How to Train for Everest Base Camp Trek

How to Train for Everest Base Camp Trek

Training for Everest Base Camp shouldn’t be taken lightly. A combination of cardiovascular endurance, strength training, and hiking is needed to prepare for the trek. Nothing can truly prepare you for the altitude of 17,598 ft (5,364 metres ) but you can make your trek easier with proper training and reaching a fitness level capable of trekking with a pack on your back. That was my goal before beginning my trek to Everest Base Camp with Active Adventures in Nepal.

How to Train for Everest Base Camp Trek

As I am sure you are aware trekking to Everest Base Camp is not a technical climb and you need no technical climbing experience is needed to make this trek. You don’t even need experience at high altitude to complete this trek. I had never been above 14,000 feet before trekking to Base Camp. While I couldn’t train for the altitude at home I could make sure I was physically fit and wouldn’t be struggling with the daily hikes of 4, 5, 6 hours or more.

Trek to Everest Base CampIf you are an experienced hiker this trek probably isn’t a difficult one for you but I would consider it to be of moderate difficulty and would recommend everyone train before taking it on. This will improve the chances of an enjoyable and memorable trek free of painful mornings and sore bodies.

My Training Regimen

Before you start training: BUY YOUR BOOTS!

Scarpa Hiking Boots for Everest Base CampI can’t stress the importance of this enough. You want to have your boots broken in weeks or months before your trek. I wore mine every day around Brooklyn, to the gym, and even at the gym while I worked out.

I went with boots from Scarpa: Scarpa Men’s Kailash GTX Hiking Boot

I purchased these because my good friend wears them on hikes of 45 to 60 days. If they keep his feet dry and comfortable then they will keep yours dry and fit too. They were great boots and I highly recommend them. Any boot from Scarpa is a good decision in my opinion.

I’ll be the first to tell you I didn’t train enough and Gareth (Tourist2Townie) was kicking my ass on some of the long uphills a few days into the trek. I have a history of not training enough, like when I ran a marathon with zero training and about 5 miles under my belt in the previous year. I paid for the lack of training after that race and was not going to let that happen again in Nepal.

How to Train for Everest Base Camp TrekWhen I am home I maintain a strength training program 6 times per week at the gym. This consists of compound lifts focusing on strengthening the entire body. I do not run or use the cardio equipment at all. Strength training is important for the Everest Base Camp trek but should not be your only focus. I had to add a few key exercises to my daily training to make sure my endurance was ready for the trek.

I trained roughly 8 weeks prior to my trek. I strength train year-round so these 8 weeks were only the addition of cardio training. I would recommend 12-16 weeks if you aren’t already hitting the gym regularly. I know I could have used a few extra weeks training on hills and trails before the trek to reduce fatigue on uphill climbs.

(Keep in mind this is my personal training and you should consult a physical trainer or your doctor before following any of my tips)

Key Exercises

I maintained my current strength routine at the gym but added a few other exercises that would help for the trek. You do not need to train for Everest Base Camp with these lifts. These are part of my current and on-going routine. However, strengthening your legs is a great way to improve your trekking performance.

My workouts included:

  • Dead lifts
  • Squats
  • Front Squats
  • Military Press
  • Bench Press
  • Incline Press
  • Pull-ups
  • Push-ups
  • Weighted step-ups
  • Many other various lifts

My strength routine lasts 45-60 minutes per day. I added an additional 30 minutes of training devoted to cardiovascular training daily in addition to strength training.

You don’t need to add any of these lifts to your routine but strengthening your legs is a good idea.

Cardiovascular Training for Base Camp

Any type of cardiovascular conditioning is good training for Everest Base Camp. Your days will be spent walking rolling hills with a weighted pack and a few liters of water. A couple of days will be spent on tough uphills so the more training the better.

I never woke up sore after a long day of trekking but there were days when the uphills felt exhausting. Shortness of breath at altitude was the toughest thing to train for. It was a feeling I had never felt but the key was taking it slow.

