walkhighlands

This forum is for general discussion about walking and scrambling... If writing a report or sharing your experiences from a route, please use the other boards.

Best way to gain back hill fitness?

Best way to gain back hill fitness?


Postby Alfachick » Thu Jan 02, 2020 11:58 am

So as some of you may have seen in other threads I have basically not been out as much as I would have liked to have been the last year and I have managed to gain a considerable amount of weight and lose basically all of my hill fitness. :(
I still have the mental grit to get to the top of a hill but it takes a frustratingly long time now and I have to say its less than fun wheezing my way up and holding up those who are with me.

So my question to the walk highlands hive brain is; what is the best way to gain back my hill fitness? Are there any specific exercises I could do at home or in the gym to help me with ascents?

My thinking so far is:
1. Lose the extra winter (and uni stress :shock: ) lbs - going to a weight loss group for that as being held accountable seems to work for me
2. Start walking the dogs on a regular route and time it and try to beat my times

Please any advice is welcome. I am annoyed at myself that I let my hill fitness go as it really impacts on the thing that I love to do the most - walking in the hills!
Alfachick
Bird-watcher
 
Posts: 57
Munros:39   Corbetts:9
Grahams:7   
Sub 2000:35   
Joined: Jun 10, 2015
Location: Aberdeenshire

Re: Best way to gain back hill fitness?

Postby HalfManHalfTitanium » Thu Jan 02, 2020 12:26 pm

I am in a similar situation, in that I'm off to Skye in April, planning to do some slightly tougher stuff than I have done for a while.

I know I still have the skills I used to have - but not the level of fitness.

As I am not a gym type person, these are the things I am doing

- Incorporating walking into my daily routine, e.g. walking to work instead of catching the bus. I also try to walk round my local park as often as possible.

- Wearing a rucksack when walking. I don't load it up heavily, due to my knees - you might be able to do more.

- Watching what I eat. I am not a dieter - but I do watch out now for all those carb-based foods and snacks that have hidden sugar. Also, I think snacks are more about habit than hunger, so I'm changing that too.

- I have only one specific exercise, but I've found it useful. I sit (no chair) by holding my back to the wall, thighs horizontal, calves vertical. I just sit like that for a minute. That's all. Only a few repeats per day needed. It builds leg strength so it is good for those uphill slogs.

tim
User avatar
HalfManHalfTitanium
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 1794
Munros:103   Corbetts:12
Grahams:2   Donalds:2
Hewitts:148
Wainwrights:103   
Joined: Mar 11, 2015

Re: Best way to gain back hill fitness?

Postby nigheandonn » Thu Jan 02, 2020 12:27 pm

I do find that any walking helps - but I don't have a car, so I walk to get about. Small hills are inevitable in Edinburgh, but although hurrying up the Mound in the mornings (which I don't at the moment!) helps my legs, I don't know if it actually helps my breath.
User avatar
nigheandonn
Wanderer
 
Posts: 1519
Munros:19   Corbetts:9
Grahams:7   Donalds:26
Sub 2000:54   Hewitts:133
Wainwrights:214   Islands:34
Joined: Jul 7, 2011
Location: Edinburgh

Re: Best way to gain back hill fitness?

Postby fhaggis » Thu Jan 02, 2020 1:51 pm

Simply get out and walk. Any exercise is great, but walking is beat for the hills.

I’ve taken friends up the hills who are pretty fit from the gym or something but really struggled on the hill, it’s a different fitness!
fhaggis
Mountaineer
 
Posts: 123
Munros:13   Corbetts:1
Grahams:1   Donalds:1
Sub 2000:1   Hewitts:1
Wainwrights:1   
Joined: May 16, 2014

Re: Best way to gain back hill fitness?

Postby Giant Stoneater » Thu Jan 02, 2020 3:17 pm

Cycling is a great way of staying hill fit I find, but I usually do it like 2 miles easy then 2 miles flat out and have plenty of hills included as well, which increases the oxygen intake.
When out walking, just every now and then extend your daily walk,i find stamina is more important than distance.
Giant Stoneater
Scrambler
 
Posts: 680
Joined: Aug 2, 2014

Re: Best way to gain back hill fitness?

Postby ScotFinn65 » Thu Jan 02, 2020 5:18 pm

I can't offer any advice but only can tell what works for me.

For all round cardio, nothing beats jogging. It hurts in the beginning (like everything else) but after a few weeks of jogging slowly, l can build up the time and increase the speed a little. Cycling and swimming just don't work for me.

