YouAsked is a segment on our blog where we answer questions you’ve asked us. If you have any questions regarding hiking, hiking equipment, our packages and locations, or anything else, don’t hesitate to drop us a line at [email protected]
Daniel F. sent us a query, asking whether it was possible for him to hike Kilimanjaro without training.
“I work an office job and working late often. I’m not particularly unhealthy, but I also don’t have any sort of regular physical activity that I do. Summiting Kilimanjaro seems doable but I’m not sure how doable it is for me. Can I get away with not training?”
The short and simplest answer is yes. The trail itself is not particularly demanding, nor does it require any specialized equipment. However, we at Adventure Abroad will always, always, always advocate training for any upcoming hike.
Not only do we encourage it for health and safety reasons, being prepared will also make for a much more pleasant hike for you. Training before a hike means the difference between being able to appreciate the journey and being too miserable to even enjoy the sights.
That said, here are a few pointers for training for any hiking expedition:
Cardio, Cardio, Cardio
Aerobic training, or cardio training, is crucial to hiking with ease. The term “aerobic” itself refers to the body’s use of oxygen to power the its movement. By training with aerobic exercises like swimming, cycling, jogging and long distance walking, you are training your body to process oxygen more efficiently.
This is key for hiking in general, since it gets your body used to doing more with less oxygen, which is especially useful for hiking at high altitudes where there is less oxygen.
Condition Your Muscles
While not as vital as cardio training, you shouldn’t forget to work on your strength and endurance. Endurance is obviously important, since you’ll be on the move for 6-7 hours at a time on Kilimanjaro. You don’t need to be able to jog the entire 6-7 hours, it will be enough for you to be able to walk for that amount of time per day.
For hiking you’ll want to focus specifically on strengthening your core, upper body, and legs. You’ll be walking uphill the whole time, so your legs will definitely need to be able to take it. Strengthen your legs with exercises like squats, lunges, and step exercises.
You’ll be carrying a day pack that’s around 6 kg, so you’ll need to be able to support that additional weight while walking around. Sit ups, planking, bridging, and back extensions are all good ways to improve core strength.
Take It Slow
This part is absolutely vital! Trying to do too much too fast will increase risk of injury. You don’t need to be some sort of amazing elite athlete after a month. You don’t even need to be an elite athlete to summit Kilimanjaro. Train well before your trip, and slowly intensify your training as your trip comes closer.