Trekking in Cuba

Cuba Training Guide

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Many people think of Cuba as a place to relax and unwind, and it can be just that. However, in typical Kandoo style, our trips are jam packed full of adventure. So if it's relaxation you're after then you're barking up the wrong tree! How fit do you need to be to join a Kandoo Cuba trip? A high level of fitness will make the trekking and activities a lot easier, however, that being said, a solid training plan, particularly if you are joining our Peaks of Cuba trip, will allow you to better prepare and give you more opportunity to enjoy yourself when you're out there. The maximum ascent in a single day in Cuba is over 1400m, so you will need to be confident in your fitness and have recent experience of walking for up to 8 hours on steep and difficult terrain.  We recommend that you prepare for this trip by doing training hikes with over 1000m of ascent on a regular basis before departure. If this feels at the very top of your ability then there is nothing to say you can't still succeed, you will just need to extend your training time to be a little longer.

Practice Hiking

The best training by far is to get your walking boots on and get lots of miles under your belt. Whether this is two to three hours walking locally or full days away on your nearest hills, you just need to clock up lots of hours on your feet as more than anything else it is just the amount of walking that people find tiring. And the best cure for this is to have spent lots of hours just walking.

Hiking practice allows you to understand the stress your joints will be put under and how well you can deal with this. It also allows you to wear in your boots as this takes some time and can often be uncomfortable. Start with a comfortable distance that suits you and slowly try to work your way up to a 5-6 hour trek. If you can do this a few times then you'll be in good stead to join either of our trips.

Aerobic Training

Aerobic (or cardio) training will be a key factor in allowing you to enjoy your trip to Cuba. Aerobic literally means 'requiring free oxygen' and refers to the use of oxygen to adequately meet energy demands during exercise via aerobic metabolism.

Aerobic exercise builds up your cardiovascular system allowing you process limited oxygen in a more effective way. Aerobic exercise, unlike anaerobic exercise, requires oxygen for elongated periods of time. Examples of aerobic exercise would be lane swimming, long distance jogging, walking and cycling.

One crucial thing we tell our customers is don't rush up the mountains! Trying to ascend too quickly will just make the experience a miserable one for yourself and your team. We recommend putting the slowest hiker to the front of the group.

Depending on fitness, we recommend a 3-6 month training plan. Your hiking practice will help, but we also suggest running 6-12km three times a week. If you're using a treadmill remember to set a slight incline.

Strength Training

Any training plan should also include strength training. Although not as important as your aerobic training, strengthening your upper body, core and legs will greatly increase your chances of a successful and enjoyable trip.

To strengthen your legs we recommend doing the following exercises:

  • Squats
  • Front and reverse leg curls
  • Lunges
  • Step aerobics

Remember when doing these exercises to keep watch of your technique. Exercises done with poor technique will more often than not harm you instead of help you.

Building upper body and core strength is also crucial as many of the activities on Cuba Discovery involve your core and arms.

We recommend the following exercises to strengthen your upper body and core:

  • Shoulder presses
  • Back and shoulder flyes
  • Sit-ups
  • Kettle-bell rows / swings

Remember to stretch after all exercise sessions! Increasing flexibility will allow your body to recover more quickly overnight after trekking all day. No one wants to trek for 7 hours after waking up with stiff joints aching all over!

The importance of stretching

Most sports injuries occur due to poor stretching. This is particularly true on mountains where repetitive movements over tough terrain put a lot of stress on joints and muscle. To loosen your muscles and increase suppleness we recommend adopting a regular stretching regime. Spend 10 minutes every morning stretching your main muscle groups.

So get that date with destiny booked, put on your boots and get out there walking!

Mental Stamina

Just as important as physical stamina is mental stamina and attitude, particularly on our Peaks of Cuba trip. There always comes a point that you will want to quit and just head back down the mountain. Keeping a positive attitude and digging deep to push through is incredibly important and a valuable skill.

Training your mental stamina is no easy thing, but there are ways to accomplish it. You essentially need to construct an activity that pushes your body to what it thinks is its limit, then you need to push past that to reach your goal.

A great way to achieve this is long distance running such as half marathons and full marathons. A marathon will push you to your limit whilst having an achievable goal in sight - the finish line. If you can do this with a friend or training partner then all the better as you will both push each other to achieve more.

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