What Muscles Do Hiking Work
Photo credit: www.sportmatt.at

Hiking is a great way to keep your mind calm and your body healthy. But it is also a great way to tone almost every muscle in your body. Many people know that hiking is a good way to work out your legs, but other muscles will be used as well. But which muscles are important if you want to hike well?

Hiking is a great way to get in shape because it works a lot of different muscle groups, like the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, calves, core, and low back. This aerobic activity is also a great way to work out your heart and improve the health of your heart and blood vessels.

To get the most out of each hike, it’s important to keep all of your muscles in good shape. Let’s look at the different muscles that help with hiking and find out why your muscles get stronger and more toned when you hike regularly. What Muscles Do Hiking Work?

Hiking As Exercise

Hiking is mostly a cardiovascular and aerobic activity that helps your heart and lungs and helps your muscles grow and work.

Research shows that people should try to do a certain amount of cardio each week to improve their overall stamina. Injury risk also goes down when muscles get stronger.

There are three things to remember about cardio:

  • You should work hard enough to get your heart rate up to 70–80% of its reserve (maximum heart rate minus resting heart rate)
  • Work out regularly for at least 30 minutes
  • Try to work out 4–5 days a week.
  • Since walking on flat ground or around your neighborhood isn’t enough to stress your muscles, go on a hike every weekend.

If you want to gain muscle from hiking, make sure you plan regular, hard hikes. They don’t have to be very high, but they should be steep.

At the end of each hike, your muscles should be tired. Check out these 6 ways to make yourself stronger.

Muscles Worked Hiking

Muscles Worked Hiking
Photo credit: bearfoottheory.com

The quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, glutes, abs, and hip muscles all get a workout when you hike.

Here are six muscles that get worked out when you go hiking in the wild:


The main muscles used for both hiking and running are the quadriceps, which are at the front of the thighs. The quads are a large group of muscles that are made up of separate parts that stay connected along the tops of the legs. When hiking or running, all of the quadriceps are used to move the body forward with each step or stride. In both of these activities, the quads straighten the knee.


The hamstrings are in the back of the upper thigh. One of the reasons you can bend or straighten your knee when hiking is because of these muscles (together with your quadriceps).

Compared to running, hiking can be pretty hard on the hamstrings because it helps pull the quads back when the body moves forward. When hiking, this muscle works most of the time.


After that, we can talk about the calves. When you go hiking, these are always working, and you will quickly see how they change depending on how hard the walk is.

When you walk on a flat surface, these muscles won’t have to work as hard as when you walk uphill. Before a hike, you should stretch your calves to make sure they don’t become too tight.


The glutes are a group of muscles that help support the torso during all kinds of physical activities.

When you go hiking, your glutes have to support both your body weight and the weight of the backpack. When you hike uphill, you work your glutes much harder than when you hike on a flat surface.

Other Hip Muscles

When doing either activity, it’s important to keep the hips loose and flexible to avoid getting hurt. These muscles, which include the hip flexors, hip abductors, and hip adductors, help you bend your hips when you’re hiking or running. When hiking, they support the glutes and lower back to keep them from getting a tired and absorbing shock. When you run, they do the same things, but you need to be more flexible and strong because running puts a lot more stress on your joints than hiking does.


Not many people know this, but when you hike, you also work your abdominal muscles. Having strong abdominal and core muscles will help your posture while hiking, especially if you carry a backpack.

Your abdominal muscles also help you keep your balance, which is important when going up or downhill. It also keeps your lower back safe and keeps you from getting hurt.

Does Hiking Build Muscle?

Yes, hiking does make you stronger. Since hiking is mostly walking on rough terrain, the legs and glutes are the main muscle groups that are worked. To support the knees when walking alone, the hamstrings and quadriceps must move together. It strengthens the area where your hips and thighs meet. Each time you move from heel to toe, it also strengthens your ankles.

As a shock absorber, this knee-to-shin-front muscle can also cause pain along the shins after walking quickly or on an incline. By the way, the right walking poles can help with that. When walking on rocky or uneven ground, you have to balance yourself more, which uses more muscle groups. Because hiking rarely takes place on a flat trail, it requires more side-to-side movement, which works out the muscles in the middle of the body.

In addition to your hips, your abdominal, oblique, and back muscles are also worked. You can twist and turn because of these muscles. When it comes to going up and down hills, our glutes and calf muscles are very important.

Hiking Is An Aerobic Activity

First, hiking is a form of aerobic exercise that is good for the heart and blood vessels. When we go hiking, it makes our hearts stronger. Most importantly, it helps us avoid heart diseases and keeps our blood pressure at the right level.

Every time I go in for my annual checkup, my doctor is amazed by my blood pressure. It is not common for an old guy like me to have the blood pressure of a twenty-year-old. All of it is because of hiking and backpacking.

What Types of Hikes Build the Most Muscle

The tricky ones. Okay, but seriously, the hardest workouts are usually the ones that pay off the most. If you want to tear the most muscles while hiking, you should focus on hikes with a high ratio of elevation gain to distance traveled.

The steeper the trail, the more your body is forced to walk at an angle that looks like a lunge, which we all know is fun. If you still don’t think that’s hard enough, take bigger steps. This will bring your body closer to the floor and make the exercise harder.

You can buy a weighted vest if you’re going on a short hike and don’t need to carry a backpack. It will spread the weight more evenly across your upper body and feel much better than putting random weight in your backpack.

Ditch The Gym — Hit The Trail

You might want to get in shape but don’t want to go to the gym because it’s too noisy and stuffy.

