A number of muscles need to be developed before attempting this endeavor; namely, the posterior chain. These are all the muscles you usually don’t see in the mirror: glutes (then again I look at mine in the mirror), hamstrings, calves, and your lower back muscles. Your cardiovascular endurance also needs to be developed. I usually advocate for HIIT (high-intensity interval-training), but that’s really not too constructive for this goal.
1. Cardio: Incline treadmill.
Treadmills are wonderful tools. Most people hate them because they’re monotonous. However, user experience varies on how involved you are in the process.
For a beginner, a 3-5% incline at 3 mph is relatively achievable. Most individuals in decent health should be able to accomplish this for 10 minutes without feeling too winded. Doing 10 minutes to start with is a good idea. If it’s easy, continue for another 10 minutes. If you’re still doing okay, do another 10 minutes.
Intermediate-level fitness enthusiasts can put the incline around 10% at 3 mph and still be relatively okay for at least 10 minutes. If it’s easy, add another 10 minutes. If you’re still okay, do another 10 minutes.
Advanced individuals can most likely put the treadmill setting at its highest incline (which is usually 15%. If it can go any higher… DON’T.) at 3 mph. A total of thirty minutes should be achieved.
However, most people don’t necessarily fall exactly into each of these categories. A good training style with this cardio is to start at your highest incline, do this for 10 minutes, drop it down to the lowest incline you’ll possibly do (for 10 minutes), then put it back somewhere in the middle for 10 minutes.
Focus on stride length. Where most people focus on picking their feet up, you should focus on picking your knees up. It sounds strange, but when you approach steeper inclines you’ll thank me.
2. Exercises: Calf raises, “Supermans,” walking lunges.
We want to build our lower back muscles, our glutes, and our legs. Sure, a leg-press is great for muscle hypertrophy, but you want to be Sacajawea showing Lewis and Clark how it’s done. She never had a leg-press.
Walking lunges teach you balance, core stability, and strength in movement. There are ways to progress doing this. If you want, you could watch this video (it's not awful.): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YYWhkctnP2o
Beginners: Place both knees on the floor while keeping your body upright. Place both hands on the floor. Raise one knee and place one foot in between your hands. Your knee should be at a 90 degree angle. Now place the opposite leg straight behind you, leaving all the weight on that front leg. Maintain the 90 degree angle while you raise your torso straight up. You can place your hands to your sides (easiest), out in front (intermediate), or straight above your head (advanced). Practice holding this position with each leg for a minimum of 10 seconds.
Intermediate: Stand with both feet together. Raise one knee so the angle of your leg is at 90 degrees. “Fall” forward without changing a thing! When you land, you should be able to lower and press with your plant leg. The back leg should also be at a 90 degree angle, with the back knee barely hovering above the ground. Drive the plant foot through the floor, stand upright, then switch legs. Do 10 steps for each leg.
Advanced: Add weight, either with dumbbells in your hands or with a barbell across your trapezius muscles.
“Supermans” are quick and easy. Lay on the floor with your face down and ask yourself “How does superman fly?” Once you’ve gotten in that position, raise your arms and feet like they’re trying to meet behind your back. Lower them towards the floor. Raise them again. Do this a lot.
Calf-raises. You can do these anywhere, anytime. You’re stuck in the elevator? Calf-raises. Waiting on the metro? Calf-raises. Sitting on the toilet? Why not do some calf-raises? In the shower? I bet you know where this is going. Avoid doing too many of these in front of people if you’re in public. Then again, I’d love to hear your story if you do.
3. Cardio: Stairmaster.
This is one of the most awful pieces of cardio equipment ever. Not because it’s a bad piece of equipment, but because when you get off of it you’ll want to put a fork through my eye for telling you to do it. It’s fun, really.
Beginners should go at a slow pace and take one step at a time. A total of 10 minutes to start with is going to be difficult enough as it is.
Intermediates should go a little bit faster. Maybe try 15 minutes and see if you don’t want to die.
Advanced people should just go on the hike already. But if you’re not on the hike, go at a challenging pace for 20 minutes. In that 20 minutes you can take two steps at a time (which is why walking lunges are important), sprint up the steps if you feel like going faster, slow down a little so you can work on your balance, etc. Make it interesting. This is where you separate the walkers from the hikers. Or the hikers from the Sacajaweas.
If at any point you feel these aren’t very difficult then you should probably just enjoy your hike. You’re already in great shape. For an added challenge, go hike without the trail. Hell, bring a tent and a mag-light. Better yet, just avoid civilization entirely and live off the land. I’m sure you’ll be fine.
*Thank you Marcus for making me think about hiking training. I’m jealous I’m not hiking with you. And to your co-worker: if you’re not an outdoorsman (outdoorswoman), please don’t try hiking off the trail. Really. Don’t. Poison ivy ain’t no joke. Nor are bears.