The training program below is intended to give trekkers suggestions on how they need to get themselves prepared for Mt Kilimanjaro and is based on our experience trekking the mountain.
The best and perhaps only exercise you need to do is to hike. After all, that is what you will be doing on Kilimanjaro. Ideally, you should try to hike as much as possible on hills or mountains to condition your legs for the trails of Mt Kilimanjaro. Undertaking day hikes is superb training. For those who do not have access to trails, but have membership to a gym, training on a stair machine provides a quality leg workout. If you have no access to walking trails or a gym, then try to walk as much as you can, with extended walks on the weekends or whenever possible.
We strongly recommend that you should start training for your Kilimanjaro adventure at least two months prior to your departure.
If you’ve never hiked before, you should start with shorter time intervals, a slower pace, with no weight (in your daypack) and then gradually increase the above as your fitness level improves. Remember that on Mt Kilimanjaro, you will walk slowly for prolonged periods, and carry probably no more than 6-8 kgs in your daypack. Therefore, in your training, it is better to increase the time interval/distance and keep a slow pace than to shorten the time interval/distance and increase the pace. Try to train three times a week, for at least one hour per session, at a minimum. If you can do day hikes for four to six hours, with moderate elevation changes (460m, 1500ft) while carrying a 8 kg pack, or if you can walk on a stairmaster for 1-2 hours, at 30 steps per minute while carrying a 8kg pack, then you’re probably ready for the real thing.
Your longest/hardest workouts should be performed two to four weeks before your departure. For the last two weeks, you should taper off your training and in the final days; rest so that your body has time to recover before your actual climb. In addition to walking/hiking, you can also supplement your training with exercises such as running or cycling, which will increase your aerobic capacity.
It is essential that during your Kilimanjaro training, you wear the boots that you intend to trek with so that they are sufficiently broken-in (to prevent blisters). Additionally, you should wear the day pack you intend to carry so your shoulders/back and hips get used to the points of contact and weight (to minimize chafing and soreness).
Lastly, physical training is just one part of getting in shape. Use your Kilimanajaro adventure as motivation to change your lifestyle if it is unhealthy. Eat more fruits and vegetables. Drink more water. Reduce or stop drinking or smoking. Get eight hours of sleep per night. Most of all enjoy life as your Kilimanjaro adventure is just around the corner.