How to train for the Camino de Santiago: Camino Training Plan

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A deep dive into walking, strength training and yoga for hiking

We have just booked our flights to walk from Lucca to Rome. This is a 400km section of the Via Francigena. We can’t wait! But it’s a long time since we did our last long distance hike on the Camino de Santiago and therefore we are currently training. E has put together this training programme for anyone who is wondering how to train for the Camino de Santiago, based on what we are currently doing to prepare for Via Francigena. But it’s worth saying that this is applicable to anyone training to hike any long distance multi-day path.

We’ve already written about how to prepare the Camino, this provides some information on training. But we wanted to provide a bit of a deep dive into how you can ramp up your training to get the most from your experience. This is based on our experience of walking long distance hikes, as well as Emma’s experience as a yoga teacher.

My training plan has always combined a mix of walking, strength training and yoga. This may not appeal to everyone. But I wanted to share it, because in my experience this combination is a great way to train to get stronger and more mobile before a long distance hike.

If you want to jump straight into a yoga training programme for hiking, you can find my bespoke online yoga for hiking course here.


How fit do you need to be to walk the Camino?

The definition if fitness, is that your body is capable of meeting the requirements of the activity you intend to do. Walking a full Camino, around 800km, does require a certain level of fitness. However, it is important to note that you do not have to always walk long stages each day. Instead, you can adapt your Camino walking stages to meet your needs.

This may not be possible on some Camino routes, such as the Norte, where daily stages are long. But on others, such as the Frances, is it possible.

Nevertheless, relative fitness is required in order to sustain walking every day. It is therefore important to have a Camino training plan, to help minimise injury and prepare your body.

Camino Training Plan: Walking

How much walking to do to prepare for a long distance hike like the Camino de Santiago?

How much walking you need to do to prepare for the Camino de Santiago very much depends on your fitness levels and your prior experience. Additionally, much will depend on your goals for the Camino. There are plenty of people who do not plan to walk more than 10km to 15km per day on the Camino. Others aim to walk around 30km to 35km daily. The average that most pilgrims walk per day is between 20km and 25km each day. On this basis, the training suggestions below are written for the “average” goal of 20km to 25km.

Walking for a beginner

If you’re completely new to hiking and you don’t walk regularly, the most important thing is to start your training early! A good benchmark would be four to- six months prior to the Camino, but even earlier if you can.

A good starting distance to walk is 5km. We would suggest trying to walk at this distance a few times per week. After that, you can start to increase the distance gradually. The main focus should be to increase your pace a little each time you walk and walking regularly. A little each day can help.

Each week, we suggest introducing one longer walk. If you work Monday to Friday, the best time to do this might be on the weekend. If you want to make it more fun, maybe plan your walks around a visit to a coffee shop or pub – or bring a friend along! Most towns (at least in the UK) have some sort of ramblers society or walking group – try reaching out to these groups to join some hikes too!

The best way (in our opinion) to introduce more walking into your life is to swap public transport or driving for walking whenever you can. It’s really surprising how many steps you can introduce each day if you choose to walk. Whether this is to the supermarket or on your daily commute, it can really add up and help to prepare you for regular walking on the Camino.

Introduce the backpack

If you plan to walk between 20km and 25km each day on the Camino, we would suggest that you get one or two of these distances under your belt if you can. Ideally, try walking with your backpack with some weight too. Walking this distance at least once will give you the confidence to know you can do it! But also, help to identify any injuries that might flare up on the Camino so you can prepare for them.

Walking for more intermediate hikers

If you’re a hiker with some experience, or a runner, you’re likely to be able to walk at least 10km/ 15km comfortably. This was similar to our experience level before our first Camino. We could run 5km or 10km comfortably (ish) and walk 20km, with a little challenge. However, walking the Camino is different for two reasons.

Firstly, the Camino requires you to walk lengthy distances every day for a long period (an average of 30 days if you walk the full routes.) Secondly, you will always be carrying your backpack.

Therefore, for intermediate hikers we would recommend that these are your two focus areas during your walking training for the Camino (or the long-distance hike you are training for). Prior to the first Camino, we took some short camping trips over long-weekends. During these trips we aimed to walk at least 25km (which was our goal daily target for the Camino) and we carried weight similar to what we would carry on the Camino.

If you’re regularly walking through the week, whether hiking or just getting from A to B, and you have a few practice walks under your belt – in our experience, this is enough! You don’t need to walk 25km every day for a month to prepare for the Camino. There will be plenty of time to do that when you get there!

Equipment for training

Wherever you are in your journey prior to the Camino, we highly recommend trying to walk at least some distance with your backpack with a similar weight to what you will carry on the road. Additionally, it’s great if you can wear the footwear (socks etc. too) that you plan to wear on the way, during your training. You’ll quickly realise whether you’re carrying too much weight on your back and whether there are any issues with footwear.

Camino training plan: strength and mobility training

How to introduce mobility and strength training?

I am a certified yoga instructor, so I am a little biased, but I believe the best way to introduce strength and mobility training to prepare for hiking is through yoga. But, I also regularly do strength training and there are benefits to including both in your Camino de Santiago, or hiking, training programme.

In addition to walking, as part of a training programme, there are clear benefits to introducing yoga and strength training into your training. These include:

  • Creating more stamina and strength helping you to walk longer distances;
  • Strength in your muscles helps to stabilise your joints, which reduces the risk of injury during hiking significantly;
  • Increasing strength can help with carrying a heavy backpack for long periods of time;
  • Improving the mobility of your body helps to prepare for daily movement undertaken on a multi-day hike;
  • Yoga helps with mental preparation, which may benefit you during long distance hikes.

Which muscle groups are important for hiking?

