The Perfect Training Workout for Mountain Climbing

We got a few requests asking us tips for conquering the mountains that look so fab but are difficult to climb. So we got tips from the pros of climbing. What does it take to get ready to climb Africa’s highest peak? Of all the things, it takes strength and training for Mountain Climbing. (Photo: Thinkstock)

In just three weeks I will be climbing Mount Kilimanjaro for my honeymoon. We are doing the Marangu route with Intrepid Travel, a five-day hike along the most direct path to the summit of Kilimanjaro that goes through forests and alpine meadows, over rocky ravines and past lunar landscapes to the summit of Africa’s highest peak.

Naturally everyone keeps asking me if I am in training. The truth is that it is hard to “train” for Kilimanjaro. The climb is not technically difficult, but the altitude can make it a real beast, so hiking and endurance training are pretty much the only things you can do to get ready.

I enlisted the help of celebrity trainer Emily Cook Harris, the founder and head trainer for EMpowered, to devise a training routine for the weeks leading up to the big climb.

“You need strength to safely and effectively climb a mountain, as well as the muscle endurance to do so for hours,” Harris told us. “So we’ve put together a full-body strength training circuit, emphasizing your lower body and core. You will move immediately from one exercise to the next to get both strength and cardio benefits from this one circuit.”

The keys here are:

Minimal rest period. Your endurance must be high in order to be successful in climbing a mountain.

Elevation. Your body needs to be more efficient at utilizing oxygen because there is less oxygen available at higher altitudes. The better your cardio conditioning, the easier it will be to breathe!

Uneven terrain. Strength training in multiple planes can help prevent injury when faced with unpredictable terrain while climbing. We want to move the body in many different planes to prepare for the uneven terrain.

A strong body will make for a more enjoyable climb. You’ll be able to take in the sights and fully engage in the experience rather than thinking how tired your legs are or getting injured (no fun).


1. DB alternating step-ups (1 minute)

Holding two dumbbells by your side, step up on an elevated platform. Engage the core and drive through the heel as you stand to activate your glutes. Once both feet are on, step back down. Repeat movement, starting with the opposite leg. Move quickly with good form for 1 minute, alternating legs.

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