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Hiking Fitness: Our Complete Program To Get Fit To Hike

Hiking Fitness Pin

Do you have a bucket list hike you want to tackle this year? Do you dream of standing on secluded mountain peaks, traversing rugged ranges, circumnavigating the wild, and tackling strenuous treks?

Or maybe you’re new to hiking and you need a complete program that will address your aches and pains and also get you in shape to hike in a realistic and effective format.

Fit To Hike makes it easier than ever to reach that peak & enjoy the outdoors!

Welcome to our hiking fitness program, Fit To Hike.

Get Stronger. Hike Further. Recover Faster.

  • Learn how to fix current injuries from hiking and prevent them from happening in the future
  • Anti rotational exercises to maximize speed on the trail
  • Gain gluteal strength to propel yourself efficiently without knee injuries
  • Create an aerobic base so you get less winded on the ascents
  • Workout programs to gain a more an ideal strength to weight ratio
  • Pre-hab to improve range of motion and prevent postural aches on long hikes

Whether you’re an experienced adventurer or total newbie to hiking, we’ve created the ultimate plan to efficiently train & prepare yourself for that next level hike you’ve been dreaming of.

In as little as 4 weeks, this course will help TRANSFORM you into maximal hiking shape so that you can tackle your next strenuous hike with zero aches and injuries and tons of energy.

Whether you want to tackle your first 14er, hike a strenuous national park hike, or take on a major backpacking trip like the Tour du Mont Blanc, the JMT, the AT, or Everest basecamp, THIS COURSE IS BUILT TO HELP YOU HIKE THE TRAILS OF YOUR DREAMS.

Through sports-specific exercises, we will put you in prime conditioning to take on the challenge of a strenuous hike.

This course is not exclusively for experienced hikers nor is it purely for beginners who rarely set foot on a trail. We’ve created three different programs for each level of experience including beginner, intermediate, and advanced.

Below, I break down our hiking fitness program into easy-to-understand steps so that you can reach new peaks, hike further, and feel better while doing it.

Do I need to hike every day to get better at hiking?

No, you don’t need to hike every day. Improving your general fitness will go a long way to helping you hike. It is important to get out on the trail in preparation for a long hike but not daily.

Should I hike if I have bad knees?

Depending on the severity of your knee issues a strength and conditioning program will build resilience. Focus on increasing flexibility and strength to improve knee health.

Should I do strength training or cardio to get in better hiking shape?

Depending on the difficulty level of the hike for you will dictate how much you need to integrate more strength work or aerobic activity. In general, you need to do both to help avoid injuries and enjoy your hike. Hiking long requires more aerobic base, and hiking steep requires more leg strength and muscular endurance and thus requires more strength training.

Back in 2015, we decided to ditch conformity and spend our days out on the trail. At the time, our 5 kids were ages 4-15 and it was often hard to get my youngest to hike.

Luckily, my husband and I had been personal trainers for over 25 years and had a strong fitness base to use to carry kids up the steep hills when their little legs didn’t want to go any further.

Now, they are ages 11-22 and regularly go out on 12+ mile hikes with us.

The important thing to remember with hiking, whether it’s for you or your kids, is to make it a gradual progression. Adding too many miles too fast without a proper base of fitness, especially in certain muscle groups, will spell a recipe for injuries.

Doing our Fit To Hike fitness program in the order it is laid out, will prevent repetitive or chronic injuries such as shin splints or plantar fasciitis.

As I explain in the blog, Train For A Strenuous Hike, it’s important to build strength in hiking-specific muscles. While you’d think these are the quads, and yes you’d be right that the quads are used, it’s even more important to use the posterior chain, lower back, glutes, and hamstrings to help you propel forward more efficiently on the trail.

Many hikers become quad-dominant and this can cause patella tracking issues and low back pain. The reason for this is that, regardless of whether you hike, most people have gluteal inhibition caused by tight hips/hip flexors.

It’s common with long endurance hiking to twist ankles and develop knee injuries. By focusing on strength and mobility in the glutes and lower back, you can avoid a lot of these lower leg injuries. That’s why in Fit To Hike, we focus a lot on the muscles of the posterior chain.

In addition, the obliques are the rotational driving force of the core and are very important in maintaining a healthy back.

Equipment Needed

Step Southwest Couloir, Middle Teton
The various steep, bouldery, and scree-filled terrain makes the miles go slow on the Middle Teton

Use your newfound hiking fitness to summit Middle Teton in Grand Teton NP!!

Hiking Fitness Program

Our Fit To Hike program is broken down into 3 categories: Mobility, Posterior Chain, and Core and cardio. We laid out the Fit To Hike program very simply with 6 days of workouts followed by a day of hiking.

Your weekly hiking fitness program should look like this:

  • Monday: Mobility
  • Tuesday: Posterior Chain
  • Wednesday: Core & Cardio
  • Thursday: Mobility
  • Friday: Posterior Chain
  • Saturday: Core & Cardio
  • Sunday: Hike

Yep, it’s that easy!

Summary of the Hiking Fitness Plan

Hiking Fitness Level

Depending on how often and how many miles you are currently hiking AND depending on your current level of strength and fitness will decide on which of these levels you should start with.

  • Beginner: Not currently hiking OR no strength training background
  • Intermediate: Either currently hiking a few times a week OR a good base of strength & fitness. The goal here is to build hiking-specific strength & adaptability.
  • Advanced: Currently hiking a few times a week AND has a good base of strength & fitness. This provides the bullseye for your hiking fitness program!

Of course, when in doubt, start with the easier one and then work your way up.

Also keep in mind that just because you are a great runner, doesn’t mean you are a great hiker. The gait & rotational force is different and this hiking fitness program will help you develop more adaptability through your hips, knees, and ankles, especially through the core & cardio workouts.

Fit to Hike
Add Fit To Hike 1 on 1 coaching for faster results

Hiking Fitness Workout For Beginners

This is a great workout for beginners who are looking to start hiking as well as a good warm-up for for intermediate and advanced hikers. Give it a try and when you are ready to progress, get started on the full Fit To Hike program.

Recovery

We take our recovery very seriously. Every day we are either doing yoga, MFR, or foam rolling, in addition to our meditation and breath work practice.

We love traveling with our YOGO Travel Yoga mats!!!

Nutrition For Hiking

Although nothing tastes better than a burger after a long hike, it’s crucial, especially during training, to eliminate all inflammatory foods. Consequently, your body can recover better from the training sessions. You can download our trail cookies recipe here, providing a healthy hiking snack that your kids will love!

For more help with nutrition, join our group coaching platform, Be The Hero Academy, and access all our tutorials on optimal nutrition, recipes, shopping lists, and meal plans. Click here to get your first week free!

That’s a wrap for your hiking fitness plan. What hike are you aiming to do this year? Let us know in the comments!

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