I recommend walking inclines on the treadmill with a weight vest to start. This is a low-impact exercise and a great way to start your training. Eventually add the stair climber to your routine. Wearing a weighted vest will simulate your day pack and a good way to build endurance. I recommend buying a weight vest that weighs more than your full day pack. This way the day pack will seem lighter by comparison.

Running, rowing, cycling, swimming, and walking uphills are all a great way to build your endurance. Mix it up and choose the exercise you enjoy the most. My goal was to simulate the trek as closely as possible.

Wear your packed day pack while you train as well. This will get your shoulders adjusted to the weight and feel of carrying the additional weight.

My Weight Vest: Everlast Weighted Vest

Weight Vest Everest Base Camp Training

 My Day Pack: Osprey Manta 28 Hydration Pack

Osprey Day Pack for Everest Base Camp

I am 6’2″ and I found this pack to be a little on the small size for me. It was able to hold everything I needed day to day but the straps were too narrow and caused some tension in my shoulders after a few days. I would recommend checking out all of the Osprey backs and pick a bag to meet your needs.

What I loved about this pack was the 3 liter water reservoir. My goal was to drink 6 liters a day. This pack forced me to drink 3 liters by noon and 3 before dinner.

If you do not have a porter (we did due to all of the camera gear and overall lack of trekking experience) be sure to buy and train with a larger pack. I would purchase a 40 liter pack next time. Check out the other Osprey Hiking Packs.

No matter what train with a backpack or a weight vest to simulate your trekking day pack.

More day packs: Everest Base Camp Packing List

If you want to take your training up a notch buy this:

Elevation Training Mask 2.0 High Altitude Simulation

 Elevation Training Mask 2.0 High Altitude Simulation Yes, you are going to look like Bane at the gym but it just might help you get ready for the altitude. This mask helps with:

  • Increased lung capacity
  • Increased Mental and physical stamina increase
  • Increased Mental Focus gets better
  • Increased oxygen efficiency
  • Increased energy Production

Also See: Do Elevation Masks Work?

I can tell you from experience this mask made my workouts a lot more difficult. I wore it a few times a week doing pull-ups, push-ups, and uphill walks with a weighted vest. I made it to Base Camp but I can’t say there is any correlation between using this mask in training and not having any serious problems at altitude.

At the very least this mask is fun to wear. And just for proof that I actually wore this thing here I am on a beach in St. Maarten. I was there the week before my trek and had to keep the training going!

 Elevation Training Mask 2.0 High Altitude Simulation Trekking Conditioning for Base Camp

The best way to train for a trek is to do some trekking. If you are fortunate enough to live in a place with hiking trails nearby there is no better way to train. Lace up your boots, strap on your pack, and hit the trails. Mix these hikes in with your strength and conditioning routines and fully prepare yourself for the trek.

I wasn’t able to properly hike while training in Brooklyn but I did use the city as my hiking trail. When it snowed I hit the streets and when I could I used parks and the city neighborhoods to simulate the trek. The key is to build endurance and get used to walking for long periods of time in your boots with a heavy pack on.

Altitude Training for Base Camp

Unless you live at altitude there is no way to truly train for this. You can use the altitude mask to simulate your lung capacity and stamina but there you can’t properly train your body at sea level for high altitude trekking.

The best thing you can do is get in top physical shape. Your body will adjust as you trek to Base Camp. The key is to walk slowly even when your body can push you further. The strongest athletes are often the ones who race too quickly each day and feel the symptoms of altitude sickness. Train hard. Trek slow.

More Info About Everest Base Camp Trek

A Photographic Journey to Everest Base Camp

Tech and WiFi Guide to Everest Base Camp Trek

Life Above 17,000 ft: From Gorak Shep to Everest Base Camp

Everest Base Camp Packing List

Everest Base Camp Trek FAQ: All Your Questions Answered

 

I have been traveling to over 100 countries by using the methods I share on this site. My goal is to maximize every trip and make the most of my adventures. Join me on Instagram.

