We often get readers asking us “what is the best exercise that gives explosive power for hiking uphill?”, and today we’re going to cover some of the most beneficial exercises for hikers.

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Hiking is a demanding activity, with lots of inclines and declines taking place over uneven terrain, so fitness and preparation is key.

Having your body prepared and in the right state is every bit as important as having the right gear!

We’ve put together this guide to give you some great options for building uphill hiking strength regardless of your setup and what type of workout equipment you may have access to.

Let’s walk through the best explosive uphill hiking exercises below.


Contents present
1 The Best Exercises To Give You Explosive Power For Uphill Hiking
1.1 Lunges For Hiking Strength And Balance
1.1.1 Variations On Lunges For Explosive Power For Hiking Uphiltogether
1.2 Squats For Explosive Hiking Power
1.2.1 Variations On Squats For Explosive Power For Hiking Uphill
1.3 Hill Sprints For Uphill Hiking Endurance
1.3.1 Variations On Hill Sprints For Explosive Power For Hiking Uphiltogether
1.4 Band Walks For Stability And Balance
1.5 Step-Ups For Explosive Power Hiking Uphiltogether
1.5.1 Variations On Step-Ups For Explosive Uphill Power When Hikinns
1.6 Calf Raises For Uphill Hiking Endurance
1.6.1 Variations On Calf Raises For Uphill Hiking Endurance
2 Benefits Of Training For Uphill Hiking
3 What You’ll Need To Start Training For Uphill Hikinns
3.1 Proper Uphill Hiking Training Attire
3.2 Hydratitop top
3.3 Weights or a Heavy Backload
3.4 Chair, Box, Or Bench
4 Frequently Asked Questions About Uphill Hiking Exercises & Training
4.1 Are The Six Exercises Listed Enough Training To Give Me Explosive Power For Hiking Uphill?
4.2 How Long Will Uphill Hiking Training Take Me To Complete?
4.3 How Do I Train For Explosive Leg Power For Hiking Uphill?
4.4 What Exercises Build The Most Explosive Uphill Hiking Power?
4.5 How Do I Train For Explosive Power In My Legs For Hiking Uphill?
5 Wrapping Up The Best Exercises For Explosive Uphill Hiking Power

The Best Exercises To Give You Explosive Power For Uphill Hiking

Lunges For Hiking Strength And Balance

Lunges are great for hiking because they incorporate many lower body muscles in one exercise, building up your thigh, calf, glutes, and incorporating your hip and knees as well.

Performing lunges regularly will help you build uphill hiking strength and improve your balance.

Here’s a video on how to perform a lunge, with text instructions below:


To perform a lunge, start in the standing position with your legs hip-width apart, arms relaxed, and resting your hands on your hips.

Step out with one foot until your knee and calf are at about a 90 degree angle, with your back leg extending out behind you.

Note that your back knee should not touch the floor, your heel should be raised, and your toes should be touching the floor. Keep your abdominal muscles flexed to increase our balance.

Then, return to an upright position and repeat with the other leg.

Variations On Lunges For Explosive Power For Hiking Uphill

–Dumbbell Lunges

–Scissor Hop Lunges

–Traveling or Walking Lunges

Squats For Explosive Hiking Power

Squats are excellent power-building exercises for hiking, as they help promote joint stability, increase flexibility and balance, and target your glutes, quads, and hamstrings.

Squats are an excellent hiking exercise due to their ability to build up your lower body strength that you need to hike uphill.

Best of all, you can do squats anywhere because they are a bodyweight exercise.

Here’s a video on how to perform a squat, with text instructions below:


To perform a squat, start with your feet between hip and shoulder-width apart, with your toes turned out slightly (between 5 and 15 degrees).

Keep your spine neutral, shoulders back, and chest open. Keep your heels down and planted throughout the squat.

Start by sending your hips back as if you’re sitting into an invisible chair, bending your knees to lower down as far as possible while keeping your chest lifted.

Keep your lower back neutral while you press through your heels to stand back up into starting position, and repeat.

Try to get your thighs at least parallel to the floor when squatting

Variations On Squats For Explosive Power For Hiking Uphill

–Barbell Squats

–Single Leg Squats

–Goblet Squats

Hill Sprints For Uphill Hiking Endurance

Hill sprints are a HIIT (high-intensity interval training) exercise that have you running at high speed uphill for intervals of 1 to 8 minutes, depending on how long you can safely go.

Hill sprints work your large muscle groups such as quads, and helps to generate additional strength from your abs, pelvis, and hips.

If you haven’t done hill sprints before, it’s best to start with a medium slope, and be sure to pump your arms as you run.

