It should come as no surprise that the Mount Everest Base Camp trek is not an easy feat for most people – after all, you’re expected to trek between 4 and 7 hours per day for 12 days straight at high altitude. Whilst it’s not an overly technical climb and you don’t have to be a seasoned trekker to accomplish it, you will still have to physically and mentally prepare yourself.
It will be advantageous if you already work out and exercise regularly – if walking, cycling and/or swimming are already a part of your routine, you’ll be one step ahead when it comes to cardio training. To bring your routine to the next level, add is stair training, trail running and hiking. If you don’t regularly exercise, you will need to start with plenty of time to see improvement.
Starting at least 6 months before the trek, you should perform cardio training for around 30 minutes four times a week. Each month, aim to add 10 to 15 minutes to your routine and increase the frequency to six times a week. It’s also recommended that you train whilst wearing your daypack (or a weighted vest) to simulate the weight that you’ll be carrying on the trek.
This should be an integral part of your overall preparation for the trek. You should be focusing on conditioning your leg muscles, shoulders, abdomen and back. Incorporate key strength training exercises into your routine, like pull ups, sit ups, crunches and military presses. Start training at least 6 months prior for 30 minutes three times a week.
Increase the frequency and the duration of your workouts as the trek draws closer, but be sure to vary your routine to avoid boredom. Also ensure that you listen to your body and don’t over exert yourself.
While you can never truly prepare for the for the real altitude of Mount Everest, there are things you can do to help yourself become accustomed with trekking at elevation. Include stair training in your routine – climb as hard as your body can manage, then go back down at a slower and steady pace. Don’t forget to wear your pack or a weighted vest whilst doing this.
Another great way to prepare is to find a steep outdoor trail somewhere near your home and trek it several times. Try to ascend around 2000 feet with around 7kg on your back. To make training easier, you can carry 7kg of water in your pack then dump it out at the top before making your descent. Try to increase the distance, load and speed each time you trek.
In order to have a sound frame of mind for the duration of the trek, it’s best that you keep realistic expectations (from the logistics to the challenges you will face along the way). Keep in mind that the accommodations will be basic but efficient (the toilet situation could be challenging at times). We also definitely recommend reaching out to those who have done the trek before.
Also keep in mind that altitude sickness can rob you of your physical and mental energy – to help avoid this, keep yourself hydrated, eat healthily and bring adequate medication. If you do experience symptoms, let your guide know and you may need to descend a little. Remember, completing the Mount Everest Base Camp trek is not a race – it’s an experience.