How to train for Everest base camp trek?
A question that is asked by many adventure lovers who wish to step into the base camp of the world’s highest mountain and yet are unaware of the challenges it involves and preparation it requires.
Everest Base Camp Trek is the premier trek that most ardent backpackers, hikers, and lovers of wild places aspire to. When the dream turns into a reality, it is an exciting moment to realize that in a matter of months you’ll be flying into the Mountains of Nepal and walking in the footsteps of legends.
In the planning phase, there is obviously a lot of preparation. Flights, hotels, gear and clothing choices, and of course, how to physically prepare for the challenge of trekking to Everest base camp with a small pack. Some may wonder what “physically fit” means, others may wonder if training is necessary.
The Everest base camp trek starts at 2,860 meters by flying into Lukla airport and reaches 5,364 meters above sea level at the actual base camp. The trek requires 5 to 7 hours of walking per day and will last 12 to 13 days with activities every day. The terrain is varied and can be anything from very smooth dirt trails to wet rocky uneven surfaces. Elevation gain is prominent, but significant downhill can prevail. All this is accomplished at an altitude unheard of by most hikers.
So how to train for the Everest base camp trek and how to prepare for such an incredible journey in the high Himalayan range, trekking to the base of the world’s tallest mountain? Answering this question can be challenging because everyone is starting from a different base of fitness, age, lifestyle and diet (what you eat on a daily basis).
Here is an outline to provide some guidance and tips on how to start training for the Everest Base Camp trek. Consult your doctor first to find out if you are fit enough for the challenges of trekking all day at high altitude for more than a week. Once cleared for takeoff, then, consulting a qualified trainer and a nutritionist can also prove beneficial, though many don’t.
Our 7 Top Tips on How to Train For an Everest Base Camp Trek
1. Choosing a reputable trekking company
Thinking about choosing which company join trek for Everest base camp doesn’t sound like part of a training schedule for Everest Base Camp, but a reputable company will have a schedule that allows for proper acclimatization, and how to manage clients with varying levels of fitness. They will also have medical training to deal with emergency situations in a wilderness setting.
These are important considerations when thinking about trekking to Everest Base Camp. People often ask if they can prepare for the altitude. For most living in the lowlands, it is near impossible to do so, and contrary to popular belief your fitness level may not dictate how much altitude will affect you. What you can train for is the strain your body and mind will have to manage when trekking with a daypack for the extended time and days on various terrain.
Acclimatization is the process of adjusting to a change in the environment. For Everest region, that means adjusting to the altitude more than anything. There is a whole host of modifications that happen in the body, and far beyond the scope of this article.
The basics are that acclimating to altitude takes time, and a good trekking company will know how and when to plan rest days, and how much elevation to gain in a day. This will not only provide the maximum enjoyment for the trek but will also keep safety as paramount. If the gain in elevation is too significant, the regular symptoms of adjusting to the altitude, such as shortness of breath, slight headache, and tiring quickly among other symptoms, could become life-threatening.
Again, a reliable trekking company is trained to know the normal symptoms of being at a higher altitude and know what to look for if those symptoms progress to something more critical.
2. Training and fitness for Everest Base Camp Trek
As stated previously it is near impossible to offer a one size fits all approach for training. However, there are a few general rules that will help, and some tips for having the most comfortable and pleasant trekking experience.
Firstly, it is vital to begin your training program as soon as you are committed to doing the Everest Base Camp Trek. Ideally, it should begin 3 months prior to your scheduled flight. Progression is the key here, and don’t fall into the trap of too much too fast. It means starting out slow and gradually increasing the effort and amount of training per week.
As the trip draws near, then taking the week off before the trek begins will give your body time to rest and recover fully. You will feel fresh and strong if you have scheduled in rest periods.
However, too much rest prior to the trek will actually be detrimental and you will begin to lose your physical edge.
The physical effort required for the Everest Base Camp Trek is about slow, consistent hiking. It is not a race, and you don’t need to be the first one to the teahouse every night.
