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Backpacking Fitness

Up Your Hiking Endurance With These 3 Exercises

Escape the gym with these movement-based routines designed to take your workout outdoors.

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.


Trail Squat Lunges

Stabilize your glutes with this butt-busting routine that will help you crush steeps.

Reps 5 (1 rep is 20 yards of lunges and squats, and 20 yards of walking) Sets 1

1. Find a hill with a gentle grade—around 5 percent— that is at least 100 yards long. You can also use a treadmill on a slow setting for an indoor workout.

2. Take a big step forward with your right foot and lunge: Drop your left knee to the ground, bending your front knee to a right angle. Focus on keeping your ankle, knee, and hips stacked.

3. Bring both feet together as you stand, then move your legs shoulder-width apart.

4. Move into a deep squat by pushing your butt out. Keep your back straight.

5. Stand, returning to your starting position, then lead with the left leg for your next lunge. Move as quickly as you can while maintaining good form.

6. Continue lunging and squatting for 20 yards, then walk for 20 yards to recover.

uphill squats
Peter Sucheski

Uphill Lunges

Strengthen your hips and glutes while focusing on joint alignment to avoid stress injuries to your knees.

Reps 3 Sets One 5-minute interval

1. Find an uphill (5 percent grade or so) that’s at least 100 yards long. Shorter hills work, too, but you’ll have to turn around.

2. Begin lunging uphill (see proper lunging technique in step 2 in the first exercise above). Maintain an upright posture as you continue lunging for 20 yards (roughly 10 lunges on each side), alternating the lead leg. It should take about 2 minutes to cover the entire distance.

3. Walk normally (you should be able to hold a conversation without gasping for air) for the next 20 yards, or about 30 seconds.

4. Return to lunges and continue the pattern nonstop for 5 minutes.

Peter Sucheski

Side Shuffle to Backwards Walk

This multidirectional circuit workout improves balance and agility. Exercise with a buddy and alternate who walks backwards to avoid bumping into things. You can do this exercise on flat terrain or a moderate (5 to 10 percent) incline.

Reps 3 (a 4-minute circuit is one rep)
Sets One 12-minute interval

1. Walk forward for 1 minute as your partner walks backwards several paces in front of you.

2. Together, turn sideways to the right and shuffle step for 1 minute at a brisk pace. You should be able to clearly speak a couple of sentences before you need to catch your breath. Keep your torso centered over your body with a slight bend in your knees for stability.

3. Walk backwards, facing your partner, for 1 minute while they walk forward to spot you.

4. Turn to the left and shuffle for 1 minute.

5. Once you have completed the 4-minute circuit, repeat without rest. Increase speed or add a weighted pack as you get stronger.

The Expert

Exercise physiologist Robyn Fog is a former professional obstacle course racer and runs in Golden, Colorado.

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