Exercises to Improve Your Hiking Abilities

While hiking is an easy activity that almost anyone can pick up, it is better to start slowly. Begin with short hikes and gradually increase your stride, pace, and length of the hike. While building up your stamina, there are five exercises that are crucial to your success as a hiker that can easily be done at home: squats, lunges, planks, skipping, and downward-facing dog.

Squats

Squats help build strength in the quads, glutes, and hamstrings. Always begin squats with just your body weight. As you become more familiar with the motion and it becomes easier for you, add a kettlebell for extra weight.

Begin a squat by standing with your feet hip-width apart. Begin to squat down until your thighs are parallel with the floor. Make sure your knees stay in line with your toes, your bottom is pushed out, and your back is straight. Push back up to finish the squat. Repeat 3 repetitions of 10–12 squats each.

Lunges

Lunges strengthen the quads and core. To begin a lunge, stand up straight and extend a leg. Dip down until the leg is at a 90-degree angle with the knee not extending past the ankle. Push back up. Try three repetitions of 10–12 lunges per leg.

Planks

Planks strengthen the core and can be done with straight or bent arms. Start on the floor on your belly. Push up until your arms are straight or bent directly under your shoulders. Make sure your legs are resting on your toes. Hold the plank for 15 seconds and gradually extend your time as it becomes easier.

Skipping

Jumping rope helps to build cardiovascular stamina. Start by jumping rope for 30 seconds and build up to 60-second intervals as the activity becomes easier. Do this for 3 to 5 repetitions.

Downward Facing Dog

Downward facing dog helps to stabilize the spine and hamstrings and improve overall posture. The exercise starts as a plank, and then pushes back and up until your body is in an upside-down V formation. Your head should fall between your biceps, and your feet should be flat on the floor for maximum stretch. Lower back down into a plank. Do 3 repetitions of 15–20.

Located in Cleveland, Ohio, Andrew Elsoffer is a soccer coach, community leader, and outdoorsman. Learn more @ AndrewElsoffer.org.

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