Everest Base Camp Trek Training

Training Resources

Please review the entire page to get a full sense of what type of condition you need to be in for this climb. For those who have not specifically trained for mountaineering in the past,  we recommend utilizing numerous resources to build your training plan.

Books to consider:
The Outdoor Athlete by Doug and Courtenay Schurman
Training for the New Alpinism: A Manual for the Climber as Athlete by Steve House and Scott Johnston

Personal trainers that are familiar with mountaineering are highly recommended as they can create personal training plans utilizing both indoor and outdoor locations with long range objectives and criteria. Trainers and training programs can help build a program based on your location, recognize your access to health climbs and outdoor training.

For those who have not trained for mountaineering or want to refine their training with some industry professionals, we recommend:

Doug and Courtenay Schurman of Body Results

Steve House and staff at the Uphill Athlete

Preparation for EBC Trek

The Everest Base Camp Trek requires cardiovascular endurance (via aerobic training), strength endurance (through strength conditioning), and hiking-specific training (via hiking with a pack). Being in strong physical shape is one of the most important aspects for success on a high altitude trek. During your training, you should be planning to progressively ramp up your speed, duration (time or mileage), and pack weight of weekly training hikes to give you hiking-specific conditioning that cannot be matched by any other sort of training.

Training Overview

Training tips were helpful and reminders were nice. I liked how you did emphasize some cardio workout but also really emphasized hiking and training in your boots as an important part of preparation. This was key! -2019 Trekker

Everest Base Camp training should include a mix of cardiovascular, climbing, strength, and flexibility conditioning. Despite being a very achievable trek that requires no technical mountaineering expertise, we recommend reviewing all training sections and utilizing numerous resources to build your training plan.

Preparation

Being in strong physical shape is one of the most important aspects for success on a high altitude trek. During your training, you should be planning to progressively ramp up your speed, duration (time or mileage), and pack weight to give you hiking-specific conditions that cannot be matched by any other sort of training. TheEverest Base Camp Trek requires:

  • Cardiovascular endurance (via aerobic training)
  • Strength endurance (via strength conditioning)
  • Hiking specific training (via hiking with a pack)

Flexibility Conditioning

Flexibility conditioning is often overshadowed by cardio and strength training, however, it is an important aspect of a holistic training plan. Be sure to include at least 5–10 minutes of targeted stretching following every workout, specifically for the hamstrings, glutes, hips, calves, lower back, and quadriceps. If you have any areas of concern early season, add emphasis to making sure you have normal range of motion about all your joints. This will become even more important as you add weight and distance to your conditioning.

Cardiovascular Conditioning

The first type of training we recommend is cardiovascular conditioning. Cardio workouts help train your body to work with less oxygen, which is essential for success while trekking at high altitudes. We suggest running, walking on an inclined treadmill, doing stair stepping or stepmill training, trail running, working on an elliptical machine, walking up and downhills, or participating in step aerobic classes.

While biking, rowing and swimming are cardiovascular options for the off-season or earliest stages of your training, be sure as you get closer to your expedition that you include predominantly spinal-loading cardiovascular exercise such as any of the activities mentioned above.

When embarking on a cardiovascular training program for our Everest Base Camp Trek, be sure to include at least three to four sessions of 30 minutes of sustained activity at a moderate intensity, and build to four to six aerobic sessions of sustained effort for at least 45-60 minutes each. Don’t forget a 5-10 minute gentle warm-up before working at your target heart rate for the day. Choose a level of exertion that allows you to speak a few words together in a phrase, but leaves you comfortably tired at the end of a workout. When finished, cool down with 5-10 minutes of appropriate stretching of the muscles you use most in your activity, including lower back, calves, hamstrings, hips and quadriceps.

Training with free weights, bands, a backpack, bodyweight exercises, or gym machines will help you build overall strength, particularly in the core (lower back and abdominals), upper back, and legs. Developing strength in your upper back and shoulders will help you with such tasks as carrying a pack and using trekking poles effectively. The calves, hips, quads, hamstrings and glutes are all involved in ascending and descending trekking routes, and strength endurance is required in all areas of the legs and hips.

Climbing Conditioning

Next, we will focus on strength conditioning. Training with free weights, bands, a backpack, bodyweight exercises, or gym machines will help you build muscles in target areas. These areas include: the core (lower back and abdominals), upper back and shoulders, and legs. Developing strength in your upper back and shoulders will help you with such tasks as carrying your pack and using trekking poles effectively. The calves, hips, quads, hamstrings, and glutes are all involved in ascending and descending scree and dirt trail terrain, and strength endurance is required in all areas of the legs and hips.

