Anne’s Travels’ Favorite Free Workouts (Hiking Prep or Everyday Exercising)

Favorite free workouts for hiking training or fun!  Climbing the Cinder Cone in Lassen National Park, California
Climbing the Cinder Cone in Lassen National Park, California

When I was young, hiking meant putting on sneakers or (horrors) rubber boots and hitting the trail.  It didn’t really matter how long the trail was, I’d be fine.  But as I grow older, I need to stay in shape – or sometimes get back into shape – before going on long hikes.

Scrambling down Goat Peak, Cabinet Mountains Wilderness, Montana

Enter the world of free online workouts.  There are thousands of workouts on the Web; you could do a different one every day of the year and still have plenty to go.  The problem is this: How to find the ones that actually fit you, your style, and your physical ability?

Because face it, not all of us can do 50 jumping jacks, 30 pushups, 17 squats, and 13 burpees every day.  (In fact, I try to do as few pushups as possible at the moment due to a wrist injury.)  Others try not to injure or stress other muscles or joints.  Workouts end up being highly customized experiences.

Hiking the Zion Narrows, Zion National Park, Utah
Hiking the Zion Narrows, Utah

The following list includes some of my favorite sources for workouts – and the great thing is that you can often choose the workout that fits your physical level and time constraints!  Plus, every single one is free with ads unless you decide to pay for premium access (which is never necessary to complete the workouts).

So here are 4 of my favorite workout providers with hundreds of options for exercising – whether preparing to hike or just because you want to stay in shape.

Note: I’m not much into sexy people in workout videos with tiny stomachs, big butts, and an attitude that despises all things weak.  So all of these resources are encouraging and more or less “modestly” dressed unless noted.

Great Hiking-prep Workout Resources

HASfit – The thing I love about HASfit is that you can search their free workout videos by time (yes!), fitness level, equipment necessary, muscle group, and more.  Each video also includes a high impact and low impact option for each move – so you can tailor the workout to your ability.  The videos are also available on YouTube.  With workouts for legs, back, core, shoulders, arms, and more, this resource will get your entire body in shape for hiking.  Note: This is the only resource on this list that is actively aimed at both men and women.

RefitRev – Refit Revolution was founded in 2009 to try and put “community” (and positivity and a bit of fun) into fitness.  On their YouTube channel, find literally hundreds of original workout dances (very easy to follow) set to popular radio and Christian music.  While it’s not the typical “workout” mentality, the great thing is that many of the dances focus on leg muscles and balance, making them awesome for training for hikes.  My favorite dance?  Definitely RefitRev’s version of “High Hopes”.

Faithful Workouts – Michelle Spadafora has posted dozens of videos on her YouTube Channel (be sure to check out her Fitness Playlist, too) with a “do what you can” approach to fitness.  And since she’s always encouraging, you’ll never feel left out if you can’t do 20 burpees in 30 seconds (don’t worry, I can’t either).  But if you think these videos are easy, think again: Some of the videos are… quite the workout.  I love the fact that arms and shoulders are often targeted on these videos – which is good for all of those backpack-carrying muscles.  (Note: Faithful Workouts is overtly Christian.)

Spotibi – For a more traditional workout, check out Spotibi’s workouts.  A timer on each routine with the exercises clearly labeled keeps you on-track effortlessly while showing you how to do each move.  There are even customized workout playlists for each set of exercises.  I find the “easy” ones to be of moderate intensity, so it’s definitely one of the more intense, advanced workout sites on this list – but if you’re bored, that’s a good thing! (Note: There are photos on this site that are too “sexy” for my taste.  But they’re easily scroll-by-able.  Also note that the woman in the workout timer (a drawing) is wearing shorts and a sports bra – you can’t see anything, but be forewarned if this matters to you.)

What is your favorite free workout program?

For Creaky Knees

She made it up… knee braces and all! Third Beach, Washington

Unfortunately, most hiking-prep workouts focus on high-impact and/or knee-centric exercises like jumping jacks, mountain climbers, squats, and lunges.  As someone who has struggled with knee issues, I know that these are not exactly easy on the knees.  And while it is important to train the knees before hiking, injuring them doesn’t help at all!

Try to find low-impact workouts (one of my favs!), or even seated workouts (like these).  With normal workouts, adjust them to what you can do, or just skip the moves that are too much for your knees.  If it hurts, stop!

There’s No Substitute for the Real Thing

Tonto Trail in the Grand Canyon, Arizona

In general, these workouts strengthen more areas of your body than just the ones directly related to hiking.  So while my feet might be sore after the first few hikes on a trip, my overall fitness level (cardio, core, shoulders, etc.) can be much better prepared after a couple of months of doing 30 minute daily workouts than after the same amount of time spent hiking.  Still, there’s no substitute for hiking, so you’ll probably want to go out and hike a bit as well as doing these workouts!

Stretches are Gold!

When you go to hike, I recommend doing some simple stretches (especially for your legs) before beginning (look for some here).  For me, a two-minute stretch is hugely helpful in how far I can hike without being stiff.

Please note that this post is for use only at your own risk.  I also cannot be held responsible for the actions of third-party sites (links are provided as a convenience), nor do I wholeheartedly endorse the actions of said sites.  Always consult your physician or healthcare professional before starting a workout program.

This Week’s Featured Product!

Want even more about training for hiking?  Check out this book, complete with assessments of everything from gear to you and sixteen-week training programs to follow.


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