You’ve always wanted to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu – but are you physically able to do it? Follow this plan and not only will you complete the trek, but you’ll have fun while doing it too!

The Inca Trail Trek to Machu Picchu is one of the world’s classic treks and it beckons travelers from all walks of life, some of whom have zero experience in high altitude terrain or with hiking in general. Could that be you?

Below you’ll find information to help prepare you for hiking the Inca Trail, as well as a suggested training schedule to help you build stamina and strength before you go. 

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

Use the below Table of Contents to jump around and get workout ideas to add to your own routine and/or check out the 3 Month Training Guide for an easy to follow weekly workout plan that includes Beginner, Intermediate or Advanced Training curriculums.

Inca Trail Specs | The Essentials | Hiking & Walking | Cardio & Interval Training | Importance of Your Core | Resistance & Strength Training | Cross Training | Stretching | The Week Before Your Trek | Is it Possible to Simulate Altitude | How to Fuel Yourself | Month By Month Training Guide ***

*** Click here if you just want someone to tell you exactly what to do and you want to skip all the muscle mumbo jumbo.

INCA TRAIL SPECS:

You can find mileage and elevation gain/loss by reading What Are the Differences Between the 4 and 5 Day Class Inca Inca Trail Trek Options. To sum, the trail is 26 miles long. The longest day of hiking is roughly 10 miles with two, roughly 12,000 ft (3600 m) passes. I interviewed Layna George, Travel Advisor here at Detour, about her experience hiking the Inca Trail.

“The first day is a half day and you’ll hike about 3-4 hours. The next 3 days amount to about 7 or 8 hours per day. That time also includes taking little breaks for photos, snacks, learning about the ruins, waiting for one another, and having lunch. Some in our group were fast hikers and likely completed their days in about 6 hours. While one woman took close to 10 hours and would arrive just before dark each day.” 


THE ESSENTIALS: 

  1. Breaking in new hiking boots is absolutely critical and is the difference between hiking bliss or hiking blisters. Check out our Love Your Feet: Bring the Right Trekking Boots to Peru blog post & Backcountry’s “How to Choose the Right Hiking Shoes & Backpacking Boots” for assistance determining what kind of footwear is best for you.
  2. Make sure you are familiar with your gear. If you are purchasing gear specifically for this trip be sure to spend time with that gear before you’re out using it. Make sure things like day packs and rain gear fit and don’t cause discomfort or annoyance while in use. Small annoyances have a way of growing into the-only-thing-you-can-think-about 8+ miles in. Wear and use the clothes, shoes, packs, sunglasses, sunscreen, underwear – you get the point – while training.
  3. Plan acclimatization days into your trip. The longer you afford yourself at altitude, the better acclimatized you’ll be before starting the trek. By giving your body adequate time to adjust, you’ll decrease your chances of experiencing altitude sickness and put less stress on your body when starting the trail. We recommend giving yourself 3 nights at altitude before starting to trek. The Ultimate Inca Trail does just that by building in acclimatization beyond just tacking on days. This itinerary utilizes your acclimatization days by including day hikes to check out some of the best sites around Cusco and the Sacred Valley, getting you used to hiking at altitude & exploring the highlights of the area. Win. Win.
  4. Start training 2 months in advance if you already have a fitness routine, 3 – 6 months if you would not consider yourself active at all.
  5. Bring toe nail clippers! Okay, maybe the exclamation point here is overkill. But, we cannot stress this point enough. Make sure your piggies are cleaned up for the occasion. Unruly toe nails can take some serious pressure on the downhills and that can lead to bruising, the loss of a toenail or longer term problems like ingrown toenails. 1

HIKING: Walking Counts Too!

Nothing takes the place of physical miles logged. Whenever possible hike/walk outside on unpaved trails. If you do not have easy access to a trail get creative. Even incorporating laps around a grassy soccer field can help strengthen all those fine balancing muscles of the calf, ankle and foot.