Training with free weights will give you the functional, trekking-specific strength that will help you most in the mountains. Free-weight training requires that you balance the weights as you would your own body: weighted with a pack, in three-dimensional space. When starting any strength conditioning program, complete two full-body strength workouts a week for 30–45 minutes each, focusing on compound exercises such as squats, lunges, step-ups, dips, pull-ups, rows, deadlifts, bench presses, push-ups, and overhead presses.

In the beginning phase of strength conditioning, focus on building a foundation for harder workouts. To start, keep weight light enough to concentrate on good form and complete two sets of each exercise for 8–10 repetitions. As you continue to train, you will shift focus to building strength (generally fewer reps, five to eight, with heavier weight). Four to six weeks before your climb, shift your training to focus on strength endurance (more reps, 10–15, with light weight) to turn the newly gained strength into greater strength endurance. Each training phase should vary the weight used, repetitions completed, number of sets, and rest intervals. Regardless of the training phase, always be sure you maintain proper form in order to prevent injury or strain.

Strength Conditioning

Training with free weights, bands, a backpack, bodyweight exercises, or gym machines will help you build overall strength, particularly in the core (lower back and abdominals), upper back and shoulders, and legs. Developing strength in your upper back and shoulders will help you with such tasks as carrying your pack and using trekking poles effectively. The calves, hips, quads, hamstrings, and glutes are all involved in ascending and descending scree and dirt trail terrain, and strength endurance is required in all areas of the legs and hips.

Training primarily with free weights will give you the functional, trekking-specific strength that will help you most in the mountains. Free-weight training requires that you balance the weights as you would your own body: weighted with a pack, in three-dimensional space. When starting any strength conditioning program, complete two full-body strength workouts a week for 30–45 minutes each, focusing on compound exercises such as squats, lunges, step-ups, dips, pull-ups, rows, dead lifts, bench presses, push-ups, and overhead presses.

In the beginning phase of strength conditioning, focus on building a foundation for harder workouts; to that end, keep the weight light enough to concentrate on good form and complete two sets of each exercise for 8–10 repetitions. As you continue to train, you will shift focus to building strength (generally fewer reps, five to eight, with heavier weight). Four to six weeks before your climb, shift your training to focus on strength endurance (more reps, 10–15, with light weight) to turn the newly gained strength into greater strength endurance. Each training phase should vary the weight used, repetitions completed, number of sets, and rest intervals. Regardless of training phase, always be sure you maintain proper form in order to prevent injury or strain.

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER

Now that you’re familiar with the different types of training, let’s put it all together. Roughly a month before your trek, you should be at the conditioning level where you are comfortable hiking on consecutive weekend days, what is referred to as “back-to-back training.” This involves hiking with your target climb pack weight (20 lbs.) on the first day for at least 2,000-3,000 ft. elevation gain, and a somewhat lighter pack for greater mileage on the second day to simulate two days of trekking in a row. This will not only be helpful physically, but also prepare you psychologically for the challenge of repeat high- effort days without any recovery days in between. A sample week of training one month prior to your trek might look like the chart above in an effort to help you build as much stamina as possible.

Be sure to include at least one recovery day per week and listen closely to your body. Take the final week to taper or gradually reduce intensity and volume of training so that by the time you leave for your trip you are well-rested and physically and psychologically up to the challenge.

Monday

Strength Training
Full body, 12–15 reps per set, 1 hour

Cardio Training
30 minu. no pack, recovery level (<65% Max HR)

Flexibility Training
10–15 minutes at the end

Tuesday

Climbing Training
Hills, stairs, or high-incline treadmill, 35–40 min, 20-lb. pack (short bursts >85% Max HR)

Strength Training
Full body, 12–15 reps per set, 1 hour

Flexibility Training
10–15 min. at the end

Wednesday

Cardio Training
75 min. no pack, distance level (65-75% Max HR)

Flexibility Training
10–15 min. at the end

Thursday

Strength Training
Full body, 8–10 reps per set, 1 hour

Cardio Training
45 min. no pack, tempo level (75-85% Max HR)

Flexibility Training
10–15 minutes at the end

Friday

Rest Day

Saturday

Climbing Training
Hike 6–8 miles, 20-lb. pack, gain 3,000 ft.

Flexibility Training
As needed to prevent stiffness

Sunday

Climbing Training
Hike 8–10 miles, 15-lb. pack, gain 3,500 ft.

Flexibility Training
As needed to prevent stiffness

The guides are first rate. Jose Luis, Renee, Javier and Pepe all had strong mountain skills and good people skills, the combination I feel makes for a great climbing trip. I can not say enough about Jose Luis!

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