How do I train for my Kilimanjaro trek?

To answer this question and get you ready for your Kilimanjaro summit, we’ve partnered with the experts at Fit For Trips and have created route-specific, personal training regimens, custom-designed for you and your fitness level. Many of our guests, and all of our US Kilimanjaro staff, have used Fit For Trips to prepare for their climb, with nearly 100% summit success!

To get the low-down on reaching great heights, we had a Q&A session with Marcus Shapiro, the founder and CEO of Fit For Trips:


Q: What are some of the concerns your clients have before climbing Kilimanjaro?
A: I commonly get asked about altitude. Although altitude issues can affect anyone, being properly fit can help Kili climbers deal with many of the discomforts associated with high altitude symptoms.

Simply making it to the summit is another common concern. In brief, climbing stairs, treadmill work, specific ‘trail fitness’ resistance training exercises and hiking are essential to a successful summit.


Q: What is the most important thing to remember while training?
Always be aware of how your body is adapting to the training demands. Are you constantly feeling tired and sore? If so, then you might be over-training and need to take steps to decrease your training intensity or volume. Once you have recovered, you can resume training in smaller doses. However, doing so will likely increase the amount of time needed to become properly fit for your trek. This is why it is helpful to start training in advance – 12+ weeks – of your departure date. Travelers who are already fit can be aggressive and ramp up the training quickly in the pre-departure phase, say eight weeks prior to departing.

Fit for Trips Testimonial from Thomson Safaris guest
– Jane S. Kilimanjaro Western Approach Route, March 2011


Q: What is your background in personal training?
My degree in athletic training from the University of Alabama coupled with my Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) designation is an unusual combination but significant in the world of personal training. My athletic training education enhanced my ability to work with clients who have sustained orthopedic injuries. The CSCS designation – prevalent in collegiate, professional and Olympic conditioning coaches – ensures that clients receive the most progressive and up-to-date training techniques. I am trusted by my colleagues in physical therapy who refer to me their discharged patients.

I launched the online fitness company, Fit For Trips, with Thomson Safaris as the first partner in 2009.  I hold Thomson near and dear to my heart for trusting me with their guests.

My interests and experience go way beyond the world’s highest peaks. I am also an active father of two boys, the inventor of a portable dry-land training device for paddlers and creator of virtual software for personal training.


Next week, in part 2 of this post, Marcus will share his top 3 recommended exercises to prepare for Kilimanjaro.