Hiking is a great way to explore the outdoors and stay active. However, it can be physically demanding and requires proper training in order to fully enjoy your hiking experience. Whether you’re planning a day hike or a multi-day backpacking trip, there are certain steps you can take to prepare your body for the challenges ahead.

This guide will provide you with everything you need to know about how to train for hiking. From building your endurance and strength to choosing the right gear, we will cover all aspects of getting in shape for your next hike. So grab a pen and paper, take notes, and get ready to hit the trails with confidence!

What is Hiking?

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Hiking is a form of outdoor recreational activity that involves walking long distances on trails, paths or fields. It is often done in natural environments such as mountains, forests, and national parks. Hiking can range from short day trips to longer multi-day adventures and can be enjoyed by people of all ages and fitness levels.

The primary goal of hiking is to connect with nature and explore different landscapes while getting a good workout. Hiking allows you to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and immerse yourself in the beauty of nature. It also provides numerous physical and mental health benefits, making it a popular activity for many people.

Why is Training Important for Hiking?

Training is essential for hiking because it helps you prepare your body for the physical demands of the activity. Hiking involves walking long distances, often on uneven terrain and carrying a backpack with all your essential gear. This can put a strain on your muscles and joints, especially if you’re not used to this level of physical activity.

By training before your hike, you can build up your endurance, strength, and balance, making it easier for you to tackle the challenges of hiking. This will also help reduce your risk of injuries and ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable experience on the trail.

Hiking also requires mental preparation, as it can be mentally challenging to push yourself beyond your comfort zone. Training can help you develop mental toughness and prepare you for any unexpected obstacles that may come your way during your hike.

How to Train for Hiking

Kettlebell deadlifts are great exercises for hikers

Now that we know why training is important for hiking, let’s discuss how you can train effectively. The key to successful training is a well-rounded approach that includes cardio, strength, and balance exercises. Here are some tips on how to train for hiking:

Start with Cardio

The first and most important step in training for hiking is building your cardiovascular endurance. Hiking involves walking long distances, often uphill and on uneven terrain. This requires a lot of stamina, which can only be developed through regular cardio exercises such as running, cycling, or swimming.

Begin by incorporating at least 30 minutes of cardio into your daily routine. You can start with brisk walking and gradually increase your pace and distance. As you progress, try to include different types of cardio exercises to challenge your body in different ways.

Additionally, try to mimic the conditions of your upcoming hike when training. For example, if you’re planning a hike in the mountains, incorporate some uphill hikes into your training.

Incorporate Strength Training

Strength training is essential for hiking as it helps build muscle strength and endurance. It also prepares your body for carrying a backpack and walking on uneven terrain. Incorporate exercises that target your legs, such as squats, lunges, and calf raises, as well as your upper body, including push-ups, pull-ups, and shoulder presses.

You can use resistance bands or weights to make these exercises more challenging. It’s also important to focus on your core muscles as they help with balance and stability while hiking.

Plus, remember to give your body rest days in between strength training sessions to allow for proper muscle recovery. This will prevent overtraining and reduce the risk of injury.

Don’t Forget About Your Core

Your core muscles play a significant role in hiking as they help you maintain balance and stability on uneven terrain. Therefore, it’s important to include exercises that target your core, such as planks, Russian twists, and bicycle crunches.

You can also incorporate balance exercises like single-leg stands or yoga poses to improve your stability. A strong and stable core will make it easier for you to navigate through challenging sections of the trail and reduce your risk of injuries.

Also, don’t neglect your lower back muscles as they provide support for your spine and can help prevent back pain during long hikes. And remember to focus on your breathing while performing these exercises, as proper breathing techniques are crucial for hiking.

Practice Hiking with a Backpack

Incorporating a backpack into your training is important because it allows you to get used to the added weight and adjust your body accordingly. Start by carrying a light backpack and gradually increase the weight until you reach the weight you’ll be carrying on your hike. This will help you build up strength and endurance in your back, shoulders, and hips.

Additionally, practicing hiking with a backpack can also help you figure out the best way to pack your gear and distribute the weight evenly. This is important to avoid any strain or discomfort while hiking.

Consider adjusting the weight distribution in your backpack while training. For example, you can alternate between carrying more weight on your back or shoulders to get used to various scenarios.

Increase the Intensity Gradually

When it comes to training for hiking, gradual progression is key. It’s important not to push yourself too hard and increase the intensity gradually. This will help prevent injuries and overtraining.

