As you prepare to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro you will need to prepare yourself physically and mentally. So much of your mental fitness will come from how physically prepared you feel, so it is worth committing the time to building your stamina and fitness, as it will contribute to the mental preparation as well.

Your first stop should be at a doctor’s office where you can consult with your physician about both the medical side of your trip to Tanzania (malaria prophylaxis, anti-diarrheal medicine, and the use of Diamox) as well as consulting about your physical fitness and your proposed training regime. Your doctor will help you to assess your physical preparedness and will help guide you on the pace and rigor of your training. Therefore, all the guidelines below should be followed only under the advice of your physician as well as your own knowledge of your body and your common sense.

For physical preparation the most important thing to do is to get out there and hike. While you are on Kilimanjaro what you will be doing every day is walking, so the more you do that as your preparation the better off you will be. Ideally you should start off with short hikes, preferably on uneven trails, but if you can’t do that on a daily basis, at the very least get outside and try to walk for an hour or so each day, and when you are able, plan longer hikes on mountainous trails on the weekends. Aim for at least 3-5 miles a day on weekdays and up to 10 miles a day or more on the weekends. There are lots of good apps that can help you monitor your time and distance, such as “Map My Run”. If you have an iPhone or android phone, we suggest using one of these to help you monitor your progress.

Every time you go out to walk or hike, wear your boots. This way you will be sure that they are well broken in and you will be able figure out the best combination of socks and if you will need to use moleskin.

Also use your day-pack. You can start with it empty, or with just water in it, but gradually add the items you will be carrying when you are on the mountain until you reach about 20 lbs, as that is about the maximum you will ever need to carry. Again, by wearing your pack you will be able to get a good feel for what works and what doesn’t work for you, and that will build your confidence for when you are actually on Kilimanjaro.

Try to make your Kilimanjaro training as enjoyable as possible, because the more you enjoy it, the more you will do of it.

While you are training, get in the habit of drinking water regularly. On the mountain you will need to consume 3-4 liters of water a day. Start by try to drink at least 1 liter during each of your training periods and another liter over the course of the day.

Aside from walking, you will want to build up your strength. You can do lower body strength training up to 3 times a week. It is important to strengthen you lower body as it will decrease your chances of sustaining an injury in your muscles or joints during the climb. In any gym you will find machines to help you do this, such as leg press machines, leg curl machines, a standing calf machine, hip abduction machines. Try to do 3 repetitions of 15 presses on each of these machines 3 times a week. Make sure to include at least a 5-10 minutes stretching and warm up period before you start any work out and a 5-10 minute cool down at the end of each work out.

For general cardio vascular conditioning, a stair master is a good bet. Start with 20 minutes and build up gradually to 30 minutes.

You are the best judge of your own fitness. The most important thing is that you not push yourself too much. You do not want to injure yourself before the climb and on the mountain you will be going at a very slow pace, so you don’t need to worry too much about pushing yourself to really work up a sweat. The bottom line is that you will enjoy the climb more, the more fit you are, so it is worth putting an effort in to build up your fitness in the month prior to the climb.

If you are the kind of person who likes a detailed set of instructions, attached is an eight-week training program. This is merely a guide, and should only be followed if you feel physically able.

Monday – Walk 3 miles
Tuesday – Walk 3 miles, Strength Training for 30 minutes
Wednesday – Rest
Thursday – Walk 3 miles, Strength Training for 30 minutes
Friday – Rest
Saturday – Hike for 3 hours
Sunday – Hike for 3 hours


 

Monday – Walk 3 miles, Strength Training for 30 minutes
Tuesday – Rest
Wednesday – Walk 3 miles, Strength Training for 30 minutes
Thursday – Walk 4 miles
Friday – Rest
Saturday – Hike for 3 hours
Sunday – Hike for 3 hours


 

Monday – Walk 4 miles, Use a Stairmaster for 20 minutes
Tuesday – Walk 3 miles, Strength Training for 40 minutes
Wednesday – Rest
Thursday – Walk 4 miles, Use a Stairmaster for 20 minutes
Friday – Rest
Saturday – Hike for 4 hours
Sunday – Hike for 4 hours


 

Monday – Walk 4 miles, Use a Stairmaster for 20 minutes
Tuesday – Rest
Wednesday – Walk 3 miles, Strength Training for 40 minutes
Thursday – Walk 4 miles, Use a Stairmaster for 20 minutes
Friday – Rest
Saturday – Hike for 4 hours
Sunday – Hike for 4 hours


 

Monday – Walk 4 miles, Strength Training for 45 minutes
Tuesday – Walk 4 miles, Use a Stairmaster for 25 minutes
Wednesday – Rest
Thursday – Walk 4 miles, Use a Stairmaster for 25 minutes
Friday – Rest
Saturday – Hike for 5 hours
Sunday – Hike for 5 hours


 

Monday – Walk 5 miles, Strength Training for 45 minutes
Tuesday – Rest
Wednesday – Walk 5 miles, Use Stairmaster for 30 minutes
Thursday – Walk 5 miles, Strength Training for 45 minutes
Friday – Rest
Saturday – Hike for 5 hours
Sunday – Hike for 5 hours


 

Monday – Walk 5 miles, Use a Stairmaster for 30 minutes
Tuesday – Walk 5 miles, Strength Training for 45 minutes
Wednesday – Rest
Thursday – Walk 5 miles, Use a Stairmaster for 30 minutes
Friday – Rest
Saturday – Hike for 6 hours
Sunday – Hike for 6 hours.


 

Monday – Walk 5 miles, Strength Training for 45 minutes
Tuesday – Rest
Wednesday – Walk 5 miles, Use a Stairmaster for 30 minutes
Thursday – Walk 5 miles, Strength Training for 45 minutes
Friday – Rest
Saturday – Hike for 6 hours
Sunday – Hike for 6 hours