Walking works! 2 The best thing about walking. . . You don’t need a gym membership. You don’t need high-end speciality gear. You can literally open your door and out you go. You can incorporate more walking into your day more easily than just about any other training activity. Keep that in mind when training. If all else fails and the day has suddenly passed with no warning (which it just loves to do) you can always pop out for a quick evening stroll around the block. Opt to walk an errand, park farther from entrances, take the stairs, walk the dog, walk while catching up with your momma. Every little step counts. Even if it doesn’t feel like it. 3 There are also ways to up your walking game and make it more of a workout. Check out 5 Ways to Make your Walks a Workout.

While by no means a necessity, a FitBit is a nice tool that logs how many steps you take a day. It starts everyone off at 10,000 steps per day, which equates to about 5 miles. You can continue to change and up your target number of steps as your training continues. The immediate positive feedback when you hit a goal and seeing how close you are to achieving that goal acts as a wonderful motivator for many people. 

Bare the elements. If it’s raining… If it’s hooottt… If there’s snow on the ground… Go into it! You are going to be sleeping outside in high mountains where the weather can change quicker than you can say “Machu Picchu”. Best to start braving the elements now when you can still return to a warm shower.

Gym Ideas: 

  • BOSU Balance Trainer: I cannot think of a better gym tool that will help you to develop strength and balance within the body as a whole and, even more specifically, working those fine muscles of the lower calf, ankle and foot muscles. These muscles will come in very handy hiking on uneven, rocky terrain. You can search YouTube for BOSU ball workouts and find endless free material. This video is a nice one that works the legs and provides beginner and more advanced options. 10 Exercises to Become a BadAss Hiker also has some helpful exercises you can do at the gym, including several that use the BOSU Ball.
  • Stair Climber: Stair climbers work the quads, hamstrings, gluteals, and abdomen – all the muscles you’ll need for hiking – while getting your heart rate up.4 No other cardio machine can mimic the endless stairs of Inca stonework you’ll be climbing on the Inca Trail. You can start to add a pack with weight in it to help build those muscles even more and to get used to wearing a day pack. (Note: Most of your gear will be carried by porters. You are just responsible for having the gear you want readily accessible – like your water bottle, rain gear, layers, camera, notebook, etc. But, hiking with weight at lower elevation can help prepare your body for what it might feel like hiking at higher elevation).
  • Treadmill on incline and decline: Very Well Fit has several Hiking Specific Treadmill Workouts to choose from.


CARDIO & INTERVAL TRAINING

Cardio should be a significant part of your training program. Your heart is going to be put into overdrive working at ten thousand feet plus. Improving your cardio means pushing your body out of it’s comfort zone. That zone is going to be different for everyone. But, stepping out of the zone is going to feel about the same for everyone. Let’s say you already run 4-5 times a week and would consider yourself active. Strengthening your cardio is going to mean faster, maybe even longer runs or alternative activities (like the stair climber or swimming) that get you working for that next breath and increase your heart rate. Cardio should be included for 2-4 times per week.

In addition to walking/hiking you can also incorporate

  • Jogging/Running 
  • Swimming
  • Biking
  • Dance Classes
  • Cardio Kickboxing Classes
  • Stair Work Outs

Interval training – alternating periods of high-intensity with low-intensity recovery periods – has been shown to improve cardiovascular strength, works both the anaerobic and aerobic systems, and does not require as much time as sustained cardio work to achieve the same benefits.5

  • Beginner: Alternate between walking and running. Try running for 1 minute and then walking for 1 minute throughout the duration of your run/walk
  • Intermediate: Check out Interval Training: Short Workouts That Really Pay Off
  • Advanced: Tabata Training follows a 20 seconds on / 10 seconds rest for 4 minutes. That doesn’t sound too stressful, but it’s intense. The point being that you never fully recover before jumping into the next hard as you can set. A 15 – 20 minute workout is an excellent, quick cardio workout. Check out What Is Tabata Training

Consider using a heart rate monitor during your workouts to make sure you are continuing to improve your fitness as your training progresses. Check out Very Well Fit’s Heart Zone Training for Cardio Exercises to determine your target heart rate and determine your optimal cardio training zone.

