Why Is Hiking Such a Complete Lower Body Workout?

A lot of people love to go out and hike. Hiking gives you time to commune with nature. Hiking also gives you the benefit of doing exercises. When you reach a peak, you feel as if you’ve just done a hard workout session in your life. In this article, we’ll answer: why is hiking such a complete lower body workout?

Why Is Hiking Such a Complete Lower Body Workout?

Hiking is a complete lower body workout because it involves a lot of leg work since you walk a lot. Hiking also adds a degree of difficulty in walking since rough terrain forces you to constantly shift your balance engaging your lower body more. 

If you want to start hiking, you should condition your body for endurance as hiking involves long hours of walking. Wear the right shoes to keep your feet from hurting and start slow with hiking by hiking short distances in your local area. It would be better if there were small uphill areas you can hike on to improve your balance. 

Woman hiking

You need to prepare your body if you don’t want to lose energy during the hike. If you’ve just started, you can walk on flat terrain so your body gets used to walking and slowly try hiking on uphill terrains.

What Muscles Are Worked in Hiking?

You work a lot of lower body muscles when you hike. Hiking actually makes a great workout if you love to travel, be one with nature, and be fit at the same time. 

  • Glutes: hiking on flat terrain doesn’t cause too much pressure on your glutes. When you hike on uphill terrains, your glutes get worked on helping give shape to your butt. 
  • Quadriceps: Quads get worked out a lot during the downhill adventure. Your quadriceps help maintains balance your body as you go down and maintain proper posture against gravity.
  • Calves: Your calves support the weight you carry. The more weight you carry, for example, a bag, the more your calves get worked on. 
  • Hamstrings: Hamstring also supports your lower body in hiking. You need to properly take care of your hamstring as it can easily tire out or get injured in a hike. Avoid muddy terrains and strengthen your hamstrings by walking on your toes. 
  • Lower Back: Your lower back gets the most pressure from the load you’re carrying. 
  • Thighs: Thighs get engaged a lot when you are going downhill. Thighs also help you balance in difficult terrains like rocks, mud, and uneven slopes. 
Woman standing in a grass field

Is Hiking a Full Body Workout?

No, hiking doesn’t give you a full-body workout. However, it’s a great workout that you can enjoy and engages a lot of your muscles. It also gives you cardio workout as a bonus. 

Just walking can get your butt in shape. With hiking, not only your butt can get in shape but almost every part of your lower body. The unknown and uneven terrain presents a challenge that your body needs to overcome. 

If you add backpacks in your hiking, you add strength and endurance training for your upper body as well. Just make sure that your body can keep up through your planned hiking trip

Depending on the type of dog you have, hiking can also be a great way to push yourself. Certain types of dogs are perfect for hiking and running with, and will help you keep your pace up.

Is Hiking a Good Way to Lose Weight?

Hiking makes a great activity to lose weight. It helps you burn a lot of calories and build muscle strength. While running can be a better alternative, not everyone can get into running. For people who love to take it slow, hiking could be the one for you. 

You don’t have to run fast, you just take your time walking and getting to your destination. Sure, it may take a lot of time but the scenery and journey during the hike make it all worthwhile. If you are with friends or other people, it also provides you an avenue to socialize and make connections with other people. 

Woman resting after hiking

If you’re the adventurous type who wants to get fit, then hiking can be a great activity to spend your time with. You can do it with friends or alone. More importantly, the scenery you get when you reach a certain peak makes you motivated to do hiking again. 

Does Hiking Give You Abs?

Hiking won’t give you abs alone but it will melt the fat that is on your abs. It gives you a bit of tone especially if you frequent walking up a hill. If you want to get abs, you should add abs workout on your schedule

How Many Times a Week Should I Hike?

It depends on your lifestyle. If you’re a busy person, going out for a hike once a week should do enough for you. However, if you have an objective that you want to accomplish then you should readjust your schedule in order to get to your goal. 

For example, if you want to lose weight through hiking, you should do hiking at least three times a week. This gives you the best possible weight loss result. 

In the end, you decide how many times you can do hiking. You should hike at your leisure and not become a daily routine.


Hiking can be a good workout activity you can get into. It has a lot of benefits when it comes to your health and fitness. It helps you lose fat, develops your lower body, builds strength and endurance, and improves your cardio.  

Robert Lemus has been a natural competitor for 6 years, starting in Men’s Physique, then Bodybuilding, and then into Classic Physique. He is the Orange County Bodybuilding champion in 2016 for the Musclemania Organization. In 2018, he received his Pro Card with the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) in Classic Physique.