How to Get in Shape for Hiking – 3 Easy Steps


Getting in shape for hiking can be a challenge, here are three easy steps.

Hiking is an exercise by itself but if you enjoy the outdoors and want to partake in longer hikes then you need to get hiking fit.

What is Hiking Fitness?

There are different kinds of fitness being fit to run the comrades is not the same as being fit to climb Kilimanjaro. It is not to say that if you can complete the comrades you would be able to climb Kilimanjaro. You also won’t be following the same exercise program.

Hiking in Nature has been proven to be essential to our physical and mental health.

Hiking fitness can help to prevent injuries and you can do longer hikes without fatiguing.

How Fit are You?

First, you need to do a fitness assessment, you need to know how fit you are so that you can start with the correct training plan. We all want to get fit quickly but most of the time it does take some work.

There are different ways to test your fitness and the easiest one is to walk from one point to another. Use 1 kilometer and time yourself how long it takes to complete the walk. Try to walk not too fast or too slow don’t worry about technique just complete the track.

A woman not fit will take about on average 12 – 15 min to complete 1 kilometer. The fitter you are the less time it will take to complete the kilometer. A decent pace is about 5 KMH or 3 MPH.

  • It is important to know your pace when hiking, this can help you determine the distance you walk as well as how long it will take you to complete a hiking trail.
  • Pace count can also help when you need to navigate with a compass and a map. You can record your pace count with a fitness tracker, application on your phone, or even using a beats counter.
  • Finding the pace that is right for you is based on your level of fitness, hiking experience, and goals.

What Muscle Groups do we Use in Hiking?

  1. Glutes: Used for ascending and descending hills.
  2. Hamstrings & Quadriceps: Help support the knees.
  3. Calf Muscles: Provide ankle support and assist with ascending and descending.
  4. Core, Forearms & Shoulders: Helping with your back and shoulders when carrying backpacks.

Hiking Exercise Routine – 3 Basic Exercises

Safety and Precautions – please confirm with your doctor before you do new exercises.

Equipment Needed: Kettlebell or dumbbell and a Step.

Goblet Squat

Targets: Glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, core (abdominal and spinal erectors), forearms, shoulders.

The goblet squat works all the major muscle groups of the lower body, including the quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, and calves.

Back or Knee problems you can modify the goblet squats. You can do only “half” squats or parallel squats against a wall.

Equipment Needed: Kettlebell or dumbbell.

Exercise is good for: going downhill as well as getting your core strong. In return help with your back and shoulders when carrying backpacks.

Goblet Squats

2. Weighted Step-Up

Target.: Quadriceps, posterior chain (glutes, hamstrings).

The step-up is a great all-around exercise for the lower body.

Equipment Needed: Step, dumbbell.

It has a low risk of injury, building the quads helps protect the knee, and step-ups, when performed correctly, create minimal stress on the knee.

It is good to practice going uphill with your backpack. Improves your balance.

Exercise is good for strengthening each leg individually and helps ensure that you are building strength equally on each side.

Weighted Step-Up

3. Walking Lunges

Targets: Quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, calves, core.

Walking lunges function as an excellent exercise to target all the major muscle groups of your lower body while simultaneously improving your balance and core.

Exercise is good for: Improving your balance and preventing falls.
Boost hip flexibility.

Lunges are a strength-training exercise and, as with all strength training, the body needs a day of rest in between workdays to fully recover and repair the muscles used.

Walking Lunges

How to Exercise?

Beginners start with 10 reps and 2 sets:

Do 10 times Goblet Squat
Then rest 30 seconds. That is set 1.

Do 10 times Goblet Squat.
Then rest 30 seconds. That is set 2.

Start then with Weighted Step-Up with 10 reps and 2 sets. Following Walking Lunges 10 reps and 2 sets.

This can be increased to 30 reps and 3 sets.

As you get fitter the sets can increase, it also depends on the kind of hike you are training for.


These 3 exercises can be done at home and it targets all four muscle groups we use when hiking. Just make sure that you leave at least a day between exercising and hiking.

Hiking Fitness can make your experience that much more pleasurable.

“If there’s no challenge in your life, then there’s no enjoyment in your life.”
David Tian Ph.D

Let’s go hiking.

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6 thoughts on “How to Get in Shape for Hiking – 3 Easy Steps”

  1. How to get in shape for hiking 3 easy steps is a very good guide for all of us interested in improving our hiking adventures, I love how the exercises you recommend are so easy to add to our daily routine without expensive equipment. This makes this goal accessible to everyone no matter what your budget might be, I am going to start your 3 step program today


  2. Hello,

    Thank you for sharing. The 3 exercises that you recommended are very good for everyone since we can do them at home. I can’t go to the gym due to the COVID-19 pandemic but I can do these 3 exercises at home. But I need to buy a set of dumbbells. Thank you for your recommendation.

    All the best,


  3. Very nice and informative post. I do hike myself. I go to Greece once a year for a longer hiking trips and I do several shorter one during the year. I can see huge difference when I do regularly fitness exercise( I also practice some of the exercises from your list, they do work also for men -;)) I can just recommend to practice the fitness regularly and the hiking trips will be much more fun. -;) Cheers and all the best!

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