IMPORTANCE OF YOUR CORE

Abs are much more than pleasant aesthetics.Your core includes all muscles that attach to the pelvis and spine.6 Strong core muscles aid in almost every activity that you do.7

Think of your core muscles as the sturdy central link in a chain connecting your upper and lower body. Whether you’re hitting a tennis ball or mopping the floor, the necessary motions either originate in your core, or move through it. No matter where motion starts, it ripples upward and downward to adjoining links of the chain. Thus, weak or inflexible core muscles can impair how well your arms and legs function. And that saps power from many of the moves you make. Properly building up your core cranks up the power. A strong core also enhances balance and stability. Thus, it can help prevent falls and injuries during sports or other activities. In fact, a strong, flexible core underpins almost everything you do: – Harvard Health 

Prevention of injury is the goal here and working the core is one of the best things you can do in preparation.

Home Work Out Ideas:

Core Strengthening at Work

Pay attention to your posture. Poor posture is often an indicator of weak or out of balance core muscles. And while going to the gym or doing ab exercises can help and should be a focus of your training, working on your posture by holding the right posture for prolonged periods of time will help to balance and strengthen some core muscles that working out cannot hit.8 It is also something that does not require time in order to incorporate into your day. It can be done without much thought and while doing just about anything else. Good posture allows you to move efficiently and with the least amount of pain and strain.9

Gym Work Out Ideas


RESISTANCE & WEIGHT TRAINING

Resistance training refers to the weight of your own body as resistance or adding resistance to a bike or elliptical machine. Weight training uses weights. Either option is good; the goal here is to strengthen the muscles you’ll be using while hiking. You can keep it to your own weight or opt to add weight. Areas to focus on

  • Hamstrings are the muscles found on the back of the thigh. Affectionally referred to as the hammies. I’m listing them first because they often come second or third in thought to the more front forward quads. The hammies cross both the knee and hip joints. Strengthening these muscles (there are 3) is key. Flexible, stretched hammies are equally important to an enjoyable hiking experience. Tight hamstrings will impact your range of motion and can cause knee, hip, and even lower back pain. Here are hamstring exercises at home & at the gym
  • Gluteals: The glutes stabilize the hip when we walk.10 Here’s a helpful video that starts with easier exercises working it’s way to more advanced exercises to target the glute muscles.
  • Quadriceps: A video by Olympic runner Carrie Tollefson with a short and sweet quad routine & let’s not forget our 10 Exercises to Become a Badass Hiker
  • Calves: Check out Leg Exercises to Strengthen Calf Muscles
  • Core: The core is so important is has it’s own section. See above.
  • Hip Muscles: Hip Exercises for Hikers

** PRO TIP: The downhill of the trek is actually the most waddle inducing (i.e. what makes your muscles the most sore). The reason being your quads and hamstrings are in the process of lengthening while walking downhill. So your muscles are eccentrically contracted, meaning they are elongating at the same time that they are contracting.11 Unless you’ve specifically trained for this, no amount of leg presses or squat jumps are going to keep you from feeling the post trek burn. Eccentric exercises (aka negative contractions) are included in the hamstring and quad videos listed above.

Other Excellent Resources:

Gore-Tex’s Blog: Hiking Workout: 6 Best Training Exercises for Hiking
Backpacker: The Workout: Hike Farther, Hike Stronger
Backpacker: How To Get In Shape For Hiking


CROSS TRAINING

We’ve included so many different exercises in this training guide to give you options. Diversity in training (i.e. cross training) helps to avoid overuse & wards off boredom from routine.  When starting out it’s helpful and a good idea to build a routine. At some point that routine will stop being a challenge. Adding days of let’s say swimming, instead of stair stepping, will vitalize your workout & step up your cardio (even increase your lung capacity)1213. More importantly, it gives your muscle workhorses a breather. Adding a day or two of something new and different each week will increase your overall fitness and prevent burnout.

