Here are my five go-to exercises for women over 40 who want to hike (and recover) with confidence.
1. Single leg squat: Targets your quads, hamstrings, and glutes. Muscles that are essential for uphill climbs and stable descents. Single-leg squats also challenge and build your ankle strength and balance. Less rolled ankles, more forward motion.
2. Single-leg deadlift: Strengthens your posterior chain (a fancy way of saying your backside), propelling you up steep inclines and providing the control you need to not feel like an escalating snowball during descents. Like the single-leg squat, the deadlift improves your balance and builds ankle strength, reducing the risk of falls and injuries.
3. Kettlebell swing: How could I not include this one? I use swings with clients mainly to improve power and explosiveness, both of which you need to propel yourself forward and up. But you’ll also get plenty for the posterior chain (here’s that fancy term again) strength. I also love swings for improving both aerobic and anaerobic fitness.
4. Pallof press: Targets your core, especially the muscles that rotate the trunk. A strong trunk is vital for anyone not planning on hiking with the rigidity of the Statue of Liberty. A strong core also makes carrying the pack easier. And as you’re marching with a nicely rotating trunk and arms, your hiking is more energy efficient, and you won’t hate life every step of the way.
5. Single arm row: Strengthening the upper back and shoulders prepares you for carrying that 30-liter Patagonia backpack over the horizon and beyond. You’ll also be able to sustain the load of your gear for longer without all kinds of neck and shoulder pain. Plus, single arm row works on those core muscles, too. And they make your arms look nice, which is important for hiking.
Coming up tomorrow: my favorite exercise for loosening up the hips, upper back, and the rest of the body.