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Physical Fitness

We offer numerous adventures in the Himalayas from multi-day treks to technically challenging mountaineering expeditions. Different programs require varying levels of preparation. Sound fitness gained through a well-guided program is the only best way to ensure a safe and successful adventure.

Our training goal is to get you physically and mentally prepared to face the climb with more confidence. The climbing goal will be to perform consistently throughout the adventure. Fitness for mountaineering requires a high overall level of physical conditioning. Both cardiovascular and motor fitness are needed to climb at varying levels of intensity and to navigate challenging terrain, often while carrying a loaded pack and at high altitudes.

The greater your level of fitness, the more efficiently you can adapt to higher altitudes. Training for mountaineering focuses on developing cardiovascular fitness and motor fitness particularly endurance, strength, and balance. More than any other specific fitness skill, endurance is the fitness area of greatest importance to a mountaineer.

Training goals are critically important and allow you to perform better at higher altitudes and enjoy the entire adventure. We suggest that you examine the physical requirements of the climb you are approaching and work on your fitness in different levels. Establish a timeline for your training program and focus on specific conditioning for better results. Along with your workouts try and add hikes and climbs in the outdoors whenever possible to get more comfortable with different terrains.

Participants with pre-existing medical conditions should inform us before booking the trek and are advised to seek medical advice or consent from their doctors before the trek.

When it comes to mountaineering, preparation is everything. Much more demanding than hiking, ascending a mountain requires a higher level of fitness as well as experience with a variety of terrain. From training your body and making sure you have the technical skills for a safe, successful climb to training your mind for the endurance ahead, there’s a lot to do in order to get yourself ready. On top of that, you’ll also need to be equipped for pushing your body at high altitudes. The great news, however, is that mountaineering can be done by anyone, as long as you’re fit, healthy, and determined. Whether you’re signing up for a few weeks trek or a more challenging mountaineering expedition, training is the key factor.

Here’s everything you need to know about training for a climb.

Initial Training Goals
The training requirements completely depend on the adventure chosen. Different adventures require varying levels of physical conditioning. At Protrek Adventure we have graded our climbs to help you to choose the best adventure based on your fitness levels. Click here to Learn more about Trip Grades and choose what’s best for you!

Knowing what your initial goals are is important. If you want to achieve a climb that is slightly beyond your current fitness level, you will need to make sure your training plan pushes you further than you’ve gone before.

How much time will I be spending at higher altitudes?
How to get acclimatized at higher altitudes?
How much weight will I be carrying in my backpack?
What equipment is required for the climb?
What are the technical skills required for the climb?

All of these factors will determine your training and preparation. Good physical conditioning is essential to climb for longer durations carrying a heavy backpack.

Timeline / Schedule
For multi-day treks, we recommend training for 6 to 8 weeks prior to your trip. For Peak climbing, a training schedule for 2 to 3 months prior to the trip is recommended. For climbers approaching 8000m + peaks 6 months of effective training is highly essential. This timeframe can change depending on your individual fitness levels and training strategies. Your training also depends on the duration and difficulty of the peak. For long expeditions with challenging terrain, the earlier you start training the better.

Mountaineering Fitness and Training
It may also be helpful to break down your training timeline into a number of key phases. These are:

Phase 1 : Base physical fitness
The first phase of getting prepared for your climb is to focus on your base fitness. You should incorporate a fitness routine that focuses on both cardiovascular fitness and motor fitness training. For those who are not used to intense workouts this phase will help you to kickstart your training. Remember that consistency is the first most important factor in achieving any goal. Combine your basic fitness regimes along with running and stair climbing. You are now ready for outdoor adventures.

Phase 2 : Training specific for the climb
Once you have established your base physical fitness, you will need to train specifically for the climb. Depending on the difficulty and intensity of the climb, add advanced workout sessions combined with uphill training. Try and do the same fitness routines with some added loads. Strength training combined with cardiovascular and motor fitness will help with the overall conditioning. This will take your workouts to the next level and help gear up for the mountaineering challenge ahead.

Phase 3 : Outdoor Training
Nothing can replace training in the real outdoors. In the final phase of your training, you should be attempting climbs which are similar to the ones you are approaching. It is great to test your endurance outdoors. This gives you a great edge in preparing for conditions similar to the ones you will encounter during your expedition. It isn’t always possible to find similar terrains close to where you live, but it is best to find a hike as close to the climb as possible. This is the best way to test your climbing gears as well.

