Getting Fit For Kilimanjaro Climb

Training Preparation for Kilimanjaro Climbing Fitness.

Training Preparation for Kilimanjaro Climbing Fitness 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. The former is important as you will be trekking between 5-10 miles a day for the duration of your climb (which can be up to 9 days if you have booked onto a long route). The ability to draw on physical reserves as your energy depletes is key.
However, if you read about or speak to high altitude climbers they will all say that your mental stamina is just as important as your physical endurance. This is definitely true of Kilimanjaro, particularly on summit night. Here are 4 things you can do to be perfectly prepared for the summit

Despite being a mountain which is accessible to most people and not just experienced mountaineers, Mount Kilimanjaro should not be underestimated. Hiking to its summit is a serious challenge which requires significant preparation and specific physical conditioning. With forward planning, the right acclimatization schedule and the right attitude to training, you stand the best possible chance of successfully and safely getting to the top of Kilimanjaro and back down again – and enjoying one of the most rewarding and spectacular experiences in the world. Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is a physical challenge which is well within the reach of most people who enjoy a reasonable standard of fitness. However, training specifically for the climb is essential to prepare you for the particular pitfalls posed by mountain walking.  You are strongly advised to seek medical advice before deciding to arrange your climb and before starting a training program, particularly if you have any concerns about your health. Remember the summit day is 14+ hours.  4,000 feet of ascent into extreme altitude and 9,000 foot drop in one day. This requires serious consideration.

Being mentally prepared will also be crucial to your chance of a successful summit climb. Progressively pushing the limits of your physical training will help develop your capacity to endure the strain. A positive attitude is also crucial. It is helpful to remind yourself when training and during the climb that thousands of people have achieved this feat before you and that you can do it too. But do be prepared for setbacks and particularly difficult stages during the climb. And remember that your guide will be there to encourage and inspire you!

This is how you will prepare your body to tolerate low level of oxygen supply during hiking. It associates with taking regular exercise prior the time of hiking. The types of exercise that use aerobic metabolism are generally light-to-moderate intensity activities like long distance jogging, swimming, cycling and walking and Marathon Running. Aerobic exercise builds the cardiovascular system which is key when training to climb Kilimanjaro, as a strong cardiovascular system will help you process limited oxygen in a more efficient way.

On Training Preparation for Kilimanjaro Climbing, you should always walk as slow as possible, even when you are on the lower reaches and feeling great, is fundamental to your success on Kilimanjaro hiking. You will hear your porters say Pole Pole, which means Slow Slow in Swahili. This is possibly the best advice you will get!
Your body needs time to acclimatize to high altitude and a strong cardiovascular system can help but not if you have pushed yourself too hard.

If you are relatively unfit I recommend setting yourself a 3-6 month Training Preparation for Kilimanjaro Climbing regime where you focus on long distance walking / running (6-12 km at least three times a week). You can do this on a gym treadmill but remember to set a consistent pace and vary the slope (a slight incline is best).

For relatively fit people who already undertake a fair share of cardiovascular exercise we recommend maintaining your regime until 1 month before your climb. At this point we recommend increasing the duration, but not intensity, of your exercises.

It is sensible to start Training Preparation for Kilimanjaro Climbing as early as possible before your scheduled climb. Conventional exercise routines which build strength, fitness and stamina, such as aerobics and light weight-training can be beneficial, particularly if your fitness level is less than desirable.  But the best physical preparation is activity which simulates, as far as possible, the demands on your body which will be happening during your ascent and descent of Kilimanjaro. You should therefore aim to make walking up and down hills as the main part of your training. Taking regular and increasingly long walks will help develop the muscles which will be needed when you arrive in Africa. Try to find some local hills to walk up and down if possible. Gradually increasing the duration of your walks will help to develop your stamina and also assist in preparing you for being on your feet over long distances. You should also we walking and training during the week. When out on training walks, ensure that you always wear the boots you intend to take to Kilimanjaro. Getting used to your footwear will help make you as comfortable as possible when it comes to your climb. It is also a good idea to wear the small day pack you will be taking with you on the climb so you feel at ease with it and gradually add weight to the pack to build strength.

In addition to aerobic exercise you should also be doing light strength training, particularly for your legs, core and upper body.
In terms of your legs we suggest for the following exercises:
• Lunges
• Squats
• Front and Reverse Leg-curls (thigh muscle and hamstrings)
• Step aerobics

Building the strength of your core muscles (stomach and lower back) and upper shoulder muscles is also important as you will be carrying a lightweight pack for up to 6-7 hours a day. How do I Train to Climb Kilimanjaro?

We recommend the following exercises:
• Sit-ups
• Kettle-bell rows / swings
• Shoulder presses
• Back and shoulder flies

Climbing Kilimanjaro is in fact just one long hike. The best way to prepare for a long hike is to do a few yourself. We recommend for Training Preparation for Kilimanjaro Climbing, doing at least two long distance hikes (over 5 hours). If you can do back to back days that would be even better. Doing a few practices hikes as part of your training to climb Kilimanjaro has a few benefits. You get to experience what a 5 hour hike on difficult terrain feels like, going up and down (for most people going down is often more grueling as your knees and joints can take a battering). You get to wear in your boots. There is nothing worse than arriving in Kilimanjaro with unworn-in boots. This can seriously stymie your summit attempt as you will get blisters and sore feet early on in your hike.

So often the thing that gets climbers to the top of Kilimanjaro is there mental stamina. There will be times during the summit night that you will want to give up and go back down. Being able to dig deep and pull on your mental reserves is so important. Thankfully there are activities to train your mental stamina. Most require some form of pushing your body to the extreme, or to what you think your limits are, and then pushing through to accomplish your goal.

We recommend long distance running, particularly marathons, but half marathons can do the same thing if you are not accustomed to running long distance. This type of activity really requires one to draw on their mental reserves to get to the finish line. Most people who run marathons will tell you the last mile was all mental. If you can get in that state of mind at least once before Kilimanjaro then you will be perfectly prepared for the final push up the slopes of Kibo.