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10 Exercises That Will Get You Ready For Any Hike

You'll hike further and your legs will thank you.

By: Lindsey Banks + Save to a List

Preparing your body for a hike is often overshadowed by other hiking preparations, such as what gear to bring, which trail to take, and whether you have the right hiking shoes. As important as these preparations are, it is equally important to prepare your body for hiking by strengthening your muscles, increasing your cardiovascular capacity, and improving flexibility.

Hiking is a lot of fun, but it can be a challenge too. In order to make your hiking experience the best that it can be, it is smart to train your body for any hike, whether it’s a beginner 1-mile trail or an epic backpacking trek. Body preparation will prevent injury and soreness and ensure that you have a great time on your adventure.

If you want to get in shape for your next hike, these 10 exercises will target all the muscles you’ll use the most. For hikers, there is a lot of strain placed on the leg muscles: the glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, hip flexors, and calves, especially if you are drastically changing elevation on your hike.

Photo: Kyle Frost

Follow this workout for 4 weeks leading up to your next outdoor adventure. Aim for 3 nonconsecutive days a week. Make sure to warm up with some dynamic stretches before the workout, and cool down with some static stretches after the workout. Note that you may feel sore after the first week. That’s normal and will improve with exercise consistency.

Complete each exercise for one minute, rest for 30 seconds and then move onto the next exercise. Once you have completed all 10 exercises, rest for a maximum of 1 minute and then repeat the series. It is helpful to use an interval timer app to track your time without having to watch the clock.

Photo: Rumon Carter

1. Switch Lunges

Jump into a lunge position keeping your front knee behind your toe and your chest up. Jump in the air while switching legs to bring the opposite foot forward into a lunge. Continue alternating. If you need to modify this to a low impact move, step into alternating lunges instead of jumping.

2. Calf Raises

Stand with your feet hip width apart. Rise up onto your toes and hold for a second. Lower your heels back to the floor and repeat.

3. Mountain Climbers

You can’t have a hiking workout without mountain climbers. It will help to strengthen your core for better hiking balance and your shoulders for carrying those heavy packs. Begin in a high plank position. Pull one knee forward towards you chest. Jump to switch legs and continue to “run” your legs back and forth towards your chest.

4. Roundhouse Lunges

Step forward with one foot into a deep lunge. Return to standing and step the same foot to the side into a side lunge. Return to standing and then step the same foot behind you into a back lunge. Return to standing and repeat this on the opposite leg. Make sure to keep the front knee behind the toe in each lunge position.

5. Burpees

Begin standing with your feet hip width apart. Lower into a squat position and place your hands on the ground in front of you, keeping your butt down. Jump your legs back into a high plank position. Jump your legs back towards your hands into the low squat position. Jump straight up in the air bringing your hands overhead. You can make this more difficult by adding a push-up after each plank.

Photo: Noah Couser

6. Calf Hops

Stand on one foot, with the opposite knee bent behind you. Rise up on your toe on the supporting leg. Hop up and down on your toe, keeping a soft bend in your knee. Do this for 30 seconds on one foot and then switch to the other foot.

7. Skater Jumps

Begin standing with your feet together. Jump one leg out and bring the opposite leg behind you into a curtsy lunge position. Try to touch the floor with your hand. Jump in the opposite direction, using the back leg to lead. Bring the opposite leg behind you into the curtsy lunge position. Repeat by jumping from side to side.

8. Surrenders

Begin standing with your feet hip width apart. Lower onto one knee and then the other. Step one foot up and follow with the opposite foot until you are back in standing position. Repeat starting with the opposite leg.

9. Plyo Spiderman Lunges

Begin in a high plank position. Bend one knee and jump your foot forward into a spiderman lunge position, keeping both hands on the ground. Jump to bring the leg back into high plank while bringing the opposite leg into the spiderman lunge position simultaneously. Continue to jump your legs back and forth while keeping your hips as steady as possible.

10. Squat Walk

Begin by standing with your feet hip width apart. Lower into a squat position. While in the squat, step one foot in to meet the other. Step the opposite foot back out so your feet are hip width apart. Repeat that stepping motion to the same side before switching directions. Stay as low as you can!

Cover photo: Christin Healey

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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