Fitness Program & Physical preparation

Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa and hiking to the peak is a challenge that should not be under estimated. With all the information you could possibly gather, added to being physically prepared, one’s chances of reaching the summit is substantially increased. Stamina and mental determination to a great extent, will determine whether or not you will be successful in you quest to conquer the Roof of Africa. Being physically prepared for the trek will also greatly contribute to the level of your perseverance, confidence and personal enjoyment!


The type of fitness is more important than the degree of fitness. Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro is a hike, therefore the best preparation one can do is to hike, preferably under simulated conditions. Although jogging could be beneficial to your fitness level, it does not fully prepare your muscles for a strenuous 6-day hike. We suggest that you spend some of your training by merely hiking. In addition to regular gym workouts, make sure you also go for walks in order to stimulate relevant muscle development. Try to do a one or two day hiking trials in your area. This will not only be an excellent way for physical preparation, but also an enjoyable means to prepare yourself mentally.

We have furthermore developed a practical (in terms of time and costs) fitness preparation guideline to assist you in getting your body ready for a Mt. Kilimanjaro summit attempt. This guide contains a gym and a hiking program that should be followed simultaneously over an 8 week period.

Important points to remember – Before you start!!


Before embarking on a fitness program, it is always wise to first seek the advice of a medical doctor. Feel free to share this program with your family doctor for input. Chances are, your doctor will be delighted to know that you undertake to exercise regularly.


In essence, the gym section of our fitness program consists of regular and progressive resistance exercises with either free weights (like barbells and dumbbells) or free weight machines that are readily available in gymnasiums. The idea behind progressive resistance is that your exercise regime can be tailored to your age, physical condition and strength, steadily progressing to higher resistance level as you develop.


Progressive resistance movements could be customized to individual strength and fitness levels, therefore our fitness program is potentially safe. It is however essential that all of the exercises be performed correctly and that basic safety procedures are followed at all times. It is furthermore always a good idea to invest in reading material on physical fitness and to consult your local fitness instructor about performing each exercise correctly.


This workout consist of repetitions (reps) and sets. A rep is a single count of an exercise, for example moving downwards for one squad movement. A set is knows as a series of reps – an average set consist of 8 to 12 reps.


It is highly recommended that one always warms up the muscles before starting with any exercising routine. The norm is doing a variety of stretching movements to warm up, strengthen and progressively challenge the tendons, ligaments, joints and muscles.

Stretching is very important, as it is the best way to prepare for an injury-free workout.


The above represents a guideline and can be adapted to your time schedule and current fitness level, but it will give you an good idea of which muscles you should concentrate on.

Unfit people should utilise light weights during the first two weeks of this program.

To stimulate sufficient muscle growth and development, the weights should be increased progressively at least every two weeks.

For effective muscle development every muscle or muscle group should be given a resting and recuperation period of at least 48 hours after every strenuous exercising session if weights where utilised.

It is important to execute the various exercises in the same order as listed above.

The above program can be adapted for home gymnasiums – we will gladly advise you on request.

If time permits it always a good idea to include some upper body development exercises in your program, in order to achieve a more balanced and overall body development.


It is advisable to go for frequent walks which should include some uphill and down hills sections. Take your daypack with you and carry at least three litres of water or three kilograms with you. This will simulate the conditions you will encounter. As mentioned before, doing a one or two day local hiking trial in your area is not only an excellent way of preparation but also most enjoyable. We have developed an adequate hiking programme of least 8 weeks to ensure an adequate level of fitness.

If your local weather conditions do not always permit outdoor activities, you can do part of it on a treadmill and simulate the flat, uphill (inclined) and downhill (declined) sections. Terminate your hiking program at least 4 days before you’re the start of your summit attempt to ensure sufficient rest before the climb

