Trekking and Hiking Fitness Routine

Can’t get out on hills to prepare for a big hike or trekking trip? Don’t worry, top PT Ayo Williams has the perfect gym routine for you. Read more articles like this in Totally Active Magazine.

The best training for trekking is to get out on the hills with a pack! However, with many of us town bound, weekday training may be limited to the gym. Don’t worry though if you’ve big hike or trekking trip coming up as your performance, enjoyment and recovery rates can all be improved by some focused gym work.

Long hikes challenge the body uniquely and a programme of strength training alongside your specific hiking will develop robustness that will improve your overall physical endurance. From this great base you can add the benefits of your hiking without setback from injury or undue aches and pains. Existing physical imbalances of structure or musculature are often hidden in our daily routines but can and do make themselves known after multiple hours or even days with a pack on your back.

The exercises below are aimed at tackling common areas of weakness which can easily flare up with the burden of a pack. They add stability to the joints where an increase is desirable, such as the knee, and likewise promote extra mobility where that is required, such as the hip. Early fatigue in the legs on downhill segments can be reduced too and we can make huge improvements in core control and unilateral strength. Both these factors increase efficiency of movement and help you go longer, faster, or simply allow you enjoy the experience a little more.


To warm up, perform a pulse raiser like an uphill power walk on a treadmill, for 5 minutes. Then complete a circuit of mobilisation drills, including squat-to-stands and raised arm alternating reverse lunges. The purpose is to raise the pulse rate and prepare the muscles and joints for action.

The Routine

The exercises should be in supersets – 4 pairs of 2 exercises – so you would deadlift, then snow shovel and then repeat this pair before moving on to the next pair. 2 sets per exercise (3 for advanced), with 8 controlled, quality reps being the goal. Load as appropriate with weights in hands or with a pack.

1a) Single Leg Deadlift
Targets the posterior chain, focusing on your glutes. This movement also trains knee and lumbar spine stability, whilst developing proprioception throughout the body.
• Lead foot firmly on the ground, with the toes spread and the knee slightly bent yet rigid
• Hinge at your hips, pushing your rear backward, lowering your chest closer to the floor. Your back should be flat – no ‘rounding’
• Pause when your hands reach mid-shin level, and return, driving the hips forward.


1b) Snow Shoveller
A compound movement challenging the lower back and glutes, and obliques then upper torso. Important multi-planar movement, conditioning you through three dimensions.
• Feet shoulder width apart; squat down to grasp the kettle bell with a firm but relaxed grip. Back straight and the knees in line with the toes.
• As you drive the body up, rotate the load to the side across the torso bringing your forearm and elbow up and in line with the chin.
• Return via the same path, and repeat on the other side.


2a) Lunge and Drive
Good for building uphill hiking efficiency, this powerful movement mimics the stride phase of the gait pattern at its extremes, loading it both powerfully as you drive forwards and eccentrically as you return.
• Start in a split squat position with the knees at 90 degrees.
• Drive through, with the force coming from the front leg. Draw the rear leg through; keep the momentum going until the rear knee reaches a high point and you have sprung into a small jump.
• Land gently, and return to the starting position.


2b) Reverse Step-Up
This exercise targets the vastus medialis obliquus, the strengthening of which contributes to improved knee stability. Reduces localised fatigue and potential injury, especially on the downhill phase of the hike
• Start with both feet on the floor, facing forward with arms and hips are square.
• Step backwards and up onto a box up to 12 inches high, allowing your toes to land on the step before rocking back onto the heel.
• Slowly reverse the movement, lowering to the floor, and repeat.


3a) Hip Hike
This movement specifically targets the gluteus maximus and medius. It’s a relatively small movement, designed to increase hip stability. Use a mirror initially to ensure that the movement is precise.
• Stand on a box to the side, with one foot free and off to the side. Lower the free foot to-wards the floor, tilting the belt-line.
• Raise the lowered hip, pause, and then lower again.


3b) Bear Crawl
A movement that we do naturally as youngsters, but leave behind as we mature. Excellent for core control, agility and coordination.
• Get down on all fours, with your back horizontal and straight. Pull your navel in towards your spine and brace the mid-section.
• Crawl forwards, moving your left hand and your right foot at the same time, followed by your right hand and your left foot.


4a) Plank Variations
Pictured is a dynamic, split level lateral variation, which challenges the internal and external obliques, whilst maintaining core control during appendicular movement.
• Set up in a long-arm plank position with a raised platform to the side of your hands.
• Walk your hands up on to the raised level, one at a time, maintaining perfect plank position with neutral head and spine.
• Keep going, walking your hands down off the raised level, before reversing the action and returning to the start position.


4b) Pallof Press
For training the abdominals to resist rotation; one of their main functions. Crucial for maintaining good form on the descents, and moving efficiently.
• Stand, feet shoulder width apart, holding a resistance band tied to a pole (or appropriate attachment to a cable machine). You should be perpendicular to the pole/machine. Stand at a distance which allows the band/cable to be taut.
• Brace your midsection, and slowly press your hands away until the arms are straight, pause and return, resisting rotation.


This article is a feature piece from Totally Active, a completely interactive online magazine written by active people for active people. Totally Active are on a mission to push endurance to its limits, to help readers achieve their potential, whatever the sport or activity. Totally Active have brought some of the world’s foremost endurance, performance, nutrition and fitness experts together in a publication which informs and inspires readers to go to the edge, to break boundaries, and to succeed. Read more articles like this at Totally Active today.

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