Mount Rinjani is not a technically difficult mountain to climb, but it is challenging! It involves prolonged ascents over difficult terrain. People of all ages and fitness levels have successfully reached the summit with Rinjani Dawn Adventures – we pride ourselves on having the best guides, equipment and food to support you in this goal. A good fitness base will make the experience easier and more enjoyable, minimizing the likelihood of injury and reducing muscle soreness at the end. We developed this training guide with personal trainer and Melbourne-based fitness guru, Hakan Akkus. It’s been written with our trekking packages specifically in mind, but is applicable to most multi-day mountain treks. We hope you enjoy it, and that it inspires you to get in shape before your trek!
When we are preparing for a hike, its common to think the only exercise you need to do is walking. From a cardiovascular point of view this is can work, but there are also many valuable benefits that resistance training produce. A meta-analysis from the International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance found that athletes that did a resistance training program improved endurance, power and strength. Additionally, strengthening the tissue involved in hiking reduces the chance of getting injuries. Below are a list of exercises we recommend for strengthening your body for the Mt Rinjani Climb.
Resistance training can be done 2 -3 times per week. Additional loads are recommended. You can use a weighted pack, dumbbells or kettlebells. Progressively load the exercises (don’t add weight to quickly as you may risk injuring yourself). Pick about six exercises per session – two leg, two upper body and two core. You can increase the number of exercises and move to advanced progressions as you improve..
One of the most important parts of the body you need to condition for any multi-day hike are the legs. Having strong legs can help to prevent injuries, improve endurance, make steep terrain easy, and increase stability (rolling your ankle is the last thing you want to happen mid hike!). Here we have put together some essential exercises to get your legs ready for the big walk.
Single Leg Glute Bridge (2-3 sets of 10-15 reps)
Strong glutes can help to prevent injuries at the lower back, hip and knee. They will also help you to get up the steeper portions of the walk. Because we spend most of our days sitting down, our glutes tend to become weak. This exercise is great for waking up the glutes for the movements that follow.
Start Lying on you back with knees bent to 90 degrees. Pull one leg into your chest. Maintain this position throughout the exercise, this will help to prevent you from using your lower back. Now, drive the down leg into the ground and raise your hips up. Squeeze the glute in the top position. Slowly return to the start and repeat for 2-3 sets of 10 to 15 reps.
Squats (2-3 sets of 10-30 reps)
The squat is a great general conditioning exercise for the legs and an important movement we should all be able to do well.
Start with your feet about shoulder width apart. Your weight should be distributed more toward the anklet. Start by driving your butt back behind you, let your upper body tilt forward keeping your straight back. Bend your knees and try to squat as low as you can while maintaining a neutral back position. Drive up through your feet back to the standing position. Squeeze your glutes at the top. Repeat for 2-3 sets of 10 to 30 reps.
Step-Ups (2-3 sets of 10-20 reps)
Step ups are more specific than the previous leg exercises and have good carry over to the action of hiking. It’s important to try and prevent your knee and foot from collapsing-in during the movement. Try to keep your knee in-line with mid foot.
Select a box, bench, step or chair at a height you are comfortable with. This can be increased over time. Stand tall. Lift a leg and place on bench, drive through and try to pull yourself up with the leg. Avoid pushing to much with the back leg. At the top squeeze your glute. With the same leg, lower back to the floor. Ensure the lowering is controlled. Repeat for 2-3 sets of 10 to 20 reps each side.
Single-leg Squat (2-3 sets of 10 to 15 reps)
The single leg squat is a slightly more difficult version of the step up. It requires more stability through the ankle and hip, which will help your balance on uneven surfaces. Again, this is important for preventing falls or a rolled ankle. These will also develop unilateral leg strength and even out any imbalances left to right.
Select a box, bench, step or chair at a height you are comfortable with. This can be increased over time. Start by standing on the bench, lift a leg up so you are balancing on one leg. From here you want to drive your hips behind you and the free leg toward the ground at a 45 degree angle. Bend the knee on the stance leg and go as low as you can while maintaining a straight back. Drive back to the top position and squeeze your glute to finish the rep. Repeat for 2-3 sets of 10 to 15 reps.
You will find your knee and foot will want to collapse inwards. Try to maintain the arch in your foot and knee in line with the middle of your foot.
Static and Walking Lunge
Another foundational leg movement we should all be able to do well is the lunge. It is good for building unilateral leg strength and mobility. There are countless variations to try but start with the simple static lunge we demonstrate, and then progress to the walking version.
Static Lunge (2-3 sets of 10-20 reps)
Stand tall with feet about hip-width apart. Take a big enough stride backwards so that in the bottom of the lunge you are in about 90 degrees of flexion in both knees. Lower yourself toward the floor by bending the front and back leg. Stop just before your knee touches the ground. You can lean forward slightly but try to maintain a straight back. Push back up to the start position. Evenly distribute your weight over the front foot and avoid going up onto your toes. Repeat for 2-3 sets of 10 to 20 reps.
Walking Lunge (2-3 sets of 20-40 reps)
The walking Lunge is the same as the static lunge but you will be taking a stride forward for each rep. You want to get into 90/90 position at the bottom, then drive through and pull yourself forward with the front leg, then step forward with the other side. Repeat for 2-3 sets of 20 to 40 reps.
Good upper body strength will help you to carry a heavy pack and maintain good posture throughout your hike. Here are 3 simple exercises to do.
Push-ups (2-3 sets of 10-30 reps)
Push-ups are a simple and effective way strengthen upper body muscles which include your chest, shoulders and triceps.
Start with your hands a bit wider than your shoulders and on the same line vertically. Get up onto your toes with a straight body. From here lower yourself as low as you can while maintaining a good position (no sagging through the core and hips). Elbows at 45 degrees to the body. From the bottom push yourself up back to start position. Drop to your knees and do push-ups from there if the full version is too difficult. Repeat for 2-3 sets of 10 to 30 reps.