Although it is often said that the ascent to Kilimanjaro is not particularly physically demanding, a good condition will definitely make it easier for you to ascend. During the ascent to Kilimanjaro you will pass through different zones. The beginning is in a tropical rainforest, where you can go in shorts and a short T-shirt. Depending on which route you choose, the course of the ascent will of course vary, but in general it can be said that the first days are, if the weather is good, a very pleasant and really not very demanding alpine walk. You will usually arrive at the campsite after lunch and have plenty of time to rest, dinner and sleep. If you drink enough, expect to get up at night to urinate. The hardest part of the climb is the day when you go to the top of Uhuru Peak. You will probably arrive at the campsite, which will be at an altitude of about 4,700 m above sea level, for a late lunch, followed by rest, dinner and a short sleep. You will get up according to the agreement with the guide at about midnight and after a small snack, which will be coffee, tea and biscuits, you will set off in the dark towards the top. If you set off early and go fast, you will reach the top in the dark. It will be cold and you will not see anything. On the way up you have to overcome a steep climb and elevation gain of about 1200 meters. It was endless for me. From my point of view, this day is one of the most demanding, most people experience a headache when climbing. Breathing is more difficult due to the lower air pressure. At the top of Kilimanjaro you can encounter ice rain or snow. Temperatures often drop well below zero. If you decide to take any medication – tell your guide. The worst is when you suppress the onset of symptoms of alpine disease and the guide misjudges your condition. You will get up according to the agreement with the guide at about midnight and after a small snack, which will be coffee, tea and biscuits, you will set off in the dark towards the top. If you set off early and go fast, you will reach the top in the dark. It will be cold and you will not see anything. On the way up you have to overcome a steep climb and elevation gain of about 1200 meters. It was endless for me. From my point of view, this day is one of the most demanding, most people experience a headache when climbing. Breathing is more difficult due to the lower air pressure.
You will spend about 15 minutes at the top. It will depend on how you feel and what the weather will be like.
Don’t forget that after reaching the top, you still have to get more than 2,000 altitude meters down for an overnight stay. As you descend, the headache gradually disappears, you breathe better, but again, due to general fatigue, you will probably feel thigh pain and your knees will also get really busy. Most people do not reach the highest peak of Uhuru Peak, mainly due to problems caused by alpine diseases.
There are lots of instructions and advice on how to prepare for or cope with alpine disease. Personally, I advise this: go slow, don’t rush, drink a lot, eat well and keep warm and dry. You will also significantly increase your chances of reaching the top by coming to Tanzania a few days earlier. Before climbing Kilimanjaro, you can take a safari, for example, in the Ngoro Ngoro crater, which is about 2,000 m above sea level, an acclimatization trek to Mt. Meru, or just relaxing. Choosing a longer route will also have a good effect on acclimatization.
If you play active or regular sports, then you probably won’t need to prepare in any special way. For those who do not want to underestimate it, I especially recommend long, several-hour walks, ideally on unpaved terrain uphill. Running, cycling, walking, swimming are ideal. Of course, there are many ways to prepare and something different suits everyone. Walking up the stairs with a purchase is also a good way to prepare.
The highest percentage of unsuccessful are young people in good physical condition who go too fast and do not give the body enough time to slowly get used to the higher altitude.
I definitely recommend not underestimating quality clothes, shoes and a sleeping bag up to -10 ° C. Especially on the last day on the way to the top of Kilimanjaro, you will need perfectly functional clothing and sturdy, waterproof, trekking shoes. If you buy new shoes, be sure to step on them before departure, it is more pleasant to have blisters at home than on Kilimanjaro.

Go slow, it’s not a race. The slower you go, the better your body will cope with rising altitude and lower air pressure.
Eat what you can. Drink even if you are not thirsty. The more the better.
If you feel pain and take a pill, tell your guide!
Keep the shoes you will have on the peak day on board the plane in hand luggage, or ideally on your feet (in case of luggage delay). Everything else can be rented on site.

Surprisingly, the signal also works at the very top of Kilimanjaro. If you need to, just ask for a guide, they know well where the signal is and where not. Prices depend on the prices of your operator, but if you need, just tell us in advance and we will provide you with a local sim card with internet.

It’s a good idea to bring not only charged flashlights in your phone, camera or camcorder, but also a strong enough power bank to recharge during the climb. In the camps, electricity is produced by a solar system and it is possible to recharge your devices. But the prices are not fixed. The higher you are, the higher the price. Approximate charging of the mobile phone starts at 1,000 TSH, which is about half a dollar. Don’t rely on this option! It is good to wrap flashlights in something, especially at night, so that they are at least a little protected from the cold. Local plugs are three-pin English type.
If you take some energy gels, try them in advance and most importantly drink a lot.

Most insurance companies offer insurance coverage up to 3,000 m above sea level, up to a height of 5,000 m above sea level, then we recommend concluding, for example, an annual membership of the Alpine Club, which also includes insurance up to 6,000 m above sea level.

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