Training Tips: Are You Ready for Spring Hiking?

April 27, 2016

5 Trail-Ready Training Tips

By Sheri Goodwin

Photo at right – Planking: To plank properly, align front or side of body with the floor and rest your weight onto forearms with elbows bent, resting on the floor. Body should form a straight line from shoulders to ankles. Tighten stomach area and continue to breathe while holding this position for a designated length of time.


During the rainy and cold winter months most Northwesterners still stay active, but have the tendency to hike less. Walking along trails takes muscles that are not often used during winter activities, so it is important to be ready before hitting the trails come spring.

To avoid the huffing and puffing, extreme muscle soreness and out-of-shape hiking injuries, follow these five trail-ready training tips.

Plank It

Planks help improve the body’s ability to keep proper posture and stay balanced when encountering uneven terrain. Perform front, side, and back planks to work all sides of the body.

Step-ups: Step up onto the stair tread with right foot, follow through with left knee raised to about 90 degrees. Left leg then steps back down to the floor; repeat with right foot. After a designated amount of repetitions, switch lead legs. Be sure feet are facing straight ahead throughout the exercise.

Step It Up and Down

Create a leg-strengthening routine that is functional for hiking. Exercises should mimic the same motions performed on the trails. Two examples are step-ups and step-downs. Step-ups mimic the up-hill motion of hiking and step-downs the downhill motion.

Keep It Local

Go on mini-training hikes through local parks. This will help increase lung capacity and build muscular endurance and strength. Choose a park that best emulates similar terrain of a more remote hike (up hills, down hills, uneven surfaces, etc.).

Start with a 30-minute mini hike and build up to two hours. After accomplishing two hours of mini hikes, begin exploring shorter hikes in local foothills and mountain areas to continue to build endurance and strength.

Cross-train to Avoid Pain

Participate in a variety of cardiovascular enhancing activities on non-hiking days such as bicycling, running, swimming, stair stepping, or using a treadmill or elliptical machine. Cross-training can help prevent overuse injuries and keep your workouts interesting and fun!

Step-downs: Start with both feet on the same stair tread and spaced about shoulder-width apart. Slowly lower right foot to the next step below barely touching heel to the step, and then bring right foot back to the start position. Ensure the left knee stays in alignment with left foot and doesn’t move beyond the left toe. After the designated amount of repetitions, switch lead legs.

Stay Limber

Stretching helps improve flexibility, range of motion, balance and coordination. After each workout, stretch the major muscle groups used during hikes and hold each stretch for about 30 seconds. Focus on the muscle groups found in the upper and lower legs, and the hip and buttock region.

Take advantage of spring weather and get ready to hike. The wildflowers, scenic views and experiences are worth the time invested in becoming trail-ready.

Training tips are courtesy of Seattle’s Sheri Goodwin, the trekking coach for Transformational Journeys: Training for Life-Changing Trekking Adventures ( Contact Sheri for hiking training at or (206) 465-1795.