Let’s consider which muscle groups are most involved in hiking. The important muscle groups for hiking are:

  • The glutes (the biggest muscle group in your butt)
  • The hamstrings (the big muscle group at the back of your thighs)
  • The hip flexors (a group of muscles inside your core responsible for any flexion action at your hips i.e. lifting your leg up)
  • The core (your abs and back muscles – the “corset” around your middle)

Many people think about hiking requiring strong legs, but few people realise the importance of the specific groups – the glutes and the hamstrings. Even fewer people consider how important their core and hip flexors are to hiking. Hip flexors in particular are often overlooked because they are not visible!

How can you train these muscles? The best way that I use to train for hiking and make these muscles as strong and mobile as possible is through a combination of yoga and strength training.

Best strength exercises for hiking: Camino training plan

These are my “go to” strength exercises ahead of walking a long-distance hike.

I include a combination of single leg exercises (asymmetric) and double leg (symmetrical). This is particularly important for hiking long distances, because we can tend to “favour” one leg over the other. If you only train both legs at the same time, this allows one leg to do all the work and the other to become weaker. The long term consequence of this, can be injury on one side. Therefore, exercising both legs individually can help to keep the muscles strong on both sides and prevent injury.

For an additional challenge, perhaps nearer to your walk, start doing these exercises with your hiking backpack on.


Squats, and the dynamic alternative of squats (squat jumps), are a super training exercise for hiking.

Benefits: Glute and leg strength muscles, increases stability to assist with hiking.

Beginner Tips: Try to increase the number you do and how low you can go into the squat, but maintain the posture.

Pistol Squats

Benefits: An asymmetric/ unilateral move that works each side individually to strengthen the legs and improve stability.

Beginner Tips: You can build this move up gradually, it is quite tricky. Don’t go as low as is shown in this picture at first.


Benefits: An asymmetric/ unilateral exercise that works each leg individually. Benefits stability in legs, which is needed when hiking.

Beginner Tips: Try static lunges (pulsing up and down in the lunge position) before you progress to forward or reverse lunges.

Mini-Band Walks

Mini-band walks (also called monster walks) are an exercise that many physios recommend for anyone with weak glute muscles. In this exercise, you use an exercise band around your ankles and walk forward one step at a time.

Benefits: Isolates the glutes to strengthen them.

Beginner Tips: The band needs to be tight to be effective.

Plank variants

There are a number of variants to the plank pose that can help strength training for hiking. I normally introduce a high plank and low plank (forearms on the mat) into my regimes. I also use plank shoulder taps in my training – this is where you tap your right hand to your left shoulder (and vice versa), whilst maintaining your posture in the position.

Benefits: Core strength and stability. Shoulder strength and stability (if using shoulder taps).

Beginner Tips: Hold this pose for less time and build up to holding it for longer. Try 20 shoulder taps, and gradually increase the number.

Best yoga poses to train for hiking: Camino training plan

Here are the best yoga poses that you can incorporate into your long distance hiking training plan. You can sequence these into a short yoga flow, or treat them as separate poses.

You can also find my bespoke yoga for hiking online course here. This will help with all training requirements before and during your walk.

High Lunge

Benefits: Leg and glute strengthening and excellent for stabilising hips and knees whilst legs are active.

Beginner Tips: Keep the back leg straight and bend into the front knee as far as possible. You are aiming for a right angle between your shin and thigh of the front leg, with the thigh parallel to the floor.

Hand to toe pose

Benefits: This standing pose helps balance and body awareness. It also strengthens the standing and lifted leg, from the glutes through to the ankles.

Beginner Tips: There are two variants to this pose, one with your leg out in front of your body and one with you leg to the side. It’s OK if you can’t straighten your leg fully in this pose at first. Try this with a bent knee. Or, if you can’t reach your toes you can just hold your knee.

Tree pose

Benefits: This pose improves your balance as well as focus. The standing leg is active and engaged, creating strength in the leg and glute muscles.

Beginner Tips: The foot of the bent leg can rest against the calf, if it doesn’t reach the thigh. But be careful not to put your foot directly onto your knee of the standing leg.

Boat pose

Benefits: This pose is great for core strength and to strengthen the hip flexors in particular.

Beginner Tips: You can do this pose with bent or straight legs. You can also hold onto your thighs to make it easier too.

Plank pose

Benefits: Core strength and stability.

Beginner Tips: Hold this for small amounts of time at first. Keep the core engaged and stop your hips from dropping down towards the floor.

What are these yoga poses best for?

These yoga poses are all great for preparing for hiking as part of a training programme. They focus on stabilising and strengthening the core joints and muscles that you will use.

However, these are not the best yoga poses to do after a day of hiking. These poses are also sometimes not the best poses to do in the morning before your hike. I will post more about that topic in future because this is a really important thing to get right! This will also be included in my yoga for hiking course.

Would you like access to more yoga for hiking content?

If you’re interested to access my bespoke yoga for hiking course, you can find the link here. I’ve created the perfect course to help you as part of your Camino training plan – and it currently has an introductory price.

Would you like to read more about preparing for the Camino de Santiago?

You can find our guide book here on Amazon.


John and Emma’s hiking gear. These are items we love to use when we go hiking, find them here on Amazon.

Osprey 40L, Multi, O/S

HOKA ONE ONE Mens Speedgoat 4 Textile Synthetic Trainers

HOKA ONE ONE Women’s Clifton 8

CWVLC Unisex Cushioned Compression Athletic Ankle Socks Multipack

Dr. Scholl’s Blister Cushions, Seal & Heal Bandage, 8 Cushions

Montem Ultra Strong Trekking, Walking, and Hiking Poles – One Pair (2 Poles)

Or more blog posts here:


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Most of our planning is done using other blogs, but you can’t beat a guide book at the bottom of your case.

Find them here on Amazon.





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