• Kate Sielmann

How To Train For The John Muir Trail PLUS The 8-Week John Muir Training Plan

Updated: Jun 7, 2020

There is a misconception that the John Muir Trail is easy simply because it is a long trek at relatively low altitude. Far too many people decide to do this trek, forgo training and then regret it while they are struggling on the trail. It is such an incredible, “bucket-list” trek, why waste the fact that you could be enjoying every single moment of it simply by training and properly preparing before hand?


In this blog you’ll find out the 2 reasons that make training so important to your success and safety followed by an 8-Week John Muir Trail Training Plan.


The 2 Reasons Why You Need To Be Training For The John Muir Trail:


1. Distance

The entire trail is about 340km, which generally takes 3 weeks to complete. 340km is a long, long way. It may not be the hardest trek in the world but these two factors make it a substantial challenge that requires training beforehand for most.


2. Altitude

Most of the trail lies at about 2,400m above sea level. Although this is not classified as extreme altitude, it is classified as high altitude and shouldn’t be forgotten.


NOTE: Please read “The 5 Essential Training Principles Of Mountaineering & Trekking” before you start the next section of this blog. You’ll need to understand what the training principles actually are to understand your 8-Week John Muir Trail Training Plan.


A small disclaimer, 8 weeks to train and prepare is really the minimum amount of time I would suggest to any of my clients with reasonable/average fitness levels. If you struggle to walk 10km with a heart rate of about 130bpm or run 8km with a heart rate between 140bpm and 150bpm then rather be on the safe side and assume you need longer than 8 weeks to prepare.


8-Week John Muir Trail Training Plan

In my book “A Step-By-Step Manual To Mountaineering & Trekking Around The World” I share the formula I developed to calculate the exact number of hours you should be training per week to reach your peak physical condition for any mountain or trekking route you choose, as well as an entire, detailed and scientific chapter dedicated to creating your own training program.


If you haven’t read my book and calculated your weekly training hours then please know that the below training plan is based on the average age, weight and overall fitness levels of a person. This program also excludes the specific Heart Rate Zones that I explain and apply to The Training Chapter in my book, simply because it is impossible (and medically unsafe) to assume and suggest the specific zones you should be training in without properly calculating them.


Dedicate yourself to your training, give of your absolute best during your training so you can give of your best and enjoy every moment of this incredible trail.


Week 1

  • 2 hours Aerobic Fitness

  • 30 minutes Core Stability

  • 15 minutes Ankle Mobility and Balance

  • 1 hour Leg and Glute Strength

  • 15 minutes Anaerobic Power

Week 2

  • 2.5 hours Aerobic Fitness

  • 30 minutes Core Stability

  • 15 minutes Ankle Mobility and Balance

  • 1 hour Leg and Glute Strength

  • 15 minutes Anaerobic Power

Week 3

  • 3 hours Aerobic Fitness

  • 30 minutes Core Stability

  • 15 minutes Ankle Mobility and Balance

  • 1 hour Leg and Glute Strength

  • 15 minutes Anaerobic Power

Week 4

  • 3 hours Aerobic Fitness

  • 40 minutes Core Stability

  • 15 minutes Ankle Mobility and Balance

  • 1.5 hours Leg and Glute Strength

  • 15 minutes Anaerobic Power

Week 5

  • 3.5 hours Aerobic Fitness

  • 40 minutes Core Stability

  • 15 minutes Ankle Mobility and Balance

  • 1.5 hours Leg and Glute Strength

  • 15 minutes Anaerobic Power

Week 6

  • 3.5 hours Aerobic Fitness

  • 40 minutes Core Stability

  • 15 minutes Ankle Mobility and Balance

  • 1.5 hours Leg and Glute Strength

  • 15 minutes Anaerobic Power

Week 7

  • 4 hours Aerobic Fitness

  • 40 minutes Core Stability

  • 15 minutes Ankle Mobility and Balance

  • 1.5 hours Leg and Glute Strength

  • 15 minutes Anaerobic Power


Week 8 (Peak Week)

During Peak Week, your training amount will decrease giving your body the necessary time to rest and recover before you take your first step on The John Muir Trail. You want to start your climb fully recovered and rested and not tired and exhausted from training, which is why including a Peak Week in your 8 Week John Muir Trail Training Plan is important.


  • 2 hours Aerobic Fitness

  • 30 minutes Core Stability

  • 30 minutes Ankle Mobility and Balance

  • 1 hour Leg and Glute Strength – very light exercises followed by a 15 minute Self-Massage Release (SMR) using a Foam Roller. Click here to see my SMR program.

  • 0 minutes Anaerobic Power

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