The first mountain I climbed was Mount Washington in New Hampshire. The first half-hour wasn’t too bad, although as I kept going up, I noticed it was getting harder and harder. The same thing happened to me when I had to reach mild summits in the West Highland Way, Scotland. In the meanwhile, I was climbers passing me with quite an ease. That pooped the question; how to climb a mountain without getting tired to my mind.
To answer that, I decided to do proper research (which took more than five hours), and now I am more than willing to share.
To climb a mountain without getting tired, merely follow these steps:
- Train properly upfront (squats, tops, push-ups, bench press, climbing indoors).
- Use the ‘rest step’ technique uphill, and the plunge step in snowy downhills.
- Make sure you keep yourself hydrated and stay away from caffeinated or sugary drinks.
- Do not over-pack; keep at home gear, which is on low priority.
- Pick the right equipment; it should fit the nature of your course and be as lightweight as possible.
- Eat foods with high caloric value (energy bars, dried fruits, peanuts, olive oil).
- Know the weather upfront and modify your clothing accordingly.
1. Train Properly Upfront
Seldom is a mountain climbing trip an impulsive decision. In most cases, you know about such trip months in advance. That is why, instead of considering it is any other trip, it is a much better idea to train in advance (source).
While you might be wondering that training for a mountain climb will be pretty complicated and challenging, but the truth is that it is similar to the usual gym circuit. I will share with you a workout regime below, which will help you understand what exercises you can undertake.
- You have to stick to exercises that can develop your core like lunges, squats, tops, push-ups, and so on.
- Also, you have to include activities for strength training like front squats, bench press, military presses.
- Mountain climbing requires you to have high stamina. The best way to develop it is to include high-intensity interval training in your workout at least once a week.
- Nothing can beat the actual exercises which can require you to climb. That is why you can include stair climbing in your daily routine. It will prepare your muscles for the real climb.
Including these exercises in your workout regime can help you increase your stamina. The actual mountain climb is a different ball game than the workout, but these exercises can make climbing easier.
2. Use The Right Technique
Did you know that uphill and downhill mountain climbing requires you to use different methods?
Using the right technique is one of the best ways to avoid getting tired during the climb. I will share with you the steps that you need to undertake during the uphill and the downhill climb.
While going uphill, there are a few tips that you can use. These include:
- You have to go slow. Only when you can maintain that speed consistently throughout the uphill climb, you should stick to it. Otherwise, you should slow down further. When you pace your hike, you are less likely to get tired.
- You need to take breaks in between. A break which is 5 to 10 minutes every 1 hour or so is a good idea. You can perform some stretching exercises during the breaks.
- Of course, if you’re not an experienced climber, you’re bound to get tired. Instead of focusing on the exertion, it is better to think about something unique. It will increase your psychological resistance and help you complete the trip.
- If you’re navigating a pretty steep gradient, you should try to follow a zigzag path. It will allow you to negotiate the terrain better.
- Have you heard about the rest step? It involves straightening your back leg momentarily while moving forward. As a result, you can shift to the weight on the joints and provide some rest to your muscles. However, you should use the rest step only occasionally to give relief to your muscles.
Using these few techniques during the uphill climb can help you get relief from exertion.
Many people think that a downhill climb is quite easy. The truth is that, after the exertion of an uphill climb, the downhill climb can get pretty tricky. Moreover, you need precise balance during the downhill climb, which makes it even more difficult. So, it is better to stick to a few tips to avoid exhaustion and to get back down safely.
- You should not lean forward or backward during the trip downhill. You should ensure that the center of gravity is just above your legs.
- The leg which you are moving forward should be slightly bent. When you climb down in this position, the muscles will absorb the shock, and the impact on your joints will be negligible. You will not suffer from kind of ache during the downhill climb.
- The downhill climb requires proper placement of your feet. That is why; you have to be extra careful when heading downwards. The focusing power which you will need is on the higher side.
- It is better to take small steps. It will help you maintain proper control and balance.
- A tip that can serve you efficiently during the downhill climb is to tighten the hip belt. It will ensure that your back will not move around. As a result, you can achieve a precise balance.
- Are you descending on the snowy slopes? If yes, you need to use the plunge step. It involves moving the heel first and its contact with the ground so that the bodyweight puts the feet down. It ensures that you avoid hyperextension of the knee. As a result, longer down walks will not be a problem.
There are proper techniques that you need to follow during the uphill and the downhill climb. That is why you need to be alert and cautious to complete the mountain climb efficiently.
3. Do Not Ignore Hydration
Have you completed a mountain climb before?
If yes, you would know that it leads to a lot of sweat. That is why hydration should be your top priority (source). You should either carry packaged drinking water with you or purification/water filtration system.
However, if you rely on a water filtration system, it is essential to know about the water sources beforehand. Only when there are quite a few, you can rely on such water sources.
The weather plays a crucial role when it comes to sweat. That is why you have to know the weather in advance to ensure that you have proper stock of water.
While the tips above will help you stay hydrated, there are a few which will allow you to avoid dehydration (I tend to follow them myself when I go hiking). These include:
- You should stay away from caffeinated drinks.
- You should stay away from sugary drinks.
- Also, you have to dress according to the weather, which will reduce sweat and, therefore, dehydration.
These three tips can serve you during your mountain climb. They will ensure that you do not face any hydration issues.
