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Tips, Hiking

5 Ways to Train for Hiking at Home

The spring hiking season is just around the corner, and if your first thought was “Oh no, I’m not in shape!”, worry not. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned hiker who has spent the past few months on the couch, we’ve compiled five effective ways to train for hiking from home—no gym equipment needed.

1. Power Walking

Hiking is a cardiovascular exercise, meaning it increases your heart rate, respiration, and uses large muscle groups. To increase your cardiovascular fitness for hiking, get outside in your neighborhood or city and walk briskly for a minimum of 30 minutes three to five times a week.

You should be working hard enough to keep your heart rate consistently elevated—a moderate level of effort. If you live in a hilly area, try to incorporate hills into your route to help condition the large muscle groups in your legs and build up strength for steep hiking trails.

2. Opt for Stairs

While this isn’t a formal exercise, skipping the elevator and taking the stairs instead will further increase your cardiovascular and trunk strength. This one is particularly easy if you live in an apartment building or work on an upper floor. If stairs aren’t readily available, look for a local school track with bleachers and add stair repeaters into your power-walking routine above.

3. Step-Ups

Hiking uses many different muscle groups, and hiking uphill engages the large muscles in your legs like your glutes, quads, and hamstrings. Step-ups are a simple bodyweight exercise that targets these muscle groups.

Find a stool (stairs work, too) and step up onto it with your right leg so that you end with both legs on top of the platform. Step back down onto the ground with your left leg so that you end up with both legs back on the ground. Repeat, this time starting with the left leg. Repeat the full exercise for a total number of 30 steps. Complete three total sets.

4. Modified Side Plank

Carrying a backpack and traveling on uneven terrain requires a baseline core strength to prevent injury and improve balance. Consistent exercise will help build up your core to prepare you for day hikes.

Start in side plank position and extend your upper arm to the ceiling. Keep your upper hip in line with the rest of your body (no sagging!) and slowly twist to curl your upper arm towards your opposite hip. Slowly uncurl back to your original side-plank position, taking care to keep your core engaged. Repeat five times on each side and complete three total sets.

5. Yoga

Yoga is wonderful for hiking conditioning and injury prevention as it improves strength, balance, and mobility. There are many great apps like Daily Yoga, Asana Rebel, and Glo that offer guided practices you can do at home. You can also find free yoga videos on YouTube to flow along to if you don’t want to purchase an app.

While you can absolutely prepare for bigger day hikes by starting out on short, easy hikes, spending a few weeks conditioning for hiking season goes a long way. Your body will feel stronger, you’ll reduce the likelihood of injury, and you’ll be able to enjoy your time on the trail. See you out there!