How To Warm Up Before Hiking? 13 Warm-Up Exercises & Stretches To Prepare For A Hike

How to Warm Up Before Hiking (1)

Have you ever considered hiking as an awesome way to connect with nature, stay active, and explore new and exciting terrains? Well, it’s a popular outdoor activity that allows people to do just that! However, like any physical activity, getting ready for your muscles and joints before hitting the trail is important. But How to Warm Up Before Hiking?

Hiking isn’t just about physical exercise; it’s a chance to rejuvenate your mind and soul. The peacefulness of the outdoors, the sounds of birds chirping, and the rustling of leaves create a serene atmosphere that can soothe your stress and bring a sense of calmness. Proper Warming up helps prevent injuries, improves performance, and allows you to start your hike feeling energized.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll provide tips and exercises to warm up for a hike properly, discuss the benefits of warming up, and include advice from expert hikers on how they prepare.

Table of Contents

Why Pre-hike Warm-Up Matters for hiking and trekking

Warming up before hiking may seem like an unnecessary step, especially if you’re only planning a short day hike. However, taking 5-10 minutes to get your body ready provides some key benefits:

  • Increases your core body temperature – Warm muscles are more pliable, flexible, and resilient against strain or tears. Warming up raises muscle temperature and prevents injury.
  • Gets your blood flowing – A gentle warm-up gets your blood pumping, elevating your heart rate and promoting increased blood flow to your muscles. This improved circulation ensures that more oxygen and essential nutrients are delivered to the muscles.
  • Prepares your joints – Warm joints have a greater range of motion and are better lubricated. Warmup exercises lubricate knee, ankle and hip joints for the trail.
  • Activates muscles – Dynamic stretches and bodyweight exercises recruit leg, core and back muscles needed for hiking. Activation prevents stiffness and cramping.
  • Enhances mental focus – Warming up helps clear your mind, improves concentration, and gets you in the hiking mindset.

Related Article: How to Train for uphill hiking? Climbing with Confidence!

Benefit Description
Increases core body temperature Warm muscles are more pliable, flexible, and resilient against strain or tears
Gets blood flowing Gentle warmup gets blood pumping, elevating heart rate and promoting circulation to muscles
Prepares joints Warm joints have greater range of motion and are better lubricated
Activates muscles Dynamic stretches and exercises recruit leg, core and back muscles needed for hiking
Enhances mental focus Warmup helps clear mind, improves concentration, gets you in hiking mindset

How To Warm Up Before Hiking? 13 Dynamic Stretches for hikers

Dynamic stretching is a key part of any hiking warmup. Unlike static stretching, which focuses on a muscle at the end range, dynamic stretches take joints through a full range of motion to enhance mobility.

Here are effective dynamic stretches to do before hitting the trail:

Stretch Targeted Muscles
Leg swings Hips, glutes, inner thighs
Hip circles Glutes, hips
Calf raises Calves
Shoulder rotations Shoulders, upper back
High knees Quadriceps, hip flexors
Butt kickers Hamstrings, quadriceps
Lateral lunges Inner thighs, groin, hips
Trunk twists Obliques, lower back
Arm circles Shoulders, chest
Quad stretches Quadriceps, hip flexors
Posterior shoulder stretch Chest, front shoulders
Hamstring stretches Hamstrings

Leg Swings ─ one of the best pre-hike stretches

Leg swings, a dynamic stretching exercise, are perfect for warming up your hips, glutes, and inner thighs before you embark on that exciting hike or any other activity. Not only do leg swings help loosen up your hip flexors, but they also work wonders in improving hip mobility, which is crucial for maintaining stability and balance during your hike.

