Exercises for Hikers

hikersAs the leaves change and the tempeture drops, many hiker may become eager to enjoy the great outdoors. Hiking in and of itself is a great form of exercise, but it is also a sport. Hikers who wish to challenge themselves on the trails should consider doing specific exercises to improve their skills.

Hiking requiers, balance strength and endurance. In a average day-hike you might have to climb up a steep hill, balance yourself  while traversing uneven terrain, and even jump across a barrier like a small stream. The exercises below are designed to help you become more adept some of hiking’s most challenging maneuvers.

Exercises for Hikers

 Cook hip lift

Hikers need to have strong hips and glutes. The muscles of the hips are responsible for stabilizing the femur when you are on one leg and they are also involved in hip extension, the movement you use to propel yourself up an incline.

  1. Lie down on your back with arms at your sides, place the feet flat on the floor about a foot away from your glutes.
  2. Place a tennis or lacrosse ball in the crease where your right thigh meets the torso.
  3. Bend your right knee and bring it to toward the chest, wrap your hands around your knee and pull your knee to your chest so that the ball is pinned between your torso and thigh.
  4. Flex your left foot so that only your heel has contact with the ground.
  5. Exhale, squeeze the glutes and raise your hips up as far a you can while maintaining a neutral spine (don’t arch your back.)
  6. Hold for at least 3 seconds, then lower back down. Repeat.

Walking lunges

Stacy Berman, of  Stacy’s Bootcamp in New York, recommends walking lunges to hikers. “This (walking Lunges) is a great sport-specific exercise for hiking because it closely mimics some of the big steps you will have to take during the uphills,” says Berman. “If you really want to get specific, you can try doing walking lunges up and/or down a hill.”

  1. Step out with your lead leg, bend your knees  and lower your hips, keep your torso erect with your shoulder directly above the hips.
  2. Don’t let your lead knee extend past your toes.
  3. Inhale and keep the spine neutral as you rise up.
  4. Step forward with the back leg, and lower back into a lunge.
  5. Executing this exercise on both legs completes one rep.
  6. As you preform additional reps you will travel across the floor.

Side-to-side jump squats

This exercise will allow you to work on your explosive power. The side-to-side direction of the movement helps you build strength in the lateral muscles of the leg which are important for balance and agility.

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Push your feet into the ground like you’re trying to split apart the floor beneath you: this will help engage your glutes.
  3. Sit down and back into a squat position.
  4. Exhale and Jump as far to the side as you can
  5. Once you land, avoid leaning to the side, and immediately return to the squat position,
  6. Then jump back to the other side.
  7. This is one repetition.


Photo by Brian & Jaclyn Drum 

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