Trekking is a sport where the focus should be on building endurance. The routine has to be designed to incorporate low intensity and long duration movements. We have to make people workout with lower weights and higher repetitions just to achieve the neuromuscular adaptation. The routine initializes with this level of exercise and gradually there is an increase in the load and decrease in repetitions to strengthen the involved muscles.
The training differs depending on the destination. For instance, Everest Base Camp is located at a higher altitude, therefore higher the intensity of the routine. One needs to work on the endurance and elevation (breathing). Likewise, depending on the destination, keeping the basic principle of training similar, one needs to combine various other factors to decide the routine.
The training program starts with muscle strengthening which is followed by endurance and finally increase in intensity of workout. For e.g. if someone practices walking for an hour on treadmill for the trek, he/she could increase intensity by adding a backpack with additional weights in it. Similarly, to increase intensity in strength, instead of just lunges, one can carry additional free weight (dumbbells) to maximize the effect.
Training should be a mix of balance, coordination and core strength. Balance, for hiking in elevation mode as gravity will always try and pull you back. Coordination since it’s not a flat surface and hence, it’s important to be able to put one foot before another. Core strength is important as it is the power house of the body.
To increase lung capacity pranayam must be a part of the daily exercise routine. Serious trekkers may invest in an elevation mask for training purposes. As one goes higher, the oxygen density is expected to reduce. Hence, preparing oneself for the same is always advisable.
Stretching is another essential part of the training. One needs to do that, for at least 10 minutes every day, to increase elasticity of the muscles. It also helps to prevent muscle imbalances and speeds recovery. During training period, especially while on the trek, staying hydrated is crucial.
Psychologically, meditation and breathing exercises play a huge role. Add meditation as part of your training program as it helps increase concentration level. The tougher or higher the destination, the more it will be will over skill. Stay positive and motivated. If one can visualize oneself completing the trek one will actually look forward to finishing it.
Below are described a few of these exercises which are done as part of the routine to prepare prior to a trek.
Swiss Ball Hip Extension
The primary muscle is the hamstring. This exercise helps to strengthen the hamstring muscles. Because the Swiss ball is unstable, it also activates the core muscle and stabilizes the Glutes.
Lateral Walking Movement with the Resistance Band
It helps strengthen the abductor muscles. During trekking, there must be coordination in all the muscle groups. Abductor is a muscle which supports Glutes muscle movement.
This is a basic upper body strengthening movement. It works on the shoulders and arms. It’s important to work on the upper body strengthening as well.
TRX Inverted Row
This is for the upper body strengthening. This movement works on the upper back. It is unstable, so it also activates the core muscles
Works on lower body strengthening. One can do a lot of lunges, squats, band assistant walk, hamstring curls etc. Split squat if done in the same place or walking lunges if you are moving. It works for the Quadriceps muscles as it is primary and the secondary muscles which are the hamstring and Glutes. It is also a hip flexion movement. Basically it is a workout for legs. During a trek, there is lot of walking movement, especially in incline. It is important to strengthen the mentioned muscles for the same.
Single Leg Dead Lift
It is a unilateral movement where the body needs to struggle to keep balance so that it activates the core. Primarily it stretches the hamstring.
Prosenjit Biswas is a Fitness Manager at Skulpt Gym, and an avid trekker.
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