Let's Start Training!

(Credit: Chun Kit To via Flickr)

You go to a gym, workout classes, or even get a personal trainer to help get you to reach your fitness goals. Have you thought about training for a backpacking trip? People don’t often think that there is a lot to it, however they gotta stop and think. You’re going to be experiencing inclines/declines, altitude changes, terrain changes, on top of carrying a full backpack. So, how do people train for a trip?

These are some general tips before we go into different workouts you can do to prepare:

  • Focus on muscles that help your body lift. For example, focus on workouts that build leg and core muscles. Obviously, you will be hiking during your trip, so keeping your legs strong is essential. Your core helps keep your entire body in a good posture, helping  carry a backpack and limiting stress on your back.
  • Endurance and Cardio training will also be very beneficial for those going backpacking. You are going to be trekking many miles, carrying both your own body weight and the weight of your pack. Your muscles will need to be able to keep up with the activity. As for cardio, keeping your heart rate active and used to activity will allow you to stay on your trip at top performance. 
  • Remember to incorporate some balance workouts. There will often be times where you will experience uneven terrain. Be sure that your body is able to adapt to these conditions.

Time to Work out!

Whenever you are working out, not only training for backpacking, you need to cater your workout to your body. Don’t ever do anything that your body is not accustomed to, nor should you do anything that you know your body cannot handle. You are the only person who knows your body; the workout does not. 

Before you workout, it’s always good to begin with a warm up. Do a lite jog or brisk walk. As you go on with this workout for 5-10 minutes, focus on your breathing. Try to control it as much as you can. Also, start positioning your mind on how to workout. Breathe in when you perform a workout, then breathe out when you return to your initial position. Don’t be afraid to take breaks as you go either! Whether it’s a 30 second break, or a couple minutes. Again, workout out at your own pace and comfort. 

Note, all the workouts below have Youtube videos that you can search to have as a guide. Also, by adding in weights, you accelerate the process for your body to get used to carrying weight under the stress of different movements you will be performing during your trip. 

Lower Body Workouts


  • This is one of the most popular workouts people do to build strength in your legs. It targets the whole muscle group.
  • If you are up for a challenge, incorporate a jump as you exit and enter the squat. This helps build power, as well as incorporate a cardio aspect to your workout.

Step Ups

  • Seen as an endurance workout, you will help your body be accustomed to the different terrains you will encounter.
  • To help with this exercise, try to get a training block that is about 8 inches above the ground. If you want to further intensify your workout, incorporate different training block heights to help give you a better feel for different terrain. You can also add a weighted vest or backpack to help ease your body into carrying the extra weight.

Deadlift (Single Legs)

  • This workout not only works out your lower body, but also helps build your balance.
  • Try to hold on to some weights to give you a better workout.

Upper Body

Squat into Overhead Press

  • This is another variation of the squat. As you hold weights down as you squat, you will raise them straight above you to workout your shoulders.
  • Finding ways to incorporate different muscle groups into a single workout is a great way to elevate your workout, build strengths, and also adds a cardio factor (since your body will be exerting even more energy).


  • Much like how popular squats are for working out your lower body, these exercises carry the same popularity for the abdominal muscle group.
  • Be sure to fully engage your core, and not to worry too much about repetitions and time. The most important part to these workouts, any for that matter, is to target the intended muscle group as much as you can.

At the end of the day, these are only suggestions and tips to help prepare you for your trip. Do whatever you think is best for your body. Another key tip to working out is to stay hydrated! Don’t overexert yourself when you are working out. It takes time to get to different goals, and training for backpacking is no exception.

As always, enjoy your trip, train your best, and be safe!

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