Most hiking programs emphasise climbing and hiking uphill. As important as that is, it doesn’t prepare the legs for downhills.
And that’s totally fine if you’re never planning on coming down. Or if you’re sledding down. But in most cases, when you hike up, you hike down.
The lack of downhill training results in the feeling of your legs turning into aspic during a long descent. Leaving you concerned if your lower body will still exist under you after the next step.
Putting more focus on eccentric training in your workouts will help your legs feel less like aspic and more like a medium-rare meatloaf in descent.
The good news is that you’re already doing some eccentric training in your strength workouts. Eccentric training is the lowering part of a lift.
In steps-ups, eccentric training is you stepping down.
In any squat variation, you’re doing eccentric training during the squatting down part of the, well, squat.
In deadlifts, the eccentric part is your hands going closer to the ground.
How to get more out of your eccentric training?
Slow down. Take 3-5 seconds when lowering the weight in each rep.
Start by doing five reps per set and increase the reps to 10-12 over time.
Just a word of warning: eccentric training will make you sore, especially when you’re just starting out. I mean, really sore.
To make the next day’s trips to the toilet feel less like entering Satan’s private bathroom, only use eccentric training with one lower body exercise. Keep the other exercises at a faster pace.
The good news is that as your body gets used to the eccentrics, the soreness will ease up. Both in training and on the trails.