Related Article: “Does Hiking Tone Legs? The Truth Revealed

How to do it:

  • Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart. Engage your core.
  • Hold on to something sturdy like a tree, pole, or wall for balance.
  • Keeping your standing leg straight, slowly swing your other leg forward and back in a controlled motion.
  • Lead with your heel, then let your toes point down as you swing back.
  • Swing your leg forward to about hip height. Don’t overextend.
  • Do 10-15 reps, then switch to swinging the opposite leg.
  • Keep your hips steady and facing forward. Avoid twisting.
  • You can also swing your leg from side to side across your body.
  • Swing your leg out to the side, then swing it back across in front of your standing leg.
  • Do 10-15 reps on each side in a controlled, fluid motion.
  • Breathe naturally and stand tall. Engage your core throughout.

Hip Circles ─ sculpting your bottom and stomach

Hip circles are dynamic warmups that open the hips and engage the glutes. They are great to incorporate before hiking. Hip circles help increase your hip joints’ flexibility and warm up the area’s surrounding muscles.

How to do it:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Engage your core.
  • Place your hands on your hips. Keep your knees soft but don’t bend too deeply.
  • Start circling your hips slowly to one side, leading with your hips rather than just pivoting your feet.
  • Make circles about 1-2 feet in diameter. Keep your chest lifted and avoid leaning.
  • Circle your hips 5-10 times in one direction, then reverse the circles for 5-10 reps the other way.
  • You can also do front-to-back hip circles:
  • Bend your knees slightly and stick your hips back.
  • Circle your hips forward, then around to the back.
  • Repeat 5-10 times, then reverse the direction.
  • Focus on controlled, continuous motion through the hips. Keep your knees over your toes.
  • Breathe naturally. Use your glutes to power the motion.
  • Do 1-2 sets of hip circles to open up the hips and engage the glutes before hitting the trail.

Calf Raises ─ improve performance

Calf raises are an exercise that strengthens the calves, builds lower leg endurance, and warms up the lower legs for hiking. Calf raises target the calf muscles, significantly stabilizing your ankles during a hike.

How to do it:

  • Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart. Engage your core.
  • Raise onto your tiptoes, lifting your heels off the ground.
  • Hold briefly at the top position, feeling the contraction in your calf muscles.
  • Slowly lower back down, rolling through your feet to lower your heels.
  • Repeat for 10-15 reps. You can do single-leg calf raises too.
  • For an added challenge:
  • Do the exercise standing on a step or edge to increase the range of motion.
  • Hold weights in your hands at your sides or across your chest.
  • Once warmed up, do calf raises explosively, jumping and landing softly.
  • Regardless of your fitness level, go slow and control the lifting phase, and slowly lower your heels.
  • Keep your knees straight but avoid locking them out.
  • Stand tall and keep your torso upright throughout the exercise.

Shoulder Rotations ─ strengthen upper body

Shoulder rotations, also known as Tornado Twist, are a warmup exercise that mobilizes the shoulders and upper back. They are beneficial before hiking to open up the chest and shoulders. Shoulder rotations help to loosen up your shoulder joints and upper back, preparing you for carrying a backpack and using trekking poles.

How to do it:

  • Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart. Engage your core.
  • Hold your arms straight out to your sides, parallel to the ground at shoulder height.
  • Initiate the movement from your shoulder joints, not just your hands and arms.
  • Rotate your arms forward, making small circles with your hands. Start with small circles.
  • Do 10 rotations forward, focusing on continuous motion.
  • Reverse the direction and do 10 rotations backwards.
  • Next, switch to vertical arm circles:
  • Raise your arms overhead, keeping them straight.
  • Make small circles forward and backwards with your hands.
  • Do 10 rotations in each direction, engaging your shoulder joints.
  • Breathe naturally. Keep your torso still – the motion comes from your shoulders.
  • Do 1-2 sets before hiking to lubricate your shoulder joints and open your chest.

High Knees ─ keep you in good posture

High knees are a dynamic warmup exercise that engages the hip flexors, quads, and glutes. They get your legs warmed up for hiking. High knees engage the hip flexors and quads while also elevating your heart rate.

