The #1 Beginner’s Guide To Fitness Training For Kilimanjaro Blog

This fitness training for Kilimanjaro blog is an excellent resource for showing beginners how to prepare to climb Kilimanjaro. It will go over general workout methods that are frequently overlooked during preparations, as well as exercises to avoid while training.

Do You Need To Train For Kilimanjaro Treks?

Kilimanjaro hikes are simple and straightforward. Though there is a 60% chance of success, hiking Kilimanjaro is incredibly easy.

Did You Know That You Don’t Have To Be Superfit To Climb Kilimanjaro?

Let me explain: hiking Kilimanjaro is more about acclimatization than physical fitness. There are no special workouts or equipment required to climb the mountain. Instead, a few months of conditioning and acclimatization will get you in tip-top shape for Africa’s highest peak. If you’re short on time and want to skim through the content, there are snippets in between paragraphs that summarize and drive home key points.

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Having a solid training regimen in place will not only boost your chances of success, but it will also make your hike more fun. In this article, you’ll learn how to train and prepare for your Kilimanjaro trek.

Kilimanjaro success rates & difficulty scores.

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The cost of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.

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This Is How To Prepare To Climb Kilimanjaro

What’s the appropriate Kilimanjaro fitness level?

If you’re wondering how to prepare to climb Kilimanjaro, think of strength for endurance. Good examples of this are marathon runners and gymnasts. The reason you’ll need to work on your endurance is because you’ll be trekking up to 10 hours at a time for several days. In addition, you’ll also be carrying up to 10kg (22lbs) of your personal belongings up the mountain. Good endurance and strength conditioning will ensure you have an easy time on the trails.

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Now, just because you exercise 4 to 6 times per week doesn’t imply you’re ready to summit Kilimanjaro (5,895 meters/19,341 feet). Due to poor acclimatization, many people who have the stamina to run a marathon are unable to summit high-altitude peaks. Simply having good cardiovascular fitness isn’t enough. You must be able to acclimate to high elevations (above 3,000 meters/9,900 feet) to have an easier time on Kilimanjaro.

Treadmills are the absolute worst place to train for Kilimanjaro treks. A simple mountain hike will better prepare you for Kilimanjaro than countless hours on a treadmill. This is due to the fact that the stress exerted to your joints and ligaments on rough terrain differs significantly from the pressure applied on a flat surface. This is why many hikers have accidents on the mountain. Rather, you should train to hike Kilimanjaro.

What’s the best Mount Kilimanjaro training plan?

Before attempting to climb Kilimanjaro, most people will need to train for at least three to four months. This will leave you room to safely and effectively build your conditioning during your workouts. Rushing increases your chances of getting hurt or not being prepared for your Kilimanjaro hike. For that reason, all travelers should highlight the following drills during their exercise plan:

  1. Flexibility training
  2. Trail conditioning
  3. Strength training
  4. Cardiovascular exercises

Flexibility Training

Before you begin anything, schedule at least 20–30 minutes of targeted stretching for the first two weeks of your training. Assuming you’ve spent the last decade sitting on your couch, this will relieve any tension in your body and prepare you for the hard work. It’s risky to start workouts if your body isn’t used to sudden movements.

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You should stretch your hamstrings, glutes, hips, calves, lower back, and quadriceps. It will highlight any potential issues early in the process. Make sure you have a normal range of motion in all of your joints. As your conditioning improves, this will become even more important as you add weight and distance to your training.

Trail Conditioning

There is no better way to prepare for your Kilimanjaro trek than a good old-fashioned hike. Walk with a daypack along outdoor trails, gradually increasing your weight until you can comfortably carry a 10kg (22Lbs) pack. A reasonable goal would be to climb up to 1,000 meters in a three-hour window while carrying 10kg (22Lbs) of additional weight.

Once you’ve mastered this, reduce rest periods and increase the speed of each conditioning workout. A month before your trek, you should be able to carry your target weight comfortably.

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Interval training is one training technique that will be useful for high-altitude trekking. Dirty thirties, pyramids, and 1-minute efforts are three great interval exercises for acclimatization. The goal is not to hang around high altitudes long enough for your body to adjust to the surrounding conditions but to train your body to be able to anticipate the changes in elevation. To incorporate interval training, find a steep hill that you can climb steadily for several minutes. Push as hard as you can going up, then recover coming down. Repeat the process for 20–45 minutes, depending on your fitness level.

Strength Training

Strengthening your shoulders and upper back will help you carry your backpack and use trekking poles properly. Muscular endurance is essential in all areas of the legs and hips. Quads, calves, hips, hamstrings, and glutes are all involved in ascending and descending scree and dirt terrain. Using free weights, bands, a backpack, bodyweight, or gym machines will help you build overall strength focused on these muscle groups.

When beginning any strength training program, execute two 45 minute full-body workout sessions. Each week focusing on compound movements such as squats, lunges, deadlifts, step-ups, pull-ups, dips, rows, bench presses, push-ups, and overhead presses. This will provide you with the trekking-specific strength you’ll need on the mountain.

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At the beginning of each process, you’ll keep the weight light enough with low repetitions (8–10 repetitions) to concentrate on good form while striving hard to complete two sets of each exercise. As you continue to train, your focus should shift to strength development. This will generally mean fewer repetitions (4–6 repetitions) with heavier weights. 

Each training phase ought to vary according to repetitions completed, weight used, number of sets applied, and rest intervals. Maintain proper form at all times, regardless of training phase, to avoid injury or strain.

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Change your training six weeks before your climb to focus on endurance. This will require more repetitions (15–20 repetitions) with lighter weights to convert your newly acquired strength into strength endurance.

You should stretch your hamstrings, glutes, hips, calves, lower back, and quadriceps. It will highlight any potential issues early in the process. Make sure you have a normal range of motion in all of your joints. As your conditioning improves, this will become even more important as you add weight and distance to your training.

Cardiovascular Exercises

While rowing, biking, and swimming are aerobic options for the early stages of training, make sure to include activities that load the spine and legs in the same manner that trekking will as you get closer to your trip. At least 5 times per week, you should either be trail running, jogging, or walking up and down hills.

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Begin your weekly cardiovascular training program with three 20 minute workouts every other day. Then progress to five or six 40 minute aerobic sessions for the same duration. Include a 5–10-minute gentle warm-ups before every session, followed by 5–10 minutes of appropriate stretching of your lower back, calves, hamstrings, hips, and quadriceps.

Final Disclaimer

Spend 10–15 minutes stretching before and after each workout. Include at least one recovery day per week and pay close attention to your body. In the final week leading up to your trip, gradually reduce your training intensity so that you are well-rested and psychologically prepared for the challenge.

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