For hill specific fitness, nothing beats hills. I just take it easy and expect to be blowing out my bum but that is part of the process. Starting with shorter walks and easier inclines and then adding backpack and increasing time and ascent.

The first times will always hurt but knowing l will come through the other end, after a few weeks, keeps me going :D
User avatar
ScotFinn65
Hill Bagger
 
Posts: 166
Munros:66   Corbetts:1
Sub 2000:1   
Islands:3
Joined: Oct 10, 2017
Location: Lempäälä - Finland
Walk wish-list

Re: Best way to gain back hill fitness?

Postby DavidShepherd » Thu Jan 02, 2020 6:35 pm

Ok. Some science here - if you climb hills you are mostly using your legs, obviously. The muscles in your thighs are the biggest individual muscles in your body, therefore when you climb a hill and are using them more extensively you are burning more energy to lift those muscles with every step. This obviously leads on to your energy levels decreasing and you being more knackered.
If you want to get that hill fitness back you have to do similar types of exercise. If you want to test this in a similar way, climb some stairs and see how you feel. And use that as your base exercise if you don't have access to a gym with a a step master or something similar. If you have stairs at home, climb them as part of your exercise. Climb stairs everywhere instead of using elevators.

Another couple of people have posted here about jogging and cycling for cardio etc. These are good too, but watch out for the impact on jogging. Cycling will most definitely build up your thigh muscles because it's not too dissimilar to climbing a hill, but your best bet is like for like.

Oh, and eat well - keep your energy levels up and eat the right stuff after your exercise to recover properly - it can't be overstated how important this is to keeping your muscles etc in good condition.
DavidShepherd
Mountaineer
 
Posts: 162
Munros:131   Corbetts:5
Grahams:1   Donalds:2
Joined: Apr 17, 2014

Re: Best way to gain back hill fitness?

Postby DavidShepherd » Thu Jan 02, 2020 6:37 pm

fhaggis wrote:Simply get out and walk. Any exercise is great, but walking is beat for the hills.

I’ve taken friends up the hills who are pretty fit from the gym or something but really struggled on the hill, it’s a different fitness!


This will mean you can walk the long distances great, but when it comes to the really tough climbs, you'll still struggle.
Different fitness is a good description of it!
DavidShepherd
Mountaineer
 
Posts: 162
Munros:131   Corbetts:5
Grahams:1   Donalds:2
Joined: Apr 17, 2014

Re: Best way to gain back hill fitness?

Postby Landsoul » Thu Jan 02, 2020 6:42 pm

Walking up hills would be a good way to get hill fit, I’d imagine it’s the best way.
Landsoul
 
Posts: 35
Munros:282   
Joined: Jul 31, 2016
Location: Inverness

Re: Best way to gain back hill fitness?

Postby DavidShepherd » Thu Jan 02, 2020 7:09 pm

Landsoul wrote:Walking up hills would be a good way to get hill fit, I’d imagine it’s the best way.


But not always the most accessible and reliable given the weather etc. You need to be able to do this frequently.
DavidShepherd
Mountaineer
 
Posts: 162
Munros:131   Corbetts:5
Grahams:1   Donalds:2
Joined: Apr 17, 2014

Re: Best way to gain back hill fitness?

Postby al78 » Thu Jan 02, 2020 10:24 pm

I'm in the same situation, and unfortunately live in SE England, about the furthest from any significant hills as is possible. My plans are as follows:

Take advantage of family visits to Salford (e.g. Easter) to hike up the bigger hills in NW England/Wales.
Take a long weekend in March and get a train to Penmaenmawr, do a linear hike N-S over all the 3000ers with a tent (Carneddeau, Tryfan, Glyders, Snowdon, finish at Rhyd-Ddu, then somehow get to a railway station to catch a train home (must be possible by bus).
Long linear walks in my local area: Horsham riverside walk (14 miles); Lewes to Hassocks, or between any two towns via the South Downs way; train to Haywards Heath, walk home (18 miles).
Cycle to work more frequently (19 mile round trip with hills)
Weight training (compound movements) to build overall strength. It is easier to hike with a backpack when you have decent core and muscle strength.

Can you take the odd weekend to head somewhere with Corbett size hills, and hike up them at your own pace, or anywhere with hills in the 500-600m height to start with if you are struggling with the big ones?
User avatar
al78
Walker
 
Posts: 969
Munros:28   Corbetts:8
Donalds:1
Joined: Feb 1, 2018

Re: Best way to gain back hill fitness?