  •  Running,
  •  Swimming
  •  Biking
  •  Jump Rope
  • Skating, Skiing or Snowboarding *
  • Tennis or Racquetball *
  • Rowing
  • Zumba or Dance Class
  • Kickboxing
  • Playing and keeping up with the kiddos can be great cardio. Ever try playing “Tag” as an adult.
  • Yoga (see more on stretching below)
  • Weight lifting
  • Plyometrics

* Be easy out there! We’ve seen ski accidents & rolled ankles defer more than a few trekking trips.


STRETCHING

Stretching is often overlooked or the first thing booted from a workout routine. It’s like those exercises you get from the Physical Therapist, once pain fades it can be hard to stay as committed to the exercises. And, sure enough, the pain returns. Stretching is the same way. It’s easy to forego stretching when we aren’t suffering from sore muscles. However, adding stretching to your training will lessen muscle soreness post workout and, at the very least, maintain or even improve your range of motion. Stretching helps to prevent injury and improves general performance.14

Pre Workout = Dynamic Stretching & Post Workout = Static Stretching

  • Do not (static) stretch cold muscles!15 Warm up using dynamic stretches or bust out some jumping jacks or running in place before beginning. Dynamic stretches are repeated, controlled motions that stretch a muscle group (like swinging your arms back and forth across your body or trunk rotators). These are a good way to prime the muscles for exercise. They are not going to help you increase flexibility over time, but are great for lubricating the joints, increasing circulation and warming up the body. Check out Backpacker’s 5 Dynamic Hiking Stretches
  • End your work out with static stretching. This type of stretching is what most of us picture when we think of stretching. It’s holding a position for 10 secs up to 2 minutes. Static stretching is best done post workout because your muscles are already completely warmed up and you are less likely to tear or strain. Static stretching can improve muscle imbalance, increase muscle flexibility and is good for muscle recovery post workout.

Targeted Stretches for Hiking Muscles 

  • Hip Flexor Stretches: The hip flexors are a common muscle group that need some loving when starting to hike and backpack. In particular hiking with a backpack will cause the torso to lean forward slightly to accommodate the load. This shortens the flexors muscles and can lead to tightness and less range of motion in the hips, as well as, knee pain.16 Also jobs that have us sitting all day can chronically shorten these muscles. 
  • Iliotibial (IT) Band: This elastic connective tissue runs the lateral edge of your upper leg from your hip to just below your knee. If you are experiencing pain on the outside of your knee while hiking it could be the result of IT Band trouble. Because it’s not actually a muscle that contracts and lengthens stretching it seldom offers much relief. Stretching the Tensor Fascia Latae – a hip flexor muscle & Gluteus Maximus muscles (which blend into the IT Band) or the Vastus Lateralis (sitting underneath it) can offer relief. It can also help to strengthen surrounding hip muscles and gluteals. This video is particularly helpful for rolling out muscles associated with the IT Band.
  • HamstringsYoga stretches for hamstrings
  • Quads: 3 Best Quad Stretches – scroll towards the middle to bottom of the article for video and picture tutorials if you prefer to skip the anatomy at the front end.
  • Gluteals: 9 Powerful Glute Stretches for Tight Hip Relief

A foam roller is a helpful tool for stretching the hamstrings, gluteals, hip flexors, hip adductors & abductors, the Quads and IT Band. REI has a nice video on how to use the foam roller to loosen up hiking muscles. No foam roller, here is a comprehensive stretching guide for hikers that hits all the muscles groups listed above. And this guy gives a thorough stretch routine for your hips in general.

Yoga classes are highly beneficial workouts that build strength, stamina and increase flexibility. Even incorporating one class a week17 can create changes in the body. Nothing beats hands on instruction, especially as a beginner. However, there are countless free yoga classes on YouTube. Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and most streaming services have yoga videos as well. We have reached the yoga age. It’s everywhere. And, it works!

