Guide to 14er Season, Part 2: Getting in Shape
Training Tips and Exercises for Hiking 14ers
Now that you know the do’s and don’t of hiking a 14er it’s time to prepare your body for the grueling task of climbing a 14,000+ foot peak. Hiking one of these mountains requires cardio endurance, strength, and even flexibility.
Training for at least a month before hiking a 14er will make the task far more enjoyable... plus you’ll have a greater chance of successfully reaching the summit. And, while hitting the trails to prepare is certainly ideal, you don’t necessarily need access to mountains to start getting in shape.
Start getting serious about your cardiovascular endurance
Get your heart and lungs ready for a 14er with a combination of interval training and steady state cardio. Try completing one of the following cardio exercises at least 3-4 times per week as you prepare for your 14er attempt:
- Sprint intervals. Run as fast as you can for 1 minute, followed by walking for 30 seconds, and then repeat. You can do this on a treadmill, on the trails, or on pavement. If you’re using a treadmill try bumping the incline up.
- Stairmaster. If you have a gym membership, hopping on the stairmaster for 30-45 minutes (or longer if you’re feeling extra ambitious) is a great way to build endurance and strength. If you don’t have access to a stairmaster, running up and down the stairs will do the trick.
- Bicycling. Cycling is another great way to get in your cardio. You can do steady state cycling or higher intensity cycling with short intervals of decreased effort, just like you would while running.
If you can handle it, you could even throw on a backpack during your training. Fill it up with water and snacks to simulate what it’ll be like to carry your pack up a 14er.
Before you hike a 14er, log some serious time on your feet
Nothing else will prepare you for hiking a 14er quite like spending long hours using your legs. Even if you’re in excellent shape, spending 6-8 hours on your feet in a single day can take it’s toll.
Go for a long hike if you have access to trails, otherwise, get creative. You could walk to the gym, do the stairmaster, and then walk home. Maybe you hop on the treadmill while catching up on your favorite movies and shows. Perhaps you spend an entire day strolling through downtown, or any combination that works for you.
Don’t forget to strengthen and stretch
You’ll also need to build up some serious strength to tackle a 14er. Using weights is preferable, even if all you have access to are milk jugs full of water or an overweight cat. The following exercises will help you build strength throughout your entire body:
- Step-ups onto a box or other raised surface
If you don’t have access to weights resistance bands are a perfect alternative. Try this full-body resistance band workout
to enhance your 14er training.
Finally, after your cardio and strength training sessions, give your muscles some love and stretch them out. Not sure where to start? You could head to a yoga class, or check out our handy guide to stretching