Get a Leg Up on Your Next Hike
As featured in the Nspire Magazine Winter/Spring 2016 Coeur d’Alene Edition
Preparing for a trek? While the best way to improve your hiking fitness is simply to go hiking, time, weather and health may not always allow for this. Here are a few exercises that will help prepare you for even the toughest trails. We’ve covered planks and squats in our Summer/Fall 2014, and Winter/ Spring 2015 issues. Those exercises help strengthen your core and give you a solid foundation. Now let’s look at exercises that increase strength, endurance and agility for hiking. For that, we’ll focus on legs.
These can be done on any solid, raised surface (stairs, step-up box, park bench etc.).
To execute, simply place one foot solidly onto the top of the box and raise yourself into a fully upright, standing position with hips and knees locked out, body fully erect and feet parallel on top of the box. Then, step down one foot at a time. Alternate with each repetition.
This exercise targets the thighs, glutes and hip flexors and builds great strength, balance and flexibility one leg at a time.
These can be done indoors or outdoors.
To execute, begin from a standing position, with hands on hips. Keeping the back foot stationary and chest and head high, step forward with one foot. This should be a medium-sized step that allows you keep the front knee over the ankle, not over the toes or behind the ankle. The back knee should be below, not behind or ahead of, the hips. Once in a good position, lower the back knee toward the ground (the front shin and the thigh of the back leg should each create a vertical plane). Remember to keep the chest high. The depth of the lunge should be determined at an individual level, but the back knee should only ever lightly touch the ground before rising and stepping forward with the back leg. For balance, it’s a good idea to bring your feet together momentarily before stepping through into the next lunge. Alternate with each repetition.
This exercise targets the thighs, glutes and hip flexors, but with different results than the step-up. Generally, individuals experience more muscle soreness in the glutes after lunges. Be careful not to over do it.