Can You Get Abs From Hiking? | Hikers University

Hiking is a great activity that can help you remain active and improve your overall health. However, can you get abs from hiking?

We all wish that we had a firm six pack. Going to the gym every day and putting yourself through strenuous workouts is not easy. However, finding another activity that suits your needs can be the solution to staying fit.

Unfortunately, the truth is that you cannot get abs from hiking. Hiking does not make use of the abdominal muscles, so the six-pack you want will only come from exercises that target those muscles.

Hiking is like an aerobic exercise and an excellent way to to stay fit and healthy. If you want to tone your body and achieve the ideal body fat percentage, hiking, along with the correct diet, can help you reach your fitness goals. It cannot, however, help you get abs.

We have put together this article to answer a common question our fellow hikers ask: can you get abs from hiking? We will walk you through everything hiking can and cannot do when it comes to fitness. So, let's dive in!

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Can You Get Abs from Hiking?

Sadly, you cannot get abs from walking or hiking because hiking does not engage the muscles in your abdomen. However, when you hike, the muscles at the side of the abdomen, known as the oblique muscles, stay tense. These muscles help keep the pelvis stable when you hike.

Even though hiking will not ensure that you get abs, it is a great way to keep yourself fit. In fact, hiking can help flatten your stomach. This is because hiking is a great way to get outdoors and spend some time being active to shed body fat and weight. In its gist, it's a type of exercise that involves cardio and can help you burn calories so that you can start losing fat and weight at a faster pace.

For example, an individual who weighs 190 lbs hikes for 2 miles per hour while carrying a backpack that weighs 30 lbs. This individual is likely to lose 514 calories if he hikes up and down a standard trail. Even if he were not carrying a backpack, he would burn 445 calories per hour of hiking.

Moreover, hiking is a form of walking. The way you walk will affect the amount of work that the muscles in your abdomen will have to do. For example, if you walk in a slouched position and do not engage your abs, you will not be toning any part of your body. However, if you walk tall, do not slouch, and engage your oblique while hiking, you will definitely shed some weight.

If you are looking to create a better posture for yourself, try to walk in a way so that the top of your head is pointed towards the sky and your spine is extended. Consciously try to draw the shoulder blades close so that your torso lifts up. You should also keep in mind that the faster you walk, the more calories you are likely to burn as your muscles will remain engaged.

This means that even though hiking does not help build a six-pack, it can help you burn calories.

How Does Hiking Affect Your Core?

Even though hiking does not target the abdominal muscles, it is great for working your oblique. When you are hiking, it is easy to get injured. Having a strong core helps keep any kind of injury at bay. Since your core muscles work your glutes, legs, and other parts of the body, you do not have to worry about supporting your body weight incorrectly or consciously trying to maintain good posture as your core will do all the work for you.

If you are hiking while carrying a backpack, having a strong core is important, especially if you want to avoid injury. The core muscles will aid your posture so that the bag's weight does not hurt your back or put pressure on your hips. Moreover, strong core muscles will ensure that you can maintain your balance when hiking over rough terrain. This means that even though hiking does not build abs, it will definitely help improve your core and overall posture.

Can You Burn Belly Fat by Hiking?

Since hiking is a physical exercise that involves walking, it can help burn belly fat and other fat stored in your body. Similar to when you add any form of physical activity to your day, hiking consistently will help you get rid of belly fat. A two-week study proved that walking helps reduce abdominal fat in women, while walking every day can lower the amount of fat stored in your body.

According to another study, individuals who spent 16 weeks doing exercises outdoors in the wilderness could lose four times the weight that individuals who worked out indoors did. This shows that hiking can be a great way to get rid of some extra weight and burn belly fat.

The kind of hike you choose to do can play a role in how hard you have to struggle while on the trail. For example, if the trail you choose has more incline and steepness, as well as rough terrains, your heart will beat fast. This means that your body will start working harder than it already is.

Before you try burning belly fat, you need to be aware of heart rate zones and a target heart rate. The latter is calculated depending on the resting rate of the heart and percentage. If you want to make the most out of your workout, you should try to get your heart rate between 50 to 75 percent of your maximum heart rate. If you do this, you will be making the most of your workout.

This may sound contradictory, but studies prove that the more fit you are, the harder it is to reach your target heart rate zone. This means that if you have never gone on a hike before and suddenly choose to complete an intense eight-mile hike, it is highly likely that your heart rate will be higher than someone who hikes regularly.

If you manage to get your heart rate in the 50 to 75 percent zone, you will be able to experience the full benefits of a workout, including lower blood sugar levels, lower blood pressure, better mental health, better heart health, and of course, faster weight loss. When you shed extra body weight, you get closer to a bodyweight percentage that will allow you to see your ab muscles.

Is Hiking Good for Toning Your Body?

There are many health benefits that you can reap from hiking. It is a great way to tone the body and boost your physical fitness levels. Moreover, hiking targets particular muscles in the body and might be able to help tone the muscles faster than any other form of workout.

In one study, the effects of backpack load on leg muscles were studied. It was found that hip extensor muscles are activated more when one walks on slopes, and the knee extensor muscles have a higher impact when one carries a heavy load.

Moreover, individuals who hike a lot have stronger leg and glute muscles. This includes the hamstrings, as well as the calf muscles.

If you are not too fond of hiking with a backpack, keep in mind that your upper body will not be engaged as much. However, you can use trekking poles and hiking poles to keep your upper body engaged. A 2013 study looked at how the use of poles affected muscle strength and body composition in older women. It was found that women who used poles while hiking had more strength in their upper bodies.

Using poles while hiking is a great idea because it puts less pressure on the back and the knees. Moreover, it might be able to encourage you to hike farther since the whole body is being used rather than a handful of muscles freeloading and exhausting the rest of the body.

Remember that hiking can tone the body mainly depends on the kind of trail and how often you hike. For example, if you only hike twice a month, you are not likely to see any significant results compared to someone who hikes thrice a week. Someone who works out as well as hikes a couple of times a week will be able to notice a firmer butt, toned thighs, as well as overall weight loss.

Here are some exercises you can try that will make your hiking experience easier, preparing you for the upcoming hiking season. Remember to sneak these ab workouts into any other form of activity you can do during the day.

  • Planks
  • Crunches
  • Dead bugs
  • Bicycles
  • Side planks
  • Flutter kicks
  • Ankle taps
  • Leg lifts
  • Setups

If you are looking to have a six-pack, all you need to do is combine these ab workouts with hiking, and you will notice that you can hike longer and that your stomach fat is slowly going away. If you want to use all your abdominal muscles and achieve an ultra-toned look, we recommend mixing up the exercises given above and including some cardio in your routine so that your heart rate increases and you start to shed weight.


Peter Brooks

Peter Brooks

I’m a hiker, backpacker, and general outdoor enthusiast. I started hiking out of college while working for the National Forest Service, and have been hiking ever since. I’ve been solo hiking and leading hiking groups for two decades and have completed hundreds of small hikes and some majorones such as the Appalachian Train and the Pacific Crest Trail, and hiked on four continents. I’d love to share some of my insight with you.

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