Related Article: “Can Hiking Cause Knee Pain? Exploring the Connection

How to do it:

  • Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart. Engage your core.
  • Drive your right knee up towards your chest in an exaggerated marching motion.
  • As you lift your right knee, pump your left arm forward.
  • Quickly switch to lift your left knee as you pump your right arm.
  • Continue alternating legs, moving at a controlled, brisk pace.
  • Focus on maximizing the height of your knees towards your chest with each rep.
  • Land softly on your toes – don’t stomp your feet.
  • Drive your knees up fast but brace your core so your upper body stays vertical.
  • Do 20-30 total reps, moving continuously.
  • You can do high knees in place or walk/jog across a room. Let your arms swing naturally.

Butt Kickers

Butt kickers are dynamic warmup exercises stretching the quads and hip flexors. They help get your legs warmed up before hiking. Butt kickers stretch the quadriceps and get your blood flowing, preparing your lower body for the hike.

Related Article: “Does Hiking grow Your Glutes? Expert Insights and Research

How to do it:

  • Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart. Engage your core.
  • Keeping your back straight, hinge slightly at the hips. Avoid rounding your back.
  • Kick your right heel up toward your glutes in a controlled motion.
  • Focus on keeping your knee bent as you kick back.
  • Extend your leg back rather than out to the side. Drive back powerfully.
  • Land on your toes – don’t stomp your foot down.
  • Quickly repeat the motion, alternating legs to “kick” your heels.
  • Find a rhythm and do 20-30 reps total, moving continuously.
  • Pump your arms naturally as you perform butt kickers.
  • You can do them in place or walk/jog across a room.
  • Go at a pace that gets your heart pumping but maintains control.

Lateral Lunges ─ Prepare you for a hiking adventure

Lateral lunges are a dynamic stretching exercise that targets the inner thighs, groin and hips. They help open up the hips for hiking. Lateral lunges target the adductors and groin, helping to improve lateral movement.

How to do it:

  • Stand with your feet together, hands on hips. Engage your core.
  • Take a big step out to the side with one leg, bending your knee as you drop into a lunge.
  • As you lunge, sit your hips back like sitting in a chair. Keep your other leg straight.
  • Avoid letting your lunging knee collapse inward—keep it aligned over your foot.
  • Push off your lunge leg to return to the center, taking your feet back together.
  • Repeat the lateral lunge on the other side, stepping out and dropping into a lunge.
  • Continue alternating sides in a controlled motion focusing on the lateral hip opening.
  • Do 10-15 controlled reps per side for 1-2 sets.
  • Breathe naturally and keep your chest lifted throughout the movement.
  • Work on pushing your hips back as you lunge rather than just bending sideways.

Lateral lunges open the groin and inner thighs—key muscle groups for mastering the trails.

Trunk Twists ─ best stretches for hiking

Trunk twists are a dynamic stretching exercise that mobilizes the core and lower back. They prep your midsection for hiking. Trunk twists loosen up the obliques and lower back, promoting spinal mobility.

How to do it:

  • Stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart. Clasp your hands together.
  • Use your core and keep a neutral spine. Avoid arching your back.
  • Rotate your upper body to the left, pivoting from your hips and midsection.
  • Twist as far as you comfortably can, keeping your hips steady.
  • Pause briefly, then reverse the twist to the right side.
  • Continue alternating side to side in a controlled, continuous motion.
  • Use your obliques to power and control the movement.
  • Do 10-15 reps on each side, breathing naturally throughout.
  • You can hold a pole or stick across your chest, which forces a deeper twist.
  • Focus on rotation coming from the thoracic spine rather than just the arms.
  • Smoothly twist side to side to mobilize your core before hiking.
  • Avoid any pain or discomfort. Listen to your body.

Trunk twists prep your obliques, lower back, and hips for the trail.

Arm Circles ─ makes your upper body flexible

Arm circles are a warmup exercise that mobilizes the shoulders and opens the chest. They prep your upper body for hiking. Arm circles open your shoulders and chest, preparing your upper body for the hike.

