Let's Get Physical
Fitness tips for any type of trekker
We've received a lot of questions regarding what fitness level you should for your trek or how to best prepare physically. So, we here at Choose a Challenge are sharing some helpful tips to get you ready no matter what level of fitness you're at.
1. Legs For Days
Beginner Tip: Get Up and Get Out
The simplest tip we can give you is to just to be more active and go for walks/runs more regularly. When you're on your trek you'll be on your feet for hours at a time, so building up your stamina and endurance by going on a run regularly will help a lot. How should you do this? Well, firstly, whatever physical activity your comfortable with is where you should start. However, once you start your walking/running program you should do two things:
- Walk further each time.
- This will allow you to build up your endurance and help you better adjust to starting/stopping on the mountain.
- Pick a few days per week you can dedicate to exercise.
- Having a plan and sticking to it is half the battle. Sit down with your calendar and ask yourself, "which days during the week can I commit around 30 minutes to walk/run/exercise?"
- Don't go it alone.
- Getting fit with a friend, especially one who is on your team, will help keep you motivated, safe, and make the time on long runs pass all the much faster!
Advanced Tip: Work Those Legs
The ultimate "frenemy" of workouts: LEG DAY.
Your legs are the some of biggest muscles in your body, and anyone who's done a total body workout will tell you, legs are often the sorest part of your body the following day. Why do we suggest putting those legs to work? Because not only will you get a major leg up on your fitness (Monthly pun: ✅ ), but it's the main muscle group you'll use on your trip.
Incorporating exercises like deadlifts (which work almost every part of your body), squats, and leg press are all fundamental to building good lower body strength.
2. Workout Plan
As mentioned in the previous tip, setting up a game plan of when you'll work out and what you'll do each day will ultimately give you the results you want. The good thing is that workout plans are so widespread they can be implemented at any level of physical fitness
Beginner Tip: Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes, Knees and Toes
You should focus on full-body workouts, especially as a amateur trekker. Doing a little bit of everything paired with a clean & lean diet will do wonders for you. I suggest googling "beginner workout plans," or even "Beginner workouts for trekking," to find a plan that you like and think you can stick to. Typically with new workout plans people will drop off within the first three weeks. However it's important to know your body takes about three weeks to form a new habit, so keep grinding and don't be discouraged in that first month or so
Advanced Tip: HIIT up High-Intensity Interval Training
HIIT: My golden rule for fat loss and a perennial fountain of youth for better health (My bias opinion of course, however if you have found an actual fountain of youth please email us back at firstname.lastname@example.org). These high-intensity workouts are designed to make you sweat and keep your heartbeat elevated. The belief is the longer your heart rate is in the "fat burning zone" for, the more efficient you'll be in melting off those extra few pounds. How does it work? Every routine is different but the common theme is not taking too much rest time in-between exercises. The other aspect is that it's a combination of both weightlifting and aerobic exercise. For example:
Perform 3 sets of 10 reps of bicep curls (lifting)
Rest for 30 seconds
Immediately perform 30 jumping jacks (cardio)
A lot of people will also suggest doing similar programs like CrossFit, etc but it's all based on what you like and how comfortable you are with each routine. BOTTOMLINE: Do the research and put in the time finding a routine because you don't want to be 1.5 weeks into a program you don't like and have to start over.
There are many workout apps and websites to help find a plan that works for you. I'd suggest starting your search with sites like bodybuilding.com, searching youtube for video tutorials on different workout ideas & how to correctly do certain types of HIIT workout routines.
3. You Are What You Eat
You may have seen interviews with supermodels who say "all I eat are cheeseburgers with fries" yet still maintain a perfect figure. SPOILER ALERT: That's not the way the real world works.
I truly believe you get out what you put in, and if you take the steps to eat better food you'll end up feeling better too. Not to say you can't enjoy a nice meal every once in a while, but just don't make it a daily routine, that's all. Feel free to ask your doctor or your own research but as long as you stick to a few basic guidelines you'll be fine:
- Eat quality foods
- "Eating clean" is a commonly used phrase for people trying to restart their diets, reverse bad habits and start eating better food. This simply means eating items like lean chicken for protein, incorporating a regular amount of vegetables into your diet and implementing portion control to ensure you don't over-eat.
- When you eat
- You should always aim to eat breakfast every single day. They say it's the most important meal of the day for a reason. Starting off your day right with carbohydrate-packed foods like oatmeal, maybe some fresh fruit and a cup of tea helps you not only feel better but less groggy in the morning as well. You wouldn't drive a car without fuel in it, right? - similar concept here: Make the time. Fuel your body. Get going.
- It's also important to mention not eating dinner too late at night (say past 7 pm) and to not snack past that point either. This is a slippery slope and comes at a time in the day where you're least active and cant burn off those extra calories.
- Keeping track
- I highly recommend choosing from the wide variety of calorie and weight tracking apps made available to you, most of which are free! Apps like Lose it, are a perfect example of an easy to use app that can track your goals, daily calorie intake and weekly weigh-ins. It also makes things easier by having a built-in scanner for foods you eat to seamlessly add them in to your daily food log.