If you are hiking for the first time or don’t want to tackle a mountain just yet, there are some great workouts that will help you prepare for the physically challenging activity.
As any hiker knows, a trail isn’t always smooth sailing. When you are hiking, you need to be able to handle anything that comes your way. Healthy, strong muscles are going to get you through even the most challenging hikes.
To ensure that your stride is strong on a trail, try adding these seven exercises to your weekly routine. They’ll get your heart pumping, strengthen your core and legs, and build your stamina for a day of hiking.
Seven best exercises for hiking
1) Goblet Squat
The goblet squat is a great exercise for hikers since it targets all of the leg muscles— the squat activates your quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes.
These muscles are the ones you predominantly use while hiking, which makes the goblet squat a good exercise to have in your toolkit. It’s also easy to do, too!
Here’s how to do the goblet squat correctly:
- Grab a dumbbell (or a kettlebell if that’s what you have) and hold it up to your chest.
- Put your feet just a little bit wider than shoulder-width apart and make sure that you keep most of your weight on your heels.
- Slowly lower yourself down to a squat until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
- Keep your knees over your toes, not bowing inwards, so that they stay safe while you do the exercise.
- Once you’ve reached this point, power through your heels and stand back up straight. This counts as one rep.
Climbing up the side of a mountain can be incredibly hard for those who have not spent time building their leg muscles.
Step-ups focus your quadriceps and glutes — two large muscles that are used while hiking. You can do this exercise on any box or bleacher.
Here’s how to do step-ups correctly:
- Stand facing your box or bleacher with one foot on top.
- If you are new to this exercise, start with a lower box; aim for 10-16 inches in height.
- Once you are more comfortable with these exercises, opt for taller boxes.
- Fully extend your hips at the top of the box so that you are standing upright with both legs.
- Then, for the following rep, switch to your other leg.
3) Downhill Lunges
The downhill lunge is a great exercise for hikers to add to their routine. It will help prepare your quads for any steep descents and strengthen your stabilizer and core muscles all while keeping you fit for an enjoyable day in the mountains.
Here’s how to do downhill lunges correctly:
- To do downhill lunges, start by standing on a gradual hill.
- Keep your upper body straight and your chin relaxed.
- Bend both knees so that one knee is directly above your ankle and the other knee is pitched forward over your toe.
- Keep both of your heels in place as you bend and stand back up again.
- Then, take several steps to move down the hill with one leg, and then step up with your other leg.
- Repeat the activity by stepping down with the other leg. Work up to performing 50 yards of this exercise.
4) Kettlebell Deadlift
For a lower body hiking workout, consider including the kettlebell deadlift in your workout. In addition to targeting the hamstrings, this exercise helps build strength in the core, torso and upper body.
Here’s how to do the kettlebell deadlift correctly:
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart, your toes slightly pointing forward, and hold the kettlebell with both of your hands, resting between your thighs.
- Maintain a neutral spine and hinge at your hips, sticking out your butt like you are closing a car door.
- Then slowly lower into a squat until the kettlebell reaches the ground between your feet.
- To return to standing, straighten your knees and then hinge at your hips back to starting position.
- This counts as one rep.
5) Hanging Knee Raise
Hanging knee raises work your core, which is important while hiking since it will help you carry a heavy backpack and maneuver through trail debris.
Here’s how to do a hanging knee raise correctly:
- You can do this exercise by finding a pull-up bar (or a jungle gym) and hanging from the bar with your arms fully extended.
- From a dead hang, engage your abs to pull your knees upwards towards your chest.
- Maintain control while lowering them back down to the hanging position where they started.
- This counts as one rep.
If you want to get in shape for a big hike or backpacking trip, the Stairmaster is a great choice. It builds your cardiovascular endurance and muscles at the same time.
Here’s how to do the Stairmaster correctly:
- Find a stair stepper at your local gym and set the timer for 20 minutes on your first visit.
- You will increase the time allotment in subsequent visits, but it’s a good idea to get a feel for the machine first.
- Spend five minutes warming up at a slow pace.
- Then, for the rest of your time, choose a stepping speed that you can maintain.
Stretching is crucial to keeping you injury-free during exercise. Doing dynamic stretches, which combine active mobility and controlled, sustained movement, is the best way to warm up before strength training or hiking.
A few examples of dynamic stretches include an easy jog, jumping jacks, high knees, and butt kicks.
Here’s how to stretch correctly:
- To warm-up, a 5-10 minute jog, jumping jacks, high knees, and butt kicks are great ways to get your blood flowing.
Exercises for hiking are important to get you in shape before your next big hike.
It’s always important to train hard and smart. However, when it comes time to hike some of the toughest trails, don’t make excuses by saying you weren’t training hard enough. If you aren’t regularly doing these exercises, you should begin right now.
Q. How often do you go for hike?