How to do it:

  • Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart. Engage your core.
  • Hold your arms straight out to your sides at shoulder height.
  • Initiate small, controlled forward circles with your hands.
  • Focus on leading the motion from your shoulders, not just your arms.
  • Start with mini circles and slowly make them bigger.
  • Do 10-15 forward arm circles, keeping continuous motion.
  • Reverse the direction and do 10-15 backward arm circles.
  • You can also do vertical arm circles:
  • Raise your arms overhead and make small circles forward and back.
  • Lead the motion from your shoulders and engage your shoulder blades.
  • Do 10-15 reps in each direction.
  • Keep your torso still—the motion comes from your shoulders.
  • Breathe naturally and keep a good posture.

Arm circles open up the chest and shoulders to prepare for using trekking poles while hiking.

Quadriceps Stretch

The quadriceps stretch targets the front of the thighs and hip flexors. It’s great for opening up the hips before hiking. The quadriceps are vital muscles in your thighs responsible for extending your knee joint. Stretching the quadriceps before hiking can help improve flexibility and prevent strain during uphill climbs.

How to do it:

  • Stand tall near a wall or sturdy surface for balance. Engage your core.
  • Bend one knee and grab your ankle from behind with the same-side hand.
  • Gently pull your heel towards your glutes to feel a stretch in the front of your thigh.
  • Avoid arching or rounding your lower back. Maintain a neutral spine.
  • You should feel the stretch down the front of your quad. Hold for 30 seconds.
  • Keep your knees close together and stand upright to isolate the quad.
  • Slowly lean your hips forward for a deeper stretch until you feel a deeper stretch. Do not round your back.
  • Release your leg, shake it out, and switch sides to stretch the opposite leg.
  • Repeat 2-3 times on each side, holding for 30 seconds per quad stretch.
  • Breathe deeply and focus on relaxing into the stretch. Do not bounce.

Quad stretches open up the hips and engage the front of the legs before hitting the trail.

Posterior Shoulder Stretch

Hiking often involves carrying a backpack or daypack, which can strain your shoulder muscles. Stretching your posterior shoulder muscles can help relieve tension and improve shoulder mobility. This stretch opens up the chest and front of the shoulders. It’s beneficial before hiking activities.

How to do it:

  • Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart. Keep your knees slightly bent.
  • Clasp your hands behind your lower back, palms facing each other.
  • Engage your core and sit your hips back slightly to keep a good posture.
  • Raise your clasped hands up and back while squeezing your shoulder blades together.
  • Lift until you feel a comfortable stretch across your chest and front shoulders.
  • Hold for 30 seconds, breathing deeply into your upper back.
  • Focus on opening through the chest rather than just lifting your arms back.
  • Hold with control – avoid hyperextending your shoulders.
  • Release and repeat 2-3 times, holding for 30 seconds per rep.
  • You can use a towel or strap clasped in your hands to help extend your reach if needed.

This stretch opens up the chest and front shoulders in preparation for load-bearing while hiking.

Hamstring Stretch

The hamstrings are essential for bending your knees and moving your hips, both of which are vital for hiking on uneven terrain. Stretching the hamstrings helps improve flexibility and reduces the risk of hamstring strains. The hamstring stretch targets the backs of the thighs. It’s important for flexibility before hiking.

How to do it:

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Engage your core for support.
  • Lift one leg and rest your heel on a high surface in front of you, like a chair or step.
  • Your raised leg should have a slight bend at the knee; avoid locking it out.
  • Keep your standing leg slightly bent. Maintain a neutral spine.
  • Hinge forward at the hips, not rounding your back, until you feel a stretch in the back of your lifted leg.
  • Hold for 30 seconds, breathing deeply and relaxing into the stretch.
  • Do not bounce or force the stretch – go only as far as feels comfortable.
  • Release and repeat 2-3 times on each leg, holding for 30 seconds.
  • You can gently press your hips forward once in the stretched position for a deeper stretch.
  • Keep your core engaged throughout the stretch. Focus on hinging from the hips.

The hamstring stretch preps the back of your legs for the demands of hiking.

Hamstring Kicks

Hamstring kicks are a dynamic warmup exercise that helps activate and prepare the hamstrings for the demands of hiking. Hamstring kicks are a dynamic warmup exercise that engages the backs of the thighs. They prep the hamstrings for hiking activities.

