7 Things You Need To Do Before Hiking Mount Kinabalu

This article also appears in the November 2016 issue of Malindo Magazine

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Standing proudly as Southeast Asia’s tallest mountain at 4,095 meters (13,435 feet), Mount Kinabalu is located in Sabah and regaled as the 20th most prominent mountain in the world. Conquering this giant has been on the bucket list of many hikers, both locally and internationally. Even newbies who have never climbed a hill in their lives have been up for the challenge, because the glorious view from the summit makes the whole journey worthwhile. Catching the sunrise from Mount Kinabalu is simply magical as the sun casts its vibrant rays over the earth and streams of puffy clouds drift slowly across the horizon beneath you.  

If you’ve never trekked Mount Kinabalu – or any mountain at all – you need all the preparation and training you can get. Experienced hikers claim that climbing Mount Kinabalu is similar to going up the stairs for 7 hours straight – it’s exhausting, but a proper training regimen will gear you up mentally and physically. So apart from packing warm layers of clothes (because it’s cold up there) and calculating the cost of the climb, these 7 tips will greatly prepare you for the long-distance hike.

Work On Your Cardiovascular Health

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Stamina is crucial during a long hike, so it’s not too late to build it up with cardio exercises. Start off with a cardio routine 2 or 3 times each week. The whole point of this is to ease your body and mind into being active. Swimming is a great way to launch into physical training because it’s a low-impact sport that builds up your stamina by expanding your lung capacity. As you’ll be doing lots of walking during the hike, you should also incorporate long walks into your routine and gradually increase your distance each week. Hilly terrains are great training grounds for this.

Introduce Weight Training Into Your Workout Routine

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Personal trainers recommend going up and down the stairs with a fully-loaded pack to prepare yourself for the real hike. Because the entire journey up Mount Kinabalu requires a minimum of 2 days, you’ll be traveling with a backpack loaded with your necessities to last you the entire journey.

Invest In A Good Pair Of Shoes

A crucial rule of thumb before you attempt to conquer any mountain is to invest in a sturdy pair of shoes with a good grip, because you don’t want to risk sliding on slippery surfaces. Make sure you give your feet enough time to ease into the shoes first before the actual hike by training and running in them so you can fully understand how they feel in the shoes. This prevents blisters.

Rest While Standing Up

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You may be tempted to sit down after a cardio workout, but personal trainers would strongly advise you to rest while standing up, because sitting down slows your momentum. Sitting down means you won’t be using much of your leg muscles, which means blood won’t be pumped from your veins to your heart. With the lack of blood in your heart, your blood pressure takes a plunge and may even cause you to pass out.

Strengthen Your Thigh Muscles

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Anyone who’s climbed a mountain like Mount Kinabalu will emphasize on the importance of strengthening your thigh muscles so you won’t wear your knees out during the long hike. Fitness coaches recommend squats and lunges among the various types of thigh-building regimes. These exercises will tone up your thighs and improve your muscle mass to combat knee problems from arising during your hike.

Perform Lots Of Stretching Whenever You Can

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Stretch as often as you can to increase your body’s flexibility, because you never know when you might need to get down on all fours. An experienced fitness instructor will take your leg muscles into consideration and he or she will be able to recommend some dynamic stretches that will decrease your chances of getting an injury while improving your motion range and joint flexibility, which is extremely important when you’re trekking up and down Southeast Asia’s tallest mountain.

Prepare Yourself Mentally

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While physical training is important, mental preparation shouldn’t be overlooked. A long-distance hike demands a lot of concentration and mental strength to persevere and push on even when your legs are threatening to buckle beneath you. The chances of challenges arising during the journey is very likely, and even the smallest ones can stain your motivation on a bad day. Imagine having to hike for hours with wet socks, or with the sun scorching against your skin. It’s not going to be pleasant, so you’ll need to train your mind to embrace the difficulties and focus on what it’ll feel like to reach the peak with its breathtaking view, coupled with a rich sense of self-accomplishment from a successful hike.

Professional fitness trainers make a huge difference in the preparation, both physically and psychologically. They can customise a training routine for you and set certain guidelines in your regime to refrain you from seriously injuring yourself. They’re also the perfect people to push you toward your physical capacity, while helping you stretch boundaries and achieve new limits for yourself. Head on to Kaodim to engage dedicated trainers at a reasonable price! 

Mount Kinabalu is a glorious feat. The rewards of hiking it leave deep clairvoyant impressions that last a lifetime, so don’t miss out on this exciting opportunity! Book a trip to Sabah with Malindo and turn this idea into a reality.

written by Carissa Gan