Cross training workout for the trails – ramp up your fitness

If you intend to head out on a long trip such as The Appalachian Trail or The Pacific Crest Trail, training will be necessary.

Cross training with other sports is a great way to build endurance and switch up your routine. Check out our four recommendations for effective hiking cross training!


Running has a draw because it is just as easy as hiking. Put on a pair of running shoes and head out your front door! Running will increase your cardiovascular health and build endurance.


Structure your workout in the same way that your day hike would be structured. Start with a 5-10 minute warmup, then multiple short intervals of high intensity and end with a 5-10 minute cool down. Incorporating tempo running into your workout is imperative to see the best results. Head over to your local track to figure out what a good starting goal is for yourself.


Swimming is a great way to switch up your exercise routine
Swimming is a great way to switch up your exercise routine


As someone that has battled skin splints for five years, I can not recommend swimming enough. Swimming is great for those of us who struggle with overuse injuries. If you have bad knees or shins, swimming should be your first go to!

Swimming will build endurance and increase your cardiovascular health in the same way that running will, but it takes the harsh impact off your body.

For a swimming workout, try to do a variety of strokes, incorporate the kick board, and do short intervals of high intensity as well. If you don’t have a gym membership, check out the options in your town for local recreational pools!

Circuit Training:

Although circuit training seems to be very popular among women, men can also benefit greatly from it. By combining resistance training and cardio, circuit training gives you a two-for-one deal on your cross training. If you don’t have a gym membership, this is a great option because there are tons of exercises you don’t need equipment for.


There are lots of circuit training based guides out in the media right now such as the “Bikini Body Guide” and “Fitazfk.” However, if you are tight on cash, you can easily create your own guide.

Some of my favorite exercises are jump lunges, jump squats, step ups, and burpees. Start out with four exercises at ten reps each and see how long you can last. You will be surprised at how quickly you start to feel the burn!


Whether you choose a stationary bike or to head outside, biking is a perfect workout for hikers
Whether you choose a stationary bike or to head outside, biking is a perfect workout for hikers

Biking Workout:

Biking is also a great option for those that frequently get injured. It can still give you the cardio workout you need while taking the impact off of your legs.

My favorite way to cross train with the bike is attending Spin classes. The upbeat music and atmosphere are great for anyone trying to get a solid workout in. Likewise, the ability to not have to create your own workout plan is great.

However, if you aren’t trying to spend money on exercise classes, it is easy to create your own workout. Similar to running and swimming, start with a 5-10 minute warmup to get your blood pumping. Then, do a series of intervals while changing the resistance. A combination of short sprints (low resistance) and long ‘uphill’ climbs (high resistance) will kick your butt into shape very quickly.

If you would rather hit the open road, try to create a route that includes different lengths of hills. Having a variety in your ride is important to get the most out of your workout. Always remember to finish with a short cool down and stretch after your workout.


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We live in a beautiful world, get out there and enjoy it.

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rebecca-hext is one of the authors writing for Outdoor Revival