Take note of the runner’s form in this video below:


Variations On Hill Sprints For Explosive Power For Hiking Uphill

–Stair Climbing

Band Walks For Stability And Balance

Band walks are a great exercise for hiking power, as they strengthen the outer hips (abductors) which provide stability to your hips and knees.

Band walks are performed using a mini band, which essentially is a big wide rubber band that you place on different parts of your body to create tension as you exercise.

Here’s a video on how to perform band walks, with text instructions below:


Start with the mini band just above your knees, maintaining tension on the band as you step sideways with small steps.

Perform 8-10 steps in each direction, eventually working your way up to 15-20 steps.

Perform 3 sets, and keep your toes pointed slightly inward to increase your muscle engagement while doing this exercise.

Step-Ups For Explosive Power Hiking Uphill

Step-ups are an excellent functional exercise for building uphill hiking power, and they can be performed easily with hardly any equipment.

Step-Ups can be performed with a set of steep stairs, a bench, an exercise platform, or a wooden box, and is great for strengthening your hamstrings, quads, and glutes.

The higher you step up, the more balance and stability is promoted, and it’s great for stretching your hamstrings and calves, too.

Here’s a video on how to perform step-ups, with text instructions below:


Place one foot fully on the bench, shift your weight completely onto that leg, and stand to your full height.

Momentarily balance on that leg, then bring your other foot to the top of the platform. Step down, and repeat for 10-15 reps. Repeat with the other leg.

You can increase the intensity of this exercise by wearing a weighted pack.

Variations On Step-Ups For Explosive Uphill Power When Hiking

–High Step-Up

–Dumbell Step-Up

–Barbell Step-Up

–Box Jumps

Calf Raises For Uphill Hiking Endurance

Your calf muscles are extremely important for helping your legs move you uphill.

Most hikers experience calf burn when going up steep inclines, and properly exercising your calves will help with this.

The best part of calf raises is that they can be done anywhere and without any equipment at all, making it very easy to incorporate this move into your hiking fitness routine.

Here’s a video on how to perform calf raises, with text instructions below:


Stand up straight, then push through the balls of your feet and raise your heel until you’re standing on your toes.

Slowly lower the heel of your foot back to the ground.

Repeat for each leg, aiming for 10-15 reps and 3-4 sets.

Variations On Calf Raises For Uphill Hiking Endurance

–Dumbell or Weighted Calf Raises

–Seated Calf Raises

Benefits Of Training For Uphill Hiking

Hiking itself is a great all-body workout that incorporates both strength and cardio.

Being in good physical shape and preparing your body for hiking will not only make this more enjoyable, but your hikes will last longer and you’ll have a shorter recovery period – a win-win.

Training before a hike will help you build strength and endurance, helping you to feel more energetic throughout long hikes and challenging inclines.

Working out also burns calories, helping you to be lighter and leaner. Carrying less weight will also boost your endurance and energy levels while hiking.

Exercising and preparing for uphill hiking will also result in less cramps and increased flexibility while reducing your chances of injury.


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Frequently Asked Questions About Uphill Hiking Exercises & Training

Are The Six Exercises Listed Enough Training To Give Me Explosive Power For Hiking Uphill?

The exercises listed in this guide are a great all-around lower body workout routine and will help you to build and strengthen the necessary muscles for hiking uphill and gaining explosive power.

We suggest you incorporate these exercises into a full workout schedule that works other muscle groups as well – don’t lose focus of the big picture, which is your overall fitness and health.

How Long Will Uphill Hiking Training Take Me To Complete?

A typical uphill hiking training circuit will take between 8 and 12 weeks to complete, and each workout will take between 30-45 minutes, depending on how many exercises (as well as reps and sets of each) you complete.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t hike while you’re training though! Some of the best exercise you can get is functional, real-world exercise such as actual hiking – so get out there and enjoy the trail.

How Do I Train For Explosive Leg Power For Hiking Uphill?

Focus on lower-body moves that build strength and power, such as lunges, squats, calf raises, band-walks, step-ups, and endurance training like hill sprints to gain explosive uphill hiking leg power.

What Exercises Build The Most Explosive Uphill Hiking Power?

Hill sprints, lunges, squats, and calf raises will help you build the most uphill hiking power quickly.

How Do I Train For Explosive Power In My Legs For Hiking Uphill?

All the exercises listed above train your lower body muscles and promote stability and balance, all of which are needed for uphill hiking.

Wrapping Up The Best Exercises For Explosive Uphill Hiking Power

You’ll notice an increase in power and endurance in as little as a few weeks by incorporating these exercises in your workout routine, making your hikes easier and more enjoyable.

We hope this guide helps you on your hiking fitness journey! Please let us know what exercises are your favorite (along with any additional suggestions) in the comments below.

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While you’re here, check out our guide to how should hiking boots fit and the best compression socks for hiking for additional information.