Top 5 exercises for hikers beyond the basics

Feeling tired of the same exercises for hiking? These exercises are beyond the basic squats, deadlifts, lunges and planks but provide great benefit. Offering tons of benefit, these options will give you the variety you crave and the strength you seek!

You can watch the video version with demonstrations of the exercises HERE.

Good vs Bad Exercise

There are no real “bad” exercises but there are ones that help you reach your goal and ones that don’t. Training should be fun, serve a purpose and be well thought out. If an exercise just doesn’t seem to fit or feel like it’s getting your towards your goal it may not be. However, it may be addressing the “fun” factor to keep you engaged.

The exercises that follow will add variety and keep you progressing toward your goals. I offer suggestions for where to use these exercises in place of traditional exercises. Mix them in and see what you think!

Landmine Variations

If your gym doesn’t have a landmine adapter, secure the barbell by placing it in a weight plate or in the corner. Just take care not to damage the wall if you choose to place the barbell in the corner.

Landmine Rows

These are a really great way to work on strength for multiple muscle groups. While the arm is providing the movement, the trunk and legs are working to stabilize the rest of the body. 

Benefits

This targets the shoulders, back and core. This will greatly benefit your ability to move and carry a pack with ease.

Use this exercise instead of: row and deadlift variations

Add weight to the bar as needed. Complete 3 sets of 15 at a weight that allows you to keep good form for all reps.

Landmine Press

The landmine press is is great for building shoulder strength and is perfect for for shoulders that don’t tolerate overhead presses. This exercise will also be more challenging for your core if you assume a tall kneeling position (one knee down) or a full kneeling position.

Benefits

This targets the legs, back, shoulders and core. This will greatly benefit your ability to move and carry a pack with ease.

Use this exercise instead of: overhead press and pushups variations

Add weight to the bar as needed. Complete 3 sets of 15 at a weight that allows you to keep good form for all reps.

Barbell Torque

This movement is a great core exercise. It doesn’t take much weight to be effective so don’t load the bar up for this one! Keep your butt and abs engaged during the exercise with your trunk facing forward. You’ll rotate your arms to the right and left keeping your ams as straight as possible during the motion.

Benefits

Targets the abs, low back and core. Great for targeting the muscles that strengthen and support the spine. Works well for hikers to build a strong core mix in rotational training, which is often overlooked.

Use this exercise instead of: plank variations

Add weight to the bar as needed. Complete 3 sets of 15 at a weight that allows you to keep good form for all reps.

Pallof Press

Great for building strength and support around the spine. A simple movement that works against a rotation force. Keep your butt and abs engaged during the press and fight the resistance from the band.

This can be performed as a press or as a hold, both are beneficial. If planks are not a great option for you, substitute this exercise. I use this will all of my clients and patients with low back aches and pains. It is a wonderful option to build strength just where you need it.

Benefits

Strengthens the muscles around the spine which is great for hikers covering long miles with a pack. Core exercises like this are amazing and you can never have to much core strength!

Use this exercise instead of: plank variation, dead bugs, other core exercises

Perform 3 sets of 15 presses per side keeping your midsection and butt tight. I also like doing holds for time, 20-30 seconds is a great place to start, working up to three 1 minute holds per side.

Farmer Carries

Finishing this series of exercises is the farmer carry. This can be done with a weight in one hand or each hand; both are extremely beneficial. Along with strengthening the muscles of the core and hips, this also targets grip strength. A strong grip is associated with a longer life, so benefits across multiple areas with this one!

A great exercise for everyone, farmer carries are a great way to finish a workout or fill some time between bigger sets. I use these for ALL of my clients since they target so many areas at once. They translate to everyday life activities very well so there’s additional benefit beyond hiking.

Benefits

Strengthens the core, hips, spinal muscles, grip, shoulders. Tons of benefits for hikers and doing everyday activities.

Use this exercise instead of: clamshells, bridges, and banded glute exercises, side planks

To perform, grab a heavy weight and walk for 50-100 feet. Rest briefly and repeat. I typically perform 3-4 sets and finish my workouts with these.

Check out my recent post on the Sled push, which is also great for hikers!

There you have it! Use these to add some variety and “new-ness” into your current routine. As always, feel free to reach out with any questions and be sure to watch the video for exercise demonstrations!

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