Do You Have to Train for the Camino de Santiago?

Do you have to train for the Camino de Santiago? This is one of the first questions pilgrims ask before they start planning.

Many people think that completing the Camino de Santiago is a challenge that requires years of training and preparation.

However, this isn’t always the case. In fact, there are many people who complete the pilgrimage without any prior training at all.

So, does this mean that you don’t need to train to complete the Camino? Are you ready to find out if you need to train?

Read on to learn if you should train for the Camino de Santiago.

Do You Have to Train for the Camino de Santiago?

I will say this. I’ve seen pilgrims enter Santiago de Compostela with no training. They decide they want to do the Camino, and they do it.

I’ve also seen pilgrims undergo extensive training programs to make it all work.

So, what’s the right answer? It depends.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How far is your Camino?
  • How many kilometers will you walk each day?
  • Are you carrying your backpack or transporting it?
  • Which route do you plan to take?
  • What kind of condition are you currently in?

If you’re going to take a flat route like the Camino Portuguese or Camino Ingles and average 10-12 km a day for 10 days, you can do it on your own without training or minimal training.

If you’re taking on the entire Camino Frances, you’ll want to prepare for it. Same with the Camino del Norte. If you’re going to take a flat route like the Camino Portuguese or Camino Ingles and average 10-12 km a day for 10 days, you can do it on your own without training.

Just Because You Can…

Keep in mind one thing. Just because you CAN do something doesn’t always mean that you SHOULD do something.

In other words, you probably can get away with doing a shorter Camino with no training. You also increase the risk of injury if you suddenly start to hike 20km a day with little to no training.

Let’s say that you’re 7 kg overweight. Your body has to adapt to carry more weight. It puts pressure on your joints and your muscles and tendons have to work harder to hold your body up.

With each and every step, your joints absorb a certain amount of force. You experience even more force as you go down steep hills.

Add a 10kg backpack to the mix. Your body now has to carry 17kg more weight across thousands of steps each day. If your body has no time to train to adapt to this sudden change, it will break down.

Common Injuries on the Camino

When planning a trip to walk the Camino de Santiago, many people choose not to participate in any training beforehand. While this is an option, it can be extremely dangerous – especially for those who are not experienced hikers.

Without any prior preparation or conditioning, the journey can be grueling and lead to some serious health problems. Here are just a few of them:

  • Sprains – ankle and knee
  • Blisters
  • Chafing
  • Cuts
  • Muscular injuries (sprains, strains, pulls, tears)
  • Dehydration
  • Tendonitis

Can training prevent injuries? While there’s no guarantee that you have a completely injury-free journey, it does reduce the risk of injury.

For those who have been on the couch for years (you know who you are) or are office jockeys, you should prepare the body as much as possible.

When you sit all day, your hamstring and glute muscles get weak, and your quads and hip flexors get tight. This pulls your pelvis out of alignment, putting a ton of pressure on your back.

Your core muscles are weak as well, so you don’t have a way to support yourself as you walk. Add a 20+ pound weight on your back and you are looking at a sore back for the walk.

What is tendonitis? It’s essentially a repetitive stress injury. The tendons are what attach your muscles to your bones. One of the tendons that come to mind is the Achilles tendon, which attaches your calf muscles to your heel.

Tendonitis gets caused by doing sharp movements, such as using a lot of force when climbing downhill. It’s also caused by using bad body mechanics with each and every step.

A comprehensive training plan helps you correct some of your biomechanics so you walk correctly.

do you have to train for the camino de santiago boots

What Does a Good Training Plan Look Like?

Anyone can walk the Camino de Santiago, but if you want to make the most of your experience and enjoy it to the fullest, it is best to do some training before embarking. The Camino is not an easy walk – it covers over 500 miles and takes around a month to complete – so it is important to be prepared for the challenge physically and mentally.

Training can help you build up your stamina and get used to walking long distances, which will make the journey a lot more comfortable. There are plenty of programs out there that can help you get in shape for the Camino, or you could simply start by going on regular walks or hikes. Whatever route you choose, make sure that you give yourself enough time to prepare so that you can enjoy your walk without feeling exhausted from the start.

What should a good training plan include?

It should have customization. A general training plan is fine, but if you want to move well the entire way, a trainer needs to see how you move now.

The trainer will customize a plan to make sure that old injuries get addressed and muscular imbalances improve during your training.

It should incorporate various elements of training. You need flexibility, balance, strength, and endurance to complete the Camino.

It should have things that you like to do and is appropriate for your current ability level.

One of the best things about the Camino de Santiago is that there are many different ways to train for it. You can walk, run, bike, or swim depending on your preference and level of fitness. No matter which way you choose, make sure to start gradually and increase your mileage and intensity as your body becomes stronger. You’ll also want to focus on strengthening your quads, hamstrings, and glutes to help with the hills you’ll encounter along the way.

You should feel strong, confident, and ready to enjoy the journey.

Make Training Fun and Rewarding

Do you ever feel like you don’t have enough time in the day to get everything done? You’re not alone. Juggling work, family, and social obligations can be a challenge.

But what if I told you there was a way to make time for yourself that didn’t involve expensive gym memberships or hours of cardio? Believe it or not, there is. And all you need is a little bit of know-how and some basic equipment.

Here are some tips to help get you started. First, start by gradually increasing your distance and pace when you walk or run. You don’t want to overdo it at the beginning and end up hurting yourself.

Second, add in some strength training a few times a week. This will help build up your endurance and strengthen your muscles.

Third, find a hiking partner or group to do some practice hikes with. There are Amigos of the Camino de Santiago chapters across the United States and the world.

Some of these chapters hold gatherings and group hikes. Look for a chapter in your area or check out

to see if there are group hikes in your area. 

This will help prepare you for the steep climbs and narrow paths you will encounter on the Camino.

On your off days, incorporate yoga or mobility work to increase your balance and flexibility. Your body will move better and you won’t have to grunt when you stand up.

Of course, you want to pack and plan for the hike. Get the right shoes and gear to make your journey more comfortable.

Training Isn’t Required. It Is Recommended.

Do you have to train for the Camino de Santiago? It depends on a number of factors, but training is largely recommended to help you handle the rigors of the Camino.

You’ll reduce your risk of injury and have a much better experience overall.

Be sure to check out the blog for more tips to help you prepare for the Camino de Santiago.  

About Me

Heather McDaniel believes that we're all pilgrims on a journey to become our best selves. She's the founder of Invincible Women Fitness Academy and a certified Fitness and Nutrition Coach. She helps pilgrims prepare for the rigors of the Camino de Santiago. She lives in Santiago de Compostela, where she enjoys helping pilgrims and living her vision board.

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