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Guided mountain bike trips to the summit of Kilimanjaro!

KILIMANJARO MOUNTAIN BIKING FITNESS PROGRAM

Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa and biking to the peak is a challenge that should not be under estimated. With all the information you could possibly gather, added to being physically prepared, one’s chances of reaching the summit is substantially increased. Stamina and mental determination to a great extent, will determine whether or not you will be successful in you quest to conquer the Roof of Africa. Being physically prepared for the expedition will also greatly contribute to the level of your perseverance, confidence and personal enjoyment!

 

What to expect

 

When biking up Mt. Kilimanjaro the trail will consist of approximately 60% gravel roads and 40% single tracks. On average you can expect to cycle between 10 to 20km per day and expect an altitude gain between 1 000m to 1 800m per day. The amount of actual cycling vs pushing your bike, will depend on your fitness, personal biking skills and the actual trail condition. For example some sections of the trail can become muddy after heavy rains, which can make cycling impossible.

 

When cycling you will also be required to carry a backpack with an average weight of 7kg. In your backpack will be your water supply for the day, rain gear, camera, snacks and anything else that might need for the day. It is important to train with you backpack and it is very important to include long, continuous and steep uphill sections in your training regime.

 

Due to the fact that cycling may not be possible all the way and that you will be required to push your bike through certain sections, it is important to include actual hiking in your training regime as well.

 

How fit do you have to be?

Biking up should not underestimated, proper training and preparation is required. The cold temperatures and low oxygen levels also add to the difficulty. The higher you ascend, the lower the oxygen levels – on the summit, oxygen levels are only 9.5%!

Biking up Mt. Kilimanjaro consists of cycling up long ascending steep hills. On a normal cycling tour, the uphill sections will be followed by flat and / or downhill sections. However on Kilimanjaro, especially on day 1 and 2 of the trip, it is just one long continuous uphill section, which can be very tiring. It is important to do many stops along the way, not only to rest, but to give your body time acclimatize and adjust to the higher altitudes.

There are also several sections where you will need to push your bike as cycling might not be possible.

It is important to not only cycle, but also include hiking in your training regime. For that the best preparation one can do is to hike, preferably under simulated conditions. Although jogging could be beneficial to your fitness level, it does not fully prepare your muscles for the strenuous hiking with a backpack on and while pushing you bike. In addition to regular gym workouts, make sure you also go for walks in order to stimulate relevant muscle development. Try to do a one or two day hiking trials in your area. This will not only be an excellent way for physical preparation, but also an enjoyable means to prepare yourself mentally.

We recommend a 16 week mountain bike training program for Kilimanjaro and an 8 week hiking program.

We have furthermore developed a practical (in terms of time and costs) fitness preparation guideline to assist you in getting your body ready a Mt. Kilimanjaro summit attempt. This guide contains a cycling fitness program (16 weeks), gym program (8 weeks) and a hiking program (8 weeks) that should be followed simultaneously.

 

Important points to remember – Before you start!!

Medical Check-up

Before embarking on a fitness program, it is always wise to first seek the advice of a medical doctor. Feel free to share this program with your family doctor for input. Chances are, your doctor will be delighted to know that you undertake to exercise regularly.

Progressive Resistance

In essence, the gym section of our fitness program consists of regular and progressive resistance exercises with either free weights (like barbells and dumbbells) or free weight machines that are readily available in gymnasiums. The idea behind progressive resistance is that your exercise regime can be tailored to your age, physical condition and strength, steadily progressing to higher resistance level as you develop.

Safety Factor

Progressive resistance movements could be customized to individual strength and fitness levels, therefore our fitness program is potentially safe. It is however essential that all of the exercises be performed correctly and that basic safety procedures are followed at all times. It is furthermore always a good idea to invest in reading material on physical fitness and to consult your local fitness instructor about performing each exercise correctly.

Sets and Repetitions

This workout consist of repetitions (reps) and sets. A rep is a single count of an exercise, for example moving downwards for one squad movement. A set is knows as a series of reps – an average set consist of 8 to 12 reps.

Warm Up

It is highly recommended that one always warms up the muscles before starting with any exercising routine. The norm is doing a variety of stretching movements to warm up, strengthen and progressively challenge the tendons, ligaments, joints and muscles. Stretching is very important, as it is the best way to prepare for an injury-free workout.

