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5 Great Warmups Before You Hit the Trail

Author: D1 Training

man hiking

Photo by Toomas Tartes on Unsplash

Sometimes, all you need is a good walk. Hiking is an amazing hobby. It keeps you in shape, gets you outside, and connects you with nature. There’s something to be said about the calm, quiet scenes of a nature trail, but every trail is different. Some trails are more physically demanding than others, and sometimes you won’t know it until you’ve already begun. It’s important to prepare accordingly so you’re ready to tackle whatever comes your way when you hit the dirt.

“Warming up before any exercise, like hiking, is a game-changer,” says Jordan Gay, owner of D1 Training Mooresville. “It gets your blood pumping, muscles primed, and reduces the chance of injuries. Plus, it helps you get in the zone mentally, so you're ready to crush whatever comes your way.”

Here, we’ll share 5 warmups that are sure to set you up for a great day on the trail.

  1. Standing Quadriceps Stretch
    1. Your legs are your most important tool while climbing, so it's crucial to prevent injuries related to them. This exercise aims to stretch your quads, which serve as your primary driver when climbing any sort of terrain. This stretch can be done either alone or with a partner. From a standing position, kick your leg backwards and grab your foot from behind. Pull your foot upwards until you begin to feel a stretch in the front of your leg. Hold for 15 seconds and repeat for each leg.
  2. Calf Stretch
    1. It’s very common for your calves to tighten up when walking great distances. A pulled calf muscle is a sure way to end a hike early, so doing this easy stretch is advised. Find a wall or vertical surface. Place your foot so your heel remains on the ground, but your toe touches the wall. Your foot should be at an angle in relation to the ground. Lean forward into the wall and you should feel a pull in your calf just below the kneecap. Hold this for 15 seconds and repeat for each leg.
  3. Standing Hamstring Stretch
    1. Another exercise aimed at your legs. This stretch focuses on your hamstrings, the big, meaty muscle on the back side of your leg. A pulled hamstring is a sure way to end up limping for a few weeks. This stretch aims to prevent that. From a standing position, spread your legs into a V shape. Bend down and reach your arms out to your left or right foot. The deeper you lean, the tighter the pull should be on the back of that respective leg. Hold for 15 seconds and repeat for each leg.
  4. Runner’s Lunge
    1. This stretch targets your hip flexors and the muscles in your groin. To begin, arrange your body into a pushup position. From here, bring one foot forward so that it is parallel with your hand. You should look as if you are about to take off on a sprint. Hold this position for 15 seconds and repeat with each leg.
  5. Bodyweight Squats
    1. Squats are a conventional exercise that work both your hamstrings and your quads, and really warm up your legs. These are great to do in between hikes to strengthen legs, as well. From a standing position, spread your feet so they are shoulder width apart. From here, bend your knees and lower yourself so that your legs form a 90-degree angle. While you lower yourself down, keep your chest up and your core tight. Return to the starting position while pushing your weight down through your heels. Repeat 10-20 times or until failure and conclude with the stretches listed above.

Warmups are essential, but consistent workouts will make an even bigger impact when it comes to hitting the trail or participating in other recreational exercises.

“Regular strength and conditioning workouts make a huge difference in your weekend adventures,” says Gay. “They enhance your stamina, power, and agility, allowing you to take on everything from challenging hikes to intense pickup basketball games. Plus, being fit helps prevent injuries and keeps you feeling strong and energized all weekend long.”

For more training tips, check out the Training Tips Done Right with D1 series on the D1 Training blog, including this helpful video explaining the Dynamic Warmup, for overall exercise preparation.