How to Train for the Appalachian Trail
Planning to hike the Appalachian Trail? Then you’ll definitely need to start training before you head out there into nature.
The AP is a challenging trail and it requires a ton of preparation, so if you’re in better physical shape you’ll have a whole lot more fun. You’ll also protect yourself from injury and build the mental and physical strength you need to complete the trail.
Whether you’re doing the whole thing at once or you’re taking it section by section, you should start bumping up your physical activity at least 8 weeks before your trip, twice that if you have the time.
Here’s our quick guide on how you can train for the Appalachian Trail.
As you’ll see, it’s a lot more fun than it sounds!
#1: Get out there and start hiking
Without a doubt, if you want to improve your hiking and get in shape, you need to hike more!
We recommend that you get out there onto trails as much as you can. You should dedicate at least two days per week to getting plenty of miles in and increasing the time you’re spending on your feet.
Aim to cover the same kind of terrain as the Appalachian Trail, including as many hills or mountains as you possibly can. Try to find places that are rocky or filled with roots or mud or other natural surfaces.
Also, try to carry some weight with you so you can get used to the idea of carrying your backpack whilst also adding an extra level of challenge to your training schedule.
It’s also worth throwing in some overnight hikes if that’s what you plan to do on the Appalachian Trail and take your gear with you. This will help you get used to what you need to use, pinpoint anything you haven’t yet thought of and help you train for the real thing.
#2: Hit the gym
If you want a strong, fit, and well-prepared body that will help you enjoy the Appalachian Trail to the max, you’ll also need to fit in some workouts too.
Make sure you work hard on your core stability and your leg strength to help you navigate that difficult terrain whilst carrying your pack. Include squats, dips, burpees, sit-ups, and lifts that work your quads and calves whilst also building your core stability.
Don’t forget to include stretching or even yoga in your training schedule so you can help prevent injury, reduce your recovery time and help you reduce any stress or worry.
Either head to your gym, look up workout classes in your area, try online fitness subscription packages or head over to YouTube and check out some of the free workouts available there.
Yes, it will take time to get your body into the shape you’d like it to be, but the improvement in your endurance and strength will really pay off.
#3: Get your heart rate up
Hiking can really test your overall fitness levels, especially if you’re on a particularly steep section of the Appalachian Trail. That’s why you should also include plenty of cardio workouts or aerobic activities in your training schedule.
Consider heading out for a run, jump on your bike, swim, playing sports, messing around with your kids, dancing, HIIT workouts, or anything else that will get your heart rate up.
Just be careful not to overdo it. Make sure you’re doing a well-balanced combination of hikes, strength workouts, and cardio and you’ll be fine.
#4: Walk around barefoot whenever you can
Help strengthen the tiny muscles in your feet and give them some much needed TLC by walking around without shoes as much as you can.
This will feel especially awesome when you’ve been hiking for long distances, and it will help undo any damage caused by being cramped inside of shoes all day. Importantly, it will also help build those calluses that will help prevent blisters when you’re out on the trail.
This can be as simple as walking barefoot at home or in your backyard. If you’re feeling brave, you can even venture out onto the streets. Just be careful of hazards like broken glass and dog poop!
#5: Strengthen your mind too
It’s not just your body that you need to train for the Appalachian Trail- you also need to strengthen your mind too.
Trying to complete a trail as epic and challenging as this one is almost guaranteed to push you right to your limits (and beyond). That’s part of the attraction, right?
So, you need to be sure that you can overcome any doubt or fear that slips in and push on through, regardless. Get this bit right and you can show the world what you’re made of and have an epic time on the train.
We recommend that you check out one of the meditation apps that are on the market- Calm and Headspace are our top picks. Then start using them at least 6 weeks before your trip starts- the earlier the better.
Yes, the Appalachian Trail is a very challenging trail to tackle. But if you start training before you take your trip, you’ll feel stronger, fitter and faster as you hike and enjoy the whole experience a whole lot more.
So, what’s stopping you? It’s time to get started!