If your idea of fun hiking does not involve strapping crampons or snowshoes on your feet, don’t worry—spring is right around the corner and with it comes the “unofficial” start of hiking season. However, if you’ve spent the winter months lying around the house you may be in for a rude awakening once you make your first trip out onto the trail. If you haven’t been working out, your hips are going to let you know just how much you should have been! Don’t worry, though, you’ve still got some time to get your hips in shape before your first hike of the year. Here are three exercises to help you along.
This exercise will do wonders for stabilizing your hips and building the strength in your quadriceps.
Start by balancing on one leg as you raise your other leg until the thigh is even with your hip and parallel to the ground. Your leg should be at a 90-degree angle at this point.
Then, slowly bend the leg you’re balancing on while you extend your dangling foot behind you. Lower yourself until the toes of your hanging foot touch the ground behind you. You’ll end up in a lunge position. Then, push with your glutes to raise yourself back up to the starting position. Complete 3 sets of 10 reps for each of your legs, with 15 seconds of rest between each set.
This exercise will help build the muscles in your core and the lateral muscles in your leg. You’ll also build up the muscles that support your knees when they’re under heavy loads (like lugging around that new 70-liter pack you got for Christmas).
Start by lying on your right side and hold your body up on your right elbow and forearm. Stack your feet on top of each other and lift your pelvis so that your body is in a straight line. You’ll be in a standard forearm plank position here. Then, lift your left leg until it is just past parallel with the floor, while your right leg and the rest of your body remains in a straight line. At the same time, raise your left hand until your hand, forearm, and upper shoulder are extended and in line. Hold the position for few seconds before returning to the start position. Do 3 sets of 10 reps for each side, with 15 seconds of rest between sets.
This is a great exercise for improving your balance and increasing the strength of your hips and quads—perfect if you plan on tackling trails with some challenging descents.
Start by balancing on your right foot. Then, bend your right knee while you simultaneously extend your left foot in front of you and tap your left heel on the ground. You should go down low enough where you feel the burn, but no so low that you’re shaky and unstable. Keep your hips level above your right foot and then return to the starting position.
Then, move your left foot about a foot to the left and tap the floor. Return to the start position. Bend your right knee again and this time, extend your left foot behind you and tap the floor with your toes. Return to the start position. Repeat this for 3 sets of 10 reps, then switch over to the other leg.