Mount Fuji is a timeless mountain climbing destination that should diffidently not be missed if you are visiting Japan. It is also one of the country’s three holy mountains, and a distinguished landmark, both for its cultural and spiritual significance, as for its spectacular beauty.
Mt. Fuji is also one of the most famous uniquely cone-shaped volcanoes in the world. The distinctive cone shape features of Mt. Fuji provide a challenge for many hikers, including severe elevation gains, rapidly changing weather and steep inclines. There is a 20 degrees difference in temperature from the base of Mt. Fuji to the summit of Mt. Fuji. The climb is unlike any high-altitude quest one will ever encounter.
Mt. Fuji is a distinctly triangle-conical shaped Mountain.
One of the unique features of climbing a volcanic cone is almost immediately after starting your Mt. Fuji climb you will be hiking uphill. Depending on your health and fitness Mt. Fuji climb can be an extremely challenging hike for some. For those who are attempting to climb Mt. Fuji for the first time and not used to hiking a high altitude cone-shaped volcano, we have prepared a practical and useful fitness guide to help you get physically and mentally prepared to fully engage in your Mt. Fuji hike, because the more prepared and equipped you are for the hike the more enjoyable the hike will be.
Stretching during your climb may help prevent injuries
Preparation is key! - Starting a fitness program to train for your climb may be one of the best things you can do. Start your training well in advance of your climb. It is wise to seek your doctor’s approval and the guidance of a fitness trainer.
Some of us kid ourselves as to how fit we actually are, but undoubtedly most have some sense of how fit we really are. Regardless of your fitness level, some training is required. If you have an on going training routine and/or play sports regularly, you may only require more specific training. In this case your training will need to be adjusted to match the specific physical requirements of climbing Mt. Fuji. If you do not do any training, the climb will be challenging. If you do not have a fitness routine of any type, the first step may be to evaluate your current fitness level to give you a benchmark against which to measure your progress.
Basically, climbing Mt. Fuji places a lot of physical stress on your body; hence, the better these stresses on your body can be duplicated before the climb -- the better your body can adapt to the stress during your climb. Cardiovascular fitness is simply not enough. People who successfully run marathons fail to summit high-altitude peaks. Training emphasis needs to be on building the physical conditioning necessary to ascend 1,500 meters (5,000 ft.) of elevation while carrying seven to ten kilos (15-20 lbs.) up slopes with as much as a 40-degree steep. The physical capabilities necessary to successfully climb Mt. Fuji are discussed below. Cardiovascular Fitness – The ability to take in and supply oxygen to your body. This is the most important element necessary to climb Mt. Fuji. The effect of altitude sickness is the same, it doesn’t matter how great of shape an individual is in. So it stands to reason, the more oxygen the body can send to its muscles -- the better the body will function.
Strength (Lower/Upper Body and Core) – Strength means the ability to move quickly while maintaining stability, endurance and balance. The calves, hips, thigh muscles and hamstrings are all involved in ascending and descending steep slopes. Strength endurance is required in the legs and hips. Developing strength in the upper back and shoulders helps with tasks such as carrying your pack and using trekking poles effectively.
Acclimatization Fitness – The ability to adapt quickly to elevation changes to enhance the lungs ability to cope with the challenges of altitude.
Hiking at altitude can mess you up: so adjust your expectations
Simply put the lack of oxygen at high altitude causes an increase in the breathing depth and rate increasing the demand on the heart, adrenaline and artery pressures.
Points to Remember -
The better your cardiovascular fitness, the better prepared you will be to cope with the physical demands of hiking at altitude
Good cardiovascular fitness will improve your stamina
The cold also affects your cardiovascular system
So, with this in mind, it is definitely worth improving your cardiovascular fitness prior to your Mt. Fuji climb. The aim of cardiovascular exercise is to get your heart and lungs working hard for extended periods.
