How to walk up hill – and be smiling when reach the top!

Mar 03, 2022
Poles will help propel you up a hill

 

Even on a pack-free guided walk there will be hills to climb and for all of us that means putting in the extra effort and getting the heart rate up. However hill climbing doesn’t have to be a bad experience so here are some top tips to get your up that hill – and still be smiling when you get there!

Use those glutes and core muscles I rely on my legs’ hamstrings, quadriceps and calf muscles to propel me up hills. They do the job, but I have no spring in my step. Try engaging your glute muscles. Glutes are those oft-forgotten muscles in your butt which turn on your core muscles and inject power into your stride.

Count and don’t look up I softly count aloud when I struggle. 1 to 100. And again, until my fingers register 1,000 steps, then 10,000 steps, that magical daily number, bringing me ever closer to that elusive mountain view. If your trail takes you straight up, keep your head down until you reach the top. There is nothing more disheartening and tiring than stopping too early at a false summit and needing to summon more energy to continue on your way.

Kosciuszko-National-Park-walk-Snowy-Mountains
Kosciuszko National Park, NSW

 

Altitude Climbing at high altitude is difficult because you are entering a low-oxygen environment. It is normal to be more fatigued and lethargic. You cannot exercise with as much intensity at high altitude, but you can practice good uphill form. Take your time. Try to keep a slow and steady pace. Take in deep meaningful breaths, hold for a few seconds, then slowly exhale.


The Three Capes walk has plenty of hills

 

Ideally, acclimatise beforehand at higher elevations to try to avoid acute mountain sickness (AMS) which can develop as low as 2000m, a similar height to Mount Kosciuszko, Australia’s highest peak. Consider spending a few days near your hiking destination doing small day hikes to higher elevations, camp at lower altitudes, then reascend to begin your mountain hike.


Experiencing hills on SA’s Fleurieu Peninsula

Altitude increases your metabolism but will suppress your appetite. Continue to eat to keep adequate energy levels and stay hydrated. Rest if needed and if you get distressed always descend. The mountains are not going anywhere. There will be plenty of opportunities to try another day.

Distractions Some paths go on forever. I love finding distractions. A quick peek either side of me and I glimpse a happy lizard, sun baking on a rock, or I hear a kookaburra’s cry. I take a photograph and use the opportunity to catch my breath. Take in your surroundings. Notice the wildlife and flora. Enjoy nature. Admire that view. Congratulations! You made it in your own good time.

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