How to Train for Hiking the Right Way

It’s important that you train for hiking because it will help make you a better hiker.

Hiking is a form of fitness. The only way you get better at a fitness routine is to strength train for that routine. Hiking is similar to getting better at weight left, running, or stair stepping.

But unlike most forms of fitness, it’s a lot easier to train for hiking, and it doesn’t feel like exercise. Hiking is fun, entertaining, and extremely healthy.

You should consult your medical provider before doing any fitness routine. I want to be clear about that. While hiking is typically very healthy, you could have conditions that hiking could worsen. Please check with your doctor before you start any exercise regimen.

In this article, I will show you how to train for hiking correctly so that hiking can continue to be fun and an adventure.

Train for Hiking by Stretching

The fundamental way to train for hiking is to get your stretching down.

After you hike for about half a mile to a mile, pending on how rugged the trail is, you shop stop and stretch for ten minutes or so.

You want to do this after you’ve hiked a bit. That’s because your body needs to be warmed up. Stretching when you’re cold could result in injury. This same advice typically applies to other cardio exercises like running and cycling.

Stretching will help you build strength and give you more energy during your hiking routines.

When I first started hiking, I never stretched. The same with cycling. After about an hour or two of activity, my knees and back started hurting. Once I started stretching during each activity, those pains disappeared, and I felt better after completing the activity.

Stretching is one of the best ways to train for hiking and biking.

Simple stretching is best. Stretch your legs, feet, lower back, arms, and neck. All these body parts play a role in strength while you hike.

Train for Hiking

Try Yoga

Consider yoga as a way to train for hiking.

Really, I’m serious.

Even for the guys! When I get into a yoga routine, I feel better all day, whether I’m hiking or not. And I don’t do anything crazy in yoga. I do basic moves, relieving pains that often accompany my hiking routines.

You won’t see me stretching my legs behind my neck. But if you can do that, and it doesn’t cause an injury, it will be better for you in the end.

If you don’t want to go to a yoga class, you don’t have to. I have no interest in going to one of those classes unless maybe it was out in the forest.

I’ll do yoga at home, thanks to YouTube.


Train for Hiking by Hiking

Keep hiking to get better at hiking.

The more you hike, the better at hiking you will get.

But don’t just do the same hike over and over again. Your body needs a change in an exercise routine. That’s why activities like CrossFit do so well. It’s because the exercise routine is constantly changing.

If you hike two miles one day and do 200’ of elevation gain, try for four miles the next week with 400’ elevation gain. Keep working yourself up to more mileage and more elevation if you can.

If you’re in southern Illinois, you’ll have no issues with this!

I started out hiking easy trails at the state parks. Then I tried harder trails in the parks. Now I typically go for the most rugged trails in our national forest.

I can tell the difference after every hike.

Just make sure you aren’t overdoing it. Stay hydrated and fueled the whole time. It’s fine to hurt a little after a hike, but if you’re having pain for more than one day straight, back off a little and gradually increase as you get better.


Get Better at Hiking by ________

Train for hiking by ______. Insert whatever you enjoy besides hiking in the blank spot.

As long as it’s another form of fitness.

It can be running or trail running. It could be disc golf or pickleball. It could be basketball or soccer.

It just needs to be an activity that works out the same muscle groups as hiking typically does.

My blank is Cycling.

Cycling has made me a stronger hiker than I’ve ever been before. I trade in my hiking boots for bike shorts a few times a week.

Adding an extra form of fitness gives your body something different to strengthen itself with.

Just don’t overdo ______, like my advice about hiking.


Practice the steps above to train for hiking, and you’ll notice the difference in your ability to go further. Be sure to consult your doctor to ensure you can safely do it, and remember to have a rest day here and there for recovery. You can have an active rest day by going for an easy long walk around the neighborhood or in a park. Thanks for checking out this article. If you want to see more like it, feel free to subscribe to my newsletter for more tips. It’s free!

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Thanks again for checking out another one of my articles and until next time, I’ll see you on the trail!

Shawn Gossman

Shawn Gossman

Founder, Hiking with Shawn

Howdy folks! My name is Shawn Gossman and I founded Hiking with Shawn. I’m an avid hiker, cyclist and outdoorsman here in the Shawnee National Forest. I was born and raised in Southern Illinois and never want to leave. Click here to learn more about Shawn Gossman

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