Check out these free YouTube Channels

18 YouTube Channels We Recommend for Free Yoga Videos

THE WEEK BEFORE YOUR TREK

The week prior to your big adventure you’re going to want to tone down the workouts. “Rest is important, but so is maintenance of your fitness. This is the period to taper your training plan, striking a balance somewhere in between the two extremes. . .Volume should be greatly reduced during the taper period . . .Intensity is the only variable that doesn’t change.” – Mountaineering Training: The Art of the Taper – RMI Expeditions

This is another perk of The Ultimate Inca Trail trip. You will be going out on moderate day hikes prior to starting the Inca Trail, getting you used to being at altitude and keeping you moving. We’ve included a taper week into the 3-Month Training Guide below.

It can also be helpful to maintain a healthy diet and make sure you’re getting sufficient sleep. These two things can admittedly be challenging while traveling and being in a new country. But, you can be mindful of what you put into your body the days beforehand; as in maybe don’t try the street food until after your trek and save the pisco sour(s) for cheers-ing your accomplishment. Also, ear plugs! Do not travel without them.


IS IT POSSIBLE TO SIMULATE ALTITUDE 

Unfortunately, no. Sorry, I know the title is kind of misleading. But, there are some things you can do to be prepared:

  1. I’ll stress it again. You’ll put less strain on your body if you allow yourself sufficient time to acclimatize. We recommend giving yourself 3 nights at altitude before starting to trek.
  2. Cardio training will help to strengthen heart muscles and prepare your body for the additional work it will be asked to do. However, do be cautious of overexerting yourself. A stronger heart can cause you to push harder, thus increasing your chances of altitude sickness.18 And that leads me to . . . 
  3. The importance of going slow. This ain’t no race. It’s your vacation for crying out loud. 
  4. There are medications out there to prevent altitude sickness. We at Detour are of the mindset that if you afford yourself acclimatization time you shouldn’t need to take medication. That said, best to talk to your doctor about what might be right for you. 
    • Acetazolamide (Diamox): “This is the most tried and tested drug for altitude sickness prevention and treatment. Unlike dexamethasone (below) this drug does not mask the symptoms but actually treats the problem. It seems to works by increasing the amount of alkali (bicarbonate) excreted in the urine, making the blood more acidic. Acidifying the blood drives the ventilation, which is the cornerstone of acclimatization.” –The Travel Doctor
    • “Dexamethason (a steroid) is a drug that decreases brain and other swelling reversing the effects of AMS. The dose is typically 4mg twice a day for a few days starting with the ascent. This prevents most of the symptoms of altitude illness from developing.” – The Travel Doctor
  5. Stay Hydrated. The Altitude Medicine Institute recommends drinking an additional 1.5 liters. Simultaneously, they warn that drinking too much water can deplete you of essential electrolytes. We suggest carrying electrolyte tablets in your personal first aid kit and popping them into your water bottle once or twice a day.
  6. Understand what altitude sickness looks like. Amazonas Explorer, operators of The Ultimate Inca Trail, have the utmost of safety standards. All guides have working knowledge of hypothermia and altitude sickness and will carry oxygen on your trek. 
    • Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) is the mildest form and it’s very common. The symptoms can feel like a hangover – dizzinessheadache, muscle aches, nausea.
    • High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE) is a buildup of fluid in the lungs that can be very dangerous and even life threatening.
    • High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE) is the most severe form of altitude sickness and happens when there’s fluid in the brain. It’s life threatening and you need to seek medical attention right away.

