How to train for a serious outdoor adventure

A step-by-step guide to training for those embarking on a serious outdoor adventure.

If you are planning a physically challenging outdoor adventure, whether it be a hiking expedition or a cycling tour, your training regime in the months leading up to the event will make all the difference. Here’s how you can prepare properly for a serious outdoor adventure.

Training to improve

Before you begin to train, look at what you are planning to achieve. What is the project, expedition or event for which you are training? Compare this to your current fitness level. Are you fit and seasoned, maybe you have been fit but haven’t trained in a while, perhaps you are new to the game? It is important to plan your training to slowly build up over time, if you get over excited and burn out or get injured too early, the adventure could be over before it begins. Start by breaking up your training into the following phases.

Adaptive or transition phase

The adaptive or transition phase is where you prepare your body for basic movement. This means preparing the ligaments, joints and tendons for the work ahead. Start this phase with some mobility work. Find out what is moving properly and what isn’t. Start with some gentle runs, walks, paddles, swims. Include some strength training with one or two sessions per week of body weight exercises.

Base or accumulation phase

The base or accumulation phase is the largest part of any training programme. 80 per cent of this training phase is building your cardiovascular capacity and 20 percent is building strength. In this phase, build on you strength exercises by adding weight. At this training stage it is easy to get excited and carried away by pushing yourself either too hard or too often. This may make you feel good at the time, but will not improve your overall performance. If you push yourself too often, too early, you will plateau or de-train as the physiotherapists call it.

Young athletic man doing push ups in rain

Intensification or specific phase

This is the phase where you finally get to push your limits. Look at the specific components of the sport or outdoor adventure you have chosen and add any extra elements to your training. For example, if you are planning a hiking adventure, start training with a heavy pack. If you are planning a mountain bike mission, start cycling up some hard slopes.

The taper

Two to four weeks from the big adventure, it is time to back off the training a little. Don’t stop training completely, just lower both your load and intensity. If your taper correctly, you should enter your adventure with a strong body, your energy systems tuned and ready to deliver. Your joints and soft tissue will also be flexible and mobile.


After you complete your adventure, ensure you give your body time to recover, and relax. The intensity of the activity should reflect the amount of time you give your body to properly recover.

Following this method will help you on your way to being in the best possible shape to complete your serious outdoor adventure challenge.