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12 – WEEK KILIMANJARO TRAINING PLAN FOR BEGINNERS 

A 12-week Climbing Kilimanjaro training plan is essential for individuals looking to prepare themselves physically and mentally for the challenging ascent of Mount Kilimanjaro. Climbing Kilimanjaro is not an easy feat, and adequate preparation is crucial for a successful climb. A well-structured training plan helps build the required endurance and strength. 

This 12-week Mount Kilimanjaro training plan is designed for individuals with a base level of fitness who want to improve their endurance and strength for the Kilimanjaro hike, using just jogging and bodyweight exercises (no gym required).

WHY IS TRAINING FOR KILIMANJARO IMPORTANT?

Training for a Kilimanjaro trek is crucial for several reasons. First, it’s going to help you build the physical stamina needed to tackle those long days of hiking at high altitudes, where the air is as thin as the plot of a bad action movie. In addition, training reduces the risk of injury and increases your probability of success. Remember, the fitter you are, the more you’ll enjoy the trek!

WHO IS THIS KILIMANJARO TRAINING PLAN AIMED AT?

This training plan is aimed at individuals with a base level of fitness, like those who can outrun a couch but might struggle to catch a cheetah. If you are new to exercise or have not been active for a while, you should consult with a healthcare professional before starting this plan. Already a fitness buff? Feel free to dive in later in the program or ramp up the intensity as needed.

HOW TO AVOID INJURIES WHEN TRAINING FOR KILIMANJARO?

Pay attention to your body’s cues throughout your training, or risk facing the wrath of your inner drill sergeant.

If you experience pain, discomfort, or signs of overtraining, take a step back and give yourself time to recover.

Ignoring your body’s signals can lead to injuries that may put your Kilimanjaro dreams on hold.

Always consult with a doctor if you’re unsure about your physical condition or need guidance on how to customize the training plan.

mount kilimanjaro training

WHAT ARE THE MAIN KILIMANJARO TRAINING EXERCISES I SHOULD FOCUS ON?

Before you dive headfirst into your Kilimanjaro training plan, it’s essential to know how to perform the exercises correctly to maximize your gains and minimize the risk of injury. Here’s a quick rundown of the key exercises in the plan:

JOGGING 

  • Warm-up: Start with a 5-minute brisk walk to get your muscles ready for action.
  • Technique: Keep your head up, looking forward, and maintain a straight posture. Swing your arms naturally and land softly on the balls of your feet, rolling through to the heel.
  • Breathing: Breathe deeply and rhythmically, inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth.

BODYWEIGHT SQUATS 

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, toes pointing slightly outward.
  • Keep your chest up and your core engaged as you lower your body by bending your knees and pushing your hips back.
  • Lower yourself until your thighs are parallel to the ground or as far as comfortable.
  • Push through your heels to return to the starting position.

LUNGES

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your hands on your hips.
  • Take a big step forward with your right foot, lowering your body until your right thigh is parallel to the ground and your left knee almost touches the floor.
  • Push through your right heel to return to the starting position.
  • Repeat on the other side, alternating legs.

PLANK/HALF-PLANK 

  • Full Plank: Start in a push-up position with your arms straight, wrists under your shoulders, and your body in a straight line from head to heels. Engage your core and hold the position.
  • Half-Plank: Start on your knees, keeping your body in a straight line from your head to your knees. Rest your weight on your forearms, elbows under your shoulders, and hold the position.

INTERVAL SPRINTS

  • Warm-up: Begin with a 10-minute light jog to get your heart rate up and your muscles warmed up.
  • Sprints: Find a flat, straight stretch of road or track. After the warm-up, sprint at maximum effort for 30 seconds.
  • Rest: After each sprint, rest for 1 minute by walking or jogging slowly.
  • Cool-down: Finish the session with a 10-minute light jog or a brisk walk to help your muscles recover.

THE 12 – WEEK KILIMANJARO TRAINING PLAN 

Weeks 1-2: Getting Started

  • Monday: 20 min jog at a comfortable pace
  • Wednesday: Strength day (3 sets of 10 bodyweight squats, 10 lunges each leg, and 30-second plank or half-plank)
  • Friday: 20 min jog at a comfortable pace
  • Saturday/Sunday: Rest and recovery

Weeks 3-4: Increasing Fitness

  • Monday: 25 min jog at a comfortable pace
  • Wednesday: Strength day (3 sets of 15 bodyweight squats, 15 lunges each leg, and 45-second plank or half-plank)
  • Friday: 25 min jog at a comfortable pace
  • Saturday/Sunday: Rest and recovery