  • Brad Rutta

    Those sound like some intense workouts. How long do you suggest someone should train like this before actually starting a hike on Mt. Everest?

    • The workouts don’t need to be too intense. My regular gym routine includes a lot of lifting but the key is building endurance by hiking and training your legs. I would train at least 8 weeks prior (12 weeks is better) to the trek but I know people who have trained for 6 months or more depending on their level of fitness. As long as you are confident you can hike for 6 hours a day with a pack on you will be good to go. Everyone is a little different when it comes to preparing for something like this.

  • Nice training. But is this secured to travel Nepal after the earthquake?

  • Mike H

    I did the same trek. thee strength workout will most likely be useless. the key to all problems is to use trekking poles to alleviate the pressure off your knees. None of these exercise will prepare you for the pressure being put on your knee over the course of ascending/descending…

    as a matter of fact, i would argue that exertion in the capacity that one is fully capable of is not a good idea – since you might succumb quicker and experience more fatigue vs an avg joe..this post is too much..

  • Akshay Kumar

    For cardio training, I would add this – get some HRM and practice staying in the range of 80-85% max HR (depends on age), for long durations – like 30+ minutes, take break and repeat if you like. I haven’t done Everest base camp, but remember from my experience at about 15000ft (untrained, only gym fit). You walk for 10-20 steps and heart is like ready to explode out of the chest.

  • Katie

    Thanks for the info! I live in Manhattan and have started going up and down the 16 flights of stairs in my apt building. I’m 6 weeks out from my trek, so hopefully that does the trick – especially given we’re currently buried in snow. I was going to invest in one of those masks, but sounds like it’s not really worth it. Anything else you wish you had done to prepare?

    • Hey Katie, I live in Brooklyn and when I was six weeks out is when I really started training harder. Walking inclines with a weight vest (or day pack) at the gym became part of my daily routine. The mask hasn’t been proven to work for altitude training but it is fun to wear. It will absolutely make training harder and help simulate less oxygen. Will it help you at altitude? Probably not but it will help with training. I’m training for Kilimanjaro right now in BK and doing the same process. Long walks, stair climber, slow hills, and anything to simulate slowly walking all day at a slow incline. Get your legs ready and get your cardio up and you should be fine. Get used to wearing your pack and do your best to simulate long hikes. Walking the stairs in your apt should definitely help! This snow is a great way to get ready. I hit some snow on the way down from EBC last year and it was a lot of fun. It’s a great way to break in your boots in the city right now.

    • Katie

      Thanks for the speedy response! I was about to write back with a few more questions – but just read your other blog posts, super helpful, think you managed to answer all my current questions. Goodluck with your Kili training!

  • Nepalplanet Treks

    I visited Nepal in April ’16 and completed the 4-day Poonhill Trek. Probably one of my favorite vacations of all time! Rhododendrons in bloom with views of the Annapurnas… breathtaking.

    Our Nepali guide, Sanjib , was one of the best in the business. His English is great, and we had very clear communication over email while making the trekking plans beforehand. Upon arrival in Kathmandu , he took our group out for momos and tea and actually spent time getting to know us. He has been a guide for over 15 years and so has extensive knowledge of the area, and a great sense of humor. You can tell he loves his job and has a deep passion for his work, the Nepali people, and his homeland. During our trek, our comfort was his biggest concern, and he always made sure everything was to our liking. In the evenings, we’d spend some time chatting about Nepal, the culture, and he even taught us some Nepali card games.

    After talking with other travellers, I believe our trekking rates were very competitive too.

    I would highly recommend you check out his FB page: Sanjib Adhikari Guides

    I had such a great time that I’m really hoping to visit Nepal again, but for a longer duration. One week was not enough