Reality check: Hitting the gym is the quickest way to hike farther, easier, faster, and pain-free. Get into a routine—or take yours to the next level—with these smart workouts for three different levels.
The Best Beginner Hiking Workout
Ready to get started? Use this workout to ease into a new fitness regime.
Cardio: Shoot for hikes or walks of up to 2 miles once or twice per week. “Even half a mile will go a long way toward getting your joints ready for longer hikes on uneven terrain,” Fog-Wiltse says. This can be as simple as going for a walk around the block.
The Best Intermediate Hiking Workout
Established your base fitness? Take the next step by adding short, intense bursts of training to your workout.
Cardio: Grab a stopwatch: Variable Intensity Interval Training is your new best friend for netting cardio gains fast. Complete the following circuit three times in a row: Work for 30 seconds then rest for 30 seconds, totaling 12 minutes. Complete the circuit two to three times per week, alternating with strength days.
Think of these as exaggerated jumping jacks, extending fully then retracting into a squat.
: Just what it sounds like.
Place your hands on the floor in front of you and start in plank position. Alternate hopping your feet forward, quickly bringing each knee to your chest.
: Leap side to side, landing on one foot while touching the other foot in a low lunge behind you and reaching your inside hand toward the floor. Go for distance and speed.
The Best Advanced Hiking Workout
Want to crush any trail? From epic days to expeditions, you’ll need maximum power and endurance.
Cardio: To go the long haul, you have to train for the long haul. Up your once- to three-times weekly cardio sessions to trail running 3 to 5 miles, hiking 5 to 10 miles, or mountain biking 12-plus miles, including hills in each. If you can only get one long session in, add two sessions of Level 2 cardio.
The Expert: Robyn Fog-Wiltse
A physiologist, personal trainer, and nutrition specialist, Fog-Wiltse runs Sasquatch Training, an online and in-person fitness platform.