If you’ve hesitated to book your bucket-list trip because you’re not sure whether you’re fit enough to enjoy it, keep reading!
Chances are with a few months of pre-trip training, you’ll be ready to explore the hidden gems and amazing vistas of iconic National Parks with a Good Trip guide.
Personal trainer and adventure coach Becki Rupp from Trailblazer Wellness shares her top tips below for preparing for your next National Park adventure.
When to Start Training
How long it’ll take to get into shape for a National Parks trip depends on a few factors:
How much hiking you’ll be doing on the trip
How much walking or hiking you’re doing now
How much time per week you can invest in training
Lets say you’d like to do the Arches and Canyonlands multi-day trip. It includes walking or hiking for 3-6 hours per day, with some hills, and carrying a day pack.
Since you’ll be hiking for a couple of days in a row, you’ll want to have enough energy to get up each day ready to go.
If you’re currently walking 30 minutes to an hour a couple of days a week, and an hour or so on a weekend day, you should allow a few months to gradually build up your stamina. How you do that is explained below.
Depending on how many other commitments you have – such as work, family, volunteering or other responsibilities – you may want to build in more time to prepare. For example, if you have an especially busy month for work when you won’t have the time or energy for training, add another month to your timeline.
If you have a medical condition or are recovering from an injury, then you may want to allow extra time too. Consult with your doctor or physical therapist about how to adapt a training plan for your situation.
Want more details on figuring this out? Check out “When to Start Training for a Trip.”
What to Do for Training
Good things come to those who train, to adapt the well-known saying. Although you can enjoy stunning views and encounter wildlife in the U.S. National Parks from a vehicle or short walk, you’ll experience far more as you get farther into the backcountry.
Building up your strength and stamina will pay off as you discover a field of wildflowers, marvel at cascading waterfalls close enough to feel the spray, and spot an owl tucked into a tree.
The core components of training for a multi-day hike include:
- Get (re)started hiking. Check out local trails and start tracking your distance. Add distance gradually to minimize your risk of injury from overdoing it. For most people, adding 10-20% each week to your total should be manageable.
- Use stairs if you’ll be hiking steep trails. Most Americans have limited access to mountains – that’s one of the reasons hiking in a National Park is so special! By including stairs in training, you can simulate the steep steps you’ll be taking on your trip.
- Build strength through resistance training. Stronger muscles will help you be more efficient and stable over multiple days of hiking. In addition to classic leg muscle exercises like squats and lunges, include some core and upper body exercises too. Your core is important for stability, especially when wearing a pack and navigating uneven terrain. Your upper body needs to be ready to lift and carry your pack.
- Practice your balance. Rocky, muddy and even sandy trails can throw you off kilter. Just a small investment of time can make a difference. It can be as simple as standing on one leg. Try it at home on different surfaces – carpet, wood, tile – and outside – grass, dirt, gravel. As you get more comfortable, add more time on each leg.
- Incorporate flexibility. You’re less likely to strain your muscles if you’ve been stretching regularly. Do a few minutes of stretching after hiking and strength training, and consider doing a longer stretching session if you’re especially tight.
Want help? Personal Training + Coaching is available!
If you’d like some help with a specific plan to get into better shape before your trip, consider working with a personal trainer and coach. This can be especially helpful if you’ve not been very active recently, whether you’re recovering from an illness or injury or due to other circumstances.
Good Trip Adventures has partnered with Trailblazer Wellness, which offers customized training plans and coaching services that prepare people physically and mentally for adventure trips.
Becki Rupp, the founder, is a certified personal trainer and coach who has helped dozens of people build strength, stamina and confidence for their upcoming adventures. She has decades of hiking experience, including exploring many of the National Parks where Good Trip leads trips as well as in other countries. She also was a member of a wilderness search and rescue team for 9 years.
Becki will create a fully customized training plan based on your itinerary and meet with you regularly up until your trip. She’ll collaborate with you to help you find the time and energy to add more activity along the way.
You’ll get personalized attention, guidance and accountability that help you take the right steps as you prepare for your trip.