Fact is, if this is the mindset, one is sure to have more struggles with the altitude, and perhaps may even diminish their opportunity to endure the entire trek. We call this pacing and is a vital skill in the mountains no matter which mountains, but especially in the miraculous landscape of the high Himalayas.
Being physically ready for the challenges and joys of the Everest Base Camp Trek will require both stamina and strength. There are a few aspects of training that will assist in preparing the body for the challenges and joys of the trail.
Endurance training, strength training, and day hikes with a weighted pack will all aid in getting the mind and body ready.
3. Endurance training for Everest Base Camp Trek
Endurance training generally means cardio training. This means that if you are planning on hiking every day, all day for at least two weeks then performing at least three days of cardio training but ideally five is best.
This doesn’t necessarily mean hop on the treadmill and runs every day, especially if you’re not a runner this could cause more problems than benefits.
Look to doing moderate, steady-state exertion levels. Some will say HIIT training is the way to go, but remember the Everest Base Camp Trek a marathon so to speak, not a sprint.
So train accordingly. This moderate, steady-state training, and hiking all day, work on different energy pathways and train different muscles than HIIT cardio does. Train the right muscles, and that includes your brain. Your mind needs to be prepared for the moderate level of work for extended periods of time.
Cardio workouts should be 30 to 60 minutes and have a nice mix of walking, hiking, or cycling to avoid overuse and injuries.
Again, everyone starts at different levels, so some may begin with walking 30 minutes three times a week, where others with a more regular fitness routine may be ready to do 60 minutes five times a week.
4. Resistance training for Everest Base Camp Trek
Resistance training is training for strength, and no you are not preparing for a bodybuilding completion, but a few sessions of resistance training goes a long way to aiding your trek.
Even though you are not carrying a heavy pack, any weighted pack will “raise your center of gravity and increase the stress on your muscular system”.
Building strength is different than building endurance. Strength will assist in increasing your stability on uneven terrain.
Two to three days of resistant training is adequate, and this can be done with weights or even bodyweight. As with any exercise, a warm-up of at least 10 minutes prior to, and a cool-down are important.
Focus on upper body one day, then lower body the next resistance training session. It is best to do resistance work prior to endurance work to maximize the amount of energy your muscle will need for the training.
Along with endurance and strength work, getting out and actually hiking with the shoes you intend to wear, and the weighted pack you will use is vital. Simulating as closely as possible what you will be doing will go a long way to having your mind ready for your daily activities.
Remember, progression is once again an important factor. Avoid loading up your pack, put on your brand new boots, and hiking 10 miles right out of the gate. You will end up with silver dollar-sized blisters, crippled legs for days, and swearing off hiking forever.
Rather progress slowly, starting with a day hike every other week and increase distance, elevation, and the weight of your pack slowly.
Lastly, do not underestimate the importance of good nutrition leading up to your trek. All this new work you are putting your body under needs proper fuel. Balanced whole foods and a good hydration regiment will power your training for optimum results.
7. Mental Strength
Being physically fit is a must for trekking at high altitude especially to the far-flung regions of Nepal. However, being mentally fit is as crucial as being physically fit.
It’s always a mind over the body when doing a difficult task and a strong mentality is required while doing the trek. The days will be harder as the elevation gains and you lose appetite so, therefore, being mentally fit helps you achieve your goal more than anything.
However, you should know your limits and always consult your trek leader for advice.
In conclusion, proper preparation prevents poor performance. The more fitter you are, the more enjoyable your trek will be. To have a safe, enjoyable trek full of happy memories is the goal. Also, make sure you have good gears for the trek.
Preparing your mind and body for the joys and challenges of trekking in the Himalayan Mountains and reaching the Everest Base Camp successfully will require some effort on your part.
Remember, you are a participant in your own safety and well-being. So, have a body and mind ready for what lies ahead and you are sure to have memories of incredible landscapes, and amazing interactions, not pains and aches.
So go ahead, get ready and enjoy preparing for the trip of a lifetime!
We hope this blog has helped you in preparing your training program for the Everest Base Camp Trek.