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Fitness. Down to a Science

Up Your Game: Hiking Part 2

Up Your Game: Hiking Part 2

As the title of the post suggests this is “part 2”; for part 1 click the link here –> Up Your Game Hiking: Part 1

Our Experience and our achievement

You feel the mountain, no question. There really is no way to describe altitude until you’ve experienced it. Light headedness, shortness of breath, dizzy, disoriented, and the occasional headache that always lingers around; that is the best way that I can describe it. Those things considered, the trek itself is no walk in the park. There were days where we covered 10 + kilometres of hiking (~6-9 hours). And, hiking a mountain is quite different from walking a city street. See video below for an example of some of the terrain we had to traverse.

Lemosho Route: Terrain

After 7 days of hard trekking we finally achieved what we had set out to do, get to Uhruhu Peak, the highest point in Africa at 5,895m (19,341 ft).

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Sunrise at ~ 6:30am after 7 hour hike to Stella Point, an hour away from Uruhu Peak. (Click on image for Hi-Def Res and zoom)

Key Learnings: fitness and physical preparation

Don’t take training and preparing for an adventure like this lightly. It can be a very challenging endeavour at times. However, we really enjoyed (almost) every part of the physical trek because we felt we prepared for it in the best way possible. Where we only had the ability (due to time restraints) to go for one real hard hike per week in our training leading up to the trek, we feel that resistance training was the key determining factor in our physical ability on the mountain. 

Is Kili achievable without resistance training, sure, but it has been our experience that it makes the task significantly less daunting, with a higher rate of success, less chance of injury and burnout, therefore making the whole experience much, much more enjoyable. I remember times when, after leaving our first camp at the same time as these ‘experienced hikers’, we’d see them staggering into our destination camp 3-4 hours after we had already arrived. They were visibly NOT fit.

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Lava Tower with our guides: Issac and Gibson

Overall thoughts and recommendations

Consider this: if you have not trained sufficiently for a feat like this your muscles, and therefore your cardiovascular system, will have to work harder. This puts a bigger stress on you overall and you feel the effects of it substantially more, even without the impending effects of altitude. This makes the experience substantially less fun.

Maybe many of you reading this don’t care to ever climb Kili or any mountain for that matter. However, it has been our experience, and the experience of other hikers, trekkers and mountain climbers that Strength Training definitely gives you a significant edge, no question. It is my professional opinion that anyone deciding to take on a hiking, backpacking or trekking challenge engage in proper resistance training in preparation.

Here are few tips to get you started:

1. Find a Fitness Coach or a training buddy

2. Dedicate 2 times per week to your workout

3. Focus on big movements (compound exercises). Refer to “Part 1” for a taste of sample workout

4. Do one or two sets of each exercise to the point where you can no longer do another rep. We call this “Momentary Muscular Failure” or MMF for short.

5. Practice your event as closely as possible to the actual activity you will performing. If you are doing distance, build yourself up to that distance; and wear the same footwear that you will be wearing on the trek.

6. Rest, Sleep, recover, drink water, eat well and take generally good care of yourself.

7. Have fun.

Physical achievement all boils down to the quality of our muscles. All of the points listed above will contribute to the quality of your muscles and therefore your performance in your given activity or sport.

Up your game: Increase your Strength and Improve your Performance.

Whats next for Candace and I? Who knows, but we can say that we have a few things on our radar, namely Mt. Olympus, Greece & Annapurna, Nepal. Thanks again for reading, I invite you all to share your stories of travels and adventures on our Facebook page.

Thank you for reading!

Matt – matt@oneupfitness.ca

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