There’s no doubt that hiking requires a good measure of endurance. Even if you’re an avid walker, the steep hills and rough terrain will test your cardiovascular system, not to mention your balance, strength and flexibility.
Therefore, it pays to prepare for long jaunts with a complete workout program that helps you surmount the physical challenges that hiking places on your body.
With that being said, below are exercises that will help ready your body for arduous hiking treks.
Endurance Training (Brisk Walking and Running)
First thing first: you’ll need to build up your stamina. Say, you’re partaking in a five-mile hike – you’ll need to walk 30-45 minutes (at a decent pace), three times a week, varying the grade. Add running in once or twice a week, preferably on hilly landscapes, so when you hike, it will be even less of a challenge.
But make sure you hit your target heart rate during running, so you’re experiencing the training benefits.
Calculating Target Heart Rate
Subtract your age from 220 to get your maximum heart rate. Multiple that number by 0.5 – 0.7 (50 percent—70 percent for moderate intensity) or by 0.7—0.85 (70—0.85 percent for vigorous intensity) to determine THR zone.
For instance: A person who’s 35 years of age, their target HR (220-35=185) zone at 70-85 percent is 129—175 beats per minute (Source: Mayo Clinic).
Leg Strength Training
Leg strength is paramount in hiking, especially when it comes to tackling daunting peaks and valleys.
Speaking of tackling hills, there’s nothing better than plyometric leg exercises to help build the explosive strength need race up an incline, and to descent off a slope, when your legs are working overtime in order to keep you from falling over.
One of my favorite leg exercises for dynamic power is the jump squat (watch video)—a plyometric staple that helps to build the forceful quadricep power needed to overtake hellish hills.
Basic Lunge (with or without weights)
Upper Body Strength Training
Your arms and chest aren’t there just for the ride. A strong upper body will help you pump up that hill in grand, rapid fashion. So developing the area will help pay tremendous dividends.
Pushup – View demonstration (Chest)
The basic pushup is a great way to develop upper body strength.
Note: If a regular pushup is too difficult to complete, try modifying it by doing it on your knees while raising your torso. This will help you build up to a regular pushup.
Standing Dumbbell Curl (Biceps)
Abdominals and Lower Back Muscles
No hiking training program would be complete without strengthen these core muscles, as they are the foundation for everything your body does while hitting the hiking trail. The lower back, particularly, takes a pounding while out on the terrain.
Back Extensions (Erector Spinae)
After performing crunches, this exercise will work the antagonist muscles of the abdominal area, the erector spinae, located in the lower back.
Supine Knee-to-Chest Stretch (Lower Back, Outer Hip and Gluteal Area (Parts of the Core).
Hiking places a pounding on the lower back, as well as the outer hip and gluteal regions. So this flexibility exercise will help loosen those areas.
Standing Quadricep Stretch (vastus intermedius, vastus medialis, vastus lateralis and rectus femoris).
This is an easy to accomplish exercise that stretches all four of the quadricep muscles.
Increased quadricep flexibility will allow you greater range of motion in your walking and running strides, thus getting you to where you want to go faster while decreasing the possibility of injury.
Written by Jerry Del Priore for Bodono.
Jerry Del Priore has worked as a certified personal trainer, and received his degree in Physical Education from Brooklyn College in 1991. Jerry is also a veteran print and digital Sports Writer-Reporter-Author experienced in writing in-depth profile stories on a variety of high school, college and professional athletes and teams.
Additionally, Jerry has developed a presentation based on his book, Running Through Roadblocks, which encourages children to overcome obstacles and never give up…no matter what!
Specialties: Baseball, football, hockey and basketball writing. Jerry also has covered lacrosse, soccer, golf and track and field, with ample experience cover women’s sports. Jerry is also a Food Writer/Blogger experienced in venue write-ups and reviews.
In addition, Jerry has ample experience working with medically fragile children, children with behavioral challenges and children with cognitively impairments.