Postby al78 » Thu Jan 02, 2020 10:35 pm

DavidShepherd wrote:
Landsoul wrote:Walking up hills would be a good way to get hill fit, I’d imagine it’s the best way.


But not always the most accessible and reliable given the weather etc. You need to be able to do this frequently.


If you are planning a hiking trip in the Scottish highlands, it may be advantageous to train in poor weather, as that is the most likely weather you will experience. The autumn just gone would have been ideal, as you could also have trained for squelching through thick sloppy mud in the rain, comparable to traversing Scottish peat hags, and will also test your clothing/footwear/sense of humour.
User avatar
al78
Walker
 
Posts: 969
Munros:28   Corbetts:8
Donalds:1
Joined: Feb 1, 2018

Re: Best way to gain back hill fitness?

Postby Sgurr » Thu Jan 02, 2020 10:40 pm

Have said this before: when we were planning to holiday in Bulgaria where the hills are longer we did quick stints of running up and down stairs 50 times at a stretch. This was OK when we weren't competing, but when son imported his friend for a holiday he was going up & down 2 steps at a time and threatening to smash through the plate glass window at the bottom....no need to do this. At the end of this we sailed up Ben More near Crianlarich in double quick time, and it is a horrible long steep hill usually. At the moment I have an Xmas fitbit so am deliberately taking things up stairs one at a time.as it is raining today and have done 2 miles INSIDE.
User avatar
Sgurr
Munro compleatist
 
Posts: 5063
Munros:282   Corbetts:222
Grahams:219   Donalds:89
Sub 2000:569   Hewitts:138
Wainwrights:160   Islands:58
Joined: Nov 15, 2010
Location: Fife

Re: Best way to gain back hill fitness?

Postby Raynor » Fri Jan 03, 2020 12:22 pm

I am in a similar position, just getting my hill fitness back after a lay off. Cardio fitness comes back quickly I find. Especially if you had a decent level of fitness beforehand. What takes a bit longer is getting the leg muscles used to all the ups and downs. That's really just a case of getting out on the hills as often as possible and working up to bigger/longer trips.

Here's a few tips and things that I do.

-Incline walking on the treadmill at the gym most mornings. Don't hold the handles. Start at whatever incline is comfortable for your ankles, maybe 10% then work up to 15%. Choose a speed that you can do for at least half an hour without overdoing it. You don't want to feel exhausted doing this. If you are looking to lose some weight, doing this in the morning on an empty stomach before breakfast works a treat. More importantly, doing this regularly will make your calves bulletproof when it comes to hitting the hills again.

- Stairmaster/stepmill at the gym is also excellent and translates very well to hillwalking. Again, don't use the handles/rails. Let your legs do the work.

- Do some form of squats. Even if it's just air squats. These are the single best thing you can do for your legs and are essential in my opinion for long term knee health. I used to be a postman and had all sorts of knee issues running up and down stairs all day, then I tore my knee ligaments doing the west highland way and foolishly kept walking on it until the end. The result was any downhill I did on hills I would get really bad knee pain and could barely walk by the end. I started doing weight training and the squats really strengthened the muscles supporting the knees and now I don't have any issues. Ok, gone slightly off topic here but they are essential for long term health/fitness in my opinion.
Raynor
 
Posts: 201
Munros:110   Corbetts:8
Grahams:7   Donalds:1
Sub 2000:14   
Islands:4
Joined: Jun 11, 2017
Location: Mid Calder

Re: Best way to gain back hill fitness?

Postby maremalin » Fri Jan 03, 2020 3:49 pm

It's hard to say what will work for you. It all depends on your current level of fitness.
Here is my winter routine
At least 3 times per week strength training in the gym
At least twice per week cardio in the gym - cross trainer or Stairmaster
At least once per week 10-15k run at steady pace
Most weeks 2-3 hours indoor climbing

For strength training I'd suggest to focus on legs and core. Squats, split squats (+twist), dead lifts, planks, sit ups etc
i find this page very useful to find various exercises: https://workoutlabs.com/exercise-guide/

good luck!
User avatar
maremalin
 
Posts: 62
Munros:35   
Grahams:1   
Hewitts:22
Wainwrights:3   
Joined: Mar 6, 2013

Next



Walkhighlands community forum is advert free


Your generosity keeps this site running.
Can you help support Walkhighlands and the online community by donating by direct debit?



Return to General discussion

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: LordBrochFraser and 20 guests