Start with shorter hikes and gradually increase the distance and elevation as you progress. You can also include different types of terrain to challenge your body in different ways.

Remember to listen to your body, take breaks when needed, and stay hydrated while training. Don’t be afraid to adjust your training plan if you feel like it’s too much for your fitness level.

Plus, don’t forget to incorporate rest days into your training schedule to allow for proper muscle recovery and prevent burnout. Your body needs time to rest and repair itself in order to see progress.

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Benefits of Training for Hiking

Training for hiking has numerous benefits that go beyond preparing you physically and mentally. Some of the benefits include:

  • Reduced Risk of Injuries: As mentioned earlier, training can help reduce your risk of injuries while hiking by strengthening your muscles, joints, and bones. This will also allow you to recover faster in case you do experience any injuries on the trail.
  • Improved Endurance: Regular training will help improve your cardiovascular endurance, making it easier for you to hike longer distances and tackle challenging terrain.
  • Increased Strength: Incorporating strength training into your routine will not only help with carrying a backpack, but also make hiking more enjoyable and less exhausting.
  • Better Balance and Stability: Core and balance exercises will help improve your balance and stability on uneven terrain, making it easier for you to navigate through challenging sections of the trail.
  • Mental Preparation: Training for hiking involves pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and overcoming physical challenges. This can help build mental resilience and prepare you for any obstacles you may encounter on the trail.
  • Improved Overall Health: Regular exercise has numerous health benefits, including improved cardiovascular health, increased muscle mass, and reduced risk of chronic diseases. So while training for hiking, you’re also improving your overall health and well-being.

Things to pack for a successful hike

There are several essential items that you should pack for a successful hike. Whether you’re going on a short day hike or a multi-day trek, these items are important to have with you while exploring the great outdoors.

Navigation Tools

A map and a compass are essential navigation tools that every hiker should have. Even if you’re familiar with the area, it’s always a good idea to have these tools in case of emergency or unexpected changes in the terrain. Make sure to familiarize yourself with reading maps and using a compass before your hike.

Eyeskey Multifunctional Compass

This durable, waterproof, and shockproof compass offers easy and accurate readings, night visibility, and additional features for bearing and distance measurements.

Sun Protection

As important as it is to train your body for hiking, it’s equally important to protect it from the sun. Sun protection should be a top priority when spending extended periods of time outdoors. Not only can excessive sun exposure lead to painful sunburns, but it can also increase the risk of skin cancer.

To protect yourself from harmful UV rays, make sure to wear sunscreen with a high SPF, reapply every two hours, and wear protective clothing. This includes hats, sunglasses, and long-sleeve shirts. Don’t forget to seek shade during the peak hours of sunlight and stay hydrated to prevent heat-related illnesses.

This waterproof SPF 50 unscreen bonds with your skin for enhanced durability, featuring a non-greasy, lightweight formula that absorbs effortlessly, ensuring comfort for active sports or daily use.

Rocky Mountain Sunscreen SPF 50 Lotion

First Aid Kit

Bringing a first aid kit on hikes is crucial for ensuring your safety and being prepared for any emergencies that may occur. Whether it’s a minor scrape or a more serious injury, having basic medical supplies can make all the difference in treating and managing the situation.

A well-stocked first aid kit should include items such as bandages, gauze pads, adhesive tape, antiseptic wipes, pain relievers, and blister treatment. Additionally, it’s important to regularly check and restock your first aid kit before each hike.

Being prepared with a first aid kit can give you peace of mind and allow you to focus on enjoying the beauty of nature without worrying about potential injuries. Remember, accidents can happen at any time, so it’s always better to be safe than sorry. So, always make sure to pack a first aid kit before hitting the trail.

First aid kit

This first aid kit is small, lightweight, and can easily fit in a hiking backpack. It includes 100 high-quality emergency essentials and first aid supplies to help care for minor wounds, cuts, scrapes, and burns. It also includes a removable CPR pouch and a First Aid Guide.

Proper Clothing and Footwear

Wearing appropriate clothing and footwear is essential for a successful hike. It not only helps keep you comfortable but also protects you from various elements such as harsh weather, insects, and rough terrain.

When choosing clothing for hiking, opt for moisture-wicking and quick-drying fabrics that will keep you dry and comfortable. Avoid cotton clothes as they retain moisture and can lead to chafing or blisters. As for footwear, invest in a good pair of hiking boots with proper ankle support and traction to prevent slips and injuries.

