Fitness for the Everest Base Camp Trek

trekking in Gorak Shep

It’s now less than 100 days until we head off to conquer the Everest Base Camp trek! In the lead up to the trek (and because it’s about the only thing I can concentrate on at the moment!), I thought I’d share some of the planning and preparation that I’ve done. Whether it’s all been enough or not – we’ll soon see!

Everything that I’ve read about the Everest Base Camp trek says that anyone of average fitness can complete it, but I really want to give myself the best possible chance, so I’ve started a bit of a regular fitness regime. Hopefully this will reduce how miserable I feel on the harder trekking days as well! To give you some context, I have a fairly sedentary job which means I’m usually tied to my desk for most of the time throughout the day, but I do rely on walking as my main means of transport. I don’t really have a regular exercise routine as such, I more tend to go through phases where I’ll exercise pretty regularly, and then slack off again as life gets in the way. At the moment, I would probably like to increase my fitness somewhat before the trek, hopefully with the added bonus of dropping some weight also.

I’ve cobbled together a bit of an exercise plan, please note that I am by no means qualified in these sorts of things! My main focus has been on increasing my cardio fitness, as I think that’s what is going to help me the most. My weapon of choice has been the stepper machine, as I figured that will assist with developing  my leg muscles and coping with some of the steep uphills on the way to Everest Base Camp. At the moment I’ve been doing 30 minutes 3-4 times a week on the stepper, using one of the pre-set workout programs on it that has a pretty tough hill. I like to pretend that it’s Mt Everest that I’m walking up to try and get me through the workout! Occasionally, I’ll mix this up with walking on a steep gradient on the treadmill, or even a hill program on the exercise bike.

Stepper Hill Program at Gym
My own personal Everest – can’t you see the resemblance?!

Something else that I have been doing is trying to increase my general walking. Most work days, I’m now walking both to work and back home (no mean feat at the end of a long work day), which is about a 30 minute walk each way. There’s also some good small gradients on my walk through Melbourne’s CBD which I think help too.

I’ve also tried to increase the amount of walking that I do on the weekends, and be a bit more active in general. Ash and I have done a couple of short hikes around Melbourne on some weekends (see here and here for the details), and we probably need to do a few more before we head off also. I’m tracking my amount of steps each day with a wristband fitness tracker, and aiming for a minimum of 10,000 steps per day – harder than I anticipated, especially in an office job! I feel like actually keeping track of this has made me more active and more focused on incidental exercise, which can only be a good thing!

Bourke St Melbourne from Southern Cross
Walking around Melbourne’s CBD

Acclimating to the altitude is something that I can’t train for, and have to wait and see how I handle it. Living at Melbourne’s scant elevation of 31 metres above sea level for most of my life and not having ventured much higher than that is not ideal, although it’s what the majority of trekkers face when they attempt the Everest Base Camp Trek. I’ve certainly been nowhere near the 5,643 metre elevation that will be the peak altitude of our trek at the summit of Kala Patthar! All that I can do from an altitude perspective is make sure that we don’t rush the trek, take it slow and steady and really keep an eye out for any altitude sickness symptoms. The Everest Base Camp trek itinerary that we have agreed on allows sufficient time for the all-important acclimatisation days. We’ll also follow the “trek high, sleep low” rule which really helps acclimatisation by making sure that you always sleep at a lower altitude than where you have trekked to each day, slowly increasing your body’s ability to handle the decreased oxygen levels in the air as you ascend.

In conjunction with increasing my exercise, I’ve also started trying to eat fairly healthy. I figure that if my body is in the best condition possible, it’s only going to make the trek easier. I don’t really believe in things like eliminating carbs etc (plus I love carbs way too much to give them up!), I’ve just really been trying to focus on eating more unprocessed foods, and focusing on meats and veggies. Hopefully all of these things together should have me well prepped to make it to Everest Base Camp!

Have you attempted a long or high-altitude trek? Tell me about how you prepared in the comments!

Header photo credit: Creative Commons License
Everest Base Camp – Gorak Shep – Nepal. by lampertron is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

11 Replies to “Fitness for the Everest Base Camp Trek”

  1. Awesome tips. Id love to attempt EBC one day but am so scared of my lack of fitness!

    1. Glad you enjoyed them! Don’t rule yourself out, people of all fitness levels make it, and I am definitely not the fittest person in the world 🙂

  2. I hope to make that hike someday

    1. I’ve been dreaming about it for a while, I almost can’t believe it’s nearly here! Thanks for reading 🙂

  3. Have fun! I’ll be there in October/November and am seriously looking forward to it! Since I’ll be in China before I head to Nepal I’m hoping to do some smaller but still pretty intense treks to get myself prepared.

    1. I’m really looking forward to it too! China should be a good place to get in some trekking to prepare. Good luck with your Everest Base Camp trek 🙂

  4. Great tips! You simply rock. Getting to the Everest Base Camp has been on my bucket list for ages and I can’t wait to make it come true one day. Your tips will certainly help get eady for this moment!

    1. Awww thanks so much 🙂 Glad you’re enjoying the tips. Book it in, I’m sure you won’t regret it!

  5. […] Fitness preparation for the trek – when I was doing all of my research and planning, I really couldn’t find much information about what people had done to prepare themselves from a fitness perspective for the trek. Here’s what I did, I’ll soon find out if it was enough! […]

  6. Katrina Williams says: Reply

    Hi, I’m hoping to do the EBC trek in April and I’ve just read all of your posts. I am now both excited and terrified. It sounds so hard! I was just wondering if you think your preparation was enough or if you’d do a bit more to get fitter if you were to do it again. I’m not much into working out, but I want to be as prepared as possible. Thanks for this blog, I’ve really enjoyed reading it. You’re awesome!

    1. Hi Katrina, thanks for reading! EBC is so amazing, the experience was worth every minute of difficulty! My preparation was good, and enough to get me up there, but I would definitely recommend doing as much fitness prep as possible – trust me, you will not regret it! I hope you have a fantastic trek, and let me know if you have any questions 🙂

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