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Training for Mount Toubkal

Here at Tribal Tracks, we're seasoned travellers and trekkers, used to arduous hills, inclement weather, walking in sand, across rocky terrain and the inherent long hours involved with a proper challenging trek. However, some of our adventurers might be completely new to such experiences. Read on for our tips on how to prepare for one of our most popular challenges - climbing Mount Toubkal.

The highest mountain in Morocco, Mount Toubkal (4167m), located in the Atlas Mountains offers a rewarding climb that offers breathtaking views and a true sense of accomplishment. In the summer, it is a non-technical climb that doesn't require advanced mountaineering skills. However, the ascent to the summit is strenuous, and the high altitude may affect some climbers (anything over 2438m is typically considered high altitude). These factors make it ideal for trekkers seeking an adventurous and rewarding yet achievable high-altitude climb.



Mental preparation

Aerobic Excercise

Strength Training

Get out in the hills!

Preparing for altitude

Read more

Good fitness is essential, and training should include the elements listed above, and described below. The terrain in the High Atlas Mountains is rocky and can be steep, and you'll need to be comfortable walking up hill for several hours a day. The sooner you can start training for your trek, the better.

Mental preparation

We hesitated to include 'mental preparation' at the top of our bullet-point training list, but from experience, it can't be underestimated. You must be in the right headspace to train and take on the challenge.

It's unlikely that you will complete the trek without experiencing some level of fatigue or discomfort. We'll admit that we've all been on a trek and asked, 'Are we there yet?' or 'I can't do this for much longer'.

Your mental stamina often helps get you through these moments and keep you focused and determined. Your Tribal Tracks Leader will help with any concerns or problems on your trek, but some mental preparation could make all the difference to the success of your trip.

Focus on your goal with a positive mindset.

Your aim is to (in this case) summit Mount Toubkal (4167m) on X date, and in some cases, you'll raise sponsorship for your chosen charity. We've selected these Tribal Tracks treks and challenges to be achievable. That doesn't mean easy. Try thinking about every step as a pound raised, or tell yourself in 100 steps time, you'll have a rest, a sip of water, or a snack. This helps break the challenge into smaller chunks, even though it's the same thing that you're achieving. Every bit of training you do will be worthwhile.

Be present

You've signed up to do something amazing in a spectacular location. Try to be mindful and focus on the task at hand; this will help you relax. You could also practice breathing techniques or give yourself positive affirmations throughout your trek 'I've trained hard for this, I can do it!'.

That said, it's also a great idea to visualize what you'll see and how you'll feel at the end of your trek. Visualize getting to the top of the summit, what the weather will be like, what you may see, what the team will say to each other, and what photos you will take. Visualisation is powerful.

Aerobic Excercise

Aerobic activities help develop cardiovascular stamina and endurance, which is essential for high altitude trekking. A strong cardiovascular system helps you process oxygen more efficiently, which is even more necessary at higher altitudes where oxygen is limited. The higher you climb, the lower the air pressure, and in turn, the less oxygen is available to breathe with.

You should strive for a minimum of thirty minutes of moderate aerobic exercise three to four times a week. Cycling, swimming or jogging would be ideal, but even starting with some brisk walks with an elevated heart rate will set you on track.

Strength Training

Climbing a mountain requires sustained effort over long periods, often many hours. Strength training, as in the name, builds muscle strength that will enable you to find ascending steep slopes, scrambling and carrying your backpack much easier (in most instances on a Tribal Tracks trek, this is a day pack with water, suncream etc rather than a full rucksack).

In addition, strong muscles will help improve your stability and balance, which is handy for uneven and unstable terrain (such as that in the High Atlas) and will likely help prevent trips and falls. 

Strong muscles are more efficient and fatigue slower, so they can help you perform activities with less effort so that you can preserve energy for your long trek.

In a nutshell, strength training is good for, well, everything.

What are the best strength training exercises for mountain climbing?

The best strength exercises for mountain climbing target multiple muscle groups at once (think squats, deadlifts, and lunges). Also, include plenty of core-strengthening exercises like planks and leg raises. It's a good idea to use less weight and do more reps than you might see in a typical strength training program to improve overall fitness rather than build muscle mass or explosive power.

Get out in the hills!

Climbing a hill or a mountain is the best training for climbing a bigger hill or mountain! Build hill walks into your exercise schedule, bring day-pack essentials with you, and wear the boots you will wear on your mountain climb (never take new boots on a long hike; they need breaking in!). Do as many outdoor hiking ascents (and descents) as possible, as this will be the best reflection of what the trek will be like and how your body will react. If you can't get to the countryside to train, use a treadmill set at an incline or use a step machine. Walking around the city will help, too, but you ideally want to find some ascents to tackle.

Preparing for altitude

No one knows how their body will cope at altitude. As we mentioned before, the air is 'thinner,' and there is less oxygen to breathe the higher up you go. Aerobic exercise and strength training will help your cardiovascular system use oxygen more efficiently. All Tribal Tracks mountain treks have been designed to allow time for proper acclimatisation and you'll be encouraged to stay hydrated, which can help with the effects of altitude sickness. If you feel unwell at any point during the trek, you must inform your Tribal Tracks Leader.

Any questions?

Feel free to drop us an email if you have any questions. Similarly, just get in touch if you're interested in running a Toubkal Summit expedition for a group of people, or if you want to join an existing trip.


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