Training & Health
The main reason for undertaking an appropriate training program before climbing Kilimanjaro are to ensure your success and enjoyment!
Advantages of training preparations
- Your body will deal with the rigours of adapting to high altitude much better.
- You will recover more quickly after each day’s exertions on the mountain.
- You will enjoy the whole experience much more.
- You are more likely to reach the summit
- You won’t be too exhausted to take photographs and admire your beautiful surroundings.
An unconditioned body can usually be pushed to the summit one way or another, but considerably more suffering than necessary is involved and less is gained and remembered from the experience.
The difference between having an awareness and appreciation of your surroundings or else having to concentrate on your breathing to the exclusion of almost everything else, will normally boil down to the simple issue of whether you have chosen to take your Kilimanjaro training seriously in the months leading up to your expedition.
Climbers regret not doing enough Kilimanjaro training.
Some frequent remarks we hear are ‘I wish I’d trained more seriously for this,’ and ‘I didn‘t realise it was going to be this hard,‘ and ‘I’m going to have to come back to try this again!’. Too often the adventurer will procrastinate, waiting for a piece of kit before starting, or allowing themselves to be let down by team mates.
We advise climbers to guard against this and start their Kilimanjaro training today, even if this just means a little trunk strengthening by doing an 8 minute abdominal lesson guided by a YouTube video.
While we’re happy to welcome climbers back for a second attempt, and while we do have people come and climb a new route with us who have already succeeded in reaching Kilimanjaro’s summit the first time, we want your Kilimanjaro climb to be successful the first time round.
How do I train to climb Kilimanjaro?
Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is a physical undertaking, so you should prepare yourself accordingly with a Kilimanjaro training program. Being in good shape is important in many respects. Obviously, strong, conditioned legs make it easier to walk uphill and downhill for sustained periods of time.
General aerobic fitness allows the body to function efficiently with less oxygen. And a fit body is more likely to withstand the stress of consecutive days of hiking and camping. Finally, a positive mental attitude can work wonders for you when fatigue and doubts arise.
How hard is it to climb Kilimanjaro?
That’s a difficult question to answer because some people don’t train much and fare very well, while others engage in a disciplined training program and succumb to the altitude in a few days. We’ve heard marathon runners tell us that climbing Kilimanjaro is the hardest thing they’ve ever done.
The best advice we can give is to train adequately, as described below, and get yourself in the best possible hiking shape. The mountain is a big unknown, and you won’t know with certainty how you will react until you are there.
The best exercise that you can do to prepare for hiking Kilimanjaro is… Hiking!
There are training regimens on some hiking operator’s sites which entail strict, extensive, cross-training programs, featuring hiking, running, biking, swimming, weight training, etc. Do not be alarmed by this. Those programs are excessive and unnecessary to sufficiently prepare for climbing Kilimanjaro.
The best and perhaps only exercise you need to do is to hike – period.
After all, that is what you will be doing on the mountain. Ideally, you should try to hike as much as possible on hills or mountains to simulate ascension on Mount Kilimanjaro. Doing day hikes is superb training. For those who do not have access to trails, but have membership to a gym, you can train very productively on a stair master machine. If you have no access to trails or a gym, then try to walk as much as you can, with extended walks on the weekends.