Hiking is an amazing way to get out into nature, spend time with friends and family, appreciate this amazing place we live in and to get your fitness up. With winter coming in quick (and hopefully some good rains), it’s not always possible to get into the mountains. Here are some exercises to improve your hiking:
This movement simulates stepping up on those high rocks nicely, and a controlled environment will not only help build your strength but it can also be a great tool to practice good form so that it becomes more automatic. The combination of this will reduce the risk of knee injury and also get you climbing those mountains faster!
Muscles worked: Glutes, Hamstrings and Quadriceps
Set a box or step on a stable surface. Start by placing one foot on top of the box. The entire foot should be securely on the box as you push through your heel to bring your body up. Place your other foot on the box and finish the movement by standing tall. Lower yourself back down to the ground, removing the foot that finished last on the box (i.e. if you stepped up with your right, you step off with your left) and placing it firmly on the ground before bringing the other foot down. Remember to engage your glutes as you stand, and keep your core engaged the entire time.
If this is feeling too easy for you, challenge yourself by using a taller box or add weight by holding a dumbbell in each hand throughout the movement.
I don’t know about you, but the getting back down the mountain can be more challenging than getting up the thing in the first place. It’s harder to keep control, stability and balance. Practicing this movement in a controlled environment is going to strengthen your muscles and build that control you need to keep your knees safe and healthy, and increase ankle stability.
Muscles worked: Glutes, Vastus Medialis
Start with a small box or step. Holding onto a wall for stability if you need, place one foot on the box and have the other foot hanging off. Slowly lower your hips, moving the foot that is off down the side of the box. The goal is to keep your knee in line with your second toe (so no caving in!) while keeping your hips stable without any rotation. Stand while keeping your glutes and core engaged. Do a number of reps on one leg and switch sides.
If this is feeling too easy for you, take it up a level by standing on a higher box or move away from the wall.
Your overall strength will improve by incorporating glute bridges into your training. As these muscle groups get stronger, your posture will improve and lower back pain may improve. Strong glutes will support your trunk as you hike, keeping your spine strong (for carrying all those day-hike snacks, of course).
Muscles worked: Glutes, Hamstrings and Core
Lay flat down on the floor with your hands holding a dumbbell on your hips. Begin the movement by engaging your core, curling up your hips and then driving through with your heels, extending your hips towards the ceiling. Your weight should be supported by your upper back and the heels of your feet. Reverse the movement to the ground and repeat.
Do a single legged glute bridge or place your feet onto a box while keeping your shoulders on the ground. Make sure you are keeping your core engaged the entire time.
It’s important to strengthen your cardio to keep you trekking up and down the mountains, and this machine is going to get that heart rate up AND it’s going to strengthen those climbing muscles – double win!
Muscles worked: That big strong heart. Also your legs. Like the whole thing.
Hop onto a stepper at your local gym – simple as that! Start with 15 minutes at a consistent pace and increase the time (or pace) as you get fitter.
Crank up the resistance to put the pressure on those legs.
Add these movements into your current gym routine (3 sets of 12-15 for the strength moves) to get that posterior chain strong, and ready for any rocky terrain you might want to adventure on.
Even though you might not be able to get into the mountains as much this rainy season, you can still get trek strong in the gym so that you can hit those mountains hard when it’s time!