Core Training for Hiking

by Mackenzie M. | July 16th, 2012 | Core, Strength Training

As the snow of winter thaws off the tops of mountains around North America, trails and hiking paths play host to thousands of hikers. From towering peaks in the Rockies, to the smaller mountains of New England, peak climbing season is well underway. To get in shape for any sort of mountain climbing or hiking, it is necessary to make sure the body is in supreme condition.

Above all else, a strong core ensures balance and joint integrity throughout any hike, regardless of duration. Listed below are some of the most recommended exercises for hikers and mountain climbers.

Dirt Digger. Also known as the snow shoveler, this exercise is equal to a significantly larger number of abdominal crunches. This exercise works the oblique muscles in the core, which are essential for climbing and other sports that involve the twisting of the torso. To perform a dirt digger, stand with feet apart, and hold one dumbbell with both hands. Keeping the back straight, squat down to the ground. As you lift back up to standing position, rotate one side to the left as though you were throwing dirt or snow behind. Repeat with the other side for about 2-3 sets of 8-10 repetitions. To avoid muscle damage, be sure to keep the abdominals tight throughout.

Back Extensions. This exercise can be used to supplement or even replace rock-climbing practice walls or traditional weights. While lying on the stomach on the abdominal work-out station at the gym, reach down and grab a dumbbell. Slowly raise your torso up, as in the motion of a reverse crunch. This is an incredible workout for the lower back and side muscles. If equipment is not available, try throwing a medicine ball with a partner standing about 4-6 feet apart. Hold the ball with both hands on the floor, and then smoothly raise the ball out in front, and have the partner hand it back. Aside from this exercise, there are a large amount of other exercises with the medicine ball that are perfect for core strength building for hikes.

Corner Reverse Pushups. Climbers often have under-developed rhomboid muscles, which can lead to slouching and a plethora of other back and neck problems, as well as harm the core muscles. To prevent this debilitation in muscles throughout the core, the corner reverse pushup is the simplest way to target and strengthen muscles. To complete the exercise, simply find a corner, snug into the wall, and align the arms parallel to the floor with feet anywhere from 6-24″ forward. Press the elbows against the wall, and move the entire body in a forward motion. Pause and count to two, and then slowly lower back into the corner. The farther out the body or feet are pushed, make the exercise more difficult.

For more fitness tips for hiking and climbing core fitness, a simple Internet search will produce a large number of other options.

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All health and fitness information is provided for educational purposes. Please consult with your physician before beginning any exercise regimen.