Upper Body Trail Exercises for Hikers and Trail Runners

May 19, 2018

It’s true. Hikers and trail runners can get “high and tight” and I’m NOT talking haircuts!
The act of climbing hills and steps literally sculpts your lower body, quickly. They’re of the best exercises I know for that. When coupled with outdoor terrain and scenery, it often doesn’t feel like exercise.

The one thing hikers and trail runners should look out for is the fact that we are not toning our upper body. For this, we’ll need to add strength training.

You can easily slip in upper body exercises while you’re out tooling around on the mountain side. Sure, finding and using the right props can take a little getting used to, but you’ll find that adding a variety of different props such as, boulders, fallen logs, funky steps, roots, tree limbs, and the occasional gate, will challenge you to finesse your muscles more.

Here are my top 3 upper body exercises when I’m out on the trail:

1. Triceps Dip – Arms and Shoulders
You can often find a log, a step, or even a bench on the well travelled paths.

Sit on the log with your palms facing down. Inch hips off the log, keeping your rear as close to the bench as possible. Keep your legs slightly bent. Lower yourself no more than 90-degrees at the elbow. Press back to start.

2. Push ups – Chest, Arms, Shoulders, Abs
Using a boulder, log, or flat ground, place your hands in line with your chest.

Step back to a distance that elongates your backside in a straight line from your heels to your head. With abs engaged, slowly lower until your chest is a few inches off the ground or bench. Exhale up, pushing through your palms.

3. Pull ups – Upper back, Shoulders, Arms
Start by selecting a prop, such as a tree limb, that is just above the height of your head.

Lace your fingers together over the limb, place one foot against the tree, on a rock, or a step to push off of and assist you in pulling your body up.

Pull yourself upward to shoulder height, until your chin rises above the branch or bar. Inhale, as you slowly return to the starting position. Repeat many as you can, alternating shoulders as you lift.
Once you’re done with the serious work, it’s time for monkey business: Hanging from a tree is a fun way to stretch out your back.

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