Most people will find backpacking from rim to rim in the Grand Canyon to be exhilarating and challenging, both physically and mentally. The Canyon will get you in shape. But the better your physical condition is to begin with, the greater will be your enjoyment, your personal growth, and your energy for creative time and exploring. This page discusses setting up a proper training program.

Are you in shape now? For the Grand Canyon excursion, you will need to be able to carry 30 to 35 pounds (or 25% of your body weight, if that is lighter) over five miles daily on hilly terrain.

Start your training now. Alternate steep and flat terrains, long and short distances to allow the differing muscular, structural, and cardiovascular systems to recover and strengthen, and for your feet and foot care to adapt to varying gradients.

Any exercise that uses large muscle groups and gets you sweating, with your heart rate up, will increase stamina. Begin gradually and build up to an hour; then to a long hike of a few hours near trip time. 

Always take adequate time to warm up, stretch, and cool down. Hydrate during workouts. Replenish water, carbohydrates, electrolytes, and protein afterward. Plain water, water with sports drink powders, or sports drinks without refined sugar, fructose, or corn syrup are recommended.

Strength, speed, and endurance are developed in recovery, not during exertion. Take a rest day every week. The best test for training at the right pace is that you should feel energized, not depleted, after a workout. Over-training is a primary cause of injury. If you feel depleted repeatedly add an extra rest day, and back off for a week to 50% of what you were doing, then slowly increase.

If this physical exertion is new to you, it is recommended that you consult with your primary-care physician. Even if you are used to this level of exercise, consulting with a professional physiologist to set up or review your program is a good idea.

I look forward to an excursion in which all participants are healthy, in good shape, and able to fully appreciate the Grand Canyon. Feel free to ask questions and support for your progress.

-Lonner Holden, trail leader

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