Experienced hikers would tell you that hiking isn’t only mentally demanding, but physically challenging as well. Many beginners get excited for their first hiking trip, preparing themselves with expensive gear with the peak of the mountain in mind, facing a stunning view of the world surrounding them.
Depending on the difficulty of the terrain, you’re bound to exert yourself physically, and the view up top wouldn’t mean as much if you’re all cramped up, out of breath, and feel like your legs are about to fall off! Here are 5 exercises to help build your muscles up and improve your stamina to get ready for that hike you’ve been planning for so long.
Large rocks and steep elevation are bound to block your path, and I can’t think of any movement that can mimic these scenarios like step ups can! It’s probably the easiest to do. If you can’t find an appropriate box to step on, you can use the stairs.
Step ups work primarily on your quadriceps, but all your legs muscles are working hard (including your glutes). To add resistance, hold a pair of dumbbells on your sides throughout the movement. This works on your core and stability.
Engaging the core on step ups is hard to get around with from my own experience. A great way to get a complete lower body workout while engaging your core throughout the motion is lunges, especially walking lunges.
Keep your body upright, tighten your core, and slowly lower yourself. Your torso should be in this position as you go back up. If it’s too easy, challenge yourself with walking lunges with dumbbells!
As you hike, your core will tire out when you’re carrying heavy equipment and you don’t want to hike with bad posture as it may lead to injury; hence why we must strengthen the core.
Simple but effective; a treadmill is a solid piece of equipment to work on for your hiking preparation. You’ll be walking on trails that are sloping up and down constantly, which most treadmill can mimic well. You should focus on the inclination feature and imagine yourself going through the hike as you constantly change the inclination range and speed. This helps to improve your stamina.
The movement of this workout might be slightly hard to get a hold on … but believe me, it’s gonna burn the heck out of your lower posterior chain. This exercise works on your lower back, glutes, and hamstrings. Having a strong posterior chain can help prevent injuries, especially in the knees. A guide on glute bridges can be found here.
Once you’ve gotten the hang of it, challenge yourself with single-leg glute bridges!
Planks are a killer workout for your core. While lunges train your core to stabilize your movement, planks offer your abs and lower back a direct core workout, targeting its overall strength.
Remember, you might be carrying heavy equipment. The heavier the load on your back, the stronger the core needs to be.
If regular planks are becoming too easy, try single-arm planks!
It’s not just about exercising
It is important to state that preparing for hiking is not just about exercising and making your core and legs stronger. Your body needs a good rest to be able to become stronger. Having a good night’s sleep is crucial for your preparation and healthy recovery. Make sure you have comfortable pillow and mattress (and consult this guide if you are looking for options). Train hard, eat good, and sleep well – and you are all set for your hiking adventure!