You can’t be blamed for wanting to get in shape in a quiet place outside instead of a weight room. So, you don’t have to sit in a noisy gym all the time to get great health benefits.

Hiking has many benefits that are easy to see. One, though, is often forgotten: building muscle. Maybe it’s because most people don’t think of a slow hike as being as hard as a deadlift and squat workout.

Getting out on the trails is a great way to build a strong core and lower body. It’s just you, the fresh air, and the open world. The best part is that it doesn’t cost anything each month. What could be better than that?

Is Hiking a Good Way to Lose Weight?

Hiking is one of the best things you can do to lose weight. It can get your heart rate up and make you breathe faster. Even if you just walk and don’t jog at all, the rough terrain and going uphill and downhill can help you get a good cardio workout in no time.

In fact, the average person can burn off close to 400 calories in one hour of hiking. Hiking is a great way to lose weight if you can do it at least a few times a week and eat healthy food.

It’s important to hike for a long enough time and at a fast enough pace. A few minutes of walking around the block every day won’t help you lose weight.

The best way to burn calories and lose weight is to go on a hike with a lot of different terrains and a fast pace. Remember to get enough sleep, reduce your stress (which hiking can also help you do), and eat healthy foods, and you’ll see how hiking can help you lose weight.

The Side-To-Side Movement Develops These Muscle Groups

As you shift your weight from one leg to the other while hiking, you move from side to side. This action uses the hips, abdominals, waist, and muscles that support the back and the area around the spine. The way you twist and bend your trunk is controlled by the oblique muscles on the sides of your body.

The lower back is supported by the lumbar square muscles and the multifidus muscles. Also involved are the abs and the large group of muscles on both sides of the spine called the erect spines.

How Hiking Can Tone Your Different Groups Of Muscles

When it comes to toning the different muscle groups, longer hikes with changes in terrain and elevation gain are more helpful. As with athletes who do high-intensity exercise in short bursts, this gives you a temporary muscle overload stimulus that helps build muscle.

So, muscle size will probably grow quickly because your muscles will get used to stress in a short amount of time. Also, if you want to keep building muscle, you’ll need to hike on even harder trails.

What Muscles are Built From Hiking?

Hiking uses many different muscle groups, including your quadriceps, hamstrings, core, lower back, and calves. It also uses muscles in your shoulders and upper back.

When you walk up a steep trail, the angle of gravity changes which muscles you use, which puts more stress on those muscle groups. Keeping a steady pace up a steep hill for a long time can make your legs feel like spaghetti made of Jell-O! To get right down to it, hiking breaks down muscles in the same way that most other exercises do. This is why hikers usually have very strong legs and a strong core.

Benefits of Hiking

Hiking is a good way to work out your heart and has many benefits, such as:

  • helps to lower blood sugar and blood pressure.
  • Similar to other weight-bearing exercises, it makes bones stronger.
  • Heart disease is less likely to happen.
  • Better balance
  • Builds up the muscles in the hips and lower legs.
  • Makes the core muscles stronger
  • Makes it easier to lose weight.
  • improves mood and reduces stress


Hiking won’t give you the muscles of a bodybuilder, but if you go on hard hikes often, your muscle tone will get better.

If you watch what you eat carefully, you can also gain muscle. Most importantly, know what your body can and can’t do. Pace yourself and give yourself plenty of time to rest.

Getting stronger by hiking takes time. If you are patient, you will get results without hurting yourself.

Frequently Asked Question (FAQs) about What Muscles Do Hiking Work

Does hiking tone your body?

Both the upper and lower body are used when hiking with a pack. Hiking and running are both great ways to stay in shape. Each one is good for your heart and lungs, and it works on major muscle groups to help you get stronger, have more stamina, and tone your muscles.

Is hiking a good way to build muscle?

Like weightlifting, I’ve been doing it for years and can attest to how great it is for my body. Most people can get stronger legs by going hiking. If you’re an advanced weightlifter or athlete, hiking won’t help you get bigger muscles, but it will help you get stronger and improve your heart health.

Can you get ripped from hiking?

Hiking is done at a slower pace on uneven terrain for a long time. This helps you become stronger. You will notice a small change in muscle size, but don’t expect your legs to get so big and ripped that they look like tree trunks.

What does hiking do to your body shape?

To sum up, consistent, long-term hiking has positive effects on body composition measures like abdominal mass. Examples are lean mass, waist-to-fat ratio, and fat-free ratio. It’s also good for your health and fitness in other ways. Like burning more calories and lowering your risk of heart disease.

What are a hiker’s legs?

Hiker legs, also called “trail legs,” are earned by backpacking for several days in a row over a long time (say, three to four months).

Does hiking burn belly fat?

Hiking can help you lose fat around your middle. Even though you can’t lose fat in specific places, you can burn fat all over your body, including your belly, by doing physical activities. Hiking is a type of exercise that can include both aerobic (cardio) and anaerobic (non-aerobic) movements (to build muscle mass).

Will hiking make your legs bigger?

Walking doesn’t build big, bulky muscles, but it does build some muscle. 1 Some people don’t use the incline on their treadmills or walk up hills outside because they’re afraid that building muscle in their legs will make them look bigger. This is unlikely since even walking faster is still aerobic exercise.

Is it OK to hike every day?

You might then wonder if it’s bad to go hiking every day. No, it’s not bad to hike every day. It’s not like that. Most of the time, when we think of hiking, we picture steep mountain slopes, rocky ground, and thick forests all around.

Is hiking considered cardio?

Hiking is a good way to improve your cardiovascular fitness, just like brisk walking. This is especially true if your route has some hills, which will make your heart work harder.

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