Four Weight-Lifting Strategies to Make You a (More) Badass Hiker

There are an infi­nite num­ber of weight train­ing pro­grams out there for peo­ple of every shape and size. And while lift­ing makes you stronger, too many get caught up in the van­i­ty side ver­sus lift­ing to get bet­ter at some­thing. Van­i­ty lift­ing might get you a beach bod, but if you want to be func­tion­al­ly stronger, pay atten­tion to big com­pound lifts that work an entire mus­cle chain as opposed to a sim­ple lift that only works one mus­cle (i.e. bicep curls).

Here are four lifts that will help turn you into a moun­tain-con­quer­ing, boul­der flat­ten­ing badass.

Squat Press­es
The squat is prob­a­bly the most func­tion­al lift there is. When done prop­er­ly, it will strength­en your rear end, ham­strings, and quadri­ceps, as well as your core mus­cles, arms and shoul­ders. You can do squats as a “body weight exer­cise” by just, well, squat­ting down repeat­ed­ly while hold­ing noth­ing. You can also hold dumb­bells as you do them to add a lit­tle extra resis­tance. If you real­ly want to get the max­i­mum effect, for­get all of that baby stuff and put a bar­bell on your shoulders.

Dead­lifts are anoth­er vital part of any hiker’s strength train­ing pro­gram. Like the squat, dead­lift­ing will give you the legs and back mus­cles of an ox, as well as doing won­ders for your core. Dead­lift­ing can be a trou­bling lift to exe­cute prop­er­ly, how­ev­er, with seri­ous­ly injury poten­tial if done incor­rect­ly. Hor­ror sto­ries of slipped disks and her­nia abound, so if you’re doing it for the first time, do a low weight, high rep set. This will give you a feel for the lift with­out putting your­self in the chiropractor’s office. The most impor­tant form issue to remem­ber is to always keep your back as straight as pos­si­ble and nev­er round it out. Just like every­one who’s ever worked a con­struc­tion job has heard, lift with your legs.

Clean and Press
The clean and press is a decep­tive lift, as it appears to be a pri­mar­i­ly upper body lift. While it does great­ly ben­e­fit that area, it’s also ben­e­fi­cial to your pos­te­ri­or chain. Like the dead­lift, the clean and press can be dan­ger­ous if done incor­rect­ly as it involves a cou­ple of rather vio­lent move­ments. Just make sure to start out with low weight and high reps as pre­scribed above and you’ll be on your way to pick­ing up heavy met­al objects and push­ing it up above your head like a total badass. 

Good Morn­ings
Good Morn­ings suck and you should dread doing them. But you need to do them, and you should do them often. Like every oth­er afore­men­tioned lift, they’ll work your pos­te­ri­or chain as well as sev­er­al of your adduc­tors (hip mus­cles), your back, abs, shoul­ders, and many oth­er sec­ondary mus­cles. But they suck, real­ly bad. 

The most impor­tant part of any pro­gram is to remem­ber to con­stant­ly check your form. Not doing so will at best, make you look like a doo­fus, and worst case, will lead to injury, negat­ing the pur­pose of these lifts (which is to train for major hikes). One last tip: stay away from the weight machines unless total­ly nec­es­sary. While per­son­al train­ers may gasp at the sound of this, weight machines are in no way good train­ing for hiking.