For the adventurous spirit, high-altitude travel offers unique experiences that invigorate the body and feed the soul.
But traveling to peak destinations is difficult and not without risks. If you’re unprepared and out of shape, your dream adventure can quickly turn into a nightmare. You don’t want to ruin your trip due to lack of fitness. You should be able to face every challenge along your trek and reap the rewards in the end.
Even if you know what exercises to do to prepare for your travel, it’s hard to get a new exercise regimen started. When prepping for a particular adventure, how do you schedule your workouts to ensure the best results?
The answer to how to train for high altitudes is easy: Create a plan, and keep that plan simple. No need to shell out extra cash on a trainer or even a gym membership. With a plan like the one below, a few inexpensive pieces of equipment and proper workout attire, you can prepare for your next high peak adventure in the comfort of your own home or neighborhood.
Start the workout in the three months leading up to your adventure, and enjoy the fruits of your hard work when you finally reach the peak!
Once you have a plan, devise a workout schedule that addresses all the fitness requirements you will need to tackle your trek with maximum ease. If you know other trekkers more experienced in high-altitude prep, they may be able to help you with additional workouts and tips.
Here’s a sample weekly workout schedule that helps prepare the body for any moderately challenging high-altitude journey. Start the workout in the three months leading up to your adventure, and enjoy the fruits of your hard work when you finally reach the peak!
Tuesday/Thursday – Cardio
Do up to 90 minutes of cardio training in the form of biking or running. Be sure to pick a trail that incorporates ascents and descents. If possible, try off-road/trail running or biking to help work the smaller, stabilizing muscle groups that protect your joints.
If cardio training is new to you, start with a 30-minute loop and work your way up to 90 minutes. Once you peak at 90 minutes, pick up the pace and try to add some extra mileage to each training session.
To stay motivated, document your progress with a fitness monitor or app that records vital stats for each session.
Wednesday / Friday – Interval Cardio, Strength Training
From 30 to 45 minutes of cardio intervals will help strengthen your lungs and heart while also reinforcing the endurance training from your Monday/Thursday sessions. Sprints, burpees, skipping or mountain climbers are good exercises that qualify as intense cardio.
Following this, do 30 minutes of full-body strength training, focusing on your core and lower body.
Saturday/Sunday – Application Training
Use your weekend as an opportunity to practice physical exertion at elevation. Go hiking or climb stairs with a weighted pack one day; on the other day, add another cardio session in the form of a run or swim so you can maintain cardio strength and endurance. Work up to doing at least 90 minutes of exercise for each one of those days.
Monday – Stretch and Recover
We suggest using Monday as a recovery day because it’s usually the most hectic day in the workweek. Use this day as an opportunity to do mindful and purposeful stretching in the form of a yoga routine. Or try something a little different, like Eldoa. Whatever you choose, be sure to give your glutes, knees and ankles special attention.
You’ll notice that this fitness schedule is a full 7-day endeavor. This is intentional because incorporating exercise and activity into your daily routine makes it easier to adhere to. Just remember to take things slowly and build-up to a full workout routine. When you combine this routine with the right nutrition and altitude sickness remedy, your body will be ready to tackle whatever challenge you throw at it.