Training For Kilimanjaro
A good level of fitness is required to climb Kilimanjaro due to long days of walking, rough terrain and high altitude. Whilst this is not a technical climb, physical and mental preparation are key to your success and training will give you the best possible chance of reaching the top.
- Aim to start training at least 2-3 months before your climb.
- Aim to train for 40-60 minutes, 4-5 days per week, building up to this gradually.
- Combine aerobic exercise for endurance with strength training to help build muscles, so that you are ready to tackle hiking on steep and rugged terrain.
- Good aerobic fitness will allow your body to function efficiently with less oxygen, over longer periods of time. At altitude the heart must work harder to pump oxygen around the body. It can be surprising how even a gentle incline can lead to breathlessness.
- The best aerobic training is walking, ideally with a backpack weighing 5-8kgs and wearing the boots you intend to wear on the climb, especially if they are new. This can be around your neighbourhood, further afield or in the gym on a treadmill!
- Any type of aerobic activity is fine - the goal is to build endurance.
- As you get closer to your departure date, try to spend a weekend or two on longer walks over consecutive days.
- Weight training, specifically for legs and glutes, with low weights and high repetition, will help build strength.
- Consider working with a personal trainer if you’ve never undertaken anything like this before. Don’t forget to stretch, to reduce your chance of injury!
- Scale down training a week or two before your trip, rest and focus on healthy eating.
Can I Train for Altitude?
- There is little you can do to prepare for altitude in your training, unless you’re lucky enough to live close to high mountains and spend time acclimatising before your trip!
- Training regularly at an altitude centre, like some professional athletes, can also help, although this is out of reach for the majority of people. It is only effective if you visit regularly in the final weeks approaching your climb.
- We recommend seeing your doctor about Diamox/Acetazolamide and once on the mountain listen to your guides advice regarding hydration, nutrition and sleep. Be ready to walk slowly as you cannot move fast at altitude. Mentally prepare to relax and enjoy the scenery if you’re usually a fast walker!
- Don’t forget the impact of temperature extremes, the exertion of life in a tent, and that you’ll be trekking for days in succession. The more training you can do outside, the more prepared you will be mentally for these challenges.
- Summit night takes physical fitness and mental endurance. The more physically fit you are, the less stress you are likely to put on your body and the more you will be able to enjoy the experience.
- For many, climbing Kilimanjaro means stepping out of your comfort zone. Tiredness and altitude can also make us more emotional than usual. Be kind to yourself!