4. Do Not Over-Pack
How do you usually pack for your mountain climbing trip? Is there a chance you bring too many things? The problem with overpacking is that you will have to haul that weight during the entire expedition. That is why carrying the extra weight can consume most of your energy.
You might be thinking, how can I ensure that I do not overpack?
You can ask yourself a few questions while making the packing list. These questions will make it easy for you to understand whether you’re overpacking or whether you’re just taking the necessary stuff.
- How likely am I to need this item during the trip?
- Is the thing 3rd or the 4th redundancy?
- Is this item suitable according to the weather?
- What is the weight of this item? Is there a lightweight variant available?
Once you ask yourself any of these questions while preparing the packing list, it will be easy to avoid overpacking. While including the second redundancy of each item is a good idea, but third or fourth redundancy is avoidable. These simple questions will ensure that you do not over-pack ever.
If you still have questions regarding that topic, I highly suggest you read an article I’ve written on what to pack for mountain climbing. In there, I made a distinction between 1,2 and 3 climbing days (and over) and presented the necessary gear for each trip.
5. Use The Right Gear
In the absence of the right gear, the toll on your body can increase significantly. Due to this very reason, you have to make sure that you use the right equipment. A few tips that you need to keep in mind while choosing the gear include:
- You have to familiarize yourself with the terrain. Only after that, you can select the right equipment. On harsh conditions, I suggest you stick to Vibram; they provide the highest grip. If that is the case, make sure you read an article by me that discusses the best hiking boots with Vibram soles.
- You have to ensure that you take the duration of the trip into account while choosing the right gear.
- The gear should be the lightest in its category.
- You have to check the integrity of your equipment before embarking on the trip. If there are any cracks or fold lines in your gear, it is an excellent option to change it in advance.
- Instead of haphazardly packing, it is good to stick to a proper list so that you do not miss out on any gear. In that case, your trip will be quite comfortable.
- You have to double-check and triple-check the essentials like hiking boots, trekking pants, layers, ropes, and carabiners. The essentials ensure that you can rely on them entirely.
Once you follow these few tips while selecting the right gear for your mountain climbing trip, it will become effortless for you to complete your journey without much pressure on your body.
6. Bon Appetit
Have you planned your meals before and during mountain climbing?
You can burn up to 370 cal during each hour of the hike (source). That is why you have to consume foodstuffs that can keep your energy levels up. Also, you should carry some food sources with you like (source):
- Balanced ready to eat meals
- Energy bars
- Nutrient bars
- Meal replacement shakes
- Dried fruits
- Peanut butter
- Olive oil as a condiment
Along with these, I would suggest carrying a backpacking stove. It will help you heat the meals before consuming them. As a result, there will be no shortage of energy.
With optimum energy levels, you can be sure that you can complete the climb without getting tired.
7. Take The Weather Into Account
The most basic and crucial things that you need to do before the mountain climb is to go through the predicted weather. It will help you understand what to expect on your expedition.
The gear which you choose and how you dress will change according to the weather. Most people make this mistake of not checking the weather in advance. Even if you are in a hurry, you should not skip that step.
You have to modify your gear list accordingly. When you prepare a list of the gear according to the weather, it will be easy for you to shield your body.
In that case, the energy loss will also be on the lower side. You can keep your body at the right temperature and the proper energy levels. That is why checking the weather is a must.
How Can I Improve my Hiking Uphill?
The best way to improve your uphill hiking experience is to warm up a bit. Once you do so, it will become easy for you to face the terrain. In addition to that, you can follow the tips that I have highlighted above like:
- Train Properly
- Use the right technique
- Keep yourself hydrated
- No overpacking
- Pick the right gear
- Take care of your meals
- Keep the weather in mind
I have elaborated on all of these points above to help you ensure that not only your uphill hiking experience is improved but your downhill as well.
Why is Walking Uphill so Hard?
During the uphill walk, you’re working against gravity to move upwards. That is the main factor that distinguishes that type of hike from others and makes walking uphill so hard (source).
Also, besides your body weight, you have to carry the gear weight as well. Besides these two, in most cases, the weather in the mountains is inclement. As a result, you are working against strong winds and burn even more energy. These are the main reasons why uphill walking is so hard.
Will The Climb Get Easier Once I Begin Going Down?
Uphill walking requires you to move against gravity. On the other side, downhill walking requires you to be much more precise and focused. Chances are, during the uphill walk, as well as the downhill walk, the weight that you will be carrying around will be the same.
For experienced climbers, it is the uphill walk, which is more complicated. However, if you’re new to climbing, the downhill can be much more strenuous. It will exhaust your body physically as well as mentally. For that, you should use the right techniques, as presented in this article.
How Can I Increase my Stamina For Mountain Climbing?
If you want to improve your stamina for hiking, you need to go with the core exercises as well as high-intensity interval training. Improving your balance and equilibrium will also help.
In case you think which exercises should I practice, you can go through my training module above.
Are you looking forward to your next mountain climbing trip but scared of the exhaustion?
If yes, my guide above can certainly help you deal with any climb without exhausting out. Mountain climbing can be a fun experience if you do it right. The climbing trip starts much in advance than the actual journey.
So, if you do not want to get tired during the climb, you should follow my guide to prepare your body for the expedition.