Shaping Yourself for a Hike: Hiking Endurance Guide

June 15, 2018 0 By Ciara Groesbeck

You may be thinking that hiking is a workout all on its own (and you wouldn’t be wrong), so why would you need to workout to workout? Well, hiking is a brilliant form of exercise because you’re outside, trekking along incredible terrain, getting a great full body workout to then be gifted with astonishing views. This all seems amazing (and it is) but hiking becomes much more rewarding when you can take in all of that beauty, without the huffing and puffing. Am I right?

Shaping yourself for your hike is having an understanding of what muscles you will be using to haul yourself up and down that mountain. Yes, that is right you must come down what you went up. It is also comprehending breathing techniques, and ways to fuel your body for success (on and off the trail). It sounds easy- because it can be!

Let’s hike through this.

(Un)Define Hiking

Rather than “define” hiking, lets undefine it. I want hiking to be whatever you are most comfortable doing, and passionate about. If you want to hike 1 mile or 1,000 miles; hiking is your own journey.

I will always say, if you are new to something, dip your toes in and start small. Start by getting outside, every day. Then go for a walk in nature and breath in all the solitude. Escalate to a short, local hike and when you’re ready tackle more challenging trails (higher elevation, longer mileage). The rewards far outweigh the negative (bugs, sweat, severe hunger).

How To Shape Yourself

There are three main categories I want to cover that will help with your hiking endurance:

  • Strength Exercises
  • Cardio Exercises
  • Stretching Exercises


Strength Exercises will build your muscles, targeting those specific to hiking (glutes, quads, core, shoulders)

Cardio Exercises will help with your endurance so you don’t, as previously mentioned huff and puff (as much)

Stretching Exercises: Will help warm up your muscles (pre hike) and loosen muscles (post hike)


Strength Exercises

Here are some of my favorite strengthening exercises to target specific areas:

  1. Squats (Below are 3 options- pick what feels best to YOU):
    1. Narrow Squats
    2. Sumo Squats
    3. Wide Squats
  2. Lunges (Complete ALL 3 types of lunges- they all work different muscles!):
    1. Front Lunge
    2. Back Lunge
    3. Side Lunge
  3. Push-ups (Complete ALL 3 types of push-ups, always modify when NEEDED):
    1. Wide push-ups
    2. Shoulder Width push-ups
    3. Tricep Push-ups
  4. Band Walks (Wrap band around lower thighs and walk two steps one way, then the other way)
  5. Step Ups (Options below: Remember to switch legs half-way through!)
    1. On Floor
    2. Onto Bench (or other sturdy object)

Complete 10 reps of each move and repeat 3 times. Add weights when needed, concentrate on form.


Cardio Exercises

Cardio is a perfect way to condition the lungs and control your breathing:

  1. Walking/Jogging
    1. 30 minutes each day/night, include uphill/downhill
  2. Burpees
    1. 20 reps x3
  3. Jumping Jacks
    1. 25 reps x3
  4. Squat to Squat Jump
    1. 20 reps x3
  5. Mountain Climbers
    1. 60 seconds x3

Stretching Exercises

Stretching is one of the MOST important aspects of preparing (and cooling down) your muscles for/from hiking.

Stretching is often times forgotten or deemed unimportant. I would be lying if I said I haven’t skipped stretching at the end of a hard workout, but I often realize I am only hurting myself and my muscles by neglecting this step.

There are two types of stretching that will help prep and cool your muscles.

  • Dynamic Stretching: Active Movements of Muscle
    • Toe Touches
    • Lunge with a Twist
    • Hip Openers
    • Bent Torso Twists
  • 10 Reps and Repeat 2x
  • Static Stretching: Flexing or Stretching a Muscle for an Elongated Period
    • Pretzel Stretch
    • Pigeon Pose
    • Child’s Pose
    • Savasana (Corpse Pose)
  • Hold each pose for 30 second, repeat 2x

If you want to continue stretching or add in any other move you enjoy, please do so! The more stretching, the better!

You’re Strong, You’re Willing, You’re Ready

Put your health first, follow this schedule of building muscle, increasing lung capacity and stretching until you are loosey-goosey and then go adventure outside. Nature has so many health benefits, so reap them all!

Shaping your body will also shape your mind. You will love to exercise, become addicted to hiking and perhaps even venture into another outdoor sport; get wild, but most importantly remember to have fun! Hike more, worry less and always remember to bring the tastiest treats to fuel your workout. Happy trails, Pawsitive thoughts.

Ciara, B & C