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Train Like a Pro: 11 Workouts for Hiking Adventures

Hiking exercises


Are you ready to conquer the trails and embark on exhilarating hiking adventures? Hiking is a fantastic way to connect with nature and a wonderful form of exercise that engages your entire body. Training or exercising before you begin your hiking journey helps to ensure you're prepared for the trail's challenges. 

This article will guide you through a comprehensive hiking exercise training plan that's perfect for beginners, including workouts, stretching routines, and exercises specifically tailored for hiking. 

Get ready to elevate your fitness and embrace the great outdoors!

Is Hiking Good Exercise?  

Hiking is an accessible and enjoyable form of exercise that engages the entire body while clearing the mind. Traversing picturesque trails, hikers enjoy fresh air, listen to the sounds of nature, and witness beautiful landscapes.

Hiking is a low-impact activity that people of all ages and fitness levels can enjoy. Plus, it's a great way to connect with nature and explore new places.

But beginner hikers should train properly before hitting the trails. Training helps build strength, endurance, and the skills needed to hike safely and comfortably.

Before lacing up those boots to hit the trails, let's explore how to prepare for a hiking adventure.

What to Bring to Prepare for Your Hike

Before venturing into the wilderness, having the right gear and keeping a few essentials on hand to ensure a safe and enjoyable hiking experience is crucial. 

Here's a quick checklist of what to bring for most hikes:

  • Hiking Footwear
  • Weather-Appropriate Clothing
  • Backpack
  • Water
  • Protein-packed snacks
  • Navigation Tools
  • First Aid Kit
  • Sun Protection
  • Insect Repellent
  • Personal Identification
  • Camera or Smartphone

When hiking, it's also important to remember to respect nature and practice "Leave No Trace" principles. Carry a trash bag and pack out all your trash, leaving the trail as pristine as you found it. And with these essentials in your backpack, you'll be well-prepared to tackle your first hiking adventure. Remember, preparation is the key to a successful and enjoyable hike, so double-check your gear and get ready to create unforgettable memories in the great outdoors.

11 Energizing Hiking Exercises 

Planet Fitness has curated specific workouts for hiking, targeting the key muscle groups involved to elevate your hiking performance. Modifying these exercises based on your needs and abilities is important. Remember to warm up your body to prevent injuries and enhance flexibility before exercising. 

Ready to get started? Find a Planet Fitness location near you!

Let's dive into the essential hiking exercises that will strengthen your body, improve your stability, and enhance your overall hiking experience:

#1: Jump Squats

Jump squats are an excellent hiking exercise to develop explosive power in your legs, essential for ascending steep inclines or rocky terrains.

For jump squats, you should:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Lower your body into a squat position by bending at the knees and hips.
  3. Explosively jump up, extending your legs fully.
  4. Land softly and immediately lower your body back into a squat position.
  5. Repeat.

#2: Hip Rolls

Hips rolls are a wonderful backpacking workout. Maintaining stability and flexibility in your hips is crucial for balanced hiking to safely complete both short hikes and 10-20 mile days. 

Gain hip flexibility through hip rolls by:

  1. Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Lift one foot off the ground and rotate your hip outward, away from your standing foot.
  3. Slowly rotate your hip back to the starting position.
  4. Repeat.

#3: Step-Ups

Hiking often involves navigating uneven surfaces and climbing over obstacles. The step-up hiking exercise strengthens your glutes and quads, preparing you for these challenges.

To practice step-ups:

  1. Find a stable surface about 8 inches high, such as a sturdy step or platform.
  2. Place one foot on the surface and step up until your leg is nearly straight.
  3. Pause briefly, then step back down.
  4. Repeat the movement for each leg.

#4: Heel Downs

Descending safely from those heights requires control and strength. The heel-down exercise focuses on strengthening your calf muscles and improving your stability during downhill treks.

For heel downs, you should: 

  1. Stand on a flat surface with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Slowly raise your heels, lifting your body onto the balls of your feet.
  3. Lower your heels back down to the ground.
  4. Repeat.

#5: Squat Curl Overhead Press 

The squat curl overhead press exercise is a compound movement that engages multiple muscle groups simultaneously, which you’ll need to master hiking.

For this exercise, you should: 

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a pair of dumbbells at your sides.
  2. Lower your body into a squat position by bending at the knees and hips, keeping your back straight.
  3. As you rise back up, curl the dumbbells towards your shoulders.
  4. Finally, press the dumbbells overhead, fully extending your arms.
  5. Reverse the motion and repeat.

#6: Bridge with a Hamstring Curl 

A strong posterior chain, including your glutes and hamstrings, is crucial for maintaining balance and stability during hikes.

