7 Training Tips for Hiking at High Altitude
Hiking at elevation can be much harder than exploring at sea level. With proper training, you can prepare your body for the rigors of mountain trails. Use these tips to get ready for your next big hike.
1. Hike with a weighted pack
A 40-pound pack is going to feel about twice as heavy when you’re above 10,000 feet. Prepare by training at sea level with a heavier pack. Add weights, water or other heavy objects to help you build stamina and endurance for your high-altitude trek.
2. Run hills and stairs
Steep ascents will put a significant strain on your calves and quads, so prepare by adding as much elevation as possible to your training workouts:
- Jog or sprint up hills and staircases.
- Spend time on the Stairmaster.
- Increase the incline on the treadmill.
3. Start small
You’ll have a better response to high-altitude hiking if you acclimate in small steps. If you have easy access to mountains, slowly build your tolerance for higher elevations by gaining 1,000 feet every training weekend.
It doesn’t all have to be hiking, either. You can help your body adjust to working with less oxygen by doing aerobic exercises above 3,000 feet.
4. Focus on flexibility
Strength and stamina are essential for high-altitude hiking, but so is flexibility. Be sure to include some stretching exercises to reduce the risk of soreness and injury during your hike.
5. Fuel your body
To keep your body functioning optimally at high altitude, you’ll need to eat more than usual. Since your muscles will burn energy faster, your body will need more calories.
Load your pack with nutritious, lightweight food, like our Outdoorsmen Chicken Lasagna, Outdoorsmen Cincinnati Style Chili with Beef and other high-protein, high-calorie selections from the Backpacker’s Pantry’s Outdoorsmen line of meals.
These freeze-dried meals provide a delicious way to stay energized without having to add unnecessary weight to your pack.
6. Take safety precautions
Hiking at high altitude can take a significant toll on your body, increasing the risk of complications like High-Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE) or High-Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE).
With that in mind, make sure you are at a healthy weight and consider getting a physical to check for any potential underlying health issues before heading out on your first big high-altitude trek. You should also familiarize yourself with these helpful safety tips for high-altitude hiking.
7. Increase your VO2 max
Your VO2 max is the maximum amount of oxygen your body can utilize during intense exercise. Any aerobic exercise will increase your VO2. If you’re in good shape, you can up your VO2 max by adding short bursts of increased intensity to your workout routine.
Try to elevate your heart rate to 80% to 95% of your maximum for 60 seconds to 10 minutes. This will leave you winded, so don’t overdo it. Focus on challenging your body without getting injured.
Backpacker's Pantry provides ready-to-eat, lightweight backpacking food for every type of outdoor adventure. Browse our nutritious, gourmet food for the trail.