Altitude Sickness: Know What to Do – Web MD

HOW TO FUEL YOURSELF

You can be in the best shape of your life and still find yourself bonking mid-hike wondering what the hell made you think this was a good idea in the first place. Gosh, a true empty-tank-freakout can even lead to tears.19 Let’s steer clear of the fad-diet weeds here and focus more on straight rows of . . . potatoes? Carbohydrates more specifically. Calories from carbohydrates are your body’s premium, high octane fuel source for endurance. Prep your body for its’ upcoming efforts by eating a carb rich diet days beforehand. Be mindful of continuing to fuel yourself en route. Begin increasing your water consumption a couple days prior (remember this is also important to combat altitude sickness) to ensure you’re starting well-hydrated. Make it a habit during your training to snack and hydrate frequently. Sometimes you can lose your appetite during strenuous exercise. While you may not “feel” hungry, remember you need the energy.

Check out these suggested pre-trek diets:

Note: You are fed 3 nutritious, wholesome meals while hiking the Ultimate Inca Trail and will have a snack pack of goodies to support your spirits in between. No meal planning stress. Your only job is to Eat, Drink (we’re talking water perhaps with a dash of electrolytes) and Be Merry!

MONTH BY MONTH TRAINING GUIDE

Let’s start by determining if you fall into the Beginner, Intermediate, or Advanced Category. 

  • Beginner: Minimum to no experience hiking in the mountains. Currently, no regular fitness regime and/or minimal cardiovascular activity throughout the week.
  • Intermediate: Regular exercise routine (at least 2-3 times / week) and regular cardiovascular activities. Some experience hiking in the mountains (i.e. day hikes)
  • Advance: Regular exercise routine (at least 4-5 times / week) and regular cardiovascular activities. Experience with overnight, multi-day hikes.

Click around to find the workouts that work best for you. While we have trained for trips ourselves, we are travel experts not fitness experts. You might want a beginner core workout while sticking to the advanced cardio or vice versa. This is meant to be a guideline; play around.

Consider using a heart rate monitor during your workouts to make sure you are continuing to improve your fitness as your training progresses. Check out Very Well Fit’s Heart Zone Training for Cardio Exercises to determine your target heart rate and determine your optimal training zone.


LONG HIKE OR WALK: If possible try to find hilly terrain with a dirt path. If that’s not possible add at least 1 day/month logging miles on a stair climber or inclined treadmill.

3 Minute Warm Up: Dynamic Stretching

  •    Beginner:
    • Week 1: 1.5 – 2 miles
    • Week 2: 2 miles
    • Week 3: 2.5 miles
    • Week 4: 3 miles
  •    Intermediate:
    • Week 1: 3 miles
    • Week 2: 3.5 miles
    • Week 3: 4 miles
    • Week 4: 4.5 miles
  • Advance:
    • Week 1: 3.5 miles w/ weighted pack
    • Week 2: 4 miles w/ weighted pack
    • Week 3: 5 miles w/ weighted pack
    • Week 4: 5.5 miles w/ weighted pack

8 -10 Minute Cool Down: Static Stretching

CARDIOIf you are concerned about the impact of running on your joints, you could swap biking or swimming for running and alternate between sprints and cool downs. Or, check out the Cardio section above for more ideas. 

  •    Beginner:
    • Week 1: Alternate between walking and running. Try running for 30 secs and then walking for 30 secs throughout the duration of your run/walk (15 minutes). 
    • Week 2: Alternate between walking and running. Try running for 1 minute and then walking for 1 minute throughout the duration of your run/walk (20 minutes)
    • Week 3: Alternate between walking and running. Try running for 1.5 minute and then walking for 1.5 minute throughout the duration of your run/walk (20 minutes)
    • Week 4: Alternate between walking and running. Try running for 2 minute and then walking for 2 minute throughout the duration of your run/walk (25 minutes)
  •    Intermediate:
  • Advance:


CROSS TRAINING
: This is all about fun and adding diversity to your workout routine. Find a dance class at the gym, head out on a run, play a game of tennis, swim. Mix it up!