To perform this bridge variation:

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground.
  2. Lift your hips off the ground, forming a bridge position.
  3. Slowly extend one leg while maintaining the bridge position, straightening it out.
  4. Flex your hamstring, bending your leg back towards your glutes.
  5. Extend your leg back out and repeat the movement for each leg.

#7: Side Plank with Leg Raise

Core strength and stability are vital for maintaining proper trail posture and balance.

For this side plank variation: 

  1. Start by lying on your side, propped up on one forearm, with your legs straight and stacked on top of each other.
  2. Lift your hips off the ground, creating a straight line from your head to your feet.
  3. While maintaining the side plank position, raise your top leg as high as you’re comfortable.
  4. Lower your leg back down and repeat.

#8: Hip Clocks 

Hip clocks improve hip mobility and stability, which are essential for navigating uneven terrain and maintaining proper form during hikes.

For hip clocks:

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Lift one foot off the ground and imagine a spot on the ground as the clock's center.
  3. Slowly move your lifted leg forward and trace a circle clockwise around the clock.
  4. Return to the starting position and repeat the movement in a counterclockwise direction.
  5. Repeat on each leg.

#9: Walking Lunges

Walking lunges target your quads, hamstrings, and glutes, replicating the movements required for uphill climbs and trail descents. You might even practice walking throughout your house with these lunges throughout the days and weeks leading up to your backpacking trip.

To practice walking lunges safely:

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Take a step forward with your right foot, lowering your body into a lunge position.
  3. Push through your right foot to bring your left foot forward into the next lunge.
  4. Continue walking forward, alternating legs, and maintaining a controlled and steady pace.
  5. Repeat.

#10: Single-Leg Deadlifts 

A superb hiking exercise, single-leg deadlifts enhance balance and stability while strengthening your hamstrings and glutes, which promotes efficient movement on the trails.

Single-leg deadlifts are performed by: 

  1. Standing with your feet hip-width apart and slight knee bend.
  2. Shifting your weight onto one leg while simultaneously lifting the other leg off the ground, maintaining a straight line from your head to your lifted foot.
  3. Hinging at the hips, lowering your torso toward the ground while extending your lifted leg straight back.
  4. Returning to the starting position by contracting your hamstrings and glutes, bringing your torso upright.
  5. Repeat on each leg.

#11: Mountain Climbers 

Mountain climbers are a dynamic full-body hiking exercise that improves cardiovascular endurance, core strength, and coordination—essential for conquering steep inclines and rugged trails.

Practice mountain climbers on any flat surface. To begin: 

  1. Start in a high plank position, with your hands shoulder-width apart and your body forming a straight line.
  2. Engage your core and alternate bringing your knees toward your chest, simulating a running motion.
  3. Move at a controlled and steady pace, maintaining proper form throughout the exercise.
  4. Repeat.

How To Train for an Extended Hike: A Guide for Beginners

Ready to take on a new challenge? To maximize hiking performance, following a structured training schedule is essential. The sample training plan below should begin approximately 8–12 weeks before an extended hiking adventure, especially if your hiking experience is limited. This timeframe allows for progressive training and ample time to adapt as necessary. 

By following this schedule, you'll gradually build strength, endurance, and confidence on your journey to becoming a seasoned hiker.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when training for long hiking days or an upcoming backpacking adventure: 

  1. Strength Training on Nonconsecutive Days: Engage in targeted strength exercises on alternate days to build muscle endurance and overall strength for hiking.
  2. Rest Days for Recovery: Rest days allow your body to recover and adapt to the training. Including stretching for hiking fitness is key. Embrace restorative activities like gentle stretching or yoga to enhance recovery between workouts.
  3. Cardio Sessions until the Final Two Weeks Before a Major Hike: Incorporate cardio exercises, such as jogging, swimming, or cycling, to improve cardiovascular endurance and stamina. As you approach the final two weeks, reduce the intensity and duration of cardio sessions to ensure optimal energy reserves for the hike.
  4. Long Day Hikes and Additional Training Sessions in the Last Two Weeks: During the final two weeks, gradually increase the duration and difficulty of your hikes to simulate the challenges you'll face on your expedition. Additionally, include training sessions to fine-tune your hiking skills and enhance your fitness.

Hiking is an enjoyable adventure and a rewarding form of exercise that offers numerous health benefits. By incorporating targeted workouts and stretching routines, you'll be well-prepared to tackle the trails confidently. And the best place to get started? Planet Fitness, of course. Find a gym near you today!

Remember to listen to your body, stay hydrated, and pack essential gear for a safe and enjoyable hiking experience. Lace up your boots, embrace the breathtaking wonders of nature, and embark on unforgettable hiking journeys.

Happy hiking!