Fall is just around the corner and is a beautiful time for hiking!

But remember, just like training for a marathon or a triathlon, or any physical endeavor really, new hikers–like me–need to start slow and build.

Training for a hike, whether it’s 5 miles or 50, involves increasing both cardio and strength endurance over time. Proper training will ensure you have more fun on your hike! Plus, training for a hike will help reduce soreness and decrease your chances of getting injured!

Read more about common hiking injuries and prevention at the 2Toms Knowledge Base.

Cardiovascular Training for Hikers

In the article, “Make Hiking More Fun,” at Prevention.com, the authors suggest at least 3-4 weeks to train for a 5-mile hike, and longer (6-8 weeks) if you don’t already exercise regularly.

Prevention.com’s fitness advisor Wayne L. Westcott, PhD, suggests walking 30-45 minutes at least 3 days per week (to train for a 5-mile hike). “On a fourth day, do a longer walk, preferably outside on hilly terrain,” advises Westcott. “Each week, increase the long walk until you’re doing at least two-thirds of the distance of your first hike (about 31/2 miles if you’ll be hiking 5 miles).

But it’s okay to train on a treadmill, if that’s all you can do. Click the link for Arizona personal trainer James Fisher’s 4-week treadmill training plan to get you ready for a long hike on Shape.com.

Strength Training for Hikers

Strength training will help you avoid injury and decrease post-hike soreness.

Work on strengthening muscles around the core (back, abs, glutes), and the muscles that surround your ankles and knees. Try to make strength a priority 2-3 days per week.

Prevention.com’s Westcott offers a detailed strength routine that includes one-legged squats, step-ups/step-downs, shrugs and back extensions. Click this link for descriptions of each exercise.

Check out another sample strength training routine from the Washington Trails Association.

Rest & Recovery

Like any exercise routine, make sure you get a day or two of complete rest. Muscles need time to recover and build so you can get stronger!

Stretch after training walks or hikes, and after strength training. Remember: Use dynamic stretches (active stretching, such as walking, lunges, squats, etc.) to warm up, and cool down with some slow walking and a static stretching (stretching each body part and holding it for a given period of time).

Learn more about how to ease sore muscles or DOMS.

Hiking with Dogs

Want to bring your dog on your hike? Include the dog in your training. Just like humans, dogs need to start slow and build their strength and endurance. Check out this link for some tips from a long-distance hiker and Ruffwear ambassador Whitney “ALLGOOD” LaRuffa.