Kilimanjaro may be the easiest of the seven summits but it still requires some training to make it to the top. With just 3 months you can be fit and ready to conquer Africa’s tallest mountain.
Why its important to train for Kilimanjaro
The summit of Kilimanjaro is more than 19,000 feet above sea level and will require some intense physical and mental toughness. Training for such a feat is highly recommended for a successful summit. Kilimanjaro will challenge your body and mind and it is important to train so that you can increase your physical and mental strength.
You will need:
- Good overall aerobic activity
- Strong core muscles for carrying a pack
- Good balance and flexibility
- Building strength in your lower as well as upper body.
Here’s why this is so important!
The Machame route while one of the most successful routes up Kilimanjaro is a long route. You will be hiking for 4-6 hours a day for 7 days which means your cardiovascular system must be in tip top shape. Cardio exercise is any sort of activity that stimulates the cardiovascular system by keeping the heart pumping at an accelerated pace for an extended period of time. Alongside a balanced diet and strength training, cardio exercise is essential to a lean, defined body and overall good health. During your training feel free to swap out jogging for any of these other great cardiovascular exercises, elliptical, stationary bike, treadmill or swimming.
Most people think of the core as a nice six-pack or strong, toned abs, but the truth is that the abdominal muscles are a very small part of the core. The abdominals have a very limited and specific action, and what experts refer to as the “core” actually consists of different muscles that stabilize the spine and pelvis, and run the entire length of the torso. The core muscles also make it possible to stand upright and move on two feet. These muscles help control movements, transfer energy, shift body weight, and move in any direction. A strong core distributes the stresses of weight-bearing and protects the back. Core conditioning exercise programs need to target all these muscle groups to be effective. To strengthen your core, think crunches, sit-ups, planks, push-ups, squats, and lunges.
While porters will be carrying most of your heavy gear up the mountain, you will still be responsible for your day pack. Core conditioning is important to prepare your body for hiking with a backpack and making sure you don’t strain any muscles before we reach the top.
STRETCHING AND FLEXIBILITY
Stretching, though often overlooked, plays a vital role in keeping muscles and joints strong and pliable so they are less susceptible to injury. That’s why it’s such an important part of warming up before physical activity and cooling down after. Spending a few minutes a day doing slow, deliberate stretches can also help you manage stress more effectively, giving you a chance to momentarily shut off outside stress, and focus, physically and mentally, on your activity. Since Kilimanjaro requires several days of hiking, it is super important to stretch and warm up your muscles to avoid any injury. Here are some general guidelines for getting the most out of your stretches.
- Warm up first: warm muscles, tendons, and ligaments are more flexible and stretch more easily; stretching cold muscles can cause tears.
- Stretching should be gentle & gradual
- Hold each stretch in a static position for 10 to 20 seconds, allowing the muscle to lengthen slowly.
- Do not bounce; bouncing actually causes muscle fibers to shorten, not lengthen.
- Stretch only to the point of resistance; if the stretch hurts, you´re pushing too hard.
- Don´t rush through the stretching routine; use it to prepare yourself mentally and physically for activity.
STRENGTHENING YOUR UPPER & LOWER BODY
Your lower body acts as the base of your support as you walk, run and jump. Concentrating only on your upper body when you work out is a mistake. Your largest muscles are located in your lower body. They are essential in movements you perform in day-to-day activities or in sports. When you strengthen your lower body, you are strengthening your largest muscles. Regular lower-body exercise also increases bone strength, improves your balance and stamina and decreases injuries to your knees and hips, along with your risk of falling. Also, a strong lower body helps slow the physical weakness that is part of the aging process and maintains balance, stamina, and confidence. When working your lower body think squats; full or partial, leg press, calf raise, leg extensions, and hamstring curls.
Upper body strength is important to have because the upper body controls your ability to perform everyday activities such as reaching, pulling, pushing and lifting. Having a strong upper body improves your flexibility, mobility, and range of motion. If your upper body strength deteriorates as you age, you are more prone to injuries, disease and a diminished quality of life. Upper body strength important for long routes of backpacking, so that you can carry your pack with ease and little discomfort.
We have put together this easy to follow training program to get you ready for your climb, keep in mind this is a general outline and can be tailored to your specific needs and physical condition.
It is always recommended to consult your personal healthcare provider and discuss with them what is appropriate for you.
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