It’s only a matter of time before the ice and snow melt and you’re ready to hit the hills again for some fresh air and exercise. In order to feel physically fit for your hike, and to avoid injuries that would cut your season short, it is important to ensure you are in proper shape before you hit the trails. Listed here are several important exercises to condition muscles that will help you power up the steep slopes, control your descent, and help you reach new summits while feeling your best.
One of the most important muscle groups to strengthen is your glutes. As some of the largest muscles in the body, the glutes have important roles, which include supporting your pelvis and spine and controlling your knees and ankle positions when you hike up and down slopes. We want to provide you with functional exercises that are easy to perform in your own home and that work to recruit multiple muscle groups at the same time. This will make your workout quicker and more efficient. These exercises will also mimic stresses that your body will face on the trail and help you avoid common knee and ankle injuries that are often faced on unstable surfaces on hiking paths.
Another important consideration for hiking is your aerobic fitness. The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week or 70 minutes of vigorous exercise a week (or a combination of both). This can be easily achieved in winter months on treadmills, ellipticals, stair-steppers, or stationary bikes if it’s too cold and wet to be outside. Be sure to check with your physical therapist and physician if you have heart conditions that may need to be monitored during this activity. We hope you enjoy these exercises. Stay happy and healthy on the trails in 2018!
Side Step Down
The side step down is a fantastic exercise to recruit your glute muscles and mimic stresses a hiking trail exposes. From a standing position on a step, slowly lower your outer leg laterally toward the floor. Tap your toe to the floor and then slowly rise again to a standing position. It is important to keep your rear back, your abdominals engaged, and your knee aligned over the middle of your foot. Perform 3 sets of 10 repetitions each leg, 3-4x/week.
Lunging Step Up
Another great exercise to prepare your legs for an incline is a lunging step up. Begin with one leg on a step. Step up slowly and drive your knee up to achieve a parallel thigh to the floor. Keeping your balance, slowly return and reach further behind you with your elevated leg to tap the floor behind you. Maintain your weight-bearing on your opposite foot on the step. It is important to keep your rear back, your abdominals engaged, and your knee aligned over the middle of your foot. Perform 3 sets of 10 repetitions each leg, 3-4x/week.
Side Plank with Hip Abduction
A great way to work your core and hip together is a side plank leg lift. Lie on your side and raise your hips up, supporting yourself on your elbow and side of your foot. If you feel comfortable, raise your top leg in straight alignment with your body. You can either hold this position for 30 seconds, performing 2 sets on each side, or perform 10 slow leg lifts, 2 sets on each side. Perform this 3-4x/week.