Training To climb Kilimanjaro
Climbing Kilimanjaro is a serious physical undertaking and you should aim to be in the best condition of your life when you arrive. The key thing to remember though is that this is an endurance event and stamina and mental toughness are more important than outright fitness. Lots of people get to the summit who are not perfect specimens of fitness but they all have loads of grit and determination.
The best way to build stamina and mental toughness is to get used to spending long periods of time on your legs so there is no real substitute for getting out in the hills with your boots on and clocking up some miles and hours. This is the best and, if you can do enough, the only exercise you need to do. Our UK team always head to the Lake district fells for a couple of days before we fly out to Tanzania for a climb.Not everyone can get to the hills though so you should get out wherever you can and walk as far as time allows two to three times a week. If you have membership of a gym, or can run or cycle regularly you can augment your walking training and then try to fit in extended walks on the weekends closer to your climb date.
For a general fitness program for Kilimanjaro we would recommend the following schedule starting at least 8 weeks before you leave and then repeating three times a week.
Aim to build up to doing at least 30 minutes at a good pace of either running, cycling or using a cross trainer. An energetic aerobic, zumba or spinning class works just fine. You should be able to do this comfortably without feeling stressed by the time you leave for Kilimanjaro .
For a great set of leg strengthening exercises that you can do at home without any equipment we would recommend these three exercises each repeated 12 times for three sets.
- Squat thrusts: legs apart bending till the knees are at a right angle keeping the back straight
- Lunges: stepping forward onto one leg about one long pace and lowering the other knee in a controlled way to the floor
- Single leg dips: balanced on one leg dip down as far as you can holding the balance then up and down
Most injuries on the mountain are caused by tight inflexible muscles. To avoid injury a good set of basic stretches to do everyday are below. Hold each one for 30 seconds, change leg then repeat two times.
- Achilles stretch: keeping the heel to the floor bend the knee forward and downwards to the floor as far as you can comfortably
- Calf stretch: keeping the leg straight, push against a wall with one leg extended behind you as far as you can again keeping the heel to the floor
- Quad stretch: standing on one leg (supported if necessary) pull the ankle of the other leg up as close to your bottom as possible always keeping your back straight and your pelvis forward
- Hamstring stretch: bending one leg slightly and keeping the other leg straight and slightly in front bend forward over the straight leg as far as is comfortable.
If you keep up this regime for 8 weeks before arriving in Tanzania you will be in good shape to summit Kilimanjaro: you just then need to look after yourself on the mountain which means eating and drinking plenty, keeping yourself warm and dry and most importantly always going at a slow steady space. Get all of that right and you will find yourself standing on the roof of Africa!
Kilimanjaro - About the Author:
Private Kilimanjaro specialises in arranging private and group climbs up Mt Kilimanjaro and Kilimanjaro Charity Challenges. We also arrange Tanzanian treks up Mt Meru and in the Ngorongoro Highlands; safaris in all the Tanzanian National Parks and beach breaks to Zanzibar, Pemba and Mafia Islands.