A person standing on top of a mountain.

Top 5 Gym Exercises to Improve Your Hiking

Jonah Corall

If you are an avid hiker, and are wanting to increase your endurance and strength to hike longer and with more confidence, check out these 5 exercises you can add to your gym routine to do so! 

1: Step ups

This movement can be performed on a box or a riser platform, or whatever other elevated, flat, stable surface your gym has. Simply step up and down off the platform, either alternating your feet or doing each foot on its own with rest in between. Work your way up from shorter to taller heights, and add weight to your shorter step ups as you feel comfortable! Do these in sets of 15-20 repetitions.

2: Incline Treadmill walking

The primary benefit to walking uphill is that it trains the back of your legs to support you much more than flat ground. Go anywhere from 15-45 minutes at the end of your gym sessions. Set the incline as you feel comfortable, but go for 8 plus if you can!

3: Squats

There are many, many variations of squatting, but the simplest one is goblet squats. SImply hold a dumbbell by one end up by your collarbones, and squat away! If you are having trouble stabilizing or getting deep enough, think of opening your knees as you squat down and reaching your butt back to initiate your descent. Squatting is a wonderfully useful but complex movement and I recommend hiring a trainer if you are completely unfamiliar with them. Do these in sets of 10-15 repetitions. 

A person walking on the trail in the desert.

4: Leg curls/Leg extensions

The muscles of the thigh are numerous, but to break it down simply, your quadriceps (in front) and hamstrings (in the back) are the two big ones you want to worry about. Leg curl and leg extension machines can be a wonderful tool to “isolate” these muscles and grow them larger and stronger, while increasing your awareness of their function in other movement patterns like step ups and squats! Do these in sets of 10-15 repetitions

5: Briefcase carries

If your gym has Kettlebells, I recommend using one of those for this exercise, if not, a dumbbell will work just fine! Simply hold your weight in one hand and take purposeful, medium length steps in a straight line, anywhere from 20-50ft. Switch hands at each end of your run, and repeat! Do these in sets of 6-8 repetitions, one repetition being from point A to point B and back.

Adding these to your gym routine can be a very effective way to increase leg strength and bring more confidence to your hikes. If you are unsure about how to perform some of these exercises, hiring a personal trainer might be a good option in order to ensure your form is solid and safe, and you are getting the most out of your gym sessions!