It all starts in the mind, if you think you can do it, then you can. Mental toughness and preparedness are as important and essential as physical fitness is when it comes to climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro because it is a challenging mountain even though it can be climbed by anyone, with or without mountain climbing experience. So, start your training early, as early as 8 weeks or more. The longer you train, the better.
How do you train for a Kilimanjaro Mountain Hike?
1. Go on hikes
This is the best training you can do to prepare for the Kilimanjaro climb. If you have access to a hill then that is the best option. Go up and down the hills with some weight on your back. Opt for long distance hikes and gradually increase the distance each day as you progress. Tip: Use the boots you tend to wear on the Kilimanjaro climb.
2. Strength training
Your body needs to be ready to take on the different mountain terrains. At no point are you going to be seated in a car on Mt. Kilimanjaro, you will use your legs to go up and down the mountain for hours. So do some strength exercises prior to the climb to get your muscles well-conditioned. Do squats, variation of lunges, leg curls and toe / step ups.
Work on other body parts too as you need whole your muscles to be strong and up for the challenge ahead. You will be carrying your day bag everyday so your core, back, shoulders and arms need to be strengthened too. Sit ups, shoulder presses and planks. Try as much as possible to use your body weight when exercising so that all your muscles can be engaged.
3. Work on your cardiovascular fitness
A strong cardiovascular system will help you push through the harsh weather conditions on Kilimanjaro when the air thins out and oxygen gets low with increase in elevation. You will be able to process the limited oxygen efficiently. Exercises to do include; jogging (long distance), running, cycling/spinning classes, walking, swimming, hiking and jump rope.
Remember to still take it slow when you get to Kilimanjaro. You might feel fit enough to go hard and fast while on the climb but remember you have to go slow to give your body time to adapt to the altitude.
4. Warm up and Stretching
Remember to always warm up your muscles (your entire body) before doing any of the exercises. Warming up prepares loosens your muscles preparing them for the activity and stretching improves the flexibility and mobility of your muscles and joints. This way you will avoid injuries like muscles pulls, strains, sprains or tears as you train for your Kilimanjaro climb.
5. Mental toughness
It can be hard to keep up with a tough training program for month, but look at it this way, this is where your mental stamina training for the Kilimanjaro climb starts from. You are going to walk for long hours, from one altitude to another carry a bag on your bag in harsh conditions.
You need to be prepared mentally for this at it all starts with sticking to your training, being consistent and progressing gradually each day. Have a positive mind and stay motivated. If others before you, did it then you can do it too. Picture yourself standing on top of Kilimanjaro, at Uhuru peak next to the famous sign post.
6. Altitude Acclimatization / Training
Best way you can do this is by going on hikes on lower altitude peaks. Like climbing Mount Kenya or Mount Meru before climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro or you can visit other high-altitude destinations. It will surely help.
7. Familiarize yourself with your equipment
Comfort goes a long way to motivating you to keep moving. As you train for the Kilimanjaro climb, wear those hiking boots or trainers, those hiking clothes you put aside for the trip, that new day bag you bought with things inside to add some weight, the socks and gloves and go out for that hike or long-distance run.
This will help decided on what to keep and what to leave behind, what to replace and what else to add on the packing list. You have to be comfortable in your clothing and footwear.
8. Seek professional help and guidance
If you have any underlying health issues, talk to your doctor before starting out the training and if you are new to physical training and activity, seek the help of a professional fitness trainer.
All said and done, please pay attention to your body during the entire training process, do put so much beyond your limits especially if you are new to physical activeness. Slow and steady does the trick. And endeavor to have a balanced diet and paramount rest.
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