Adjust your training program, depending on how much time you have, from when you decide to climb Mt. Fuji to when you actually climb the mountain. Integrating the above physical capabilities into your fitness program will help prepare you to climb Mt. Fuji. See some specific training recommendations below.
Swimming, biking and skipping are great aerobic options for the beginning stages of training. As you get closer to the trip include activities which replicate steep climbing motions so your spine and legs replicate the climbing action. Training three times a week for 30 to 50 minutes will help you improve your overall cardiovascular capacity.
Strength Conditioning – Training with free weights or gym machines will help you build overall strength. Remember, your shoulders and lower back will need to be strong to carry the necessary supplies on the climb. The following full body eight-exercise strength workout covers the major muscles used when climbing.
Recommendations Pre-Hiking -
start to increase (or introduce) cardiovascular training at least 8-6 weeks prior to your Mt. Fuji Climb
aim for 3 - 4 cardiovascular sessions a week. These sessions should last at least 20 - 60 minutes in duration and ideally you should be working at around 60% - 70% of your maximum heart rate
ensure your training has variety and is progressive; each week try and up your pace, vary your workouts, introduce interval training and vary the length of the workouts that you are doing e.g. mix and match shorter 20-minute sessions with long bike rides and hill walks
outdoor examples of cardiovascular exercise include running, cycling and stair climbing or hill hiking (add a weighted backpack (10~20 Kgs) and try ankle weights for more resistant.
in the gym you can use the treadmill, bike or cross-trainer to work on your cardiovascular system, as well as introducing circuits and aerobic type classes.
FULL BODY STRENGTH WORKOUT •• Squats and Lunges (Legs) •• Back Extensions (Lower Back) •• Stiff-Legged Dead Lift (Lower Back) •• Seated Cable Rows (Upper Back) •• Overhead Press (Shoulders) •• Biceps Curls and Triceps Dips (Arms) •• Sit-ups and Twists – Incline sit-ups and Seated Twists
using Medicine Ball (Torso and Abdominals) At the start of strength training, proper form is important in order to prevent injury. Completing two sets of each of the exercises above for 10-12 repetitions. As you continue to train, you will change the focus from form to building strength. At this time lower repetitions to 6-8 using heavier weights. Finally, a month before the climb, change your weekly workout schedule to rotate between both low and high repetitions to focus on strength endurance. During any training stage, always be sure you maintain proper form in order to prevent injury.
Climb Conditioning – Climb specific training for quicker elevation adaptation. Options include: •• Hiking outdoor trails and or hills with a weighted pack. •• Walking up and down stairs or stadium bleacher with a weighted pack. •• Walking on stair-master with the incline set at five or higher with weighted pack.
Pack: Start off light and gradually increase the weight in the pack until you feel comfortable carrying around a 20-pound (seven to ten kilos) pack.
Other Considerations -
The goal of climbing Mt. Fuji is usually motivation enough; however, keeping a training log of your progress and identifying your improvements is also very helpful.
To further help you acclimatize and to help to enhance the functioning of cardiovascular system, take into account the following when you are at altitude:
You need to get mentally prepared that it’s going to be harder
Consider your diet (Travel light - and not just your packsack but your body weight as well - losing just a couple of pounds/kgs before you hike will make a world of difference)
stay well hydrated. Mountain air is extremely dry and therefore you lose a lot of water. You need to drink a lot more than you think in the mountains
it is best to limit alcohol consumption before and during the acclimatization period as it increases your risk of dehydration and can increase feelings of loss of appetite and fatigue
if you have a pre-existing cardiovascular disorder it is worth talking to your Doctor before ascending to a high altitude
if you suffer from headaches, sickness and decreased appetite at altitude, your body needs more time to adapt so don't overdo it, especially when you first start hiking.
an initial decline in appetite is not uncommon so think about what you are eating. A high carbohydrate, low salt diet allows for better adaptation. Choose slow release carbohydrates rather than refined sugary snacks and meals that help to keep your blood sugars steady e.g. whole grains, legumes, fruit and vegetables