T Nation

Hiking And Adding Mass


Hi. I LOVE to hike and go backpacking. However, right now I really want to gain mass on my legs. Are the two activities completely incompatible? Is ther any way to do both?


I think it's a good form of exercise as long as you don't do it for 10 hours at a time. My friend's dad has the distance record on the Appalachian Trail, and my friend dropped 20 pounds hiking that way - minimal rations (junk food at that), 10 hour/20-30 mile days, and so on.

I think if you do day hikes with plenty of food and for fun maybe even work your way up to heavier packs it could be a good way to stay lean. I think the key here (if you are concentrating more on adding mass) is to try to limit the hikes to under 4 hours and maybe do them once or twice a week.

It would be ideal to do heavy pack hikes for 2 hours once or twice a week, but you can decide for yourself based on your respective interest in hiking and mass-building.

I've seen buff looking hikers out on the trail, and caveman says it's a positive thing in his lineup of physical activity, so don't worry too much in any case.


Oh, another thing, don't hike before/after leg day(s).


You may find hiking adds some shape to your legs, and maybe even size to your calves. In fact, treadmill walking on a steep incline has done more for my calves than hundreds of sets of toe presses. To add mass while hiking, it may be hard, yes, but not impossible.
I do a few ruck marches a month, 50lb plus packs from 6 to 12 miles. I've added size while doing this, and dozens of guys I work with have done the same.
You must eat big to overcome any calorie deficit. Try snacking during your hike (they call it trail mix for a reason) As mentioned above, give it some space between your leg days.


Try sprinting up the steep inclines and walking when it levels out. Sprint intervals have been show to increase growth hormone.


But any natural GH increase has been shown to be too minimal and to short lived to do anything.

But sprinting would be good HIIT.