My all-time favorite workouts are when you don’t actually feel like you are working out. You’ve heard the hooplah about workouts being “fun”. I’m not gonna lie, most workouts to me are not fun. During a workout, it’s not like I’m smiling and waving to everyone like Miss America in the Macy’s Day Parade.
Alas, there are workouts that are fun (for realz). Dancing is one of them, although I am a tad bit biased since I was dancer for most of my life. Hiking is the other. And unlike dancing, anyone can walk/hike without embarrassing themselves. YAY! (Insert high kick, cue jazz hands).
Hiking in itself is a great workout. Depending on the trail, it can be a moderate leisurely activity or an intense, butt-kicking session. Maximizing your hiking workout is key for making a fun, outdoor activity the only workout you will need for the day. So when I took the hubs and babe on a hike near our home, I knew I had to document the nature-loving-hike-workout-goodness.
This particular trail was pretty low-key so I added a few circuits that kicked the heart-pumping factor up a notch. Try giving these a whirl the next time you want that extra push to make your hiking sesh a total-body, calorie-bustin’ workout.
The first call of order was adding a little weight for a nice leg burnout. A great way to do this is to wear a supportive backpack filled with two large waters, lunch, baby gear, sunscreen, and a few extra clothing items, my pack was locked and loaded. Shoutout to the hubs for borrowing me his military bad @ss pack.
Throughout the hike, look for places to stop and do some circuits. Here are some options:
Branch Raises with a Forward Lunge
Find a thick branch or smaller log you can lift. Bring the branch overhead and lunge forward, keeping your knee tracked above your ankle. Repeat on the other side, keeping the branch overhead the entire time. Do as many as you can. For an extra challenge, execute on an incline.
Hiking Stick Butt Kickers
Stand with a hiking stick or tall branch. Lift one leg out to the side, with the opposite arm supporting your balance with the stick. Bring your knee behind you at a 90 degree angle then kick out to straighten. Repeat as many times as you can, then switch to the other side.
Log (or Rock) Roll on an Incline
Find a large log or round heavy rock. Roll the object up a hill and be mindful to use your legs, not just your upper body which will put added stress on your back.
Vertical Pushups on a Tree
Rest your palms against a tree, arms extended with fingertips facing inward, standing high on the balls of your feet. Execute a full pushup. Do as many as you can.
Side-to-Side Ab Hops
(top two photos)
Start with your arms extended on the edge of the bench (or a large rock), knees bent, and feet to the right side of your body. Using your arms to brace your body weight, lift your feet and hop over to the left side of your body. Alternate and repeat as many times as you can.
Sitting Flutter Kicks
(bottom left photo)
Sit on the edge of a bench, grabbing the bottom of the seat and lift your legs up at hip level. Start to flutter your legs up and down, engaging your lower abs. Do this for one minute.
(bottom middle photo)
Extend your arms directly under your shoulders making a plank position with your body. Keep your back flat while bringing your right knee up to your right elbow, tapping the bench with your foot, then switch to your left leg. Alternate legs and repeat as many times as you can.
(bottom right photo)
Place your hands on the bench, supporting the weight of your body in a plank position and draw one knee in to your chest for a mountain climber. Extend that leg back to a plank position and switch to the other side. Do this as many times as you can.
Some other ideas to maximize your workout during a hike include:
- Find a hanging branch and jump up to touch it, repeating as many times as you can.
- Sprint to a visual end point and jog back to where you started.
- Perform the bear crawl or crab walk up a steep incline.
- Side shuffle from one point to another.
Most importantly, bring some friends to enjoy the scenery, encourage one-another, and have a great outdoor workout!