hiking fitnessLiving in a place where hiking is so accessible allows year-around recreation and enjoyment of nature. During summertime, the higher elevation alpine environment offers spectacular benefits to those who can withstand the more rugged terrain. Steep ascents, ridgelines, creek crossings, and descents take a toll on primary weight-bearing joints of the body such as the ankles, knees, and hips. Without a well-rounded preparatory strength and conditioning program, step after step can result in excess tension, pain, and fatigue leading to increased risk of injury. Here is a sample strength training program of what I currently use to keep my body ready to hike at varying difficulty levels. During the current season of 2015, I am averaging a hiking distance of 7-12 miles, either with a light 10 lb day pack, or an overnight pack weighing from 20-25 lbs. This is a strength cross-training circuit that I feel keeps my body conditioned for the demands of hiking.

I have categorized the strength training exercises into lower and upper body for easier reading, however, they can be performed in any order. I used my current dumbbell weights and rep ranges, obviously I recommend using a starting weight that is more suited for your current level of fitness and safety allowing room to progress.

Lower Body

Walking Dumbbell Lunges- 50# x 20 reps
Dumbbell Step Ups- 50# x 10 reps each leg
Single Leg Balance Squat- 15 slow reps each leg keeping only stance leg on the ground
Resistance Band Walks- Multiple Laps 20-30 ft lateral and forward backward movement keeping knee’s in line with 2nd toes
Calf Raises- 2 x 30 reps, Single Leg at 15-20 reps
Bodyweight Deep Squats for Mobility- 10x and throughout day
Wall Sits aiming for at least 3 minute holds at varying foot placements
Split Lunge Jumps- 30 reps total in place as high as possible

Core/Upper Body

Plank variations lifting legs, rotating torso, side plank
Push-ups on BOSU 3x 15-30 reps
Pullups with bodyweight or weighted backpack- 3 x 5 reps


Treadmill intervals 10-15 minutes walking using high incline variations
Elliptical 5-10 minutes interval training using high variable resistance
Schwin AirDyne Arm and Pedal Bike for Anaerobic Training 1 minute maximum exertion, 20 seconds on 20 seconds off for 6-10 rounds.
Punching Bag Intervals 1-2 minute rounds
Jump Rope- single and double under variations for 50-100 count