you should be able to complete them in 2 minutes, while it could take up to 5 minutes if it is your first time putting your body through a heart-pumping activity in a while.
After that, you can engage in a short burst of run and mix it with a minute of jogging to keep your legs alert. If you are used to leveled, even-surface hiking, you may not need to jog or run a little as your legs are used to long walks.
Starting light on an elevated terrain cannot be overemphasized. Yes, it is understandable that you are an avid, even surface hiker who crunches lots of hours. However, moving with that same intensity on a significantly elevated terrain won’t be the best choice.
Sacrificing an hour or two from the normal long hours you normally cover when hiking uphill for the first few times is actually a healthy decision. Let your body get used to the pressure of pushing so hard, and as you adapt better over time, you can increase the hours you cover.
You should also take breaks often, and this does not mean you are weak. Taking short breaks when starting uphill hiking will give your legs time to rest and become better adjusted to the strange terrain.
Another importance of taking breaks is how it helps with muscle development. It is at the state of rest that leg muscles develop. Actually, all muscles subjected to training and pressure only develop and become obvious at the state of rest. So unlike what you think, it isn’t counterproductive to take a break quite regularly when hiking uphill.
Master and Maintain Shorter Steps
Shorter steps on a hill or elevated trail will result in more workings of the legs. However, it would make it easy for you to climb without risking injury. Putting in a lot of strides while walking can be quite detrimental as it would build real pressure that could accumulate serious injury over time. Also, there is a high possibility of getting fatigued quite quickly, which could cause you to miss some steps as you walk.
Shorter steps, on the other hand, can only work your legs, which is a good thing. Shorter steps make you raise your leg higher and ensure every step you take is worth it.
Try As Much As Possible Not To Lean Too Much
Try as much as you can not lean towards the ground when walking on the trail. While you have to bend a little to maintain balance and reasonable stride, you want to ensure that you are not engaging your waist to bend too much and risk a possible injury. Allow your ankle to control the pace and limit you can lean. Do not shift the pressure to the waist, as it will not help in the long run.
Get the Right Shoes
The choice of shoes you wear when hiking uphill is essential. The first step you should take when hiking uphill is not to opt for running shoes. Running shoes can sometimes be used as a suitable replacement for hiking shoes and boots.
However, their goodwill mostly ends when walking in downhill terrain or on level ground. On an elevated terrain, only a well-designed hiking boot can provide your feet and ankles with the support they require.
You must specifically look for hiking shoes that are designed for uphill hiking when making your selection. Marketplaces like Amazon and eBay are good recommendations for purchasing a nice hiking shoe or boot.
Benefits of Uphill Hiking
Hiking uphill provides a number of benefits that can help improve your overall health and fitness. For starters, hiking uphill is a great way to get your heart rate up and get a cardio workout. It also helps to strengthen your leg muscles, as well as your glutes and core.
In addition, hiking uphill can help improve your balance and coordination. And finally, hiking uphill is a great way to get fresh air and take in some stunning scenery. We will consider this better by dividing them into single headings.
Improve Cardiovascular Health
The incline provides resistance that helps to strengthen your heart and lungs. When you hike uphill, you force your heart to work harder than it would otherwise. The steeper the incline, the greater the demand on your cardiovascular system.
As your heart rate increases and you start to breathe more heavily, your body begins to take in more oxygen. This increase in oxygen uptake helps improve your cardiovascular system’s efficiency.
It’s a great leg workout
Hiking uphill is a great leg workout since it significantly strengthens the legs. Hiking up an incline works the muscles in the front of the thigh, known as the quadriceps, as well as the hamstrings in the back of the thigh. The gluteal muscles in the buttocks are also engaged when hiking uphill. In addition, hiking uphill helps to build bone density in the legs and lower body.
In addition, hiking uphill strengthens the muscles in your legs and low back, which can help to reduce the strain on your heart. So, in this case, it is like using a stone to get two birds, leaving you with better gain.
So while uphill hiking may be a bit strenuous, it is a good way of challenging yourself by hiking uphill on a regular basis. Not only will you see a difference in their leg strength. You will also enjoy increased bone density and decreased risk of injury.
It helps to improve your balance and coordination
The uneven terrain of an uphill hike requires you to use your core muscles to maintain balance. This can help to improve your overall coordination and balance. It may seem like a simple task, but hiking uphill requires the use of multiple muscle groups and joints to maintain your balance.
This increased demand on your body helps to improve your proprioception, which is your ability to sense the position of your body in space. In addition, hiking uphill strengthens the muscles in your legs, including the stabilizer muscles that are responsible for keeping you upright.
It’s a great way to burn calories
While hiking is often considered a relatively gentle activity, walking at a steep elevation can be a great way to burn calories and tone leg muscles. Hiking uphill requires using large muscle groups, which means more calories are burned with each step. In addition, it can significantly strengthen the legs, making it an ideal workout for those looking to improve their lower body strength.
After an Uphill Hiking Session
After completing an uphill hike, you should not just crash on the ground and let out a good sigh. It is recommended you spend a couple of minutes stretching your legs and waist to quickly reduce the pressure and knots that may have formed from the long hours of walking.
You can decide to repeat all the exercises you normally use for warming up to relieve the stress. They are also very effective, so you can count on them. A session of jumping jacks, a well-done cobra stretch, and waist circling will help you feel much better and not feel sore for the next session.
Hiking uphill is good and very beneficial. Burning calories and toning muscles is not the only benefit of hiking uphill; the views from the top are often well worth the effort. However, you need to be well prepared to enjoy the benefit and not end up injured instead. Several steps you can take to better hike have been properly analyzed in this piece, and they are pretty much the essentials you must handle for a successful hike.
Once you consistently follow these tips, your endurance level will continue to grow, and sooner than later, uphill hiking will be more fun.