NOTE: If working out is not currently an active part of your life, you may be looking at this calendar like “yea right, I have a life!” We get that family, work and other life obligations take priority. Do what you can. At the very least, commit to your once a week long walk/hike, incorporate walking where you can, and maybe throw some standing squats in or that class you’ve always wanted to try at the gym. There are people with no hiking experience or time in the mountains that complete the Inca Trail everyday. Fit in what you can. And, don’t stress too much. The more you train the more you’ll enjoy the hike and the less pain you’ll experience. But, even if you can’t train as much as you’d hoped (you still need to train), the scenery, good company and adventure of it all should keep you going. 

LONG HIKE OR WALK: If possible try to find hilly terrain with a dirt path. If that’s not possible add at least 1 day/month logging miles on a stair climber or inclined treadmill. Want to step it up a notch, carry a weighted pack.

3 Minute Warm Up: Dynamic Stretching

  •   Beginner:
    • Week 1: 3 miles
    • Week 2: 3.5 miles
    • Week 3: 4 miles
    • Week 4: 5 miles
  •   Intermediate:
    • Week 1: 5 miles
    • Week 2: 5.5 miles
    • Week 3: 6 miles
    • Week 4: 6.5 miles
  • Advance:
    • Week 1: 5.5 miles w/ weighted pack
    • Week 2: 6 miles w/ weighted pack
    • Week 3: 6.5 miles w/ weighted pack
    • Week 4: 7 miles w/ weighted pack

8 -10 Minute Cool Down: Static Stretching


STRENGTH TRAINING & WALKING
: The following YouTube Fitness Channels offer a variety of at home workouts to choose from. HASfit, POPSUGAR Fitness, or Relentless Jake (more advanced).

CARDIO: The following YouTube Fitness Channels offer a variety of at home workouts to choose from. HASfit, POPSUGAR Fitness (good cardio options to choose from), or Relentless Jake (more advanced).

  •    Beginner:
  •    Intermediate:
  • Advance:
    • Week 1: 30 minute run/bike/swim: 2 minute push (slightly above that comfortable pace you feel like you could maintain for the entire 20. Not a sprint) followed by 1 minute recovery pace.
    • Week 2: 30 minute Tabata-style HIIT workout
    • Week 3: 40 minute run/bike/swim: 2 minute push (slightly above that comfortable pace you feel like you could maintain for the entire 20. Not a sprint) followed by 1 minute recovery pace.
    • Week 4: 45-min high cardio kick-boxing workout

STAIRS AND CORE: You can skip all the crazy stair workout suggestions below and just go walk some stairs for 20 – 40 minutes.

CROSS TRAINING: This is all about fun and adding diversity to your workout routine. Find a dance class at the gym, head out on a run, play a game of tennis, swim. Mix it up!


LONG HIKE OR WALK: If possible try to find hilly terrain with a dirt path. If that’s not possible add at least 1 day/month logging miles on a stair climber or inclined treadmill. Want to step it up a notch, carry a weighted pack.

3 Minute Warm Up: Dynamic Stretching

  •   Beginner:
    • Week 1: 6 miles
    • Week 2: 7 miles
    • Week 3: 8 miles
    • Week 4: 5 miles
  •   Intermediate:
    • Week 1: 7 miles
    • Week 2: 7.5 miles
    • Week 3: 9 miles
    • Week 4: 5 miles
  • Advance:
    • Week 1: 8 miles w/ weighted pack
    • Week 2: 9 miles w/ weighted pack
    • Week 3: 10 miles w/ weighted pack
    • Week 4: 5 miles w/ weighted pack

8 -10 Minute Cool Down: Static Stretching


STRENGTH TRAINING & WALKING:
 The following YouTube Fitness Channels offer a variety of at home workouts to choose from. HASfit, POPSUGAR Fitness, or Relentless Jake (more advanced).

CARDIO: The following YouTube Fitness Channels offer a variety of at home workouts to choose from. HASfit, POPSUGAR Fitness (good cardio options to choose from), or Relentless Jake (more advanced).

STAIRS AND CORE: Choose your favorite stair workout from last month or walk stairs for 20 – 40 minutes.

