Africa,  Travel & Adventure

Kilimanjaro Training Guide

Flights purchased, deposit sent, gear checklist made and plans finalized means we are inching closer to our Tanzanian expedition. The weeks and months leading up to any adventure tend to be just as exciting as the trip itself. As our group continues to gather the necessary gear, we are also preparing both physically and mentally for a challenge of a lifetime. The summit of Kilimanjaro soars at 19,341′ which is 1,741′ higher than I have ever been. Pushing my body during the weeks leading up to our departure will hopefully ensure a safe and successful climb this June.

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Kilimanjaro Cardio

Speaking from my experience climbing to Everest Base Camp, cardio was the most important aspect of my training. Various types of aerobic workouts such as tempo running or high-intensity interval training will get your heart rate up and improve your cardiovascular system. With a strong heart and increased lung capacity, you will have an easier time adjusting to the high altitude.

Garmin watch showing low heart rate.
A lower resting heart rate can be a great way to measure your progress.

My cardio workouts consist of both sprints as well as distance. The goal is to gradually increase the amount of time I can run at my goal pace of 8:00/mile. Living at sea level with no options to run hills puts me at a bit of a disadvantage. Instead, I’ll be utilizing the treadmill for hill repeats that will build my stamina as well as climbing muscles.

Trail running.
Running builds a strong heart.

If you are just starting out and aren’t sure where to begin, I recommend searching for a 5k plan. Most plans incorporate all the workouts mentioned above and will schedule runs based on your current fitness level. Make sure to document progress so that you can celebrate results!

Pushing limits during cardio can improve your lung capacity making it easier for your body to cope with altitude.

Strength Training For Kilimanjaro

While endurance will be key to a high altitude training plan, it’s also important to focus on building muscle to carry you up the mountain. Light weights and high reps focusing on legs, core and back muscles can be extremely advantageous for a multi-day climb.

Low weight, high reps are a great way to build endurance and climbing muscles.

Many fitness programs such as Les Mills’ Bodypump or Beachbody (check out my best friend @k_holtcamp11 on Instagram for more Beachbody advice) offer workouts that will strengthen both large and small muscle groups. These types of programs are a great option because the workouts continuously change meaning you don’t have to search for new moves every week. With different positions and lifts, you can build various muscles without the worry of overworking or injury. A great way to round out any training plan is to also incorporate a yoga routine to add flexibility.

Round out intense training with a yoga regime to improve flexibility and reduce risk of injury.

Uncomfortability

This is a VERY important factor, but not always one that you can specifically train for. For any multi-day outdoor adventure, you have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. This is some of the best advice I can give after completing a handful of remote hiking adventures. Many aspects of a climb are out of your control such as temperature and weather. Sleeping at high altitude will be difficult and you could end up with an upset stomach at any point. Therefore it’s important to prepare for what you can and endure the moments of being uncomfortable with grit and optimism.

Hiking or running at high elevation in the elements is probably the best thing you can do to train for Kilimanjaro. However, like me, you may not have mountains at your everyday disposal. Practice being on your feet for multiple hours at a time and train with a similarly weighted backpack that you will carry on the mountain.

Flat clay roads of Florida.
Running on the clay roads of Florida.

As you execute your training plan to summit Kilimanjaro, you will begin to feel the benefits of the cardio and strength in your everyday life. All of the work will pay off as you take each step forward on the mountain, especially on summit day. A strong climb will allow you to enjoy the sights, views and everything else Mount Kilimanjaro has to offer!

Disclaimer

*As always, my advice is based on my own experiences and you should consult your physician before starting any physical activity/workout. I, Bridget at Impulse4adventure, cannot be held accountable for anyone acting on any advice given. I also want to add that this advice comes from my climb to Everest Base Camp since I have not yet summited Kilimanjaro (will summit June 2019). Writing this post is meant to inspire not only my readers, but also myself to continue pushing through my training plan. I will update after my Kilimanjaro summit with any extra advice/photos.

My name is Bridget and I’m so happy you stopped by. I’m an average girl with a full-time job who has been traveling on and off for almost 10 years. I want to inspire you to get outdoors and travel by sharing some of my favorite adventures as well as tips, tricks, and itineraries. Everything from traveling across the world to my current location in central Florida, you can find it all here at impulse4adventure!

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