The best way to exercise if you plan to go trekking
A relatively new way to approach fitness is to first adopt a sport that you would like to play, and then train for it. More and more, fitness trainers are turning to this method to ensure that people are getting the best workout possible, based on their specific needs. In an article on Fitness for Lounge last year, physiotherapist and trainer Minash Gabriel wrote that fitness for him is defined by, in his words, “the quality of being fit for a particular role or task.” .
In other words, you need to approach fitness in a pragmatic way, setting yourself some tangible goals that you can then work towards. The practice of a sport helps in this goal setting. To quote Gabriel again: “For example, a fast bowler needs to acquire a physical form specific to his skill; a long-distance runner must develop his cardiovascular endurance; a sprinter needs explosive force; a gymnast must build a strong torso with incredible proprioception of the whole body (awareness of body position and movement). Each of these fitness abilities comes from performing very different exercises that target different energy systems in the body.
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For me, the sport of choice is trekking. It is this activity that governs the way I train, both for better strength, but also for cardio. Now if I’m lucky I can usually do a few hikes a year, involving varying distances and terrain. But even during the pandemic, when traveling was out of the question, I continued my training assuming I could do a pretty strenuous hike any day.
Now when it comes to hiking, in my experience the two most important points of fitness are the strength of my legs and the state of my cardiovascular capacity. For leg strength, I make sure I have a dedicated leg day every week. Apart from that, even on other days I try to perform other training activities in the most “athletic” way possible. Which means the majority of my training is done on my feet, so my legs (and lower body in general) exercise almost every day.
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For the health of my lungs, I set aside a day just for cardio training. Typically, this involves HIIT workouts that leave me panting and broken after about 30-40 minutes of hard work. On other strength training days, again, I get benefits for my cardio because of the type of exercises I do.
Other than that, I make sure to train my core for better balance and stability, my shoulders and back to be able to walk over steep and difficult terrain with a 10kg backpack on my back. So in a way, I do all of the normal fitness activities that everyone does in a week of training, but I do it with one goal in mind. So ask yourself what is your sport? And train accordingly. You will be sure to see the benefits.
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