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Ain’t mountain no high enough

Sick of the gym? Try scaling the Gulf's mountain ranges for a vigorous, rigorous and fun work out.

Mountaineering is not for the faint hearted and we aren't even talking about tackling the Himalayas right away. But if you persevere and build up stamina you will get the desired rock hard body that you always craved for.

Mountaineering is an exercise that pushes your body and mind to its full potential leaving you exhilarated. To quote A.Alvarez, writer, climbing in particular, is a paradoxically intellectual pastime, but with this difference: you have to think with your body. Every move has to be worked out in terms of playing chess with your body. Mountain climbing combines techniques, balance and power, a thorough work out with duel benefit- physical and psychological.

Before you set out!
Before you get started consult a physician, check for cardiovascular ailments, pulmonary ailments, in general asses your health condition to negate any possible risk you might be undertaking and ensure that you make it to the top, literally.

Also learn some deep breathing exercises- learn to inhale deeply and slowly through your nose into your abdomen. You should feel your abdomen rise with this inhalation and your chest should move only a little. Then exhale through your mouth, keeping your mouth, tongue, and jaw relaxed. This is very important especially if you have set your sight on a mountain higher than 3000 metres.

Mountaineering vs Gym
On a treadmill when you adjust the settings to incline you might get a feel of climbing but does it give you the adrenaline rush that you experience when you stand at the summit of the peak you just conquered?

Arms: In a gym when you lift the dumbbell, in the alternate hammer curl or the alternate bicep curl, your huffing and puffing for the perfect biceps, alternatively in mountain climbing when you use hands to grab holds in seemingly impossible places you're exercising the same set of muscles plus, after the huffing and puffing you have elevated yourself to a higher level (altitude). Also, the action effectively stretches the forearm and finger flexors.

Legs: The treadmill, the exercise bikes, the leg extension machines- the standard equipments at all gyms, provides exercise for the lower body and leg. In mountain climbing when you traverse the uneven terrains, in long or short, fast or slow strides, the legs are constantly moving up and down, this works closely to simulate the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in them, strengthening them. The indoor running machines will merely give you a push down but solid ground offers full resistance exerting more pressure on your leg muscles.

Overall workout: According to a study, rock climbing burns twice as much calories as running. Mountain climbing involves both rock climbing and running. Means something doesn't it? It's complete workout.

Mountaineering is an excellent cross training activity that strengthens the intrinsic muscles of the feet, lower legs, and hand grip in a very natural way as it involves body positioning, weight transfer, and learning how to move efficiently. It is one of the best endurance workouts. Besides, mountaineering is basically an aerobic sport. So, it works to strengthen the muscles involved in respiration, and the heart muscles-the outcome is a more efficient cardiovascular system.

Moreover, mountaineering can save you a lot of money spent on fitness. An outdoor activity such as mountaineering is a one time investment- ones you have purchased (renting is an option) all the needed equipments and gears there's no stopping the heights you can claim. The must-haves for climbing ventures are rock shoes, harness, carabiners and hardwares, ropes and webbing, and helmets.

Try it in the Arabian Highlands
Saudi Arabia: Al Baha in Saudi Arabia is great place for many mountain adventures including mountain biking, trekking etc. Jebel Sheda is the highest summit in Al-Makhwah is great for amateur climbers. It's a high mountain with rare rocky structures, and has numerous sites for recreation and camping along the way. Monumental engravings are found at the foot of the climb.

Oman: The Jebel Shams mountain hike is one of the most popular treks in Oman and is known as the ‘Jebel Shams Rim Walk'. From this amazing vantage point you will enjoy fabulous views of the mountains and the rugged landscape. Wadi Bani Awf is by far the most challenging wadi here.

UAE: ‘Stairway to Heaven' in Northern Emirates is a mountainous terrain, but its more a hikers joy, an 8-12 hours hike. The temperature and weather condition vary greatly adding to the difficulty but also to the thrill of the trek.

Jordan: Jordan is a wonderful country for hiking and trekking but for those interested in mountaineering the climb to Jebel Rum (1754m) is the best! The official price for climbing it with a guide is usually around 150JD to 200JD, according to the route chosen.

Mountaineering is very much a physical activity the visible physiological benefit would be a healthy more tone body but there are also other benefits such as good bowel movements owing to better muscular contraction, away from noise pollution it benefits the organ of corti, and the visual treat to the eye from the summit and the combined effects of all these on relaxing the brain will stimulate your body.

The delight that comes from overcoming physical obstacles, the conquering of difficulties, through not only muscular exertion, (believe it or not there are certain cells in our body that is happy to be working) but also the faculties of discrimination, observation, and judgment associated with mental efforts, the sense of achievement and accomplishment obtained is significant. Above all the therapeutic and healing effect of nature will stimulate both your body and mind.

“Climb the mountains, and get their good tidings,” says environmentalist, John Muir,

“Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. Winds will blow freshness into you and storms their energy and cares will drop off like falling leaves.”

What to take
We suggest that you take a light lunch, a container of water, sunscreen, sun hat, and a day pack to carry it all. If you have your own climbing shoes and harness, take them too. Otherwise, rent from your choice mountaineering destination.

What to wear
Wear comfortable clothing that allows free movement; shorts, sweats, or Lycra. If you decide on higher altitudes, insulation clothes are the norms. A water resistant shell is a good idea.

Injury proof your body with a few exercises to avoid mishaps, these could benefit you in your everyday life but more so when your on an adventurous trip.

For a stronger knee: Four-Way Kick
Attach your ankle to a cable machine (or use a resistance band). Face the machine. Kick your leg back 20 times. Rotate 90 degrees and kick to the side. Repeat in all four directions (when you're facing away from the machine, kick forwards). Start with two sets of 20 in each direction on each leg, and work up to three sets of 50 in each direction.

For stronger glutes-your butt muscles:
The glute bridge- Lie with your knees bent with a rolled towel between them. Pull your toes towards your shins. Squeeze your glutes and raise your body. Lower your hips to the floor, but don't touch it. Perform the exercises of 1-2 sets of 8-10 repetitions.


Source: Arabian Man
Posted: 26/06/2008

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