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Today I wanted to share with you ten tips to learn how to hike and walk without getting tired.
You should know that there are many people, who are not necessarily used to hiking in the mountains, who think that in fact to make a nice hike to a nice summit or to reach an alpine lake you have to be physically trained, that you have to be used to it.
So training and fitness certainly help, but in the mountains, it’s not everything.
How to stay in shape throughout the trek? Here are nine tips and valuable advice for beginners or more experienced hikers.
Tip #1: Training
It is the most important advice. The ideal is to practice regular physical activity, everyone at own level, on a bicycle, on foot, regardless, to develop your endurance.
If you cannot run a long distance, no problem, you can run a little, then walk, and resume the running.
It is necessary to start slowly and not to force it: this is not the speed that is important, but rather the length! 40 minutes are recommended at a minimum; otherwise, your body does not even realize the exercise.
A walk in a park on the flat, even if it is pleasant, will not make you progress physically. For that training to have results, it must cause a little tiredness, the heart, the lungs, we must feel them in motion.
We need to make your body “tired” kindly, to be able to make progress, but without ever forcing it too much: a delicate balance!
And only once is not helping at all. We have to be persistent and train two or three times per week, regularly, and let our body time to rest between sessions.
And little by little, we feel better, and training becomes a pleasure!
We can also work our technique and flexibility: during a hike, you get tired more if we must force ourselves to make big movements.
Working our flexibility is a big plus. After an effort, we can, therefore, do some stretching.
But rest assured you, for those who do not have the time to train before their departure, no problem. As long as you have healthy body weight, it is possible.
The trick is to choose an adapted hike or hiking paths less technical.
You must especially choose well your circuit and not overestimate yourself: if we see that we are well on an easy hike, we can then aspire to others a little more difficult, always gradually.
Your body will eventually adapt to this change in effort and exercise.
Tip #2: Find your pace
In fact, most mountain people know walking techniques adapted, to get as little fatigue as possible, what is important is to manage to find your pace: it is better to start slowly, to walk slowly so that the leg muscles gradually warm up, and that you get used to the weight of the backpack.
Finding your pace is important but not as easy as you think. If you get tired, you must make an effort to walk slowly, because fatigue often comes from an inappropriate pace.
The advice here, in case of fatigue, is to walk even more slowly, because this will allow us to keep going and not stop too often.
The group must not start quickly, to give the organism time to adapt to the walk and not to get exhausted over time.
One of the roles of the leader is to manage the pace and pay attention to everyone. A reduced pace is more efficient as we can walk for hours and hours without getting tired.
It is particularly essential to avoid the worst of things to do, which is to accelerate to catch up with a group, then stop to catch your breath, then accelerate again.
In the mountains, walking slowly is essential and for several reasons.
The first one is that you will get less tired, the second one is that you will walk more safely because as long as you go slowly you see better where you put your feet.
Then walking slowly allows you to observe and look at the surroundings and very often when it goes up it’s getting harder to move on, so looking around you, the beauty of the landscapes, psychologically it also helps.
Tip #3: Avoid shortcuts
There are always shortcuts along with a hiking track.
We always have the impression that it will allow us to go faster and that we will arrive faster but no it’s really something to avoid because very often the shortcuts are much steeper than the normal path and you will perhaps go faster but at the end, on the whole track, you will get more tired and save very little time.
Typical shortcuts have a very steep slope and I really don’t think it’s worth getting tired when using them, take the flattest path possible and as soon as you have quite steep slopes move along in a zigzag course rather than going straight up.
Tip #4: Observe the terrain on which you evolve
The fact of carefully observing the ground when you walk will help you choose better where you will position your feet.
So it is necessary to try to privilege places as flat as possible between the stones, try here to have your feet flat as often as possible, this way you will preserve more the muscles of the calves or the thighs.
Tip #5: Using hiking poles
Many people say that hiking poles are for old people and for tourists.
Walking poles are ultra-efficient for several reasons already, in fact, the sticks allow you to use less energy, thus getting less tired.
Because we exercise pressure on them and therefore we relieve a little bit of the weight of our body and backpack, we spend less energy in the thighs, plus it also relieves the pressure on the knee joints.
They also allow us to keep our balance better when we are on slightly steep terrain or with many stones.
Hiking poles help you not to fall when the ground is wet and slippery and so, in any case, it will help you to get less tired.
Of course, they work as well in ascent as in descent.
And frankly hiking poles are very light, they are not at all cumbersome, you can attach them on your backpack in a wink.
So using trekking poles is very important.