How to do it:

  • Stand tall with feet together. Engage your core for support.
  • Lift one leg, keeping your knee straight.
  • Kick your leg forward by extending through the heel as if kicking something in front of you.
  • Swing your leg forward as high as possible in a controlled manner. Avoid uncontrolled kicking.
  • Drive your leg forward using your hamstring and glutes. Flex your toes back.
  • Swing your leg back down in a controlled motion keeping your knee straight.
  • Repeat for 10-15 reps on that leg, then switch sides.
  • As you kick, swing your arms opposite your legs for counterbalance.
  • Focus on controlling the leg through the entire range of motion. Do not swing wildly.
  • Breathe naturally and stand tall, engaging your core. Do not arch your back.

Hamstring kicks activate and warm up the hamstrings before conquering the trails.

Related Article: 18 Powerful Core Exercises For Hiking

Additional pre-hike Exercises also sculpting your bottom

Beyond dynamic stretches, include bodyweight strength moves in your warmup. Squats, lunges and pushups help activate the major muscles used during hiking.

Bodyweight Squats

Bodyweight squats are a great warmup exercise that engages the leg muscles. They prep your lower body for the demands of hiking.

How to do it:

  • Stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart. Engage your core.
  • Start pushing your hips back and bending at the knees.
  • Descend until your thighs parallel the ground, keeping your knees behind your toes.
  • Your knees should track in line with your toes as you lower down.
  • With the chest lifted, maintain a neutral spine throughout the movement.
  • Do not round or arch your lower back.
  • Drive through your heels to stand back up to the start position.
  • Repeat for 10-15 reps with proper form.
  • You can hold your arms straight out front for counterbalance or hands behind your head.
  • Focus on controlled motion – avoid bending too quickly.
  • Only squat down as far as possible while maintaining good form if needed.

Bodyweight squats warm up the quadriceps, glutes, and hip flexors for hiking.

Walking Lunges

Walking lunges are a dynamic stretch that targets the hips, quads, hamstrings and glutes. They are great for warming up before hiking. Walking lunges are excellent for stretching the hip flexors, quadriceps, and calves while also improving balance and stability.

How to do it:

  • Stand tall with your feet together. Engage your core.
  • Step forward with one leg, taking an exaggerated step.
  • As you step forward, bend both knees to drop into a lunge position.
  • Your front knee should bend to 90 degrees, keeping it stacked over your ankle.
  • Drop your back knee straight down towards the ground, hovering above touching.
  • Push off your front foot to return to standing.
  • Repeat by stepping forward with the opposite leg into a lunge.
  • Continue alternating legs as you walk across the room.
  • Focus on stepping far enough to feel a deep stretch in your hips as you lunge.
  • Keep your torso upright. Avoid leaning or hunching forward.
  • Complete 10-15 reps on each side for 1-2 sets.


Pushups work the chest, shoulders, triceps and core. They help warm up the upper body before hiking.

How to do it:

  • Start in a high plank position with hands under shoulders and arms straight.
  • Engage your core to keep your body straight from head to toe.
  • Bend your elbows and lower your chest down towards the ground.
  • Descend until your elbows are at a 45-degree angle. Do not let your elbows flare out.
  • Keep your elbows tucked close to your sides as you lower down.
  • Press your palms to straighten your arms and return to the starting plank position.
  • Repeat for 10-15 good-form reps, keeping your body rigid.
  • Do not round your back or sag your hips as you lower and lift.
  • If needed, modify by doing pushups on your knees rather than toes.
  • Keep your head neutral, do not look up. Breathe out as you push back up.

Pushups engage the chest, shoulders, arms and core before hitting the trails.

Bird Dogs

Bird dogs are a core stabilizing exercise that also engages the glutes and shoulders. They prep your core for hiking.

