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Top 8 Training for Appalachian Trail Hike - Don’t Hit the Trail until Your Body is Ready

Don’t hit the trail until your training for Appalachian Trail is ready. The article lists the top 8 training for Appalachian Trail hike to help you prepare for a successful thru-hike and reduce the possibility of overuse injuries.

By Joy | @Joy

Updated on Oct 23, 2019

Thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail is an extremely difficult task that requires adequate preparation, either mentally or physically. Don't try hitting the trail until your mind, body and hiking gear are ready. Proper and adequate training preparation will significantly increase your chances of success, improve the quality of your trip, and reduce the possibility of overuse injuries. The article lists the top 8 training for Appalachian Trail hike to help you prepare for a successful thru-hike. Remember to consult your doctor before starting any exercise program.

 Top 8 Training for Appalachian Trail Hike

1. Aerobic Training for Appalachian Trail Hike

Regularly hiking and participating in some other aerobic exercise, such as biking, swimming, running, or group exercise classes, will not only help you build a solid aerobic base, but also build confidence and motivation for your adventure. You can consider starting your training plan with three to four days a week. If you've had success in the first few weeks, add 1 or 2 days of training each week. To fully recover your mind and body, take at least one day off every week.

At the beginning of training for Appalachian Trail Hike, remember to hike on flat or undulating terrain without adding extra weight. Gradually move towards steeper terrain. As your fitness level improves, start wearing an empty backpack, then a partially weighted backpack, and finally a backpack that's the same weight you plan to carry.

 Recommended article: Everything You Need to Know about Backpacking Base Weight

Aerobic Training for Appalachian Trail Hike

2. Top 5 Strength Training for Appalachian Trail Hike

Strength trumps everything. Statistically speaking, the stronger the athlete is, the less likely he or she is to be injured. Strength is also efficient. If all else is equal, the stronger people will perform better in any given activity. The same principle applies to long hikes. Strength is gained slowly and lost slowly, while endurance or conditioning is gained quickly and lost quickly. Keep in mind that you can't get the most out of strength and conditioning at the same time. 


Grab a sandbag or dumbbell.

Start with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees and hinge down at the hips as if you are sitting on a low chair. Ideally, the thigh should be parallel to the ground, or your knees should be higher than your feet.

Keep your chest and back straight while holding the weight at your sides, on your chest or over the back. When you stand up, press your heels into the ground.

HIIT workout

HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, is a training method in which you go all out, hit the ball against the wall, give 100 percent effort through a quick, intense workout, followed by a short recovery. It is usually kept in the 25-minute range. Check the following HIIT routines. Note that each move takes 45 seconds with a 15-second break.

Jump squats: Jump for 30 seconds and then pulse for 15 seconds 

Kettlebell swings 

Skaters: 10 lb dumbbell

Snatches: 15 lb kettlebell or dumbbell

Lunge with bicep curls: 10 lb dumbells

Bent over row with tricep extension: 15 lb dumbells

Squat, oblique twist, reach: 20 lb kettlebell

Renegade row with tricep pushup: 10 lb dumbells

High Pulls: 20 lb kettlebell

Long jump burpees


Pick up a sandbag or dumbbell, or place your backpack on your shoulder.

Step one foot forward and slowly bend both knees to 90 degrees so that you can keep your knees parallel to the feet and your body straight down.

Keep a firm lower back and broad shoulders.

Press up powerfully from the middle foot and heel of the front leg.

Repeat this process with your opposite leg.

 Strength Training for Appalachian Trail Hike

Push-up with single-arm row

Use dumbbells.

Start in a push-up with your hands on the dumbbells and your feet apart. Push one elbow back and lift the dumbbell up to your rib cage when you push up.

Keep your body straight from head to toe throughout the exercise, and stay in a plank position.

Increase trunk rotation and hip flexion

Prepare a dumbbell or sandbag

Step up onto a sturdy bench or box and press into the lead foot firmly.

When rotating, raise the hind leg up and move sideways slightly so that the trunk and elbows are on the same side as the front leg.

3. Resistance Training for Appalachian Trail Hike

Targeted resistance training for Appalachian Trail Hike is a powerful tool that can help your body manage the physical stresses of hiking and cross-country running. Resistance exercises like lunges, squats, and planks can strengthen your muscles, connective tissue and bones, and significantly improve your performance of the movement. Note that there should be at least 48 hours of rest between resistance workouts.

4. Basic Static Stretching

Remember to take some time to stretch your entire body thoroughly after completing the aerobic, strength and resistance exercises. If time is limited, perform at least one static stretch in these major areas: hamstrings, quadriceps, hips and calves. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds and don't forget to breathe while stretching. 


Your age, health and current level of fitness and many other factors can affect how much preparation you need. For most people, six months is a reasonable amount of time to be prepared sufficiently.

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