6 Ways To Get Hiking Fit In 20 Minutes A Day

6 Ways To Get Hiking Fit In 20 Minutes A Day

Do you want to be fit enough to go trailblazing with friends or maybe even conquer your first fourteener?

If so, then pick one of these 20-minute techniques to work on every day, and in no time, you’ll be in your best trail shape of your life, and ready to defeat any obstacle that stands in your way.

Can I really get fit for hiking in just 20 minutes a day?

If you’re just starting out and you are training for a basic to intermediate ‘hike’, then absolutely! Now, if your training for a long alpine climb or a technical mountain, you may consider this program too meek.

As a newbie you CAN develop specific strength, flexibility, and some anaerobic endurance and get fit for hiking in just 20 minutes per day. Heck, I have seen serious fitness increases in even shorter time periods.

But let’s be honest, there’s no such thing as a short cut for proper fitness training for hiking. In order to obtain the endurance level needed, you need to put in the work.

What does that mean? That means you need to design and implement the proper fitness program at least 8 weeks prior to your hike, and read up on any technical hindrances you may encounter on your hike.

If you follow these guidelines for 8 weeks prior to your outing you will be more prepared than the average rookie I have seen out on the trails.


Work on joint mobility for 10 minutes and stretch for 10 minutes to help decrease the chance of incurring an injury from hiking or other preparations.

A 10-minute mobility routine will decrease the chances of injury; help to prevent muscle imbalances, and aids in recovery after tough hikes.

Try this effective mobility combo: 10 reps each of ankle circles, butt kicks, high knees, leg swings, arm circles, bodyweight squats, toe touches and pushups. Repeat 1-3 rounds

A 10-minute myofascial and strap stretching routine will increase range of motion; help to prevent muscle imbalances, and aids in recovery after a training day.

Try this effective stretching combo: 30 seconds of myofascial treatment, lacrosse ball or foam roller after that 30 seconds of strap stretching on each major muscle group. Focus on muscles used during hiking such as the calves, hamstrings, quads, glutes, and low back.

2. Balance Work

Focus on balance work for 20 minutes by performing standing yoga poses or doing single extremity exercises.

Refining your balance at home will help avoid falling injuries when you’re out on the route.

Try this routine to build overall leg strength, improve balance through your core, and boost your ankle muscles.

Tree pose

Dancer Pose

Half Moon Pose

Warrior One

Warrior Two

Single Leg Squat or Pistol Squat

Reverse Lunge to High Knee

Single Leg Calf Raise

Single Leg Reaches

Side Plank

V-Up Hold

Tip: After you complete this routine a couple sets try doing it with eyes closed or in low light to add a degree of difficulty and simulate nighttime.

3. Utilize TRX Suspension Training

TRX suspension training can produce whopping results for hiking in just 20 minutes a day.

If you buy only one piece of fitness equipment, consider purchasing a TRX Suspension Trainer or see if the gym you train at has one ‘hanging’ around. Integrating TRX suspension training allows you to work the entire body in a small area and you only need one piece of equipment.

Try this TRX circuit: First get the straps set up by adjusting the TRX so that the bottoms of the foot cradles are 8-12 inches off the ground.

Perform 10-20 repetitions of each exercise, then rest for 30-120 seconds and repeat for 1-3 sets.

4. For Endurance – Try High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

Use short intervals to push your cardiovascular endurance through the roof.

HIIT routines generally alternate brief bursts of high intensity exercises followed by a short recovery period.

A good program to start with begins with a 2:1 ratio of work to rest.

One example is known as Tabata and is 20 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of active rest for 4-8 cycles.

Try this routine: Burpees for 20 seconds then jog in place for 10 seconds for 4 rounds. Then Mountain Climbers for 20 seconds then jump rope for 10 seconds for 4 rounds.

You can build up your rounds to 8 after only a few workouts and change the exercises frequently.

You can use a Gymboss timer or a Tabata app on your smartphone, or something similar, to keep track of intervals and rounds you’ve completed.

5. Build Muscular Strength with Circuit Training

Circuit training is defined as a series of exercises executed in a row, with little to no rest period. A well-designed program can target every major hiking muscle and improve endurance in less-than 20 minutes.

Try this routine: 20 weighted squats -20 chest presses (push-ups are fine)- 20 weighted lunges- 20 lat pulldowns (or pullups if you can)- 20 weighted step ups- 20 weighted overhead presses.

Complete 1 round as quickly as possible then rest 30-120 seconds. Try and work up to 4 rounds in 20 minutes.

6. Use Visualization Technique

Visualization technique is a great way to imagine your hike in as much detail as possible, working through possible scenarios, which will drastically improve your chances of success before you even hit the trail.

How it works: First, do some research on your next adventure study topographic maps, review recent trip reports, and examine photos of the route to see what problems you might face.

Second, find a silent place to sit and shut your eyes and utilize all your senses as you visualize hiking on the trail. Go through the whole hike in your mind, paying special attention to hindrances such as water crossings or unstable terrain.

What do you need to wear? What will the temperature be? Are there any dangers you need to learn about? Visualizing the entire trail route and terrain will build confidence in your abilities to handle any obstacles before you even strap on your boots.

So, can you get fit for hiking in just 20 minutes a day?

Follow these programs for 6-8 weeks and clean up your diet (which is a whole other article) and you will be more than ready to get out on the trail and actually be able to enjoy the hike rather than being left behind sucking wind.

Do you have questions about any of the programs?

Please feel free to ask down in the comments and I will do my best to answer.

Cheers and we will see you out there!