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How to Build Endurance for More Difficult Hikes

Hiking is a wonderful way to connect with nature, challenge yourself physically, and explore breathtaking landscapes. However, tackling more difficult hikes requires not just enthusiasm but also significant endurance. Building this endurance takes time and effort, involving a mix of physical training, proper nutrition, and mental preparation. In this article, we’ll explore effective strategies to boost your stamina, including incorporating paddle boarding and the adventurous option to try scrambling.

Start with a Training Plan

reating a structured training plan is essential for gradually increasing your endurance. Begin by assessing your current fitness level and set realistic goals for improvement. A well-rounded training regimen should include cardiovascular exercises, strength training, flexibility workouts, and active recovery.

Cardiovascular Exercise

Cardio workouts are crucial for building the stamina needed for long hikes. Aim to engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of high-intensity aerobic activity each week. Effective cardio exercises include:

  • Running or Jogging: Excellent for building cardiovascular endurance and leg strength.
  • Cycling: A low-impact option that strengthens your lower body and enhances aerobic capacity.
  • Swimming: Provides a full-body workout that boosts stamina without stressing your joints.
  • Paddle Boarding: This water-based activity offers a full-body workout, particularly strengthening the core, legs, and upper body while improving balance and cardiovascular endurance.

Strength Training

Building muscle strength is vital for handling the physical demands of difficult hikes. Focus on exercises that target key muscle groups used in hiking:

  • Legs: Squats, lunges, and step-ups will build strength in your quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves.
  • Core: Planks, Russian twists, and leg raises help stabilize your body and maintain balance on uneven terrain.
  • Upper Body: Push-ups, pull-ups, and rowing exercises enhance the strength needed for carrying a backpack and using trekking poles.

Flexibility and Balance

Flexibility and balance exercises reduce the risk of injury and improve your ability to navigate challenging trails. Incorporate yoga or Pilates into your routine to enhance flexibility, stability, and overall body awareness.

Gradually Increase Hike Difficulty

Gradual progression is key to building endurance safely. Start with shorter, less strenuous hikes and slowly increase the distance and difficulty. This allows your body to adapt to the increasing demands and helps prevent overuse injuries.

Practice on Similar Terrain

Training on terrain similar to your target hike can be particularly beneficial. If your goal is to conquer a mountainous trail, practice on hilly or mountainous paths. This will help your muscles adapt to the specific demands of your upcoming challenge.

Nutrition and Hydration

Proper nutrition and hydration play a crucial role in building endurance. Fuel your body with a balanced diet rich in carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats. Carbohydrates are your primary energy source during long hikes, while proteins aid in muscle repair and recovery.

Stay Hydrated

Dehydration can severely impact your performance and endurance. Drink plenty of water throughout your training sessions and hikes. Consider sports drinks or electrolyte tablets for longer hikes to replenish lost salts and minerals.

Snack Wisely

Carry nutritious snacks like nuts, fruits, and energy bars to keep your energy levels up during hikes. These snacks provide quick energy and essential nutrients to keep you going.

Mental Preparation

Endurance hiking is as much a mental challenge as it is a physical one. Building mental resilience will help you push through tough sections of the trail.


Visualise yourself successfully completing the hike. This mental practice can boost confidence and motivation.

Break it Down

Break the hike into smaller, manageable sections. Focus on reaching the next landmark rather than the entire distance, which can make the challenge feel less overwhelming.

Stay Positive

Maintain a positive mindset. Remind yourself why you’re hiking and the benefits it brings. Encouraging self-talk can make a significant difference in your perseverance.

Incorporate Cross-Training

Engaging in different activities can enhance overall fitness and prevent workout monotony. Cross-training options like cycling, swimming, and paddle boarding add variety to your routine and work different muscle groups.

Try Scrambling

For an adventurous twist, try scrambling. Scrambling involves using both hands and feet to climb over rocks and rough terrain, bridging the gap between hiking and rock climbing. It’s an excellent way to build strength, agility, and confidence on rugged trails.

Building endurance for more difficult hikes requires a comprehensive approach that includes physical training, proper nutrition, mental preparation, and varied activities. By creating a balanced training plan that incorporates cardiovascular exercise, strength training, flexibility, and cross-training activities like paddle boarding, you’ll be well-equipped to tackle challenging hikes. Remember to try scrambling to add an exciting and beneficial dimension to your training. With dedication and consistency, you’ll soon find yourself conquering trails that once seemed out of reach. 


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