Going from a long winter of sitting on the couch to an active season of hiking, camping or backpacking can be a serious shock to your body if you don’t prepare for it in advance. When you’re making the move from inactivity to intense exercise, it’s important to get your body in shape beforehand. By starting out early and building up slowly, you can increase your strength, agility and stamina incrementally. To help get you in shape for an upcoming trip, we have 5 exercises that will prepare you for safety and greater enjoyment of the hiking and camping season without the need to go to the gym.`
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Before you begin any kind of hard core exercise, it’s wise to do a few warm-up exercises. This will help to loosen your muscles and prevent stress and strains of your soft tissues. You should do a round of warm-up exercises before each workout. Do a set of 5 3-stage toe touches. Stand with your feet flat on the ground, legs spread slightly apart and hands on the hips. Without bending your legs, let your arms hang down and touch the tops of your feet, then rise and place your hands back on your hips. Next, raise your arms as though you’re reaching for the sky, then repeat. Depending on your current condition, do between 5-10 of them. Make your movements as fluid as possible.
Step Ups will help you prepare your body for more intense exercise. They make a good starter workout.
Stand in front of a step that measures between one and two feet in height. Begin by using your right foot to step up and extend your right hip and knee fully as you step, gaining as much height as you can with your left foot raised in the air. Place your left foot on the ground and step down with your right foot. Perform the same action with your left foot, alternating each side equally. Repeat for a set of 10 to 20 times.
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Dumbbell Biceps Curl to Front Squat Shoulder Press
You’ll need a set of dumbbells for this exercise. It gives you a good upper body workout to strengthen arm, shoulder, back, gluts and chest muscles in preparation for carrying a backpack.
Begin in a standing position with your feet apart the same width of your shoulders. Hold a dumbbell in each hand down with your arms at your sides. Press your hips backward and assume a squatting position, as if there were a chair beneath you. Make sure that your back and neck are straight. Hold the position for a few seconds, then use your gluts to thrust your hips and torso upward while pressing the dumbbells up overhead as you rise. Repeat this exercise for 10 to 12 times.
Heel Down Exercises
You’ll need a sturdy box or bench for this exercise. Begin by standing on a box or bench with both feet flat. Allow one foot to hang from the side. With your free foot, lift your toes up and lower your foot to the floor. While you’re lowering the foot, press your hips back as if you were going to sit in a chair. Allow your heel to hover above the floor before moving back to the starting position. Perform this movement with the other leg, following the same steps. Repeat 10 to 20 times in the workout, building incrementally to avoid muscle strain.
Incline walking is one of the best ways to build strength and stamina. Find a local park or another area in your neighborhood with an incline hill. When you first start out, plan to spend about 20 to 30 minutes 2 to 3 days a week walking up and down an incline hill. The steeper the hill, the greater the workout. This will help you to build your leg strength and prepare you for summer hiking. If there are no hills nearby, you can substitute a flight of stairs for the hills. After a few weeks of performing this exercise, strap a backpack on and place about 10 pounds of weight inside and do your incline walking. Start increasing the time by 30 minutes as you feel your stamina increasing. Don’t overdo but keep yourself slightly challenged until you notice that it takes less effort. You can also increase the weight in your pack incrementally until it reaches about 30 pounds.