How to do it:

  • Start on your hands and knees in a tabletop position. Hands under shoulders, knees under hips.
  • Engage your core muscles and maintain a neutral spine. Do not arch or round your back.
  • Simultaneously reach your right arm forward and left leg back until parallel to the ground.
  • Your arm should be straight and in line with your shoulders. Your leg straight in line with your hips.
  • Avoid twisting your torso – keep your hips and shoulders square.
  • Hold briefly, then smoothly return to the start position.
  • Repeat on the opposite side, extending the left arm and right leg.
  • Continue alternating in a controlled motion for 10-15 reps per side.
  • Breathe naturally throughout the exercise. Move slowly and with stability.
  • Work on keeping your hips and shoulders steady as you extend your limbs.

Bird dogs engage your core for balance and stability when carrying a pack on hikes.


Planks build core strength and endurance. They prep your core and shoulders for hiking activities.

How to do it:

  • Start in a pushup position with your hands under your shoulders and arms straight.
  • Engage your core and straighten your legs behind you. Balance on toes.
  • Maintain a straight, rigid line from your heels to your head. Do not sag or arch.
  • Hold the plank position, keeping your back flat and hips square.
  • Engage your abdominal muscles by pulling your belly button to the spine.
  • Keep your neck neutral, do not look up or down. Hold your head in line with your back.
  • Hold the plank for 30-60 seconds, breathing deeply.
  • You can start with short 5-10 second holds and build up over time.
  • Do not round your shoulders or strain your neck. Keep your torso stable.
  • If the form breaks, release and restart the plank. Quality over quantity.

Planks strengthen the core, arms, and shoulders to prepare for bearing loads while hiking.

How Long to Warm Up Before a Hike

Most hikers need 5-10 minutes of focused effort to properly warm up before starting a hike. It gives you time to complete several dynamic stretches and bodyweight strength moves.

Remember that warming up for hiking is not a strenuous activity in itself. You simply want to lightly elevate your heart rate, break a sweat, activate muscles and prep your joints.

If you’re short on time, even 5 minutes of lunges, squats and arm circles are beneficial. You want to avoid starting a cold.

Longer or more challenging hikes may require more time to get warmed up. Listen to your body. Experts also recommend giving extra attention to any problem areas. For example, spend more time warming up previously injured ankles or knees.

Tips for an Effective Hiking Warmup Routine

Here are some important tips for creating an effective warmup before your next hike:

  • Tailor it to hiking muscles – Focus on major muscle groups like hips, legs, core and back that propel you up the trail.
  • Make it dynamic – Continuous motion through stretching and strength exercises is key. Avoid static holds.
  • Include hills or stairs – Walking or jogging up a hill or doing step-ups during your warmup mimics hiking.
  • Break a light sweat – Get your blood moving and slowly elevate your heart rate. Avoid over-exertion.
  • Time it right – Warm up 5-10 minutes before starting your hike while your muscles are still fresh. Don’t do it hours in advance.
  • Listen to your body – Go at your own pace and give extra attention to any tight or stiff areas.
  • Stay hydrated – Drink water before, during and after your warmup to stay hydrated for the trail.
  • Seek shade or cover if needed – Direct sun and heat impact your warmup. Seek shade to stay comfortable.

Warmup Advice from Expert Hikers

We spoke with avid hikers and outdoor athletes to get their advice on the best ways to warm up before hitting the trail. Here are their top warmup tips:

“I start my hike warm up by walking for 5 minutes to get my heart rate up and joints lose. Then I incorporate jogging up and down any hills or stairs I can find nearby. I pretend I’m already on the trail climbing up switchbacks and getting my legs ready.” – Mark S., avid day hiker.

“A short jog really helps warm up my hips and ankles before I hit the trail. I also make sure to do leg swings, lunges across the parking lot, and squats. Getting that initial sweat tells me I’m ready to start hiking.” – Lauren F., hiking enthusiast.

“I focus my warmup on parts of my body that easily get stiff during a hike, especially my IT bands, calves and Achilles tendon. Before I start, I use a foam roller on tightened areas. I also do heel drops to stretch my calves.” – Hannah T., hiking blogger.

