Training Tips

Excited about climbing the tallest mountain in Africa?
Ready for the adventure of a lifetime climbing the tallest mountain in Africa?

Chances are, you are also a little (or very!) nervous about your fitness and wondering if your body and mind are up for the challenge. Fear not, this is a climb that CAN be done by an ‘average’ person, even someone who is not particularly athletic, provided you give yourself plenty of time to prepare for this exciting and inspirational expedition! Here are some tips to help you get in shape for Kili and have fun doing it. Keep in mind that these are generic guidelines; if you have specific questions or concerns or need help with a training plan, feel free to contact me (
We hope these tips are helpful to you as you prepare for this amazing adventure. To ensure that everyone has the highest chances of summiting and is on track with their training, we would like all participants to complete a training hike of Mt. Washington, Mt. Katahdin, Mt. Mansfield, Mt. LeConte or another similar climb with Wes and/or Audrey. Have fun, work hard, and we’ll see you in the mountains!!

Start Early, Start Slow.
As soon as you’ve committed to the trip, make a plan for how you will work training into your daily life so that you have plenty of time to get in shape before this trip. The earlier you start, the better! As you start out, set realistic goals to be sure you are challenging but not overexerting yourself. This can lead to injuries, which will set you back more than benefit you. If you have any medical conditions or haven’t exercised in a while, you may want to talk to your doctor before starting to train.

Outfit yourself.
You’ll need the right tools for training – so go ahead, get those flashy new running shoes instead of dusting off the old pair! Consider obtaining the gear you’ll be using on Kili early on, especially hiking boots, so you can break them in and get used to them. See our gear page for more tips and information!

High Altitude Climbing
The best way to train for high altitude climbing is … high altitude climbing. If you live somewhere in the Northeast, this is hard but hiking in the White and Green Mountains can still get you in great shape. The Smokey Mountains are a great alternative, but no substitute for a climb over 10,000 ft. Remember, this climb is more about endurance than speed; and you can build aerobic fitness anywhere!

The second best way to train for high altitude climbing is to hike, hike, hike: Try to spend time each week hiking. For some this will be easy, for others harder, but you can make time for hiking, even in a busy schedule. When you do go hiking, make sure you are gaining elevation and carrying a pack; you’ll be doing both on Kili every day. A great way to hike more and meet your future teammates is to join the Reach for the Peak team on a series of training climbs in NH.

Resources for local hikes
Any bookstore in the area and many online will have guidebooks like: AMCs Best Day Hikes in the White Mountains

Heart Rate
Get your heart rate up. Unless you are very lucky, you probably won’t get to hike for all your training. That’s okay – you can jog, bike, walk uphill, run on a treadmill, run stairs, swim laps, or do whatever you enjoy that gets your blood pumping. You don’t have to be out of breath and gasping for air, but you should be sweating. If you have a favorite aerobic activity already, great! If not, spend some time early on figuring out what you like to do, and stick to it.

Build Up
Build up slowly but steadily. Once you are in a good routine, you should aim to slowly add miles and intensity to your workouts. By fall, you should aim to be exercising three or four days per week for an hour at a steady pace without many breaks, and be able to do hikes that involve 3,000 or more feet of elevation gain and 10 or more miles round-trip in a single day.

Track your Progress. Keep a training log and periodically review your progress and set new goals. This is also a great way to see how far you’ve come!
Train with Others
Having a training buddy is a great way to keep you on track and keep you honest with not missing workouts. Get a spouse, friend, or sibling to be your training partner (even better, get them to come with you to Kili!). Another alternative is to take a class at a local gym, such as spinning, aerobics or conditioning. Personal trainers are another good option for many, and can help you get the most out of your workout and make sure you are pushing yourself without going overboard.

Have fun
It is important to enjoy your training. If you hate running but like biking, spend your time riding (However, if you find you hate hiking, you might want to reconsider this expedition!). Participate in fun events that require you to be active, for example:
A weekend at an AMC hut in the White Mountains
A local 5K or 10K run or bike race
A weekly runners group or morning bike ride group