Hiking and backpacking are meant to be fun.
But if you're out of shape when you hit the trail, you're gonna have a bad time.
In this article I'll break down some of the best training regimens and exercises to build huge muscles and increase your cardio abilities so you can last longer (while you're hiking, sicko).
Training for a backpacking trip or big hike is different from other sports. If you copy a training program from bicycling or running you'll get 80% of the way there, but you can do better. Carrying 30-50 pounds on your back is a whole different beast and it requires a different training regimen. The source for all of these exercises is from Youtube creator Lint Hikes. Check his video (and channel) out.
Exercise #1 - Single Leg Deadlift
The single leg deadlift uses a 35 lb kettlebell (or whatever weight is suitable for your abilities) and exercises your upper legs. This exercise will help you the most when you're climbing up a big hill and you normally start feeling that burn (lactic acid build up) in your quads.
Exercise #2 - Goblet Squat
The goblet squat is basically the kettle bell version of the traditional squat. The main difference is that a traditional squat focuses on a large weight and low number of reps to build large muscle mass.
Instead, we're going to focus on a lower weight (35-50 lbs) but a high number of reps. This will help build endurance which is more important for hikers.
Exercise #3 - Figure 8 Lunge
No surprise here, we're gonna keep hitting the upper legs but add in some arm workouts as well.
When you're doing the figure 8 lunge make sure you go slow and stay in control. The goal isn't to go fast; by slowing down and focusing on controlling you're body you'll get more out of the workout and be less likely to hurt yourself.
Exercise #4 - Kettle Bell Swing
This is a classic kettle bell exercise. In addition to working your legs and arms, this is a fantastic cardio workout.
Don't focus on doing it fast, just try to stay in control. Do as many swings as you can then take a 60 second break and repeat.
Exercise #5 - Clean & Press
The clean and press is a straight cardio workout. There's some benefit to your arms & upper body but for hiking you'll mostly be focused on the cardio benefits.
Out of all the exercises, this is the most important one to focus on going slow and staying in control. You can hurt yourself easily if you go to fast on this one.
Exercise #6 - Climb Some Stairs
This one's easy. Just put your pack on with 30-50 pounds in it (more weight = better) and go climb! Either go up some stairs or go up a hill, whatever you have available.
This perfectly simulates what you'll be doing when you're hiking which makes it easy and effective to do.