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Hiking uphill vs. squats

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created November 20, 2012 at 3:27 PM

Hello tribe,

Is hiking uphill a good/fair substitute for squats and calf raises? I usually go for an 8 mile hike, 2-3 times a week.

Love to all

Medium avatar

(3213)

on November 21, 2012
at 02:55 AM

Thank you all for the great answers, I'll start mixing it up.

977d98d9ee4a3edba0141c0b3aa018a7

(243)

on November 20, 2012
at 05:28 PM

Good points, I was just assuming the OP wasn't looking into anything more, "hardcore", if you will. I'd prefer the "less risky and better for overall fitness" path myself.

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7 Answers

3
510bdda8988ed0d4b0ec0b738b4edb73

(20888)

on November 20, 2012
at 05:10 PM

I'm a follower of Rippetoe and do think the (properly done) squat is probably the single best exercise someone can do. However, given a choice to do something active and fun outside or squat, I'll go outside and have fun. Fun is important too. But if you're stuck inside because of bad weather and want to make the most out of your time, squat!

On the other hand, calf raises are probably the single stupidest exercise out there, and you shouldn't waste any time with them.

3
3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on November 20, 2012
at 03:47 PM

Hell, I think its better. Better all around fitness and health. Squats are fine for some, but I'm not a fan. You can get plenty fit without them and a good uphill hike is terrific! You may not win any bodybuilding shows in a male string bikini flexing your buttox, but who really needs that sort of hypertrophy anyhow right?

2
71ef6fa9da502f1caa096f3047262f28

(130)

on November 20, 2012
at 04:16 PM

I think hiking uphill is definitely a great substitute. I had been crossfitting for awhile when a friend asked me to hiking. I'm pretty outdoorsy so I was all about it. I thought I was going to crush everyone else. And it killed me. We hiked some pretty tough terrain, lots of rocks and really uphill. But it was very tough, tougher than squats in my opinion. But it's always important to mix up fitness routines and do different things, especially functional movements. We were meant to walk and roam, so what could be a better activity?

Makes me think I need to get outside more as well :)

2
977d98d9ee4a3edba0141c0b3aa018a7

on November 20, 2012
at 04:05 PM

I'm in the camp of if you want to look and feel natural, do things the natural way, our ancestors didn't squat too often, but they sure did hike!

1
Medium avatar

on November 21, 2012
at 04:22 AM

No, hiking isn't a substitute or even akin to squats. Squats cause a huge testosterone boost and myofibular hypertrophy. Hiking uphill makes your muscles increase the mitochondria and get energy efficient. I terms of pure strength, hiking makes you WEAKER.

Hiking makes you good at hiking. Squating makes you at squating. That's how it works. Being good at one makes you weaker at the other. Sport specific training. I've found kettlebells transfer over to other sports the best.

I'm a mountain climber. I regularly hike up and down over 2000 vertical meters, for 8-10hrs with a pack at 25-35% of bodyweight. My legs are like skinny pliars. When I try and squat or deadlift, folks laugh. When I take my strong, squat adapted friends up a mountain, that's the last time they go with me.

1
D05f3050dc3d973b8b81a876202fa99a

(1533)

on November 20, 2012
at 04:38 PM

Is it a good substitute? Absolutely not. Is it perhaps less risky in terms of injuries or more geared for overall fitness and health? Sure, maybe, but it is most definitely not a substitute for a full range squat with resistance. I don't care if people prefer doing body weight resistance or more "natural" workouts, whatever that means, but there are huge benefits to squatting and they can't really be acheived by walking uphill.

http://www.amazon.com/Starting-Strength-3rd-Mark-Rippetoe/dp/0982522738

Flip through even a couple of pages of that book and you'll get an idea of what I'm talking about. I'm not saying barbell training is the ultimate and only workout, but I personally think it's beneficial to almost anyone at any age as long as it's scaled to what you're capable of.

0
62fafa8cb15af7c562fa8c270f7b6174

on November 21, 2012
at 03:47 AM

Obviously, the the best 'substitute' is to hike by squat-hopping up the trail. Otherwise they're not really in the same league. Only half joking. Squat-hopping uphill is a great exercise and best done up stairs.

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