It’s also important to dress in layers, so you can adjust your clothing based on the temperature and weather conditions.

This waterproof hiking boot boasts a signature lightweight midsole designed for enduring comfort, exceptional cushioning, and high energy return, complemented by a high-traction grip outsole.

Camp Life

For multi-day hikes, it’s important to pack essential items for camping. This includes a tent, sleeping bag, and cooking supplies. These items will not only provide shelter and warmth at night but also allow you to cook meals and rest comfortably after long days of hiking.

When packing for camping, make sure to consider factors such as the weight and size of your equipment. You’ll want to pack efficiently without overburdening yourself with unnecessary items.

It’s also important to follow Leave No Trace principles while camping, which includes properly disposing of waste and minimizing your impact on the environment. This will help preserve the beauty of nature for future hikers and ensure a sustainable outdoor experience.

Snacks and Hydration

It’s important to pack enough snacks and water for your hike. Hiking can be physically demanding, and you’ll need to replenish your energy levels regularly. Pack non-perishable snacks that are high in protein and carbohydrates, such as energy bars, nuts, or trail mix.

As for hydration, bring a sufficient amount of water and consider investing in a water filtration system to refill your bottle during the hike. Staying hydrated is crucial for preventing dehydration and maintaining your overall energy levels.

So with these essential items packed, you’ll be well-prepared for a successful and enjoyable hiking experience. Remember to always plan ahead, train your body and mind, and pack smartly before hitting the trails.

Why Training is Crucial for Hiking

The answer is simple: training for hiking will help you have a safe and enjoyable experience on the trail. It will prepare your body physically and mentally for the challenges that come with hiking, reducing the risk of injuries and making it easier to tackle difficult sections of the trail.

Plus, training also allows you to build up your stamina and endurance, which are crucial for long hikes. It will also help you get used to carrying a backpack and distribute the weight evenly, preventing any discomfort or strain.

Moreover, training for hiking can also be a great way to improve your overall fitness. It incorporates various exercises that target different muscle groups and improves your cardiovascular endurance. This can have positive effects on your health and well-being beyond just hiking.

Additionally, training allows you to practice and perfect your hiking skills. This can include navigation, pacing, and proper use of equipment. By training beforehand, you’ll be more confident and prepared for your hike.

Furthermore, it’s important to note that every hike is different, and what works for one trail may not work for another. Training allows you to customize your routine based on the specific demands of your upcoming hike. For example, if you’re planning a hike with high elevations, you can incorporate more uphill hikes into your training.

Mistakes to Avoid While Training for Hiking

As important as training is for hiking, there are also some common mistakes that people make while preparing for their hike. Here are some things to avoid during your training:

  • Not gradually increasing the intensity: As mentioned earlier, gradual progression is key for training. Pushing yourself too hard and too fast can lead to injuries or burnout.
  • Neglecting rest days: Rest days are crucial for proper muscle recovery. Not giving your body enough time to rest can increase the risk of injuries and hinder progress.
  • Not incorporating variety into your training: It’s important to challenge your body in different ways and not just stick to one type of exercise. This will help prepare you for the varied demands of hiking.
  • Ignoring nutrition: Proper nutrition is essential for any physical activity, including hiking. Make sure to fuel your body with nutritious foods that will provide you with the energy and nutrients you need for training.
  • Not practicing with your hiking gear: Your backpack, shoes, and other equipment play a significant role in hiking. Make sure to practice with them during your training so you can adjust and make any necessary changes before your hike.
  • Pushing through pain: It’s normal to experience some discomfort during training, but it’s important to listen to your body and take breaks or adjust accordingly. Pushing through pain can lead to injuries.

Remember, the goal of training for hiking is to prepare your body and mind for a safe and enjoyable experience on the trail.

Can Anyone Train for Hiking?

Yes, anyone can train for hiking! While some people may have a higher level of fitness or experience than others, it’s important to remember that everyone starts somewhere. And with proper training and preparation, even beginners can tackle challenging hikes.

One of the great things about hiking is that it can be easily tailored to fit your fitness level and abilities. You can start with shorter, easier hikes and gradually work your way up to more difficult ones.

It’s also important to keep in mind that hiking is not just about physical strength, but mental strength as well. By training and pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone, you’ll also be building mental resilience for your hike. However, it’s always a good idea to consult with your doctor before starting any new exercise routine, especially if you have any pre-existing medical conditions.

