Grand Canyon Trek training plan

Why should you train?

Training is a fundamental step when it comes to any trip, especially one that is renowned for being physically demanding. Although walking is something you do everyday - walking uphill, over 10miles a day, in hot or cold conditions and sometimes in high altitude is something you will need to train for. While you do not need to be super fit to trek, it is still very important to train.

How should you train? 

  • Training is a very simple concept; it is all about progressively increasing your ability to do just that little bit more and giving it time to adapt, recover and come back stronger. The trick is to do it gradually - You will need to build your ability to hike between 5 - 12.5 miles a day.
  • Activities such as jogging, cycling, swimming and racket sports all increase the heart rate and improve CV fitness. These activities are things you can do in your normal gym routine alongside walking at the weekends. Spend some of your training time by simply going for walks, in addition to regular gym work in order to also stimulate some muscle development.
  • Walk as often as you can and as much as you can. Wear the boots you will be wearing on the climb. (If they are newish then this is very important!) Your foot wear is key in such a climb - your boots should have a high ankle and a stiff heel to give lateral support. Wear in your boots and find a way to carry your day pack comfortably - this will help to avoid blisters and any foot and back injuries.
  • Look for nature trails, head for hills and mountains if there are any within your reach. Use the weekends to do full day hikes and if possible overnight hikes. You should be able to walk in hilly country for 6-8 hours, and then get up and do it again the next day.

Diet and Hydration

  • It is so important when hiking to keep eating and drinking to keep energy levels up. Keeping both energy and hydration levels high will make strenuous portions of the climb far easier on the body.
  • You are more dominant on the mountain when your energy levels are filled to the top. Therefore it is recommended to consume ample amounts of carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins and mineral nutrients before the tour starts.
  • During physical exertion it is crucial to replenish fluids for optimal hydration and energy essentially for the brain and muscles to continue their work. Sports drinks containing electrolytes and vitamins are significantly better absorbed, and help to replace energy, electrolytes, vitamins and other nutrients essential for performance.

Dehydration

The importance of drinking water and energy drinks before, during and after training cannot be expressed enough. Being thirsty and having a dry mouth are the first signs of dehydration. Other signs of dehydration are: -

  • dizziness,
  • headache,
  • mental irritation or depression,
  • fatigue,
  • water retention,
  • recurring or chronic pain,
  • decreased urine output and colour,
  • lack of skin elasticity,
  • heartburn,
  • stomach ache,
  • sunken eyes,
  • lower back pain.

Hypoglycaemia

Low blood sugar. It is one of the major causes of fatigue during prolonged exercise, where energy stores are depleted. Glucose is the main source for brain and muscles. Symptoms of low blood sugar includes :- 

  • headache,
  • nausea,
  • vomiting,
  • dizziness,
  • disorientation.

Hyponatremia

This is known as sodium loss through perspiration or over-hydration. Drinking sports drinks in addition to water will replace salts and electrolytes, helping you to balance your electrolyte levels.The symptoms are very similar to dehydration, but the effects and consequences are more severe. Symptoms also include: -

  • bloating,
  • confusion,
  • slurred speech,
  • cramps,
  • nausea,
  • headaches,
  • swelling of hands and forearms.

The Training Programme

Before rushing into any fitness program, it is always wise to seek the approval of your family doctor, especially if you have any concerns about your health and your fitness and are wanting to seek advice. Your family doctor will know you and your health better than anyone, so please do not hesitate to contact them. It is important to warm up for at least 10 minutes before undertaking any exercise and to cool down for at 10 minutes again after exercising. 

Aerobic conditioning trains the energy systems of the body that utilizes oxygen. When training, most of the aerobic training that you do must be on a real ground and not on a treadmill, as the machine will not adequately prepare you for the conditions that you will encounter on your challenge. Don't neglect hill training, as your challenge will consist of hills, in addition to flat grounds. Train with the boots in which you intend to use on your challenge as this will lower the chances of blisters on your challenge.

Cross training involves performing at least two different forms of exercise in one session: such as running, walking, cycling, etc. They all use muscles that are similar to your challenge.

Interval Training can be best described as bouts of exercise interspersed with short rest intervals. It is based on the concept that more work can be completed at a higher relative intensity compared to continuous-type training. The intensity and duration of the work intervals and the length of the rest periods dictates the training response. Alternate between brisk walking for up to a minute and then return to original pace for a few minutes.

Strength Training targets the major muscle groups, tendons, ligaments and joints to help prevent injury. Exercises include squats, bench press, overead press, leg press and calf press, leg extensions, leg curls. For example - start with a light weight and increase slowly, completing 10-15 reps of each exercise in 3 sets, resting for 3-4 minutes between each set. You can progress by slowly increasing the weight and the amount of reps and sets, but keep the rest periods similar.

Don't worry if you miss the odd session. There will be times where the training feels like a chore and it all seems like too much. But persevere and remember your motivation for signing up to take part. Nothing in life worth achieving is ever easy so keep your eyes on the prize.

Below are a set of guidelines that you may wish to follow to help improve your fitness levels before your climb. 

Week 1 - 3

Monday - Rest Day

Tuesday - 30 mins walking/running

Wednesday - Rest Day

Thursday - Interval training - 40+ mins (Walking/running)

Friday - Rest Day

Saturday & Sunday - Approx. 2 hour walk over the weekend

*Give yourself a new target each week to help with your training - whether it is on one of your 'Rest days' to go for a 30min walk on your lunch break OR to drink 0.5L more of water each day to help get into the habit of drinking more water, etc. 

Week 4 - 6

Monday - Rest Day

Tuesday - 30 mins walking/running

Wednesday - 40+ mins Interval Training with Hill Reps

Thursday - 30 mins - 1hr Circuit Training

Friday - Rest Day

Saturday & Sunday - Approx. 4 - 5 hour walk over the weekend

Week 7 - 9

Monday - Rest Day

Tuesday - 1hr walking/running

Wednesday - 1 hr Cross training

Thursday - 1 hr Strength/Resistance training

Friday - Rest day

Saturday & Sunday - Approx. 5 - 6 hour walk over the weekend.

Week 10 - 12

Monday - Rest Day

Tuesday - 1 hrs walking/running & 30 mins Hill reps

Wednesday - 1 hr of strength/resistance Training & 30 min jog

Thursday - 1 hr of circuit training & 30 min jog

Friday - 45 min run/jog & 30 min hill reps

Saturday & Sunday - Approx. 6 - 7 hours walk over the weekend. 

Week 13 - 15

Monday - Rest Day

Tuesday - 1hrs walking/running & 30 mins Hill reps

Wednesday - 1 hr Interval training & 30 mins jog

Thursday - 1 hr cross training

Friday - 1 hr strength/resistance training

Saturday & Sunday - Approx. 7 - 8 hours walk over the weekend

Week 16 

Monday - Rest Day

Tuesday - 1hrs walking/running

Wednesday - Rest Day

Thursday - 30 mins Cross training & 30 mins strength training 

Friday - Rest Day

Saturday & Sunday - Approx. 4 - 5 hour walk over the weekend

Please remember that this is just a training guide; which you can amend to suit around you and around your routine!

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