Hiking in Utah and on a morning off in Bolivia made me thank God I was in good shape. I got to see sites and have experiences only those able can enjoy. The hikes were not that strenuous, but nonetheless, they were hiking on loose rock, slippery rock, sand, and boulders. The payoff was worth the effort. I have included only a few photos of the incredible creation of God. I often see people who don't get around very well in my travels. It is so sad to me because they are missing out on the gift of the remarkable life God gave us. Then there are those who can get around just fine but barely survive a moderate hike. This limits their life. Most have accepted it as reality and have no drive to condition themselves to a fitness level that would expand what they can do for work, fun, and ministry. It doesn't have to be that way. It is almost never too late to increase your capabilities.
There are some solid exercises that you can perform in a gym or at your home to prepare you for hiking. Wouldn't it be wonderful to not just "make" the hike but feel good afterward instead of completely exhausted? The last thing you want to be thinking while looking at grandeur is, how much further? Below are some exercises that will prepare you for a standard hike. Some canyons we visited in Utah took some upper body strength because of the climbing involved. I will not list any exercises that would prepare you for that type of hiking. The best way to prepare for backpacking is hiking or exercising with a backpack or a weighted vest. Watch my social media feeds for what each exercise looks like and a comprehensive workout plan to get ready for a hike. Below are the movements and their description that will help prepare you to hike and enjoy the gift of creation.
Walking longer distances - Depending on the hikes you will perform, you must walk at least 2/3 of those distances. Box step-ups - Use a sturdy box and use only one leg to step up on the box. Start with what you are comfortable with and work up to an 18" box. Box stepovers - The is a box step-up, but you are stepping off the other side. Take great precaution if you have never done this. Don't just fall off the box, but decelerate your body as you step down. Try to keep your hips in a forward direction if you can, but feel free to step down at a 45-degree angle if you are more comfortable with that. Lunges - Walking lunges are your best friend in preparing for hiking, but any lunge will develop your muscles. You may have to begin with static lunges in a doorway for balance and support but try to work up to deep walking lunges. If you don't have room for that, front step-out lunges and rear lunges are also great. The great thing about walking lunges is it challenges your balance as well. One-leg body weight deadlifts - These exercises will build muscle, but I include them for the necessary balance training. These are performed by keeping one foot pressed against the ankle of the leg on the ground. Then perform a deadlift movement by hip hinging down as far as you can go and then using your glutes to push your hips forward to a standing position. Cardio Training – This type of training prepares your lungs and cardiovascular system for the strain of climbing and any elevation change. One-leg calf raises - Not only do strong calves help your hiking ability, but this movement is an excellent balance movement. I want to stress that you need balance training to be able to hike many trails. Fast feet - Often, during a hike, a little slippage occurs. When that happens, you can lose your balance if you don't quickly adjust your feet to regain your balance. An example of moving your feet quickly would be to stand with both feet on the left side of a line. Quickly move your right foot and then your left foot to the other side of the line. Repeat this movement as quickly as safely possible. This trains your balance and your fast-twitch muscle fibers. Core - Core is mandatory for anyone who wants to maintain good fitness and avoid the back doctor. For hiking, it is the connection between your upper and lower body and needs to be strong. There are hundreds of core movements. Find movements that activate the core and legs together, like Mountain Climbers or spider climbs. Stair climbers - If you have a gym membership, most likely, they will have a stair climber machine. This movement is a nearly perfect exercise to get ready for hiking. I would still propose that you perform all the above exercises, but this machine is an excellent preparation for hikes. There you go! Again stay tuned to yourdadsfitnesscoach on Instagram and TicTok for examples of all the above exercises and a comprehensive workout plan. If you want a comprehensive workout plan designed for you, I can do that for a small price. I consider your age, fitness and ability level, how much time you have to spend, and what equipment you have. Message, email, or call me for more information.