Training to Climb Kilimanjaro

In one of the Social Media sites recently I saw a link to this great statement about training to climb Kilimanjaro.

Preparing for a Kilimanjaro Climb:
Most people prepare for Kilimanjaro with fitness training .. getting reasonably fit makes sense, the gym work outs or sprinting up flights stairs etc will not prepare your body for the demands of a Kili Climb. You need to get your body used to walking for several hours for several days, but any fitness training beyond that will not increase your chances to .. summit. It is the altitude that will get you, not your lack of fitness.
This sounded interesting to me for a number of reasons.
  • Get used to walking for several hours for several days
  • Gym workouts do no good
  • Sprinting up stairs do no good
  • Lack of fitness will not get you
Steep rugged trail on Kilimanjaro
In this excellent book that I highly recommend to all climbers: Going Higher: Oxygen Man and Mountains, by Charles Houston a great deal is made of the physiological response to altitude and how greater fitness can help with acclimatization, with enhanced vascularization. This is how the body responds to strength endurance training, like running at 75% capacity. You can get some of the same benefits in less time by sprinting up flights of stairs, etc.

Strength training is essential for most sedentary people who seek to climb Kili. Your glutes, hamstrings, calves and quads are probably not in good enough shape to get you up that hill. Sometimes this results in poor sleep at night as you recover from your trek, and eventually leads to AMS.

The article I mentioned above stated that you need to walk several hours each day for several days in a row. I think most people would be walking too slowly to have any reasonable chance of increasing fitness. Most people probably don't have several hours each day every day to wander the hills of home, if there are any. In that case, a trainer would probably recommend sprinting up stairs to save time and simulate the steep final day on Kili.

The article goes on after the quote to recommend that you take a safari in the plains of Tanzania to acclimatize. Of course, there is that angle. Don't train. Any acclimatizing you do at home will be lost on the plane. Just come and do a week long safari and then you'll be ready for the summit. I should mention too that I've seen climbers being carried by the porters.

Just minutes away from the Kilimanjaro summit

Training to Climb Kilimanjaro

When I read that article I suddenly realized that my Couch to Colorado 14er Training Program actually can be done as training for Kilimanjaro with no alterations at all. When I was at the Roof of Africa I thought of it as a multi-day Fourteener hike. Summit day up to the crater rim was much like the final steep ridgeline on Quandary, just a bit longer.

If you're doing Kilimanjaro, do yourself a favor and get in shape, in spite of what the guide companies tell you. My 16 week program is perfect training to climb Kilimanjaro. CLICK HERE to register to be notified when it is released in early April of 2014. I'll let you have a FREE COPY of my book "Planning Your Home Cardio Theater" that outlines my own strategies that I've used everywhere I've lived in the past 7 years to achieve my own fat loss transformation and success in climbing.