If you want stronger muscles around your lower body, then you’ll want to try hiking! Hiking is such an awesome outdoor activity you can do anytime, especially if you’re near mountains and other trails. In fact, one of the biggest benefits it offers is stronger hamstrings!
But what else does hiking have to offer, particularly in your lower body? Read on as I show you the muscles hiking works on, as well as other bonus benefits to reap!
Why Is Hiking Such a Complete Lower Body Workout?
Hiking is one of the most powerful forms of cardio, helping both your mind and body. These are the benefits your lower body can reap (and more!):
1. It Works On All Your Lower Leg Muscles
Hiking works all your muscles, particularly your lower body. But there are smaller muscle groups to learn about, rather than just presuming it just works your lower body!
Hiking can work these muscles:
- Quadriceps: This is the primary muscle used during hiking trips, which is located at the front of your thighs. This is a large group of muscles you constantly engage while you hike, allowing you to propel in a forward motion. It also straightens and extends the knee as you walk on the trail
- Hamstrings: These are on the rear of your upper thigh, working with your quadriceps to bend and flex your knees. It helps pull your quads back as the body makes a forward motion.
- Calves: These are located on the rear of your lower leg, which is constantly active while hiking.
- Glutes: These are a series of muscles that support your torso while it stays engaged in various physical activities. It supports your bodyweight and backpack load.
- Hip muscles: These are crucial when hiking, and they should stay flexible and limber to hike well. The muscles include the adductors, abductors, and hip flexors
When it works your lower body’s muscles, the stronger it will be. Not only does this help enhance your hiking skills, but it firms your muscles and gives you a more toned look!
But hiking doesn’t only work your lower body muscles, it also works your arms and abdominal muscles. It isn’t just a complete lower body workout, but it works your entire body.
2. It Boosts Your Endurance
Whenever you would hit the trails that go beyond 4,000 feet, your body would use less oxygen. When doing this consistently, your body starts to adapt to consuming less oxygen, which will have you less fatigued as you perform other exercises in “normal” altitudes.
In one study, researchers saw that endurance runners who exercise at high altitudes at least twice a week would take up to 35% longer to feel fatigued compared to those who exercise at sea level.
This principle applies to hikers s well. When hiking at higher elevations, your body learns to function using less oxygen, giving you more stamina and endurance to perform various exercises beyond hiking. It will also be easier to perform lower-elevation trails as well, so you won’t feel as much of a burn, nor will you need to take a lot of breaks to catch your breath.
3. It Helps With Cross-Training
You probably know how racers and professional athletes would cross-train, going for activities such as swimming or cycling. Another great benefit it offers is how it’s a great activity to pair with other workouts and sports you do.
Hiking strengthens all your muscles to eliminate any muscle strength imbalance, ensuring that your entire lower body works for any activity you’ll do outside hiking. This will improve your overall fitness level for most sports, especially running and cycling!
Besides this, when you hike regularly at high altitudes of over 4,000 feet, it can help your body adapt to using less oxygen. In turn, it improves your performance in other sports. Just make sure that you stay consistent in hiking in these areas.
4. More Amazing Benefits
Hiking also offers other amazing benefits other than just a complete lower body workout! Here are the other benefits to learn so you feel more encouraged to take that hike:
- It can improve your blood sugar levels and blood pressure
- Increases bone density as much as strength and weight-bearing exercises do
- Lowers the risks of heart diseases and other conditions, such as diabetes
- You experience better balance for improved life and sports performances
- Tighten and strengthen your entire body to maintain strength and mobility even as you grow older. It may reverse the negative signs and symptoms of osteoporosis and arthritis because of how hiking increases bone density
- Boosts your mood and relieves any stress, working on your mental health for focus, happiness, and productivity. It’s known to lessen anxiety attacks as well!
And of course, with stronger muscles with a great cardio workout also mean a good calorie burn. So you can expect to burn fat efficiently and have a toned body.
Because of the nature of hiking, it really puts your body to the test and burns a ton of fat and calories, assisting in weight loss. It can also help with obesity and lessen any risks associated with being overweight, from high cholesterol to blood pressure.
But you also have to make sure to pair hiking with a healthy diet to reap the weight loss benefits!
Do you want to learn more about the wonders of hiking? Check out this informative video:
Wrapping It Up
Hiking is such an amazing exercise that offers a ton of health benefits, especially around your lower body. From its muscle strengthening benefits down to calorie burn, it’s definitely an activity to try at least a few times a month. Just make sure to have the appropriate shoes and follow proper technique to prevent any injuries.
I hope that this article answers your question, “why is hiking such a complete lower body workout?” Now that you know the answers, try your hand at hiking and reap any of these benefits. Good luck!