Shape Up to Hike Up

The time is almost upon us! Summer hiking season is approaching quickly! And in order to reach the summit, you need to get your body ready. Hiking is rigorous and difficult. I don’t care what some people say, if you are not in shape physically, then you will be in pain on the side of that mountain, with no way down but to trek back yourself.

We all should have been preparing and training since that last September hike, but I know I have not stuck to my workout regimen as well as I should have. But there are things you can still do. Even a little goes a long way. Try some of these exercises to get in shape so that you can have a great hiking season.

Your legs are extremely important–they carry you up the trail. And if they are not kicking, then you might as well turn around and go home.

1.) Lunges:

These help to strengthen your quads, glutes, and hamstrings. Stand with your feet shoulder length apart with your back straight and your abs tight. Step forward with your right foot, bend both legs at 90 degrees. Make sure that when your legs are bent, your forward knee does not go past your toes. Hold the position for about 2 seconds, being sure that your front leg is parallel to the ground. Rise slowly and repeat on the left leg.

2.) Calf Raises:

Stand with your feet together and simply rise onto your toes, then back down flat. Do twenty. Then, stand on one foot and do the same thing. Switch feet. Finally, do twenty more with both feet slowly. I find myself doing these anywhere, anytime. Often, in the shower or when I am brushing my teeth.

Having a strong core makes all the difference during a hike. If your abs are tight, then your posture will be better, reducing back pain and leading to easier breathing, and you will feel more balanced and aligned.

1.) Stability Ball Sit Ups:

Grab a yoga ball and lie on it. Make sure your legs are parallel to the floor and bent at a 90 degree angle. Then, do normal sit ups.

2.) Passing Sit Ups: Lie down on your back, grab the yoga ball with your hands and hold it above your head. Crunch, still holding the ball, and pass it to your feet, then lie back down, bringing your legs flat to the ground again. Now you should be holding the ball with your feet. Crunch, and pass the ball to your hands, thus returning to the starting position. Repeat.

3.) Leg Drop: Lie on your back and bring your legs into the air so that your body makes a 90 degree angle. Drop your legs to the right, then crunch up to touch your toes, lie back down, then bring your legs back to center. Repeat on the left side. Both sides is one rep. Repeat.

4.) Bicycle:

Lie on your back with your knees bent and your lower legs parallel to the ground. Put your hands behind your neck and do a sit up, bring your right elbow to your left knee, then back down. Repeat with the left elbow to the right knee.

5.) Plank: Lie on your stomach with your elbows down and hold yourself above the ground for 60 seconds. Go back down flat onto your stomach.

Cardio work is a good idea when training for the hiking season so that you won’t be lagging behind your group because you are gasping for air.

Running, biking, jogging, and swimming are all great exercises to do. Personally, I either jog or run so as to strengthen my knees. Do any of these exercises for at least 30 minutes a day to build your endurance.

Work with these exercises over the next month or so before the summer hiking season really begins and you should be good to go.

Happy Hiking and Happy Travels!