How to train for a Himalayan Hiking Vacations
Most of our clients, from 3 years old to some in their 70s have done and completed their treks with almost no exercise or training. Some level of fitness and strength will be helpful though to make an adventure vacation more enjoyable. If you would want to be better prepared for a trek in the Himalayas, this is a suggested training regime to help you develop for such undertakings. Please seek your doctor and a local gym trainer’s advice and further guidance.
Trekking requires some form of training such as stretching, cardiovascular, endurance, and muscle conditioning exercises. It is especially helpful to hike with a backpack. Having a stable physical shape is one of the most beneficial aspects of success on a high altitude trek. You should plan to progressively ramp up your speed, duration (time and distance), during your training. During the Himalayan trek, you will surely walk in the altitudes. So some form of altitude conditioning is also advisable.
Ideal activities include running, walking on an inclined treadmill, doing stair master training, trail running, working on a cross trainer, walking up and down hills, or participating in step aerobics classes. Biking, rowing, and swimming are good cardiovascular options for the early stages of your training, make sure that you include spinal-loading cardiovascular exercise as you get closer to your trekking vacation.
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, when embarking on a cardiovascular training program for such a trek. Always include a 5-10 minute gentle warm-up before working out, increasing the level of exertion as long as you can make short sentences without losing your breath, and cool down with 5-10 minutes of appropriate stretches of the muscles such as lower back, calves, hamstrings, hips, and quadriceps. Training with free weights, a backpack, bodyweight exercises, or gym machines will help build your overall strength, particularly in the lower back and abdominals (core), upper back, and legs. Developing muscle in your upper back and shoulders will help you with tasks such as carrying a backpack and using trekking poles effectively. The calves, hips, quads, hamstrings and gluteus muscles are all involved in ascending and descending along the trekking routes.
Training with free weights and machines will give you the primary functional; strength specific to trekking that will help a lot in the mountains. Exercises such as lunges, squats, step ups, pull ups, rowing, pushups and bench presses will help you with the strengthening condition.
Conditioning for Trekking
Hike on steep trails while increasing your backpack weight on each outing until you reach your target backpack weight. If possible try to ascend 600 to 1000 meters carrying around 8 to 10 kilos in your backpack. Gaining about 300 meters in height per hour is good; make sure you have at least 2 liters – (preferably in a Camelback or similar container) of water with you during this hike.
Breathing exercises can be beneficial. Yoga is another excellent way to prepare and condition you for a trek.
One technique that can be useful for altitude climbing is to go up a steep hill or sets of stairs that allows you to climb continuously for few minutes at a time. Push yourself as hard while ascending and recover on your descent, repeat this for 30-60 minutes.
Last but not least it is essential to have a positive outlook on life and don’t forget to pack your sense of humor. This training will help you with your trekking holidays in Nepal, Bhutan, India, and Tibet.