Training goals and timeline
Working out for at least 5 days in a week is the best way to get your body physically prepared for the climb ahead. Regular and consistent training always gives the best result and keeps you highly motivated. Make sure that you workout regularly and also give enough time for rest and recovery. Keep it balanced and have a properly planned fitness routine and never overdo exercises to the point of injury. While 2 to 3 months is a good amount of time to train, starting your training earlier allows more time to adjust and prepare. Some areas that need to be focused are:

Cardio Training
Cardio sessions are necessary to improve the overall fitness level of your heart and lungs and should be the first type of training you do when preparing for a mountain climb. There are a variety of aerobic exercises that can get your heart pumping and get your body used to using oxygen effectively. These include Running, Cycling, Stair Climbing, Swimming, Jogging, Walking, Zumba and Jump Rope. You could also add high intensity interval training along with Lunges, Squats, Burpee and Jumping Jack. Crossfit training is a great cardio workout that incorporates strength and conditioning. It takes a great deal of anaerobic capacity to make movements more efficient and can be built up to be a high-intensity exercise. Build your aerobic training over time, starting with shorter workout sessions and progressing to longer sessions.

Interval Training
Interval training is a type of training that involves a series of high-intensity workouts interspersed with rest or relief periods. Benefits of Interval Training include; increased endurance, faster and more efficient workouts, reduced risk of injury or overtraining. For those looking for more of these short and powerful workouts, you can perform interval training two to three times a week. Start with shorter bursts and lengthen them as you get more fit. Interval training helps improve cardiovascular efficiency; the ability to deliver oxygen to the working muscles and results in improved performance, greater speed, and endurance. At higher altitudes where the oxygen levels are lesser, interval training improves your ability to utilize oxygen. Interval sessions are tough, and you must “dig down deep” to find the motivation to push yourself, but the payoff is big. Intervals are tough on your body and if performed too often they increase the risk of overtraining.

Strength Training
Moving heavy snow, climbing over boulders, and pulling your bodyweight onto ledges requires a lot of strength. This is even truer when you consider the equipment that mountain climbers carry. Walking uphill takes great endurance and strong lungs. The goal with strength training for climbers is to improve relative strength while not increasing body weight or bulk so much that it hinders progress. Two important areas to work on for mountaineering are the forearms and shoulders. Pull-ups, calf-raises, lunges and dead-lifts are some of the workouts to focus on. You should be working to increase strength in your leg muscles as well as your core muscles.

Endurance Training
Endurance is essential for mountain climbing. Training your muscles to take a constant, unrelenting, load over long periods of time comes mostly from climbing itself. However, there are other ways of training for endurance, off the mountain. Mountain climbers, walking lunges with dumbbells or Kettlebells and other workouts that target improving endurance should help you get to your goals. Mountaineering expeditions require you to carry a backpack with heavy loads on steep terrains and over long durations and hence endurance training is very crucial.

Mental Preparation
Mountaineering is challenging mentally and physically. On a mental level, mountaineers require unwavering focus, determination, and the ability to overcome failure. In addition to being physically ready for the mountains, you will also need some mental stamina. This is a measure of your resilience and confidence and can be the reason for success or failure. The best way to train mentally is to set goals and targets, not just your end goals, but also mini-goals along the way. Small milestones can help you stay motivated and will help you maintain momentum in your training. Having a training plan and making sure you stick to it is a great way of getting yourself ready. It’s also vital for climbers to stay on track with achieving their goals even when setbacks happen. Don’t let a few problems dishearten you. Setbacks happen on the mountain too, and a positive attitude will be required to get around them.

Workouts should be fun and interest you. Here is a sample workout plan for a typical week:

Monday – Aerobic & Cardio Training
Tuesday – Strength and Endurance Training
Wednesday – Aerobic & Cardio Training
Thursday – Interval Training
Friday – Aerobic & Cardio Training
Saturday – Strength and Endurance Training
Sunday – Rest Day

Everyone’s workout plans will look different. It all depends on the length and difficulty of your climb, as well as your current fitness level and your mountaineering interests. If you’re new to mountaineering and want a helpful and supportive guide for your first high mountain experience, get in touch with us.