How an average person should train for Kilimanjaro


Guests planning to trek Kili often ask us what they should do to train. No matter what your fitness level, Kilimanjaro offers specific challenges, and we strongly recommend people train specifically to meet them.

We always tell them that since they can’t train for the most difficult element they’ll face on Kili, the altitude, but they can and should work on the muscles they’ll need for a serious hike.

Luckily, Thomson staffer Eliza was looking to get in shape in 2014, and after years working for Thomson, she knows there’s no better way to do that than by using the very same Fit For Trips training we recommend all our trekkers undergo in preparation for Kilimanjaro.

If you’re a “normal” individual—someone who’s fit, but not a mountaineer;  the type who might run a 10K, even a marathon, but who’s never taken a multi-day trek up a mountain before—read on. Eliza’s training is a great model for how to get in shape for Kili…or, like Eliza, for the New Year!


When did you start your training?

I officially started the Fit For Trips program December 2. Better to get going BEFORE the holidays!


Can you give us an idea of what’s on your workout schedule lately?

A lot of different things. I’m a runner, a fairly-regular yoga practitioner, and I lift weights already, so I’m continuing to do all of those things. With FFT, I’ve added a lot of stair climbing (up AND down, to my dismay), power walking on hills, hiking, and some extra strength training for my legs and hips. FFT has been fantastic in helping me figure out what works for me and how to schedule it in appropriately. It’s also relatively simple to work in; one thing I’ve started doing three times a week is just running up and down stairs at my parents’ house for 20 minutes. It’s surprisingly difficult, especially when their dogs chase me!


Snowshoeing is a good way to train for Kilimanjaro

How often are you training?

If you include my current workout regimen, six or seven days a week (though the holidays threw a SLIGHT wrench in that…).


Is any of your training surprising you?

Well, power walking on a treadmill on the “hills” setting sounds easy, but it’s deceptively difficult.  And the muscles I’m working out the most are completely different from the ones I use running,

Have you noticed any changes yet? Can you feel yourself getting stronger?

My hips are already much stronger. The exercises are so much more targeted than what I’m used to – I’m surprised how different everything felt almost as soon as I’d started


Training for Kilimanjaro on Blue Hills hiking trails near Boston

Though it might be hard to get yourself out of bed in the middle of winter, the view is definitely worth it

What has been the hardest part so far?

I’m supposed to go for a hike every Sunday, and especially this time of the year, It’s hard to motivate myself to go out for 3 hours when it’s freezing. I like FFT’s suggestion of going through the city and up and down parking garages. I also took the (kind of cheating) way out – the hills workout on the treadmill in my hiking boots. After all, I’m doing this just to get in shape, and the treadmill is much warmer!


We’ll continue checking in with Eliza as she works with Fit For Trips (and her favorite hiking companions, pictured below)! 

Hiking with dogs is a great way to train for Kilimanjaro