While hik­ing might sound like the work­out itself, a lot of longer, more demand­ing hikes are made even more bru­tal if you’re not already in shape before set­ting out for the trail. Whether you’re an expe­ri­enced thru-hik­er or your every­day week­end war­rior, these exer­cis­es are the per­fect way to improve your over­all strength and endurance on the trail.

Quads
Legs are one of the most impor­tant parts of your body to train if you’re a hik­er! Descents can be tough on your thighs, so you should include some down­hill lunges in your work­out rou­tine at least a few weeks before you plan to hit the trails. Put on your back­pack and load it up with around 30 pounds of weight, and then head to a grad­ual slope. Once you’re there you should lunge down­hill for at least 100 yards, and aim to do this three times a week.

Ham­strings
If you’re hik­ing with a heavy back­pack on a soft sur­face, your heels will start to sink into the ground, and this will put pres­sure on your ham­strings. Over time this can start to put pres­sure on your back. Avoid this by build­ing stronger ham­strings. You can build your ham­strings by sit­ting with a very straight back on a rolling office chair. Put your hands behind your head and pull your­self across the room at least 20 times, three times a week to strength­en your hamstrings.

hiker workout

Abs and Back
It’s impor­tant for hik­ers to have a strong core, espe­cial­ly on long hikes with heavy back­packs. If you have a weak core you will strug­gle to car­ry your pack and this will result in back pain that can cause long-term prob­lems; but you can strength­en your core by prac­tic­ing the tick tock plank. Sim­ply get into a high plank form with your wrists below your shoul­ders, ensur­ing that your spine is straight, and then jump your right foot to the side with­out mov­ing the rest of your body. Jump your right foot back in while jump­ing the left foot out, and try to do this 20–30 times, three times a week.

You can also strength­en your abdom­i­nal mus­cles by doing crunch­es on an exer­cise ball. Aim to do at least two sets of 10 crunch­es, three times a week, to slow­ly build up abdom­i­nal strength.

Low­er Back
A hiker’s back car­ries a lot of weight every time they go out, and if you have a weak back this can result in injury and long-term dam­age. Thank­ful­ly you can avoid this by prac­tic­ing leg rais­es while you’re already work­ing on your abs to help strength­en your low­er back. Sim­ply lay down on the ground with your chin on top of a fold­ed tow­el. Slow­ly lift one leg up and hold it a few inch­es away from the ground, and then repeat with the sec­ond leg. Try to do this at least 20 times, three times a week, to improve low­er back strength.

Glutes
Some­times glute pain can be con­fused as low­er back pain, so take the time to strength­en both your back and your glutes to min­i­mize the chance of injury. You can eas­i­ly strength­en your glutes by doing 10 wall squats, three times a week. To do a wall squat, slide your body down the wall until it looks like you’re sit­ting in an invis­i­ble chair, and hold the posi­tion for 20 seconds.