As with any sport or activity, you need to be mentally and physically ready for hiking. You also need to perform some strength training exercises that will help you strengthen the muscle groups you will use while hiking.
These specific exercises will provide strength, muscle tone, but also the speed, agility and endurance you need for hiking.
Strength Exercises to Get in Shape for Hiking
The best strength exercises to get in shape for hiking are:
1. Goblet squat
The goblet squat is an exercise that affects important muscles for hikers- the quadriceps, hamstrings and the gluteus.
How to do Goblet Squat?
Take a dumbbell or kettlebell in your hands and hold it in front of you, at chest height. Stand upright, feet hip-width apart and engage your core. Press your hips back and begin bending your knees until you reach a position parallel to the ground, making sure that your knees follow the line of your feet and not run inward or outward. When you get to the downward phase, push yourself back to the starting position.
2. Bench Step-ups
Bench Step-up is an exercise that predominantly affects the quadriceps and gluteus. You can do them by climbing on a gym bench, but also any other box, bench or chair.
How to do Bench Step-ups?
Stand upright facing the bench. Raise one leg, rest your whole foot on the bench. Pushing yourself out of the raised foot, lift yourself onto the bench to an upright position. Go down with the same foot. Do the next repetition with the opposite leg.
3. Step Downs
When we talk about hiking, everyone thinks about climbing, but it is essential to prepare your muscles for walking downhill too. Step downs will help strengthen the quadriceps muscles, which will make it easier to go downhill and reduce the muscle fatigue.
How to do Step Downs?
Find a moderate downhill for this exercise. Keeping the upper body upright and core engaged, step one foot forward and lower yourself until the back knee almost touches the ground and the front knee is bent at a 90-degree angle.
Make sure that the front knee does not “run” forward but stays just above the ankle. When you return to the starting position, push off from the front heel and finish the repetition by returning to the starting position.
4. Knee Raises
While previous exercise examples were focused on the leg muscles, this exercise predominantly affects the core muscles. A strong core is important for walking, but also for carrying a heavy backpack.
How to do Knee Raises?
Find a bar on which you can hang yourself by keeping your arms and legs fully extended. From this hanging position, activate your core, lift your legs and pull your knees up to your chest. While lowering your legs to the starting position, maintain movement control and be careful not to swing.
Stretching Exercises for Hiking
In addition to the above strength exercises, stretching is an important part of preparing for hiking. It helps reduce the risk of injury and speeds up recovery. But when and how to stretch? Before doing the above exercises, do 5-10 minutes of dynamic stretching which will also be a warm up. Do jumping jacks, running in place with high knees, plank and some burpees.
At the end of the workout, do 5-10 minutes of static stretching that will improve flexibility, reduce the risk of injury, and help flush out accumulated lactic acid in the muscles.
In this specific hiking prep workout, the focus in stretching exercises should be on the quadriceps, back thigh muscles, gluteus, lower back, and core muscles.