What Muscles Does Hiking Work

Hiking is a great way to stay in shape and get some fresh air, but it also has the added benefit of working many muscle groups. Not only do your legs get a workout while you lug around the extra weight on your back, but hiking also works out your core muscles as well. So if you’re looking for a new way to exercise without having to go to the gym or buy expensive equipment, try hitting the trails!

Quadriceps muscles

The quadriceps are a group of four muscles located in the front of your upper thigh. It makes up the bulk of your thigh, and it’s responsible for extending your knee joint. If you’ve ever taken a high school gym class or watched an Olympic weightlifting competition, you’ve probably seen someone demonstrating their quadriceps muscles.

To exercise this muscle group at home, we recommend doing squats with weights—you can use dumbbells or kettlebells for added resistance if needed. Stand with feet hip-width apart and hold onto something sturdy like a chair back to help balance yourself if necessary! Then bend both knees until they’re at 90 degrees with respect to each other; this is called “full squatting.” Hold here for one second before rising back up again slowly; repeat several times over the course of several minutes at least once per day (2-3x per week would be optimal).


The hamstrings are the muscles on the back of your thighs. They allow you to bend your knees, extend your knees and walk, run and jump.

An easy way to remember this muscle group is by remembering that everyone has hamstrings—even people who don’t like ham (ham-haters).


The glutes are the biggest muscles in your body. They are used for walking, running, jumping and squatting. This means that they play a large role in posture and balance. When you hike uphill you will use your glutes to push off from one foot to the other as well as hold yourself steady at steep angles without falling over. The stronger your glutes are, the more efficient of a hiker you’ll be!

Calf muscles

The calf muscles are used to raise the heel when walking, and they are also responsible for raising the toes while walking. These muscles also flex or bend your ankle.


The abdominal muscles are the most important body muscles because they support your spine and internal organs. Hiking will strengthen these muscles as well as improve circulation in your upper body.

A strong core is key to having good posture and preventing injury, so if you’re looking for a way to improve both of these areas, hiking could be an excellent choice for you.


The obliques are located on the sides of your torso. They’re responsible for twisting movements, lateral flexion of the spine, and lateral flexion of the thorax. In other words, they help you turn to one side as well as bend sideways.

The muscles in this group include:

  • interior oblique: runs from lower ribs seven through 12 to vertebrae T8-T12
  • transverse abdominis: wraps around entire abdominal cavity; supports back and provides core stability; helps with breathing

Lower back muscles

Lower back muscles are vital for keeping the spine in alignment and flexible, strengthening it and maintaining mobility. A strong lower back can help you maintain good posture, which is important for everyone at any age. It’s especially important for kids who are just learning how to stand up or walk on their own!

When hiking, there is a lot of weight being lifted (the body plus gear), so having strong lower back muscles helps with this process. The stronger they are, the easier it will be to carry things while hiking

Hiking is a great way to work out your leg and core muscles.

Hiking is a great way to work out your leg and core muscles. Hiking helps build strength, endurance and flexibility. It’s also a great way to get in shape and burn calories.

See recommendation for safe hiking: Hiking Boots for Kilimanjaro, Hiking Boots for Wide Feet Women’s, Hiking Boots Under $200 For Men and Women.


As you can see from this list of the muscles that hiking works, it is a great way to get your body in shape. It also helps you tone up and burn calories while having fun outdoors. You don’t need any special equipment or clothing to do it either. If you want to get started with hiking, then all you have to do is go outside!

Matthew Koch

Hi, I'm Matthew, a passionate blogger and traveler. I'm also a hard-core hiker. Hiking with friends and visiting new places is what I live for. Currently, I'm working at Gear Odds as CEO & Columnist. I would like to provide my best outdoor experience possible.

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