Springtime is a magical season. The bears start coming out of hibernation – and so do us humans. Maybe it’s the crisp air, or because the sun is out longer, but I feel inspired and motivated; my inner mountain climber wants to get outside and bond with nature.
Hiking is hypnotic – your body gets into a rhythm, your heart beats as you start the incline and you connect to a steady breath. The climb alone will ignite your energy systems.
But, let’s take it up a notch! Performing even more physical work during your hike will raise your metabolic rate and improve endurance. You’ll become a fine tuned fat burning machine! You can really rev it up by adding HIIT (high intensity interval training) and incorporating a convenient resistance band into your workout.
Below are 5 great exercises you can do while hiking. Who’s in?!
The Warm Up:
Begin with a 10 minute dynamic (fancy word for stretching while moving) warm-up. Start walking while enthusiastically swinging your arms. Add straight leg high kicks (like a toy solider) and knee grabs with your lifting knee pulling gently towards pelvis. Here’s the HIIT. Run, sprint, skip, pick one or do it all out!
The point is to get your heart rate up, up, up. Go 20-30 yards, rest for 10-20 seconds, catch your breath. Do one exercise, off to the next. Repeat 3 rounds. Have fun and don’t forget to hydrate. Ready, set, go!
1. Side-Steppin’ Squats
Tie the ends of your resistance band together and place just above your knees. Stand hip width apart to get desired tension. Bend knees, lined up with ankles, but not over toes. Take small side steps maintaining this posture, while keeping your core tight. Put your hands on your hips or out in front. If you feel discomfort in your knees, do it without the band. Go for a full minute.
2. Rockin’ Push-ups
When stumbling onto a boulder, use it. Try both incline and decline. Step back from the rock forming a plank position, lining your heels to the top of head. Hands on boulder, shoulder width apart. Bend elbows until they are 4 inches from the rock. Decline: feet on rock, hands on ground. To torch the triceps, position hands closer to your body, turning elbows in. Inhale to bend, exhale to push up. Pull your navel in, while your head and neck follow your spine.
No rock? Try the ground in plank position. You can also modify on your knees. Want increased intensity? Wrap band around your shoulder blades (like a shawl) placing ends under your palms. Do 10-12 reps.
3. Stone Step-ups
Remember that boulder you ran into? Wait, don’t sit. Climbing will sculpt your hamstrings and adding this move changes the angle, which will target your glutes and quads. Step up, lifting opposite knee hip level or higher, while pulling abs in tight. Using your entire body, hands to holster like the olympic sprinters. Step 10 times then switch. If you may not see this boulder again during your hike, knock out push-ups (exercise #1) too – and you have yourself a mini-circuit.
4. Sexy Mountain Climber Arms
Biceps: Untie band. Standing on top of it with legs hip width apart, soft knees. Hold ends of band, (it will look like your about to jump rope) making it your desired tension. Elbows pinned at your waist. Curl hands towards shoulders, four count up, slow eccentric contraction down, lengthening muscles (the key to sexy biceps.)
Front Raise: Arms in front of chest. Lower arms a few inches from the body, then raise to shoulder level. Avoid the dreaded trap shrug, keep your shoulders away from ears. 10-15 reps each.
5. Trail Walking Lunges
Step your foot an appropriate length forward. Alignment is important (see previous exercises for knee form.) Keep your thigh parallel with the ground, as back knee lowers, stretching opposite your quad and hip flexor. Hold band, arms in front of chest, move arms over head as you straighten your leg. For an alternative, hold a lunge position, adding a torso twist to sculpt your obliques.
Remember friends, this a workout. Tackle it early before the sun gets too intense. Hydrate before, during and after. Bring a couple liters of water (you can use them as weights!) I invite you to push yourself, because I know you can. Happy trails!