As one of the most popular mountain treks in the world, the Everest Base Camp Trek is accessible to most people who have some sort of fitness level and a decent drive to last two weeks on a cold mountain! As a non-technical trek that requires no mountaineering experience, the Everest Base Camp Trek is a great challenge for all people of all ages, shapes and sizes.
Despite being a very achievable trek, there are still some challenges that come along with hiking 130km and climbing 3000m in altitude. Depending on your individual fitness level, a few weeks to a few months of prior training should be enough to get you into shape for the Everest Base Camp Trek. If you want to know more about the difficulty of the trek, check out our detailed article here.
This article will give overview of the broad methods of training that you should implement in your own time before embarking on your trip to the Everest region. A key point to remember throughout the article is that all the training involves building up your level of fitness gradually, until you are comfortable with the lengths and distances you will be encountering daily on the Everest Base Camp Trek.
Finding your own level of comfort when doing an exercise and then aiming to push that level further and further is the basic pillar of endurance training.
As you will be hiking for 9 out of the 14 days on the hike, doing some practice hikes would make sense! A typical day will involve around 15km of hiking over the course of 6 hours – not a crazy amount considering it amounts to just under 3km per hour. The challenging part is that this will be mainly uphill and on rocky, unstable terrain. You also need to be able to hike comfortably on back-to-back days, which is why endurance is key.
Practice hikes are important so that you can get used to the slow pace and rhythm that hiking uphill for long distances involves. You will get a feeling for which joints hurt and which muscles need strengthening. Starting as soon as possible, you should go on hikes starting at one or two hours, working your way up to 5/6 hour hikes. Ideally, these should be done in the hiking boots you will be using in Everest so that you can break them in, as there’s nothing worse than a big red blister after day 1 of 14!
Aim to replicate the conditions you will be hiking in – uphill, 5/6 hours and with your boots and a backpack. If you do 3 of these long hikes before your trip and you feel comfortable then you should be fine for the actual trek.
If you regularly go on hour long jogs and still feel good afterwards then your fitness level is already pretty good and you shouldn’t struggle at all. For most of us, however, some aerobic training is necessary so that we can cope with the high altitude/low oxygen conditions on the Everest Base Camp Trek.
While the trek is done at an accommodating pace, the high altitude makes breathing slightly harder and will result in you tiring out much faster. Getting used to exercising under low oxygen conditions and training your body to optimise its oxygen intake per breath when exerting is a great way to make the trek more pleasant.
While activities such as rowing, swimming and cycling will all build up your cardiovascular endurance, it is best to mimic the type of activity you will be doing on the trek. Start with 30-minute sessions of jogging up hill, or at an incline on the treadmill, and slowly work your way up to 60-minute sessions over a few weeks to months. This will increase your endurance while simultaneously working on the muscles that you will be using on the trek.
While not as important as the abovementioned training, strength training on areas of your body that will be put under strain on the trek will help make the trek more enjoyable and will definitely result in less aches and pains.
Aim to do 2 free weight, full-body strength training sessions per week. Using free weights will replicate the conditions of the trek and ensure your balancing muscles are put into use. Squats, lunges, step-ups and deadlifts are great for building lower body strength. Your legs will be worked extensively on the incline you will be facing on the Everest Base Camp Trek, so these compound exercises are a great start.
Bench press, pull ups and press-ups will help work out the upper body. While not used as much as the lower body, your upper body will still be tested as you carry backpacks for long distances. With all strength training, it is important to maintain proper form and to start at a comfortable level for 10-12 repetitions, then slowly work your way up in weight.
While mental stamina is hard to actively train, it is still a very important part of any endurance trek. There will be days on the trek when it is cold and you are tired and sore from the previous day’s hiking, but you will have to push through and find the strength to hike even more!
A lot of the mental strength will be built by training your strength and cardiovascular endurance as you will feel more comfortable on the mountain. You will not tire so easily and you will feel more ready to trek the next day as you will be less stiff. As you train, try and push yourself through the metaphorical ‘wall’ when you reach your limit. This is a great way to build mental stamina through showing yourself that you can achieve more.
Luckily, you will be surrounded by a team of individuals on the trek who all have the same goal as you and who will encourage you to keep on pushing. Trekking in a group also provides a much more social and enjoyable atmosphere on the trek. You are sure to make some friends on a 14-day hike!
With a little bit of preparation, the Everest Base Camp Trek is achievable for all. Follow the training plan listed above as soon as possible and you will definitely be in shape in time for the trek. Finally, keep a positive attitude – it goes a long way in making the trek an enjoyable experience!
While it is hard to train for the high altitude of the region, you can read up on acclimatization and how it will affect the trek here.
Hi, I'm Mark! Welcome to EBC Trek Guide - the Web's No.1 Trekking Guide to Everest Base Camp. I have trekked all over Nepal, but the Everest region remains my favourite. I hope you find all the answers you are looking for on this site. If you have any questions don't hesitate to drop a comment below! Happy Trekking!
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