Weeks 5-6: Longer Distances

  • Monday: 30 min jog at a comfortable pace
  • Wednesday: Strength day (4 sets of 15 bodyweight squats, 15 lunges each leg, and 45-second plank or half-plank)
  • Friday: 30 min jog at a comfortable pace
  • Saturday/Sunday: Rest and recovery

Weeks 7-8: Intervals

  • Week 7:
    • Monday: 10 min warm-up jog, followed by 6x (30-second sprint, 1 min rest), and 10 min cool-down jog
    • Thursday: 30 min jog at a comfortable pace
    • Saturday/Sunday: Rest and recovery
  • Week 8:
    • Monday: 10 min warm-up jog, followed by 8x (30-second sprint, 1 min rest), and 10 min cool-down jog
    • Wednesday: Strength day (4 sets of 15 bodyweight squats, 15 lunges each leg, and 45-second plank or half-plank)
    • Friday: 30 min jog at a comfortable pace
    • Saturday/Sunday: Rest and recovery

Weeks 9-10: Longer Distance

  • Monday: 45 min jog at a comfortable pace
  • Wednesday: Strength day (4 sets of 20 bodyweight squats, 20 lunges each leg, and 1 min plank or half-plank)
  • Friday: 45 min jog at a comfortable pace
  • Saturday/Sunday: Rest and recovery

Weeks 11-12: Taper and Recovery

  • Week 11:
    • Monday: 45 min jog at a comfortable pace
    • Wednesday: Strength day (3 sets of 20 bodyweight squats, 20 lunges each leg, and 1 min plank or half-plank)
    • Friday: 45 min jog at a comfortable pace
    • Saturday/Sunday: Rest and recovery
  • Week 12:
    • Monday: 30 min light jog at a comfortable pace
    • Wednesday: Stretching and light mobility exercises
    • Friday: 20 min light jog at a comfortable pace
    • Saturday/Sunday: Rest and recovery

HOW FIT DO YOU NEED TO BE TO CLIMB KILIMANJARO?

Climbing Kilimanjaro is graded strenuous and you should be in good physical fitness and have experience of multi-day trekking or walking trips before undertaking a Kilimanjaro climb. Most days involve 4 – 7 hours of walking at altitude and the summit day is very strenuous with most people walking for between 14 – 18 hours. Even for fit people, the effects of altitude can make the climb very tough. The most challenging day of your Kilimanjaro Climb, regardless of which Kili route you choose, will be the summit day. Because the time for acclimatization is limited most people will suffer from mild Acute Mountain Sickness and this combined with a very long day of walking will make it one of the toughest days of your life. I rem The trails on Kilimanjaro are generally clear and well maintained, although they can be slippery lower down and, you will be walking over shale closer to the summit. The Barranco Wall on the Machame and Lemosho routes involves an easy scramble for 1.5 hours and the final climb to the summit is on loose scree and rock and can be snowy/icy. The climb is a hike so no specialist climbing skills are necessary. You must have done extensive hill-walking or aerobic exercise in the run-up to your Kilimanjaro Climb. If you do not currently enjoy a good level of fitness it may take many months of training to reach a suitable level of fitness to enjoy the walk. It is important to start slowly and gradually increase your fitness. Try to exercise for between 30 and 45 minutes three times per week (walking, running, cycling, or swimming) and go for longer walks on the weekends which should include some hills. A good local gym will be able to draw up a fitness program for you on request. You must consult your doctor before embarking on a fitness program or this trip if your answer is YES to any of the following questions:

  • Has your doctor ever told you that you have a heart condition?
  • Have you had any pains in your chest or heart?
  • Do you frequently lose your balance, feel faint, or have spells of severe dizziness?
  • Has your doctor ever said that your blood pressure is too high?
  • Do you have a bone or joint problem that could be made worse by a change in your physical activity?
  • Are you taking any prescription medications, such as those for heart problems, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes?
  • Do you know of any other reason why you should not engage in physical activity?
  • Are you pregnant?

THE BOTTOM LINE

Mount Kilimanjaro is a popular climb and don’t let the training and hardships put you off. With the proper training, a positive mental attitude and the right support the summit of Kilimanjaro is within your grasp.

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Josephat Mashehe is a seasoned Kilimanjaro guide who offers his expertise to those looking to conquer Africa's highest peak. With years of experience under his belt, Josephat provides comprehensive guidance, ensuring a safe and memorable journey for adventurers. His services include detailed planning, safety measures, and on-site assistance, making him an invaluable asset for anyone aiming to tackle the challenging climb of Mount Kilimanjaro.
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