Is there anything better than lacing up your hiking boots and getting outdoors in the fresh air to explore the landscapes around you? In a hiker's world, no there is not. But one thing that can easily spoil this is those niggling aches and pains in your joints, especially your knees. If this sounds familiar then you'll benefit from doing some strength exercises and a trail expert has shared exactly which ones you should be doing.
"Improving leg and core strength is crucial for maintaining stability on uneven terrain during a hike," says James Poole, ultra trail runner and AllTrails ambassador. “The good news is that by doing a few simple strength and condition exercises each week, you can move more efficiently on the trails and spend more time soaking up the world around you.”
Don’t worry if you don’t go to the gym or own any home gym equipment, as nearly all of James' strength exercises only require your bodyweight. However, if you do find this too easy and want to make things more challenging, you can also incorporate some free weights, like a pair of dumbbells or a kettlebell. Here's what James recommends:
- Squats 3 x 10 (increase this to 20 reps as you get stronger)
- Lunges 10 on each leg (build up to 20 reps and then increase your sets)
- Plank 60 to 90 seconds
- Treadmill incline walk (start at a 1-3% incline and work at a speed that raises your heart rate and gets you breathing a little heavier than normal)
- Banded leg marches 3 x 10 on each leg
Also, don't forget to do a warm up and cool down before doing these exercises, as this will help reduce the likelihood of injury and muscle soreness. "A brisk walk or an easy jog is a great way to get the blood pumping and raise your heart rate before getting stuck into the exercises," says James. "Repeat at the end of the workout to allow your body to gradually return to its pre-exercise state."