“Being a trail runner, I’m used to dynamic warmups before my runs. Before a big hike, I incorporate high knees, butt kickers, lunges and other dynamic moves that mimic hiking motions. I make sure to hit all the major muscle groups.” – Jeff S., avid trail runner.

“I’ve learned over time that warming up my knees is a must before conquering rocky trails. I walk or jog for 10 minutes before my hike warm up to get my heart pumping. Then I spend several minutes doing lateral lunges, knee rotations and mini-squats to prep my knees.” – Julia C., hiking influencer.

Related Article: Does Hiking Work Your Core? Yes! Hiking Builds Muscle, But How?

Sample 10-Minute Hiking Warmup Routine

Here is a sample 10-minute warmup routine to try before your next hike:

  • Easy walk (2 minutes) – Walk at an easy, conversational pace to start elevating your heart rate.
  • Arm circles (30 seconds) – Open up shoulders and get arms ready for hiking poles or hand motions.
  • Lunge matrix (30 seconds) – Lunge forward, to the side, and with a twist to open hips.
  • Lateral leg swings (30 seconds) – Swing legs side to side across the body to activate the outer glutes and hips.
  • Bodyweight squats (30 seconds) – Squat down with good form, activating leg muscles.
  • High knees (30 seconds) – Run in place, lifting knees high to warm up quads.
  • Calf raises (30 seconds) – Raise onto toes and lower to warm up calves.
  • Walking lunges (2 minutes) – Take wide lunges across the room, leaning back towards the floor.
  • Pushups (1 minute) – Perform several pushups with good form. Modify on knees if needed.
  • Plank (1 minute) – Finish in a static plank, engaging the core.

This complete routine hits all the major muscles you’ll use hiking in just 10 minutes. Adjust the exercises and time for your specific needs. You’ll finish warmed up and ready to tackle the trail!

Stretching exercises for post-hike recovery

Here are some recommended stretching exercises for post-hike recovery:

After finishing a long hike, many hikers experience muscle soreness, back pain, or other injuries while hiking. That’s why properly stretching after your hiking routine is a great exercise for post-hike recovery.

Try a standing quad stretch for your legs by bringing one foot behind you and grabbing it with the same-side hand. Or do a calf stretch by leaning into a wall with an extended leg. Hold stretches for 30 seconds on each side to address the trekker’s soreness.

For your back, lie on your stomach and press up into Cobra Pose. Or carefully extend your spine by lying on your back and bringing your knees into your chest. These stretches alleviate post-hike back pain.

Finish by interlacing your fingers and reaching your arms straight above your head to stretch your entire upper body. Holding stretches gently after each hike can help reduce injury while hiking and make post-hike recovery smoother.

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FAQs About Preparing For Hiking

Q: How do I prepare my body for hiking?

A: To prepare your body for hiking, it’s essential to warm up and stretch your muscles beforehand. Doing some simple stretches like leg swings and toe touches can help release tension, increase flexibility, and reduce the risk of injury. Many hikers also recommend doing a short dynamic warm-up routine before you hit the trail to get your heart rate up. Warming up your muscles before you go hiking helps prevent strains and discomfort, especially when carrying a heavy pack.

Q: How do you warm up before a long hike?

A: The best way to warm up before a long hike is to do a light 10-15 minute warm-up routine when you arrive at the trailhead. Some top hiking stretches to include are hip circles, knee-to-chest stretches, and hamstring stretches. You can also do a short walk or light jog to elevate your heart rate. Warming up your muscles before hitting the trail helps maximize performance and prevent injury.

Q: What stretches should you do before a hike?

A: Some great stretches to do before a hike include calf stretches, quad stretches, hip flexor stretches, and lower back rotations. Calf stretches involve leaning into a wall with your hands while stepping one leg back to stretch the calf. For quad stretches, grab your ankle and pull your heel toward your glutes. Hip flexor stretches involve kneeling and lunging one leg forward. Lower back rotations involve rotating your torso while your feet stay planted. These simple stretches help prepare your body for the trail.

Q: Do I need to stretch before hiking?