 

Mountain bike training program – 16 weeks guideline

 

Click here to download the mountain bike training program as a PDF (size: 156 KB).

Important

  • Do as much of your riding as you can on a mountain bike (even if it means riding your mountain bike on tar).
  • Always do your longer weekend rides on a mountain bike, preferably off-road
  • Since it is not always possible to ride outdoors, you can swap a 1 hour 30 minute ride for a spinning class or a 1-hour indoor trainer session.
  • If you miss a session for any reason, DON’T try make it up. Simply move on with the programme and focus forward, don’t let something that’s happened bother you – you can’t change it.
  • Because of the continuous steep uphill seconds, altitude gain is more important than distance covered and speed maintained during the training.
  • If possible, add in 2 x core strength sessions a week of 1 hour each. This is abdominal strength improvement and will help condition you for the trip. See our gym program.
  • If you’re unsure of your skills, do a skills clinic to gain confidence and control.
  • If you are ill or injured, don’t train, rather see your doctor and get his/her approval or advice, before continuing.
Week one
Tuesday Thursday Sunday
Warm up and stretch 5 Minutes 5 Minutes 5 Minutes
Riding
Ride on tar 2 hours 2 Hours N/A
Ride off-road N/A N/A 3 Hours
Stretch and cool down 5 Minutes 5 Minutes 5 Minutes
Total Time 2 hours 10 minutes 2 hours 10 minutes 3 hours 10 minutes
Week two to three
Tuesday Thursday Sunday
Warm up and stretch 5 Minutes 5 Minutes 5 Minutes
Riding
Ride on tar with ascent of 650m 2 hours 2 Hours N/A
Ride off-road with ascent of 1200m N/A N/A 3 Hours
Stretch and cool down 5 Minutes 5 Minutes 5 Minutes
Total Time 2 hours 10 minutes 2 hours 10 minutes 3 hours 10 minutes
Week four to eight
Tuesday Thursday Sunday
Warm up and stretch 5 Minutes 5 Minutes 5 Minutes
Riding
Ride on tar with ascent of 800m 2 ½ hours 2 ½ Hours N/A
Ride off-road with ascent of 1500m N/A N/A 4 Hours
Stretch and cool down 5 Minutes 5 Minutes 5 Minutes
Total Time 2 hours 40 minutes 2 hours 40 minutes 4 hours 10 minutes
Week nine to twelve
Tuesday Thursday Sunday
Warm up and stretch 5 Minutes 5 Minutes 5 Minutes
Riding
Ride on tar with ascent of 1000m 3 hours 3 Hours N/A
Ride off-road with ascent of 1700m N/A N/A 5 Hours
Stretch and cool down 5 Minutes 5 Minutes 5 Minutes
Total Time 3 hours 10 minutes 3 hours 10 minutes 5 hours 10 minutes
Week thirteen to sixteen
Tuesday Thursday Sunday
Warm up and stretch 5 Minutes 5 Minutes 5 Minutes
Riding
Ride on tar with ascent of 1200m 3 hours 3 Hours N/A
Ride off-road with ascent of 2000m N/A N/A 5 Hours
Stretch and cool down 5 Minutes 5 Minutes 5 Minutes
Total Time 3 hours 10 minutes 3 hours 10 minutes 5 hours 10 minutes


Gym program
– 8 weeks guideline

 

Click here to download the gym training program as a PDF (size: 156 KB).

 

Exercise Monday Wednesday Friday
Sets Reps Sets Reps Sets Reps
Warm up and stretch 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes
Leg developing aerobics
Cycling 10 minutes 10 minutes 15 minutes
Leg combination
Squats 3 12 4 12
Leg presses 4 12
Thighs isolation
Leg extensions 3 10 3 10 4 10
Leg curls 3 10 3 10 4 10
Lower legs isolation
Calf raises 3 20 3 20 4 20
Toe pulls 3 20 3 20 4 20
Lower back combination
Hyper extensions 3 12 4 12
Good morning exercise 3 12
Abdominal
Crunches (upper) 2 20 2 20 3 20
Leg raises (lower) 2 20 2 20 3 20
Leg developing aerobics
Stairmaster / climbing 10 minutes low resistance 10 minutes high resistance 10 minutes low resistance
Cool down and stretch 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes
Total time 1 hour 15 minutes 1 hour 15 minutes 1 hour 15 minutes

