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.
If 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!
I 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.
When 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)
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
- Front Squats
- Military Press
- Bench Press
- Incline Press
- 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
My Day Pack: Osprey Manta 28 Hydration Pack
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
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!
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
Plan Your Trip with Active Adventures