Before we start this section, let us just say that you don’t need to be a superior athlete that is extremely fit to make it to Everest Base Camp!
We are just a couple of average Joe’s who’d much rather sleep and eat than exercise. When we decided to have a crack at the Everest Base Camp trek, we knew our lazy habits had to change – but looking back now, they really didn’t.
The only real training you can do to prepare yourself for a trek like this is to be hiking at altitude. Unfortunately for us, we live by the beach and the highest point above sea level that is even remotely close to where we live is about 4000 metres lower than where we would be trekking to at Everest. Not a great start.
While it is helpful to be fit and active, we certainly didn’t overdo it training for this adventure. Our friend, Chad, had told us that it is just as much of a mental challenge as a physical one, and after doing the trek, we can confirm that this is true. You don’t have to be a super fit human to make it – you just need the willingness to push on, even though your body is telling you not to. We saw plenty of old blokes well into their 50s cruising up the mountain like it was a stroll in the park.
Below you’ll find a list of things we did to keep fit and how often we did them to prepare ourselves for EBC.
- Hikes – in the months leading up to our adventure, we would try to get away on the weekends (as long as it was sunny) to climb a nearby mountain peak. We would load up our backpacks to get us used to the weight of them and just go walking. To keep it interesting, we tried our best to climb as many different mountains as we could. In total, we conquered about 13 different peaks, some of those more than once.The best training hikes you can do are the longer ones that go for more than 4 hours. This will get you used to the endurance you will need to face each day on the trek. Obviously it also helps to get some good elevation in your hikes as well, so you get your legs used to going up and down hills.
- Cardio – again, in the months leading up to our trip, we would try and get up early each morning and do some exercise in the gym at our apartment complex. The keyword here is ‘try’. We would sometimes get the shits with waking up so early, so would just cancel the alarm and go back to sleep.On the days we did get up, we would either swim laps of the pool, cycle on the exercise bike, run on the treadmill or row on the rowing machine for about 30-60 minutes. Of an evening, Tim would go for a run around the local area, but due to his lack of fitness, the best he did in one hit was about 6km – usually a lot less.
We sometimes found sets of stairs on steep hills as well, and just ran up and down those until we felt like spewing. This was excellent training for our legs!
A cool little trick that our mate Luke told us was to fill your mouth with water and then run on the treadmill. This limits the amount of oxygen getting and makes you really focus on your breathing. It’s exactly how it felt when up the mountain!
- Weights – none. We are both useless at lifting weights, so the best weight training we did was when we went hiking with a full backpack. If you are considering weight training for a trip like this, definitely work out your shoulders and your legs – they’re the only 2 muscle groups that get a workout up the mountain.
- Pilates – Teone went to Pilates classes a few times each week to toughen her rig up.
So there you have it – that was our fitness regime. We didn’t eat any special foods and we didn’t stick to a set exercise routine. We just did whatever we felt like. Looking back, we definitely could have done with some more strength in our bodies and a bit more stamina, but what we did was good enough to get us to our goal! We were puffed at times in the higher altitudes and we walked a lot slower than most people, but that was fine with us.
Remember, it’s not a race to the top of the mountain. Take your time each day and simply put one foot in front of the other. Stop constantly and rest until you’re good to go again. Don’t feel like you have to go crazy with training and exercise back at home. While it certainly does help, it’s not going to prevent you from reaching your goal if you miss a training session here or there. It’s just as much a mental game as it is a physical one.