Supine Row (using TRX) (2-3 sets of 10-20 reps)
The supine row is the opposing movement to the push up and works your upper body pulling muscles, which are your traps, rhomboids, biceps, lats and shoulder stabilisers.
With this exercise you will need a suspension trainer. These can be found cheaply and are used for a number of different exercises.
Position yourself under the suspension trainer holding both handles. Your body should be straight. Create some tension through the core and glutes. Pull yourself up towards the handles at around lower chest level, squeeze your shoulder blades back and together. Avoid rounding the shoulders forward. Stop the movement when your upper arms are in line with your body. Lower under control to bottom position. Repeat for 2-3 sets of 10 to 20 reps.
Prone “Swimmers” (2-3 sets of 3-6 reps)
If you don’t have a suspension trainer this is a great option for strengthening the upper back and improving shoulder mobility. This exercise is more difficult to explain so please reference the video.
Start in a prone position and with your arms straight above your head. Thumbs pointed towards the ceiling. Lift your arms as high as you can. When you can’t lift any higher start to internally rotate your arms as much as you can (rotate your biceps toward the ground). Start to sweep the arms behind the body trying to make the biggest circle possible while continuing to internally rotate the arms. Bring the arms down to the sides, in this position the back of the hands should be facing your body. Now return to the start position following the same path in reverse. Work hard to stay at your end ranges of motion. Repeat for 2-3 sets of 3 to 6 reps.
Having a strong stable core can improving your hiking ability by improving your spinal stability. This will help you to carry a heavy pack, prevent lower back pain and improve your balance while on rough terrain. The core is also involved in transferring force between the lower and upper body, which will help you to produce power through your legs. Here are a few exercises that will challenge and strengthen your midsection in different planes of motion.
Side Plank (with progression) (2-3 sets of 1 minute, or 10-20 reps of the progression)
The side plank strengthens the lateral core and hip (side of body). Start on your side, on the floor. Stack one foot on top of the other. Balance on your elbow and lift your hips off the ground, Stabilise the body by squeezing your core and glutes. The body should be in a nice straight line. Try to hold for 1 min each side. Once you can do this, progress by lifting the top knee towards your chest without moving the body. Do this for time or 2-3 sets of 10 to 20 reps.
Mountain Climber Plank (2-3 sets of 20-40 reps)
This exercise strengthens upper body and anterior core (front of body) while improving mobility of the hips. It teaches the body to stabilise while moving the legs in a hiking motion.
Start in a push-up position, arms straight, core tight. Don’t let your hips sag or your lower back excessively arch. From here lift one knee towards your chest as high as possible. Return the leg to the start position and swap sides. Repeat for 20-40 reps. To increase difficulty, you can lift the knee to different positions. This is can be seen in the video.
“Dead Bug” variations (2-3 sets of 16-50 reps)
The dead bug is a great exercise to strengthen the anterior core and teach you the difference between movement at the core and movement at the hip (lumbopelvic dissociation). Knowing how to move your hips without moving excessively through the lumbar spine can help to prevent back injuries.
Lie on your back, try to flatten out your spine by activating your core. Keep your lower back touching the floor. Lift your knees up toward your chest so they are directly above the hips, the knees bent to 90 degrees. Lift your arms off the floor until they are pointing towards the sky. Now lower your right leg and left arm towards the floor. Here is it very important that your spine doesn’t move. Touch the ground and then return to start position. Repeat on the other side. Try for 2 – 3 sets of 16 to 50 reps
In preparation for your hike it is essential that you train your cardiovascular system. The aerobic system delivers energy to the working muscles which keeps you going for the duration of the walk. Having a well-prepared cardiovascular system will help you to recover between consecutive days of walking, and keep you pushing through on the tough, steep areas. The best way to improve your fitness is to hike and walk. Cycling, swimming and other cardiovascular exercise will improve your general fitness but because fitness is very specific to the demands of the activity you doing, replicating the movement is a must. So we recommend:
During the Week:
2 x 30 mins or 1.5 hours of aerobic conditioning
This can be done by walking on a treadmill, walking outside, or doing some work on a stepper. Start at a pace you can maintain for the duration of your walk. Slowly increase the duration and pace as you get fitter. Start at 30 mins and build up from there, adding 5 minutes to each workout. Also try to adding periods of increased intensity by increasing the incline on the treadmill or walking up hills if you are outdoors.
On the Weekend
1-2 x 1 hour+ hikes on the weekend on trails/hills etc
On the weekend you should get outside and do some longer hikes. As we mentioned earlier, fitness is specific to the activity you are training for, so try to find trails that are similar to the terrain of Mt Rinjani (steep hills!). The duration and difficulty of the hikes should increase in the months leading up to the trek. Try to do some consecutive days, as you will be hiking for 2-4 days, depending on the package you choose.
You will be carrying a pack during the hike so it’s a good idea to wear a pack during training. This should also be done progressively, add 1 kg a week until you reach the amount of weight you expect to carry during the trek. Rinjani Dawn Adventures use porters and guides for carrying camping equipment, so you should only be carrying a small daypack (30-40l is normal). The average weight is around 7kg, depending on how many personal-effects you bring. Use the pack you are going to be walking with, this will familiarise you with how it feels and performs (harness, balance, weight etc.). You can also use the pack to increase the difficulty of the resistance training exercises. Again, increase the weight slowly, maintain good technique and strive to improve week after week.
Quad pails/rails stretch
Ankle mobility combat base or knee drive to wall
90/90 Hip external rotation stretch
Thoracic spine kneeling extension and rotation
Single leg deadlift reach (balance, stability and hamstring stretch)