Hiking is a powerful cardiovascular activity and provides plenty of benefits to the body. The most obvious is the improved endurance and stamina, but it will also strengthen and tone muscle.
Muscles worked hiking
The muscles worked hiking include the quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, glutes, abs, and hip muscles.
Here are six of the muscles put under strain while hiking in the wilderness:
A primary muscle used on a hiking trip includes the quadriceps which is situated at the front of the thigh. This large group of muscles is constantly engaged while hiking and helps to proper the hiker in a forward motion.
Plus, the quadriceps help to straighten or extend the knee while walking on the trail.
The hamstrings (rear, upper thigh) work in combination with the quads to help bend or flex the knee.
The hamstrings help with pulling the quads back when the body is making a forward motion. Hiking is quite strenuous on the hamstrings compared to other physical activities such as running.
The calves (rear, lower leg) are constantly active in hiking and experience changes in intensity and level of use.
Less stress is put on the calves when walking on the flat terrain compared to the strenuous hike that includes walking uphill with a heavy backpack.
Calf stretches can benefit the hiker and should be performed at regular intervals to avoid injury.
The glutes are a series of muscles which help to support the torso while engaged in all types of physical activities.
On a hiking trip the glutes are needed to support both the bodyweight and the load of the backpack. The glutes are given a much more rigorous workout when hiking uphill compared to a flat surface.
Use squats to help strength the muscles in the region of the rear.
The hip muscles are crucial while hiking and should be flexible and limber to properly perform the physical activity. Hip muscles include the adductors, abductors, and flexors.
These muscles on a hiking trip help to support the lower back and glutes and minimize issues with strain and improve shock absorbing.
Strong abdominal muscles are helpful to promote better support and strength in the region of the core. The abdominal muscles while hiking is useful for keeping the upright posture while also helping to support the load on the back.
Build the strength of the abs to minimize issues with a back injury while out on a long hiking season.
Benefits of hiking
Hiking is a useful cardiovascular workout that has plenty of benefits including:
- Improves blood sugar levels and blood pressure
- Increases bone density similar to other types of weight-bearing exercise
- Lowers the risk heart disease
- Better balance
- Strengthens the muscles in the lower legs and hips
- Tightens up the core muscles
- Increases the ability to lose weight
- Boosts the mood and relieves stress
Hiking is great exercise. Yes, it works your lower body more, but you will get a good workout on your core too. If you go with trekking poles, as many do, you can also work your arms and upper body too, turning it into a full body workout.
We would advise having a certain level of fitness before starting out on a long hike into the wilderness, but the great thing about hiking is you can start with a walk around the block and build up.
Matt Green, is an avid hiker and lover of the great outdoors. He is always planning his next big trip or hitting the trails for a solo hike.
He’s traveled extensively to many remote regions and has plenty of experience exploring various terrains, and stories to tell.