Below you’ll find a fitness training guide to help you prepare for your walking adventure. You can adapt it to your fitness level and preferences and most importantly tailor it to the specific walk you have chosen as outlined in the fitness guide section on your walk’s page.
Four to six months before your walk with Auswalk
What’s a top tip that’s only three words? Get comfortable shoes! Good shoes or boots will also protect and support your feet and ankles. If you haven’t already, this is the perfect time to purchase the appropriate footwear and walk in them frequently. Start wearing your shoes around the house and on walks. See our article on what shoes to buy if you need further information. There’s also an article on what socks to wear if you’re interested and an article on how to avoid getting blisters and what to do if you do get them.
Regular training from five to six months before the trip will ensure you enjoy yourself on and off the track each walking day.
Hiking preparation will typically be more intensive than your weekly exercise regime and will involve getting your body ready for the three key elements of your trek: Distance (and duration), Elevation and Terrain.
Whatever the distance of the walk you have chosen, you will get the most enjoyment and satisfaction if you can comfortably complete each day. Be honest with yourself and put in some preparation if you need to. If you are about to undertake a longer walk, you may need to pay specific attention to increasing your endurance and cardiovascular fitness.
Hikes with significant elevation gains have to be prepared for differently. In this case, your training routine should focus on cardiovascular fitness and leg strength. On selected walks with substantial altitude gains, you should hike locations incorporating significant elevation changes if possible.
You must also factor in the terrain of the walk. For example, if you are doing a coastal walk, it is wise to include training with similar terrain, which may or may not consist of sand. Similarly, if you are completing a walk with a rocky undulating trail, you must incorporate getting your body and feet used to, and aware of, changes in terrain combined with balance training in your preparation.
- Keeping in mind the specific Distance, Elevation and Terrain aspects of your walk use the following training guide.
- Skip the exercises that don’t apply to your walk.
- Remember that fitness levels vary between people, so feel free to adapt your training program based on your current fitness level.
- Always ensure you stretch afterwards to avoid injury and ensure that you stay hydrated.
- You should aim to be able to execute between 70% to comparable levels of average elevation and average distance of your walk one month out from your walk.
Six months before your walking holiday
- Begin with 30-minute brisk walks on a flat terrain three times per week
- Include light bodyweight exercises, such as calf raises, lunges and squats, twice weekly
Five months before your walking holiday
- Increase walk duration to 45 minutes, four times per week
- Continue light resistance training for your core and legs three times a week
Four months before your walking holiday
- Introduce 1.5-hour walks, three times a week
- Include at least one walk on a terrain similar to your upcoming hike
- Begin carrying a light backpack, gradually increasing the weight every week
- Introduce uphill walking or use a treadmill and/ or stair climber at the gym. Sessions of 20 minutes twice a week
- Continue light resistance training three times per week
- If undertaking a multi-day walk with reasonable elevation levels, focus on light weight training on your legs. Do step-ups using a small table, an oversized step or similar with weights in hand. Build your sets out to at least 3 sets of 15
- Use weekends to go for a day hike and explore an unfamiliar location equivalent to the average distance of your walk
- Start a weekly walking group with friends or family
- Use YouTube to find isolated ankle strengthening and proprioception exercises. You can add these to your daily routine at home
- Build a simple at home gym with a set of dumbbells and resistance bands
- Add a gentle stretch program to your routine to minimise the risk of injury
It’s worth knowing….
- Your footwear will make or break a hike no matter how fit you are!
- Squats mimic the motion of going uphill, great preparation for higher elevation walks
- Calf raises prepare your body for tackling uneven surfaces and inclines
- Carrying a backpack will stimulate real conditions and increase your comfort levels during the hike
- Finishing each walk and training session with stretching will improve your flexibility and reduce possible muscle soreness
Three months before your walking holiday
- Rework your training level relative to the distance and elevation of your trip
- Specific terrain exercises for your trip should be incorporated by now
- Increase walk duration to 2-4 hours, three times per week
- Undertake at least one walk on challenging or similar terrain to your walk each week
- Continue with strength training, adding intensity and resistance, three times per week
- Continue stair climbing or uphill walking for at least 2 hours per week, particularly if your walk has elevation
- Include long-distance hikes twice this month, of 4-8 hours (or similar to your walk average)
- Continue carrying a lightweight backpack
- Consider adding activities that encourage balance to your training, such as yoga or Pilates
- If able, go on a barefoot walk in soft sand to increase ankle stability
- Tackle a cycle or swim, which are wonderful low-impact exercises that increase hiking stamina. If you are undertaking a hike with significant elevation, these two activities are highly beneficial
- Walk wherever you can – to work, appointments, and the local grocery store
It’s worth knowing….
- Electrolyte-rich beverages are known to help replace the minerals lost through sweating
- Consuming a mix of carbohydrates, proteins and fats helps maintain your energy levels
- Magnesium, potassium and sodium-rich foods will help prevent fatigue and muscle cramps
- Protein intake is very important for your muscle repair and recovery after a training session
Two months before your walking holiday
Nearly there! This is when you should be feeling some great physical and mental benefits of your training so far. Remember to stay focused and disciplined, and listen to your body.
- Do the specific terrain-based exercises relating to the terrain of your trip
- Integrate 4-6 hour hikes into your routine, mimicking the expected terrain conditions a few times this month
- If you are taking a long hike with us, keep walking daily for at least 40 minutes to maintain your cardiovascular strength
- If you are training for a hike with significant elevation gains, including steep climbs and descents in your walks is essential. Maintain stair climbing or uphill walking for at least 2 hours per week
- Maintain light strength training for your core and legs twice weekly
- Include at least one 8-hour long-distance hike this month
- Do the relevant exercises to the terrain specified above
It’s worth knowing….
- Practising mindfulness can assist you in being able to anchor yourself in the present moment during your walk. Try exploring the apps Smiling Mind, Headspace, and Calm to help you practice mindfulness.
- A massage will help further prepare, with a particular focus on your legs and feet
One month before your walk with Auswalk
Congratulations, only one month to go! Reflect on how far you’ve come! Remember, your walking journey is not just about covering distances or conquering peaks but about slowing down and taking the road less travelled; enjoying simple pleasures like rising with the sun and feeling more centred.
It is time to lace up your worn-in hiking boots or shoes again, pack your essentials, and step into this last month of training.
It is generally best to taper off your training this month, but it is not essential until the last week. Your goal should include maintaining a regular walking routine but reducing your distance walked.
- Include one 4-6 hour long-distance hike at the start of the month
- Reminder: your training level is relative to the distance and elevation of your trip
- Continue with relevant terrain-based exercises for the terrain of your trip
- Continue walking for ~45 minutes four times a week
- Ensure you stretch to avoid injury
- Rest adequately the week before the hike
Focus on wearing the footwear and gear you will use during the hike to help identify any equipment issues and help ensure your trip comfort.
It’s worth knowing….
- As always, prioritise sleep but also rest over this month as this will allow your body to repair and strengthen itself for the upcoming hike
- Although tapering will reduce the intensity of your training, it aims to maintain the fitness level you have gained over the past 5 months
Do remember to adapt our training program based on your current fitness level, the specific elevation and duration of the hike and the terrain you will face. Remember that consistency, dedication, and patience are vital aspects of successful training. Listen to your body, adjust your training plan as needed, and always prioritise safety.
We look forward to taking you on a memorable journey – Auswalk.