Your weekend workout options: hitting the dreadmill for yet another subpar solo run or tackling the trails with your best friend to go exploring on a hike. If you're feeling groggy or mega stressed out, you may want to opt for the hike. Not only is hiking super beneficial for your mental wellbeing, according to research by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the U.S., but it's also bomb for your bod.
"With varying terrain and constant changes in elevation, hiking is essentially an interval workout within itself," says trainer Jonathan Amato, C.S.C.S. "Plus, it's significantly lower impact on your joints—like the knees and hips—compared to the repetitive pounding you get with running."
Still, a social hike with friends can sometimes feel a bit more like a leisurely stroll than an intense sweat sesh. Want to take your next date with nature to a whole other level? We've got you covered. Amato shares six ways to get a better cardio workout during your next hike.
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Hiking is already a stellar lower-body workout, but adding these quick bursts can also hit your upper body and core, according to Amato. Every 10 minutes during your hike, stop where you are and perform the following:
- 40 seconds of pushups, 20 seconds of rest
- 40 seconds of mountain climbers, 20 seconds of rest
- 1-minute plank
Related: 7 Ways To Get A Better Strength Workout During Your Hike
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Most trails will help travelers navigate by posting mile markers along the way. Use these to your advantage by taking them as a sign to kick things up a notch. At each mile marker, do the following:
- 1 minute of pushups, 30 seconds of rest
- 1 minute of jump squats, 30 seconds of rest
- 1-minute plank
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Stumps are more than just an excuse to take a sit break. Every time you come across a tree stump or log that is about knee height, perform one minute of split or box jumps off of the log or stump. If you choose box-style jumps, make sure to stand up fully after each bound, extending at the hips.
Related: 5 Things That Happened When I Tried To Walk 20,000 Steps A Day
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Second only to the company you keep on your trail miles is the pack you tote. Combine your gear with your companion's into one backpack, and then take turns carrying the goods. Alternate every 10 to 15 minutes, instantly turning your hike into a weighted interval-training workout. (Torch fat, get fit, and look and feel great with Women's Health's All in 18 DVD!)
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Just like a ladder, this cardio burner gets more difficult the further your progress. At mile one, do five reps of each of the following exercises. At mile two, do 10 reps and so on (you'll be adding five reps at each mile marker). It may feel like a total breeze at the beginning, but by the end you'll be working up a serious sweat!
- Jumping jacks
- Tuck jumps
- Squat jumps
Related: 'I Took Squat Breaks At Work Every Day For A Month, And Here's What Happened'
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What workout doesn't drastically improve with the right tunes? Every third song that comes on, pick up the pace to a light jog (minding the conditions). Just be careful! Always keep the music at a level where you can monitor what's going on around you.
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