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How to Get Fit for the Paine Circuit with iPhone Apps

What’s the best way to train for trekking the Paine Circuit? How about hiking the W Trek? If you’re thinking of booking a hiking tour in Torres del Paine National Park you’ve probably asked yourself these questions. The answer is to find whichever way to train that suits you and stick to it. After all, when the time comes you’d rather be gasping in awe at the unforgettable granite towers than gasping for breath halfway through the hike. The good news for those who struggle to commit to a fitness routine and maintain motivation is that technology can lend a helping hand. Your iPhone can’t do the workout for you (not yet anyway!) but it can help to make the training regime for your Patagonia hike more well-rounded, better targeted and - most importantly - a lot more fun. We’ve rooted out the best iPhone apps and combined them into five simple steps to help you get into shape and tackle the Paine Circuit or W Trek head on.


FitCal screenshot1. Assess Your Fitness

Before you start training to reach the peak of physical fitness, the first step is to work out where you’re starting from. By assessing your level of general fitness you can decide how soon you need to start your training schedule to allow enough time to be on top form for the big trek. An app such as FitCal Fitness Calculator ($0.99) does exactly what it says on the tin, working out your ideal weight, abdominal strength and upper body strength amongst other things. It can also provide advice on your recommended calorie and water intake to ensure you’re properly hydrated and can maintain your energy levels. From a safety perspective, FitCal is great because it lets you know the highest heart rate you can reach within safe limits, so you won’t risk pushing yourself too hard too fast. As your training develops, you’ll be able to see the progress you're making in black and white, which is a fantastic motivator if you feel you’ve hit a plateau.

GymGoal Plus screenshot2. Gain Strength

Getting fit in preparation for a hike is about much more than just cardiovascular fitness. The more you can build up your muscle strength before setting out, the steadier you will be on your feet and the less likely you are to overbalance and injure yourself. And it’s not all about the legs either. If you’ll be carrying a pack on the big trek you can really make your life easier by strengthening your back, core and shoulder muscles in advance. With the easy to use GymGoal Plus app for iPhone ($4.99), you can simply choose the body part you want to focus on and you’ll be presented with pictures, animations and clear instructions for exercises to strengthen that particular muscle group. By storing your workout history you can see at a glance if you’ve been neglecting any body parts to ensure that your whole body is prepped for the hike. It also comes with a selection of preset workout routines if you’re not sure where to begin.

Daily Cardio Workout Screenshots3. Increase Efficiency

Cardio, or aerobic exercise, involves working out at a moderate level so that you can keep going for a fairly sustained length of time. It’s the perfect way to improve the speed at which your muscles recover from exercise, meaning that cardio training before you get to Patagonia should help you ache less during and after your hike. It also improves the working of your circulatory system so you’ll get less out of breath on more intense parts of the trail such as steep hills. The main advantage of the Daily Cardio Workout app is that it can help you tailor your cardio workout to fit around your busy work and home routine. Choose from 5, 7.5 and 10 minute daily routines with videos and a timer to whip you into shape. As an added bonus it’s free so there are no excuses not to get up and moving.

Interval Run screenshot4. Build Stamina

Interval training combines short bursts of high intensity exercise that raise your heart rate with spells of low intensity exercise that allow you to recover. This kind of training is fantastic for working on stamina and endurance, and you’re certainly going to need that if you plan on doing the full Paine Circuit trek or even the W Trek. With the Interval Run app ($1.99) you can customise the intervals at which you sprint, run and walk, giving you the flexibility to adapt your regime as you get fitter. There are also pre-programmed routines to take you from a couch potato to a 5k runner at an achievable pace. A fun feature of this app is that the instructions are spoken aloud so you don’t have to keep looking at your phone. You can also set a motivational playlist to work out to and the instructions will play over the top.

Map My Hike screenshot5. Practice!

It might sound obvious, but no matter how great you are at your regular cardio, strength and stamina workouts, you don’t want to arrive at the start of a 5 day hike in Patagonia without ever having tackled uneven terrain with a pack on your back. One of the best ways to prepare for a hike, is simply to hike, gradually increasing the length, intensity and difficulty of each trail you complete. This will allow you to identify your personal strengths and weaknesses so you can focus your training on those areas that need it. The MapMyHIKE app is a fantastic free app that uses GPS to track your hike in real time and record essential data such as distance, pace and elevation. You can compare information from previous hikes to make sure that you’re making steady progress towards your goal. It also allows you to easily share the details of your hike with friends via Twitter and Facebook, and compare your treks with theirs, giving you that push to go the extra mile.
Now you’re ready for your trip, why not check out our Top 8 iPhone Apps for Trekking in Patagonia and see how else your iPhone can enhance your hiking tour.
Do you have a favourite app for working out? Maybe you have alternatives for Android users? Or perhaps you have some tips for those who prefer to train the traditional way? Let us know your thoughts below!