Moreover, it’s important to listen to your body and make adjustments as needed. If you need more breaks or can’t complete a certain hike, that’s okay! Training is about progress, not perfection. Another great way to train for hiking is by going on group hikes or joining a hiking club. This can provide support, motivation, and even some tips and tricks from experienced hikers.

Tips for Training for Hiking

  • Start early: It’s important to give yourself enough time to train before your hike. This will allow you to gradually increase the intensity and monitor your progress.
  • Set realistic goals: Make sure your training goals are attainable and tailored to your fitness level and abilities.
  • Incorporate variety: As mentioned earlier, it’s important to challenge your body in different ways. Mix up your training routine with a combination of cardio, strength, and endurance exercises.
  • Don’t forget about rest days: Rest is crucial for muscle recovery and preventing burnout. Make sure to incorporate rest days into your training schedule.
  • Practice with your gear: Get comfortable using your hiking gear during training so you can make any necessary adjustments before your hike.
  • Stay hydrated: Proper hydration is essential for physical activity. Make sure to drink enough water before, during, and after your training sessions.
  • Listen to your body: If something doesn’t feel right, take a break or adjust accordingly. Pushing through pain or discomfort can lead to injuries.

By following these tips and avoiding common mistakes, you can effectively train for your upcoming hike and ensure a safe and enjoyable experience on the trail. Remember to always prioritize your safety and listen to your body during training and on the hike itself.

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Hiking Training FAQs

How can I train my left leg and right leg for hiking trails?

To train your legs for hiking, you can do exercises like lunges and squats. Start in a standing position with your feet shoulder-width apart. For lunges, step forward with your left foot, lowering your body until your left leg is at a 90-degree angle. Push back up to the starting position and repeat with the right leg.

What is the importance of keeping my feet flat and maintaining a straight line during hiking training?

Keeping your feet flat ensures that your weight is evenly distributed, reducing strain on your ankles and knees. Maintaining a straight line from your head to your heels helps improve your posture and balance, which are crucial for navigating uneven terrain on hiking trails.

How do I pace myself during a mountain hike with significant elevation gain?

It’s important to go at your own pace during a mountain hike, especially one with a significant elevation gain. Start slow, listen to your body, and take regular breaks. Remember, hiking is not a race. The goal is to enjoy the journey and reach the end in good shape.

What exercises can help strengthen my quad muscles for hiking?

Squats, lunges, and step-ups are great exercises for strengthening your quad muscles, which bear much of the burden during a hike. Always start these exercises from a standing position and ensure your feet are shoulder-width apart for stability.

Are there any specific exercises I should do to prepare for a multiday hike?

Yes, in addition to the general training tips mentioned above, there are some specific exercises you can do to prepare for a multiday hike. These include long-distance hikes or walks with a weighted backpack, as well as upper body and core strengthening exercises. It’s also important to gradually increase your mileage during training to build endurance for a multiday hike. Additionally, practicing setting up and taking down your camping equipment can also be helpful for preparing for a multiday hike.

Why is mental strength important when training for hiking?

Hiking can be physically demanding, but it also requires mental toughness and resilience. When training, you’ll not only be building physical strength and endurance but also preparing your mind for the challenges of a hike. By pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone during training, you’ll be better equipped to handle any unexpected obstacles or difficulties on the trail.

Should I consult with a doctor before starting my hiking training?

Yes, it’s always recommended to consult with your doctor before starting any new exercise routine, especially if you have pre-existing medical conditions. Your doctor can provide personalized advice and make sure that hiking is safe for you based on your current health status. They may also be able to offer suggestions for specific exercises or modifications to your training plan.


Training for hiking is an essential step to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience on the trail. By avoiding common mistakes such as ignoring nutrition, not practicing with gear, and pushing through pain, and following our tips for training, you can effectively prepare your body and mind for your upcoming hike.

No matter your fitness level or abilities, anyone can train for hiking with dedication, patience, and proper preparation. So start early, set realistic goals, listen to your body, and remember to prioritize your safety during training and on the hike itself. Happy hiking!  So get out there and enjoy the great outdoors with a strong and prepared body!  Keep these tips in mind as you train for your next hiking adventure.

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Tom Fortune

Tom is an outdoor enthusiast and writer based in the French Alps. Most days, you can find Tom shredding the slopes on a snowboard or splitboard, exploring the mountains on a hike, or hitting the trails on a mountain bike.

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