More gym guidelines

  1. The above represents a guideline and can be adapted to your time schedule and current fitness level, but it will give you an good idea of which muscles you should concentrate on.
  2. Unfit people should utilise light weights during the first two weeks of this program.
  3. To stimulate sufficient muscle growth and development, the weights should be increased progressively at least every two weeks.
  4. For effective muscle development every muscle or muscle group should be given a resting and recuperation period of at least 48 hours after every strenuous exercising session if weights where utilised.
  5. It is important to execute the various exercises in the same order as listed above.
  6. The above program can be adapted for home gymnasiums – we will gladly advise you on request.
  7. If time permits it always a good idea to include some upper body development exercises in your program, in order to achieve a more balanced and overall body development.

 

Hiking program – 8 Week guidline

It is advisable to go for frequent walks which should include some uphill and down hills sections. Take your daypack with you and carry at least three litres of water or three kilograms with you. This will simulate the conditions you will encounter. As mentioned before, doing a one or two day local hiking trial in your area is not only an excellent way of preparation but also most enjoyable. We have developed an adequate hiking programme of least 8 weeks to ensure an adequate level of fitness.
If your local weather conditions do not always permit outdoor activities, you can do part of it on a treadmill and simulate the flat, uphill (inclined) and downhill (declined) sections. Terminate your hiking program at least 4 days before you’re the start of your summit attempt to ensure sufficient rest before the climb.

Click here to download the walking program as a PDF (size: 148 KB).

Walking program – eight weeks
Week 1
Tuesday Thursday Sunday
Warm up and stretch 8 minutes 8 minutes 8 minutes
Walk
Flat terrain at 4,5km per hour 10 minutes 10 minutes 10 minutes
Walk – lower leg development
On heels, toes lifted 3 minutes 3 minutes 3 minutes
On toes, heels lifted 4 minutes 4 minutes 4 minutes
Walk
Flat terrain at 4,5km per hour 40 minutes 40 minutes 40 minutes
Cool down and stretch 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes
Total time 1 hour 10 minutes 1 hour 10 minutes 1 hour 10 minutes
Week 2 to 3
Tuesday Thursday Sunday
Warm up and stretch 8 minutes 8 minutes 8 minutes
Walk
Flat terrain at 4,5km per hour 10 minutes 10 minutes 10 minutes
Walk – lower leg development
On heels, toes lifted 3 minutes 3 minutes 3 minutes
On toes, heels lifted 4 minutes 4 minutes 4 minutes
Walk
Flat terrain at 4,5km per hour 40 minutes 40 minutes 30 minutes
Uphill at 2-3 km per hour N/A N/A 20 minutes
Downhill at 5-6 km per hour N/A N/A 10 minutes
Cool down and stretch 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes
Total time 1 hour 10 minutes 1 hour 10 minutes 1 hour 30 minutes
Week 4 to 8
Tuesday Thursday Sunday
Warm up and stretch 8 minutes 8 minutes 8 minutes
Walk
Flat terrain at 4,5km per hour 10 minutes 10 minutes 10 minutes
Walk – lower leg development
On heels, toes lifted 3 minutes 3 minutes 3 minutes
On toes, heels lifted 4 minutes 4 minutes 4 minutes
Walk
Flat terrain at 4,5km per hour 40 minutes 30 minutes 50 minutes
Uphill at 2-3 km per hour N/A 20 minutes 40 minutes
Downhill at 5-6 km per hour N/A 10 minutes 20 minutes
Cool down and stretch 5 minutes 5 minutes 5 minutes
Total time 1 hour 10 minutes 1 hour 30 minutes 2 hours 20 minutes

The above training programme will prepare you physically for Kilimanjaro to the extent that you are capable of hiking 100 kilometres in one week. If you are fit enough for this, rest assured that your body will still give you more when you need it. If you follow the guidelines for both the gym training as well as the walking routine, you are definitely ready for Kilimanjaro physically. You can now concentrate on being mentally ready, but chances are…

YOU ALREADY ARE!