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How To Get Into Shape For Hiking

You’ve decided to go on a big hiking trip with your friends but maybe you have spent the last few years being a couch potato. You might be a little worried if you can muster enough strength and if you have enough energy for a big hike. It might be a bit intimidating, but there are some good ways to get in shape pretty quickly, all for that big hike. This article will discuss how to get into shape for hiking.

Cardiovascular Training

One of the most important things you can do to get into shape for some serious hiking is to engage in some cardiovascular training. If you did not know, cardiovascular training, often referred to just as cardio, is all about training your heart and lungs to work better, harder, and more efficiently.

It is all about your lungs being able to absorb more oxygen and to distribute that oxygen to your muscles. This also has to do with your heart, because your heart is what carries that oxygen to your muscles. It’s all about training your heart and lungs to be able to work harder, more efficiently, and with less effort on your end.

Of course, hiking can be very demanding, especially if you are on tough terrain, and even more so if you are hiking upwards. If you are not in shape, you will quickly start breathing real heavy and you will feel your heart pounding through your chest. To train your cardiovascular system in order to get you ready for hiking, here are some of the best things you can do.

Jumping Rope

One great cardiovascular training activity is jumping rope. If you are going hiking, we would strongly recommend doing some jump rope training sessions for at least a month before you go on that big hike. The good thing about jump rope is that it is very easy to do, plus very cheap.

You can buy a jump rope for a few dollars, and you can do it pretty much anywhere. Furthermore, jumping rope is great for your cardiovascular health, and at the same time, by jumping, you are actually increasing leg strength as well, something you will absolutely need for a long hike.

Long-Distance Running

Another great way to get into shape for a big hike is to engage in some long-distance running. You don’t have to try for speed but rather, you should keep a decent pace, maybe a jog or slightly faster, but you have to do so for longer distance.

Hiking is all about being able to go the distance and go all day long without getting tired or quitting. Getting your heart rate going through some long distance running will help increase your cardiovascular stamina for a multi-hour or even a multi-day hike. There’s also the fact that this will help train your leg muscles too.

How To Get Fit For Hiking
Running will get you ready for hiking


Hiking is not a sprint and it is not about who can hike the fastest. However, sprinting or running sprints will help to improve your cardio, your stamina, and your overall endurance. Short bursts of super-fast sprints will get your heart racing and your lungs heaving. It’s a really quick, efficient, and effective way to jack up your cardiovascular health.

If you are really serious and want to get into phenomenal shape, you can combine long-distance running with sprinting. For this, you could run at a jog for a kilometer, then do a 100 meter sprint, and repeat this several times to get the best of both worlds. Don’t forget that your leg muscles will get a good workout.

Weighted Backpack Walks

Something you could also do to get into shape for hiking is to do weighted backpack walks. Put on a backpack, a large one, fill it with weights, sand, or anything else that has good weight to it, preferably around 20 or 25 pounds, and get to walking. For one, this will show you what hiking is like when you are carrying your full hiking pack.

This will go a long way in increasing your cardiovascular health, your leg strength, and your core strength too. These are all things you need to work on for a long hike, and a weighted backpack walk is a great way to go about it. If you do not have a backpack or weights, you can always get a weighted workout vest. Weighted workout vests are specifically designed for this kind of training.

Stair Climbing

Yet another great form of cardiovascular exercise, stair climbing is another thing you can do to get into proper shape for a big hike. Stair climbing is fantastic because it is something that you can do at home with a simple staircase. Alternatively, sure, you could do this at the gym with a proper stair climber, but that costs money.

Stair climbing is great for a variety of reasons when it comes to training for hiking. For one, if you plan on hiking on a mountain, or in other words, if there is a lot of ascending and descending, you need to train your legs for this. Walking or running on a flat surface is not nearly as taxing as an upward or downward hike, something which a stair climber or your stairs at home can prepare you for. Of course, stair climbing will give you a great cardio workout too.

Strength Training

Of course, having a strong cardiovascular system and great endurance is beneficial for hiking, but you do need to have fairly strong muscles too. Having less fat, more muscle, and toned muscles, will help prepare you for hiking.

Remember, when you are hiking, you are often traversing tough terrain for hours on end, you have to carry your own body weight, and more often than not, you will be carrying hiking gear on your back. Therefore, engaging in some strength training and weightlifting is a good idea if you plan on going for a major hiking trip. The stronger your muscles are, the longer you will be able to hike.


Hiking is of course mostly about leg strength, and when it comes to jacking up your leg muscles, deadlifts are hands down one of the best strength training exercises you can do. Keep in mind that deadlifts, especially with heavy weights, can be dangerous if not done properly, so it is recommended that you spend at least 1 session with a personal trainer to ensure that you do not destroy your back while trying to improve leg strength. Deadlifts also train the back, arms, and core, all of which need to be in good shape for hiking.


Squats are another important strength training exercise you will want to engage in before a major hiking trip. Squats are very taxing and they work your gluteal muscles, your thighs, and even your calves. It’s a great way to increase leg strength for hiking. If normal squats are not enough, you can always do some weighted squats with a weight vest or the weighted backpack you use to walk with.

Back and Core Exercises

When it comes down to it, for any hiking trip, you are probably going to be carrying a large and heavy backpack, which means that a large strain is put on your back and core. Simply put, any kind of strength training exercise you can do to increase core and back strength is going to do you a whole lot of good when it comes to hiking.

A CrossFit Routine

Something else to keep in mind when getting in shape for hiking is that you can also develop a CrossFit routine. CrossFit or cross fitness is actually a combination of strength training and cardiovascular training. Often this will include some kind of training circuit with anywhere from 8 to 20 different exercises.


These CrossFit circuits are characterized by combing various cardio exercises and strength training exercises, often with little or no break in between one exercise and the next. If you want to really strengthen your muscles and increase your endurance at the same time, a good CrossFit routine will help.

There you have it, the best ways to get into shape for hiking. It is important to note that you need to be both strong in terms of muscle power and be able to handle a lot in terms of endurance. Hiking is not easy, especially if you are traversing difficult terrain, so it is not something you want to do if you are not in good shape, or at least in half-decent shape.