A: While many hikers get by without stretching beforehand, it’s highly recommended to stretch before hiking to help prevent injury and optimize performance on the trail. Even doing some basic stretches for 5-10 minutes before you hit the trail can make a big difference. Focus on stretching your calves, hamstrings, quads and hip flexors since those muscle groups get worked a lot during hiking. Stretching helps improve flexibility and circulation as well.

Q: How long does it take to get in shape for hiking?

A: It usually takes about 4-6 weeks of regular hiking or hiking-specific training to build up the endurance and strength needed to comfortably hike long distances with a pack. Start by hiking easy local trails once or twice a week and gradually increase your mileage and pack weight. Walking hills or stairs with a weighted pack also helps prepare your legs. As your fitness improves, you’ll be able to go hiking more frequently and tackle more challenging terrain. Be sure to listen to your body and rest as needed.

Q: What does hiking do to your body shape?

A: Hiking works your whole body, leading to several great benefits for your body shape and fitness. The challenging inclines tone your leg and glute muscles, giving your lower body a more defined shape. Cardiovascular exercise helps burn fat and slim your waistline. Using trekking poles also works the upper body. Overall, regular hiking decreases overall body fat, builds lean muscle, and gives you a more toned, athletic physique.

Q: What are three things you should do before going on a hike?

A: Three things you should always do before going on a hike are: 1) Warm up and stretch your muscles with some dynamic stretches and leg swings 2) Pack plenty of water and trail snacks to fuel your hike 3) Tell someone your planned hiking route and expected return time in case of emergency. Taking these simple precautions before you head out on the trail will help make your hiking experience more pleasant and safer.

Q: How do I prepare my legs for hiking?

A: Some great ways to prepare your legs for hiking include doing leg strengthening exercises like squats, lunges and calf raises. Going on practice hikes with a weighted pack helps build hiking-specific endurance. Make sure to also stretch your hamstrings, quads, hips and calves really well before and after hikes to improve flexibility. Wearing hiking boots and breaking them in ahead of time prevents blisters. Treating sore muscles with rest, ice and anti-inflammatory medication helps your legs recover between hikes. Taking the time to properly condition your legs will pay off with less pain on the trail.

Q: How do you hike without getting out of breath?

A: Pacing yourself is key to hiking without getting winded. Take frequent breaks to catch your breath, especially on steep inclines. Walk at a comfortable speed where you can still talk. Keep your breaths deep and steady as you hike using your diaphragm. Stay hydrated and fuel up with snacks to keep your energy up. Using trekking poles engages your upper body and takes some work off your legs too. Train for hikes by walking hills and stairs while wearing a weighted pack. Building your endurance takes time but yields great rewards on the trail. Most importantly, listen to your body and take it slow.

Wrapping Up

Warming up before hitting the hiking trail is an important preparatory step that should not be skipped. Spending 5-10 minutes before your hike doing dynamic stretches, bodyweight exercises, and raising your core temperature provides huge benefits.

You’ll hike stronger, have better endurance, and help prevent injuries when you warm up properly. Use this guide to create your own hiking-specific warmup routine for your next outdoor adventure. Listen to your body once on the trail and ease into the hike. Most importantly, enjoy being out in nature and the added fitness benefits of hiking. With an optimized warm-up, you’ll be moving confidently up the path in no time!



Mark is an experienced backpacker who has completed several multi-day hikes, including the John Muir and Wonderland Trail. He is also a hobbyist photographer who delights in capturing the captivating essence of nature through his camera lens. Mark is passionate about environmental conservation and often volunteers for trail maintenance and clean-up projects.



Mark is an experienced backpacker who has completed several multi-day hikes, including the John Muir and Wonderland Trail. He is also a hobbyist photographer who delights in capturing the captivating essence of nature through his camera lens. Mark is passionate about environmental conservation and often volunteers for trail maintenance and clean-up projects.

2 thoughts on “How To Warm Up Before Hiking? 13 Warm-Up Exercises & Stretches To Prepare For A Hike”

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