How to Train to Hike the Inca Trail

How to Train to Hike the Inca Trail
The Inca Trail is a famous trek in the Andes mountains of Peru with about 26 miles of mountain scenery, subtropical jungles and ancient Inca ruins and tunnels. The trail is as exhilarating as it is physically demanding. With trails that require hiking up to eight hours daily and elevations ranging from 8,000 to 13,766 feet, an ample amount of preparation and training is necessary. Preparing your body for the physical demands of the trail will enable you to get the most out of the experience while also challenging your physical and mental fitness.


Difficulty: Challenging

Things You’ll Need:
  • Stairs
  • Backpack with weights inside
  • Local trails
  • Walking stick (optional)
  • Pull-up bar
Step 1
Condition your lower body by stair climbing and walking up hills. This strengthens your leg muscles, which is necessary to endure the strains of hiking the Inca Trail. Depending on the Inca hiking trip you choose, you will be treading many miles over rugged terrain with slopes and difficult climbs. The Incas constructed many trails with long staircases that are physically challenging. Use the stairs at your home, a building or a stair climber machine at the gym.
Step 2
Add weight using a weighted pack on your back while performing stair climbing exercises to increase the intensity of your training pace. Start slowly and increase weight depending on your comfort level. You will have to carry your own supplies such as extra clothing, food and water--which can weigh 10 to 30 pounds--uphill and downhill during your hike. Adding weight on your back enables you to prepare your back muscles as well as develop upper body strength.
Step 3
Search for local trails and hike in your area to get accustomed to treking on uneven, rocky grounds. Try to find a hilly terrain with narrow paths to imitate some attributes of the Inca Trail. This aids in building your confidence and familiarity. Carry a pack weighing approximately the same weight as what you intend to take with you on the Inca Trail. You can start slowly and increase the pack's weight gradually to avoid back strains. Train with a walking stick if you plan on using one.
Step 4
Practice with a weekend trek consisting of seven-hour daily hikes across a challenging terrain in your area. Find a lengthy rocky and hilly terrain to let your body get used to long periods of hiking. Many Inca Trail treks require you to hike for seven to eight hours daily for up to four consecutive days.
Step 5
Do some aerobic training to enhance your overall fitness. Exercises such as running, swimming, cycling and walking improve your agility, endurance and strength. Supplementing your training with aerobic conditioning exercises helps you withstand the stresses and the high altitudes of the Andes mountains.
Step 6
Perform strength training exercises to improve upper and lower body strength. Include exercises such as push-ups and pull-ups for your arms and back. Do crunches, sit-ups and lunges for your legs and abdominal muscles. Put extra focus on strengthening your leg muscles with lunges, squats and dead lifts.

Tips & Warnings

Begin your training regimen for hiking the Inca Trail for at least two months prior to activity.
Use the same hiking boots for training and for hiking.
Consult with your physician first when starting a rigorous training plan.

Article Written By Rona Aquino

Rona Aquino began writing professionally in 2008. As an avid marathon runner and outdoor enthusiast, she writes on topics of running, fitness and outdoor recreation for various publications. Aquino holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications and English from the University of Maryland College Park.

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