Best Squat Variations to Train for Hiking
Two things that separate Vancouver from the rest of Canada are the diverse trails you can explore and how accessible it is from the city! From the popular nature stair master, Grouse Mountain located in North Vancouver to the alpine blue Joffre Lakes in Pemberton, there are countless trails of various difficulty. Many of which where you get a rewarding view at the end!
This article gives you a couple squat variations to help you strengthen the muscles around the knees and ankles. Strengthening those muscles are beneficial for hiking on inclines, uneven terrain and the eccentric loading when going downhill.
Single-Leg Stability Ball Squat
The exercise ball in this squat helps with stability when squatting down. Using an exercise ball is a good introduction to single leg squats. This exercise targets the legs, especially your quadriceps and glutes. It also works on knee and ankle stability by standing on one leg.
- Position the ball so that it rests in the small of your back.
- Place hands on the hip and push your back against the ball
- Have one leg bent in the knee and extended towards the back
- Slowly lower the body down bending in the hips and knees as far down as you can, or until your working thigh is parallel to the ground. Inhale during this movement.
- It’s very important to note that your knee should stay behind your toe during your squat movement. If your knee it is too far forward, try positioning your foot further away from the ball to allow for a longer stride.
- Also make sure your knee does not “cave in” during your squat. Keep your ankle, knee and hip in line.
- Exhale while standing back up to to the starting position
Squat on a Balance Board
To challenge your balance a little bit more, here is another variation standing on a balance board with both feet. This exercise also helps strengthen those muscles that surround the ankle and knee joint.
- Start by placing feet on the board
- Put arms out in front to create more stability
- Squat as far down as you can without the edges of the board hitting the ground and inhaling during this movement
- Again, make sure your knees stay behind your toes and your knees do not “cave in” throughout the motion.
- Stand back up while exhaling to starting position
For a more challenging variation, you can also try doing this exercise on a Bosu ball.
How did these exercises work for you and what’s your favorite squat variation? Let us know in the comments below!
Blog post written by Mika Pelaez – Client Care Manager
Mika became involved in sports at a young age, eventually settling to practice martial arts like kickboxing and Brazilian jiu-jitsu. She also enjoys hiking and kayaking in the summer and snowboarding in the winter. Mika has a passion for sports, health, fitness and education and she hopes to influence others in pursuing a healthy, active lifestyle.