Tip #6: Setting reasonable goals
You’ll be all the more happy to have reached them and then the next time you can set yourself a slightly higher goal and you’ll progress like that.
If you tell yourself: “no I want to go up there at all costs” and then physically you can’t get there, you have to turn around and in the end you will not reach your goal.
This is where you will feel frustrated, whereas, with small goals that are easily achievable, the result is much more rewarding and in the mountains it is important.
Tip #7: Hydrate and feed yourself
Before, during, and after the effort, you should drink 4 liters, therefore vary the drinks allows you to reach that goal: tea, juices, soup, water. When it is hot, you can drink up to 7 or 8 liters.
Hydrating is essential because, with 2% of weight loss in fluid, you will lose 20% of your physical capacity.
And it will also avoid muscle pain after hiking, or heavy legs. So even when the weather is not hot, we drink.
The ideal way to drink while hiking is to have a hydration bladder with a hose that comes out of the backpack that will allow you to take small sips regularly without having to stop, removing the pack, taking the bottle out.
Here it helps to keep the pace.
And we eat! Having a nutritious breakfast is the foundation.
Fluids, fast sugars, starch. Some proteins will make the action of the starchy foods more effective.
For hiking, make sure you have a few energy bars, but without excess, because too much sugar can have the opposite effect.
For lunch stop, try to focus on light foods but tasty ones you like and varied at the same time.
And in the evening you should eat starchy foods (pasta, rice), protein (meat), salads, and even a little natural fat: salami, ham.
You must eat neither too much nor too little.
You should not, for example, get into your head that you are going to go for a mountain hike to lose weight! The mountain is not a place to eat less.
Tip #8: Walk light
To spare your strength, it is good to carry light gear:
- a lightweight backpack and of good quality will contribute to feeling better during the hike,
- do not take unnecessary things, but do not forget useful stuff,
- avoid heavy hiking shoes or boots in easy hiking paths; they will slowly weigh on your feet,
- do not wear too many clothes, if you don’t need to, to have the freedom of movements.
Basically take the bare minimum, it’s very important because very often at the beginning of the hike you may tell yourself the backpack is a little bit heavy but it’s going to be OK when I warm up.
And then after an hour or so of walking, you will feel shriveled, with chaffing shoulders and then very quickly you will want to throw everything away from your backpack.
With a light pack, you will feel much better and more comfortable.
In any case, always carry your backpack properly by tightening your hipbelt to avoid all the weight falling on your shoulders which can be exhausting and painful at some point.
One other important thing is to use light breathable clothes. If possible avoid bringing your big ski jacket, your biggest wool sweater because you are afraid of being cold.
The idea is to use the principle of multilayers and put several light layers to keep warm.
It is also much more pleasant when you walk with a backpack and your back sweats, wearing light and breathable clothes, you will sweat a lot less and in any case, these type of clothes dry out much faster.
Tip #9: Take breaks during your hike
When you take frequent breaks during your hike you avoid exhaustion and prevent injury. When you stop and rest for a few minutes, your body will recover and recharge.
During these breaks, you will also have the opportunity to better appreciate the surrounding nature, take some pictures, drink some water and even eat a little snack. However, it’s important to avoid heavy meals that could make you feel sluggish.
You could set a schedule for rest stops or use landmarks as reference points. For example, what I do with when I guide a small group, is to take a break every hour or after hiking a certain distance depending on the difficulty of the terrain. There are often scenic lookouts on your trail, like a waterfall, or a natural landmark to rest and take in the view.
A break is also a good time to stretch your muscles and taking your backpack off your shoulders to make you feel a little bit lighter.
Remember that taking breaks is not a sign of weakness, but rather a smart strategy to ensure you can complete your hike safely and comfortably. So, listen to your body and take the breaks you need to enjoy your hike to the fullest.
Tip #10: Finish with some stretching
If your muscles are painful, it is undoubtedly because you didn’t drink enough water. In the evening, for those who like it, drink a beer, it is refreshing and full of vitamin B, and it helps the relaxation of the muscles.
For those who do not like, beer yeast is a good alternative.
If you keep on feeling pain, besides keeping on drinking, we will never insist enough on this one, paracetamol or aspirin can help (if you’re not allergic or have a contraindication).
Cramps occur mainly because of the loss of mineral salts during sweating. You should compensate for mineral water or an isotonic drink.
Bananas are also good; they contain plenty of potassium! Moreover, you should avoid mineral waters low in salt.
A good soup also helps for re-hydration and helps to avoid cramps.
These small things contribute to well-being during hiking.