Getting in Shape For Munro Bagging

Getting in Shape For Munro Bagging

Getting in Shape For Munro Bagging

Elliot Forbes

I’m not a fitness expert by any means, I go to the gym fairly regularly and I’ve been an avid hiker for a few years now. I’m certainly not going to try and convince you to try and take advice from me regarding fitness.

This post is mostly an online checklist of exercises I’ve been doing to improve my own fitness in such a way to make my own munro bagging journey easier.

Now, these exercises specifically have 2 goals:

  • Injury Avoidance
  • Improving my cardiovascular fitness

What I’m trying to do, which may be what most others are wanting, is to be able to tackle some of the longer hiking days that take in a couple of munros in a single day.

I’m talking the likes of perhaps the Ben Lawers range, or the Cairngorms. These are long days, with a lot of ascent and descent, and I want to be able to do them without feeling like I’m going to die at the end of it.

Cardio Exercises

As hikers, we need a strong cardio system that’s able to handle the many hours of hiking and it’s important that our training reflects this. Thankfully, this is a fairly straightforward thing to improve with a few simple exercises.


A fairly obvious one, running is a great way to improve your cardiovascular fitness. It’s important to try and mix in a variety of running types such as intervals and long distance running.

Following the advice of a lot of great runners, I’ve been trying to go for longer distance runs whilst focusing purely on my heart rate and disregarding my actual pace. This helps to ensure you’re not overdoing it and risking injury and also makes the training more sustainable in the longer term.

Stair climber

The stair climber is a great combination of cardio and leg strength training. It’s also really quite easy to see how it is directly applicable to hiking. You’re working a lot of the same muscles, and you have the ability to adjust the resistance to make it harder.

I’ve not yet built the courage to add any excess weights to this exercise, but if you are so inclined (pun intended) then you could add a weighted vest to make it even more challenging and more reflective of the weight you’ll be carrying on your back.

Elevated treadmill walking

This is a great, low impact way to get your heart rate up to a sustainable rate for a long period of time. I like to set the treadmill to a 10% incline and walk at a brisk pace after a weight session at the gym.

If you’re carrying an injury and unable to run, then this is a great alternative that will still help you to build up your cardiovascular fitness.


Laps of the pool at a fantastic way to build up your cardiovascular fitness as well as helping to build on your upper body strength. I find that if I’m doing multiple laps of the pool in the weeks leading up to a hike, I can really feel the difference in my breathing when I’m out on the trail.

Leg Strength Exercises

These exercises are all focused on building muscle in the legs. This invariably helps to make each of the steps you take on the hike a little easier and you’ll have a little more endurance to keep going.

One of the key things you should be thinking about is on balance. The terrain underfoot is often uneven or rocky, so having the strength to be able to keep your balance really helps in these situations.

Romanian Deadlifts103
Standing Calf Raise103
Leg Extensions103

Core Strength Exercises

Leg Raises103
Back Extensions103

Upper Body Strength Exercises

Shoulder Press103
Lat Pulldown103

Applying Your training

If you’re unsure about whether or not you’re ready to tackle a Munro, then I’d recommend starting with some of the easier ones such as the ones listed below:

Munros Hiking Fitness