We constantly hear people telling us that they are not fit enough to trek to Everest Base Camp, and on the other side of the coin we sometimes have people join our groups who don’t believe it necessary to train for this trek, that’s a mistake. Preparing for this trek is crucial to your success and is also important to the success of the group as a whole. You don’t need to be as fit as an athlete to undertake this trek but you do need to dedicate up to 10 hours a week to training in the 3 months leading up to the trek. Below is a guide to training for this multiday, 130km, mostly uphill trek to Everest Base Camp.
Step 1: Mental preparedness
You’ve paid your deposit, you’re definitely doing this. You will ideally have somewhere between 6-12 months to prepare but at a minimum 3 months. This is something you have psyched yourself up to do, it’s been on your bucket list, you’ve seen photos of the Himalayas and you’re not putting it on hold any longer…you’re doing this!
Step 2: Self-assess your fitness level
Be realistic and honest with yourself. Can you easily run a half marathon or are you more of a couch potato? Don’t fool yourself into thinking you don’t need to prepare for this trek, you do, you owe it to yourself, your guides and porters and your fellow trekkers. Know that you need to be fit enough to walk approx. 13 km a day, 20km a couple of days and do so at altitude. The 2 acclimatisation days are not rest days, on these days you will need to walk up hill and then return down to a lower altitude. This is a challenge and you need to prepare for it with the belief that you’ve got this.
Step 3: Speak to us
Everyone is different, there’s no one training plan that will work for everyone. We can discuss where you are at and where you need to be on your fitness journey. Our team can assist you in formulating the best training plan for you and will always be on hand to provide advice or support. We’ve done this trek multiple times, we know exactly how hard it is and we are not afraid to tell you what you need to do to be successful on this epic adventure
Step 4: Uphill training
Get started. To prepare your body for walking up to Everest Base Camp, you need to walk uphill as often as you can. Get your boots, find the closest uphill track or mountain and start going up that hill, this will allow leg muscles to strengthen. The more uphill trekking you can do the better. In the 3 months before your trek start date we recommend that you plan to walk for distances over 15 kilometres at least 2-3 times a week, these 5-6 hour walking days will prepare you physically and mentally for the trek to Everest Base Camp. Although a porter will be carrying your main pack, you will need to carry a daypack, when you are trekking at altitude, 5kg can feel like 10kg, for this reason we recommend that you load a pack up to weights above 10kg and start hiking uphill carrying this weight. This allows for resistance training, the building of muscle strength, all the while improving your overall fitness level. If you live in a city or in an area without hills or mountains, go to your closest gym and set the treadmill on an incline to provide you with training for uphill walking, this training won’t provide you with the practice of walking on rocky and unstable ground but it will improve the strength of your leg muscles.
Step 5: Cardiovascular Training (Cardio)
This training is not as fun as walking up mountains but it is just as important. Cardio training is all about increasing and decreasing your heart rate; all the while you will be developing your lung capacity. Cardio training also increases your endurance. There are many different cardio training options available, choose one that you will enjoy as you should be enjoying your training regime for Everest Base Camp. 3-4 cardio workouts every week in the 3 months leading up to the trek will hold you in good stead. A 5-10km run is great, you could also choose activities such as bike riding, dancing, swimming or even skating. If you integrate cardio workouts into your training plan you won’t find yourself puffed out on the trek. Your body will be better able to cope with the altitude.
Step 6: Strength training
If you incorporate some strength training into your training plan you will be very well prepared for the trek. Although you will need more lower body strength for the trek, upper body strength training will come in handy, as you will be carrying a daypack everyday. Strength training also has the added benefit of improving your balance and coordination, as you trek closer to base camp you will be walking over very rocky terrain, having good balance and coordination will make this element of the trek easier for you. The great thing about strength training is that it can be done at home or out in the gym and doesn’t require the same time commitment as the other elements of training. Squatting will build your leg muscles, push ups and pull ups will build up your overall strength and allow you to push on in trek for longer. Weight lifting will improve your upper body strength. Incorporating strength training into your fitness plan 1-2 times a week will go a long way to improving your overall fitness level.
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