8 valuable tips to prepare you for hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

23/01/2020 6:43 pm

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Many people are wondering what fitness they should have before performing a Trek.

Well the truth is that the answer is variable especially considering the age and experience that each of our clients have. It is very curious this question, since to be more specific could put an example that can describe this of a form much closer to the reality. You should take some tips that will serve you a lot when starting a trek.

Your body and your mind will thank you very much.

 

1. Start with small walks:

Take your most comfortable sneakers and start walking through the park closest to your home. Walking is a habit that it does is to oxygenate the heart of a few, thus achieving that you can achieve an optimal physical state. Try to make your walks longer and longer. It starts at 10 to 15 minute intervals and then starts to extend them when you feel you can improve the time.

2. Try to enter a Gym:

While fitness is of paramount importance to keep the heart oxygenated at the time of a walk, the muscular part is also vital for optimal physical performance. Muscle strengthening is important in that it gives the body the strength needed for long paths.

3. Wear comfortable clothes:

Clothing is a very important factor when making a Trek, that is why all the accessories that you should take into account mainly go from boots that fit you, to a pole that is the most comfortable as possible. Do not forget to consider before a Trek the following elements: Boots, Stockings, Gaiters, Shirts, Shorts, Pants, T shirts and also sleep wear.

While it is true that physical fitness is important for a long walk above all, the power of motivation is also important. Clients who take walks with us, are involved in the mystique and strength of our land, which the motivate you to continue your journey. Being close to your family and friends is a motivation that allows you to go beyond any tiredness.

The guide plays a very important role as well, as he is responsible for giving encouragement and support to the person who may find himself tired after a long walk. It is important to be always close to the guide and the group, since it is able to provide the best assistance in any situation. The way our customers are motivated is always going to be the most important thing for us. Taking care of their physical strength is of paramount importance so that the performance they have is optimal.

4. Cardio:

First thing’s first- your heart needs to be in shape for your trek. To make sure this happens, you’ll need to make sure you do some moderate cardio 3-4 times a week- about the equivalent of running a 5k-10k. For this, it doesn’t really matter what type of cardio you do- running, biking, swimming, step aerobics- the important thing is that you do it. Your heart and lungs will thank you, trust me.

5. Strength Training:

Your muscles will be taxed on these treks… there’s a lot of walking on uneven ground, using trekking poles for balance, and carrying your day pack with you. You’ll want to make sure your muscles are up for the task. For purposes of getting in shape for the trek, bodyweight exercises should be sufficient. For your legs, you should incorporate a regimen of lunges, squats, and again, step aerobics can come in very handy (especially for the Inca Trail which has a LOT of stairs. Like, a LOT.) For your upper body, core exercises should be sufficient- you don’t need to get ripped, just be strong enough to carry a day pack for a few days. Planks, push-ups, back extensions are good, though if you do have weights you can use, rows and presses are also very effective for your back and shoulders.

6. Hiking:

The best way to prepare physically for a really long hike? Go hiking. As much as you can. If you have relatively difficult trails near you, your best bet is get at least two or three longish hikes in before you travel to Peru. If you don’t live near trails, you can train on hills and/or by climbing stairs.

You want to get your muscles, joints, and tendons ready for uneven terrain. (Also, this is a good way to break in your hiking shoes/boots… you DO NOT want to start the Inca Trail or Salkantay with brand new hiking boots. You will get chafing and blisters and be miserable. Make sure your hiking footwear has been broken in.)

 

7. Acclimatization:

Unless you already live at a very high altitude, the altitude of your trek will probably be a bit of a shock. Seriously, DO NOT underestimate the altitude. You will want to be in Cusco at least two days before your trek… more if possible. There are many activities you can do to pass the time here, and get your body ready for being active in the altitude.

Some great ideas are day walking tours in and around Cusco, or just exploring the city. The second day you’re here you may want to try something a bit more strenuous, like walking up to the Cristo Blanco. But most importantly, you’ll need to just *be* in the altitude for a couple days before even one of the moderate treks.  The altitude doesn’t care how fit or out of shape you are… it just randomly attacks with no real way of knowing who will suffer and who will be completely fine. It’s best to err on the side of assuming you’re probably going to need a few days.  (Keep an eye out for our next blog post, where we will introduce our new 3 day pre-trek option, PERFECT for acclimating to the altitude, and getting you ready for your trekking adventure!)

 

8. Mental Preparation:

A 4 or 5 day trek in the Andes is as much about physical exertion as mental exertion. There are parts of these trails that are especially difficult- namely uphill pushes to the mountain passes. You may want to stop and tell everyone to go on without you and save themselves. It’s similar to running a long distance or making it through a particularly long Monday at work. You have to be able to know you can do it, even though your body is trying to tell you can’t. These treks are doable for most people, and people of all sorts of fitness levels have completed them. If you do the physical preparation we’ve suggested here, you will be able to finish. Use this knowledge to get you up to that pass. “I trained, and that blog said that if I trained I can do this. So I can do this! I’m a beast!” (Side note- “I’m a beast!” may or may not be my actual personal mantra when climbing hills and running marathons… it’s very effective.) Actually, coming up with a personal mantra is also helpful when you’re struggling. They can be inspirational, hilarious, or a mix of the two. Some of my favorites: “I’m the boss of this mountain!” “At the end of this, there will be food!” “Only 10 more steps to the next 10 steps!” “That mountain doesn’t look so tough.” “I love stairs.” Feel free to steal any of these, or make up your own!

Let us know in the comments below if you have any questions or other suggestions for preparing for a multi-day trek!

Happy trekking!

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