CROSS TRAINING: This is all about fun and adding diversity to your workout routine. Find a dance class at the gym, head out on a run, play a game of tennis, swim. Mix it up!

  1. Hikers and Runners Give Their Toenails a Beating – Kanas City Foot Specialists
  2. Runner’s World featured an article called Walk On: Slowing down to a stroll can speed your fitness, stating “As a low-intensity form of aerobic exercise, walking burns fat for fuel, keeping you at racing weight. Moreover, walking briskly helps older people develop mitochondria, our cells’ “power plants,” which not only slow the aging process but are also essential to endurance activities. And walking strengthens key muscle groups required for running — calves, quads, hamstrings and glutes — without any significant impact.”
  3. On the author’s personal note, I played soccer in college and something about that experience has equated training to squats and lots of sweat. Bike race – squats, lots of sweat. Long river trip – push ups, lots of sweat. Backpacking – laps up steep terrain, lots of sweat. That perspective shifted when I went from living in the mountains to months at steamy sea level. The heat did not agree with those kinds of efforts, though it did allow for lots of sweating. In came surfing, snorkeling and strolls along the beach. In time my mountain legs were exchanged for ocean arms and when I returned to the mountains of Montana I knew I was going to struggle to keep up with my friends on the trails. The elevation. The steep terrain. Even though it was cold, I was going to sweat!

    But you know what?! The opposite ended up being true. I didn’t have a car in Mexico. I walked all the time. On average I logged anywhere from 45 min to 1.5 hours a day (my mind thinks in time, not miles). Though, not all once. A 15-minute walk to the beach. A 15-minute walk back hours later. A leisurely 10-minute walk to the store. My once a week 1.5 hour roundtrip slog to the market (not counting all the walking at the market). All that walk commuting added up and I found my endurance had actually increased as had my pace. And, even more noticeable, my muscles were fresh. They weren’t fatiguing from overuse (see the importance of cross training below). I didn’t even see it coming! Walking seemed so apart of daily life that it hadn’t even occurred to me that I was “working out”.

  4. What Muscles Does the Stair Climber Work – LiveStrong.com
  5. ACSM Information on High-Intensity Interval Training – American College of Sports Medicine
  6. The Muscles that Actually Make Up Your Core – Men’s Journal
  7. Core exercises: Why you should strengthen your core muscles – Mayo Clinic
  8. Weak muscles lead to bad posture. So why doesn’t a gym workout help – CoreConcepts.com
  9. The benefits of good posture – TED Ed
  10. Best Exercises to Strengthen and Stabilise the Glute Muscles – Range of Motion Physical Therapy
  11. The Workout: Hike Further, Hike Stronger – Backpacker.com
  12. The effects of swimming on the lungs – LiveStrong.com
  13. Your ability to control and conserve your breath and expand your breathing capacity will come in handy when the oxygen supply is reduced. Hiking information website HikingDude.com recommends developing a breathing/stepping rhythm that will prevent you from overexerting yourself at higher elevations. It also recommends practicing deep breathing on training hikes. Whenever you begin to feel breathless, concentrate on taking deep breaths and smaller steps until a more normal breathing pattern returns.
  14. Stretching: Focus on Flexibility – Mayo Clinic
  15. Stretching: Focus on Flexibility – Mayo Clinic
  16. The Workout: Hike Further, Hike Stronger – Backpacker.com
  17. What Are the Benefits of Yoga Once a Week – Livestrong.com
  18. Caution: Please note, there is a flip side to having a strong cardiovascular system, as the fitter you are the harder you can push yourself on your Machu Picchu trek. This is a mistake as exertion at high altitude is a key driver of altitude sickness. Make sure you go slowly on your trek, particularly on the ascents up and over passes. Breathe deep into your lungs and do not over exert yourself. You want your strong cardiovascular system to support you at high altitude, you do not want to strain the system.” – Machu Picchu Trekking Training Manual from the British Heart Foundation & Full Potential
  19. Not that I would know or anything.