Cycling is my sport. I'm training for a multi-day ride (four days). Each day will we be hard riding but not too long. The week before the event however I'm going on a four day trek with a 20kg backpack.

I'm happy to lose some form for the event and have a great time treking with friends. However the last time I did a trek like that my legs were toast for a whole week afterwards. The uphills were a breeze but it was the 20km downhill that killed me. My legs are made for pushing pedals, not going downhill!

Any advice on the minimum amount of training to survive the walk and be good to go for the cycling event?

  • 1
    It is difficult to give you guidance without knowing the timing of the events. When is the trek and how soon afterwards is the ride? You mention the ride is the following week, but what is crucial is the number of days between said events. Please clarify.
    – GuyZee
    May 31, 2011 at 16:40
  • The ride is 4 days after the hike. The hike is 4 days with about 20km per day. You can see the profile here link
    – Andrew
    Jun 2, 2011 at 3:26
  • Downhill is very hard on the legs, especially with a pack. Probably going up and down stairs (not a stair climbing machine) is the best training you can do outside of actually treking. A big part of it is that you're simply using different muscles, plus there's an enormous amount of shock involved -- hard on the joints. Jun 4, 2012 at 19:41

5 Answers 5


I'm with you on this. My summers often include a mix of cycling and hiking/backpacking, where cycling is the dominant activity.

Two things that have helped me. The major one is to use trekking poles. I discovered trekking poles one summer after breezing through some difficult rides, and then being devastated on a not too serious hike. The poles significantly reduce the leg impact, especially on the descents. The second thing is to cross-train between hiking and cycling; but that depends on your personal time constraints and goals.

  • I used poles for my last walk, but still my legs were wrecked. The day that killed me was 1.5 hours up and 6 hours down (big rocks and steps).
    – Andrew
    Jun 2, 2011 at 3:22
  • @Andrew - Another thing that can help are plyomentric exercises. Basically, things like jumping onto/off-of steps. The thing is to time them so that they don't interfere with your cycling training and no more than twice a week. It'll also depend on how much lead time you have. A link: sport-fitness-advisor.com/plyometricexercises.html
    – user313
    Jun 2, 2011 at 4:45

Put yourself up for a charity parachute jump - solo, none of that piggy-back nonsense.

The training for this - all that jumping off things and rolling around on the ground stuff - is intensive 1-2 days and you will have some ex-army type bullying you to do it.

Deliberately mess up a barrel roll on the test so you have to do it all again for added punishment.

After your parachute jump you should feel like you have already been on your four-day trek, by the time it comes round your muscles should be good and ready for it.

To get a last minute place on a parachute jump course you can phone up your local center or charity organiser and take the place of whomever has dropped out. There should be a place on the weekend a week before your trek.

It will not matter if you do not get to jump (due to the weather) that bit is easy. The training is what you want to loosen up your cyclist body.

  • 1
    Interesting approach :) May 31, 2011 at 17:52

Andrew, without knowing how much time you have to train before the trek, I cannot provide an answer to that portion of the question.

Time between trek and ride is 4 days...much of this has to be based on how stiff, sore or banged up you feel, but this is an idea of what I would do.

Day 1 - Lots of rest, hot bath, and massage. Ride bike on lightest gear for 20-45 minutes. Lightly stretch - focus on core and lower body. Eat only natural, organic, healthy foods and lots of liquids.

Day 2 - Same as above but increase spin time to 30-60 minutes.

Day 3 - Same as above, but do an hour on the bike and if your body can handle it, stand out of the saddle and use the gears to add resistance, nothing crazy, but you want to push some blood into your muscles...if you are still way too sore - just spin lightly as described above, but increase spin time to 60-75 minutes.

Day 4 - If you were not able to add resistance on Day 3 do so now. If you were able to do resistance on Day 3, then spin 60-90 minutes extremely light.

My experience is an active yet gentle recovery works best. Your legs are going to want to stiffen up, so the main goal is to keep them warm and loose! If no one will give you a massage, I suggest buying a massager. This is the one I use and it is awesome!


Good luck!


Run training would prepare you for the impacts. If you don't have any hills handy, you could try running 15 minutes every day for 2 months. That was enough to get me through a mountaineering camp of 7 days. Lots of mountaineers run when there are no mountains.

I know how ones legs can hurt after a downhill walk. I've done mountain walking since I was very young, so I guess I should know this. The trick is basically this: the faster you go down, the less they will hurt from acting as brakes.

So I guess you could practice that if you have some steep hills in your area (yeah, that's possibly dangerous. So is cycling). If you have to be slow, then increasing steps per meter is possible too. If the shocks are less big, your thighs will hurt less. Watch your technique. The fact your legs hurt is good. Keep the knees bent, never let those catch the blows. You could think of it as letting your feet become like a wheel.


Try to do one leg squats, is a very good way to train your legs.

  • Welcome to Bicycles! We're looking for answers with more detail. Please give us some reasons and explanation, not just a one-line answer. A short answer like this with no explanation is likely to be deleted.
    – freiheit
    Jun 4, 2012 at 20:12
  • Good advice, it's the only leg exercise I do. Makes your knees very stable.
    – dotjoe
    Jun 5, 2012 at 20:17

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