“I can walk forever on the flat, it is just the hills I struggle with”
Said every hiker ever
Hills are hard. You not only have to go along, but up against the force of gravity. Now relative to the the nuclear force which binds atoms together, gravity is pretty weak, but strap a 10 kg backpack on and you will have a new respect for that sissy gravity!
Here at Inspiration Outdoors, we have done a lot of hills, and we don’t fear them. Not because we are super fit, because we have mad skills. Read on for our top 5 techniques to conquer hills on the trails.
Tip One: Use a consistent rhythm
What happens when you stop exercising? Does your heart rate go back down to normal straight away? Nope, it takes time, and in that time your body is still working hard. Our first tip for hills, is to take the same steady rhythm from bottom to top. Don’t go fast at the start and then slow down as your body will still be working hard, even after you slow done. Pick a comfortable pace, and don’t be tempted to smash it out.
Tip Two: Use zig zags when you can
When you are walking up a wide hill, don’t go straight up, use zig zags. Yes, you will walk further, but remember the opening quote? It is definitely applicable here! Zig zags reduce the gradient and the sweat factor significantly. There is no zig zag equation that you need to know, just keep your heart rate down to something comfortable and keep going.
Ninja tip: Zig zags are great for down hill too, as they reduce the impact on your knees, ankles etc.
Tip Three: Hiking poles are the bomb for hills
“The bomb” is good by the way…. and hiking poles are the bomb. Poles literally take the weight out of your legs, and spread it into arms. You will burn more calories, protect your joints and have something solid to poke young upstarts with. Bonus!
Correct hiking pole technique is easy, but you need to learn a thing or two. Check out our video for tips on correct technique.
Tip Four: Keep the pack weigh down
7/8kgs in a backpack is not much at all on the flat, but going up Mt Buffalo it is enough that you will be using swear words you thought you had forgotten.
Keeping your backpack light is really important when conquering hills. Try as I might, I haven’t been able to find a formula in modern physics that confirms that every kilogram on an hill, is actually worth 2kgs.
Oh well, I am sure science will catch up to what every hiker can confirm. Here is the formula we like;
Perfect amount of kgs in backpack for going up hill = current weight in back pack – 1kg
If you keep redoing this formula, eventually you get the right answer 🙂
Tip Five: Stay positive
Now we are going to assume that your hiking is done for pleasure, and that you are not hiking to the top of a hill being pursued by man eating drop bears…. Good assumption we reckon.
Settle in. The hill is not going to easy, nor quick so you need to resign yourself to those facts. There is no quick easy fix, so staying positive is essential. The mind will give up long before the body.
How does one stay positive?
- Focus on the beauty of your surroundings OR
- Focus on your body