Often when I’m talking to friends about getting out to do some hikes on the weekend, they have comments like “I won’t be able to keep up” or “I’m not fit enough to do that”, but the truth is, hiking is for everyone! There is no rule book saying you have to summit in under two hours or that you have to complete the whole route without resting. The beauty about hiking is that everyone can do it; you set your own pace so that you can accomplish what you came out for and have fun while doing it. However there are a couple exercises that can help ease the transition into hiking season. Here are some hiking exercises I do multiple times a week that I find not only get my legs strong and limber but also make them look toned in cute summer dresses!
1. Air Squats
Standing with feet hip width apart, lower yourself down into a squatting position. Hips slightly below the parallel with your knees. Hold for a couple breaths then come back up and repeat. I usually do 15-20 for one set.
**IMPORTANT** Think of your knees opening outwards rather than bending forwards.
Standing with feet shoulder width apart, take a big step forward and lower your back knee to the ground (controlled). Hold here for a breath then come up and repeat. I usually do ten on each leg for one set. For better balance, place hands on hips.
**IMPORTANT**Make sure your front knee does not extend over your toes.
3. Stair Climbs
Stair climbs are AWESOME! Especially if you’re thinking of doing the West Coast Trail or a similar trail. Find a set of stairs with multiple flights. If you’re in Calgary, there are some good sets by the curling club at Prince’s Island Park and on the north side of Centre Street bridge. Do a couple sets stepping on every step and a couple using every other step and repeat. I like to add in my air squats and lunges in between stair sets. If you want to amp it up a little, put some weight into your backpack and your hiking boots on. This is a great opportunity to get used to new equipment and figure out where the blisters are going to form so you can prevent them.
Pretty simple right? Here are a few examples of how these three simple hiking exercises can be compounded into a sweat inducing workout. It’s up to you to scale the exercises to your ability (i.e. run or walk the stairs, use every step or every other).
**Disclaimer: I am not a professional coach or trainer, and am only speaking from my own experience. These exercises should be attempted at the individual's discretion. Thank you.
Follow up with some good stretches and you’ll feel great! Give these exercises a try, a couple times a week, and I’m confident you will notice a difference in your hiking stamina this summer! If you have other exercises that you swear to or want to share your progress with these hiking exercises, please leave a comment below! Happy hiking!