Top 10 Mountaineering & Trekking Training Tips That You Haven’t Read Before
1. My biggest and most important tip is…
Always follow and commit to a specific training plan
Whether you download a plan or choose to work with a coach personally, just follow a plan. It is not enough to do a bit of training here and there. If you only give 50% of your effort at sea level and in your normal, comfortable life, how can you expect your body and mind to give 100% at altitude on a strenuous mountain or trekking route.
If working with a coach personally is an option for you then I would absolutely suggest you do it. Of course I am biased to my own coaching program (Mountaineering & Trekking Training) but if I am not the right coach for you then simply keep looking until you do find the right one. Having a professional, especially a really good one, look after your training and nutrition plan will be invaluable to your adventure.
If you would prefer to follow your own plan but aren’t satisfied with downloading a cookie cut training plan then checkout my book “A Step-By-Step Manual To Mountaineering & Trekking Around The World”. I have written in detail the exact training steps you need to follow to create your own, personalised mountaineering & trekking specific training plan based on my High Altitude Training Formula, the 5 crucial cardiovascular and muscular systems that you should be training and a guide to using heart rate zones for training.
Plan your work and work your plan
I can’t stress this enough, find a plan that works for you and work at it. Without a plan, you will likely do a few random training sessions here and there and never really improve your fitness levels. Having a plan allows you to track your progress and
2. Make sure the exercises you are doing are specific to mountaineering & trekking.
Check out my other blog to get a better understanding of this as well as some mountaineering & trekking specific examples.
3. Train within your specific Heart Rate Zones
Again, for a better understanding of this, checkout my other blog… You’ll need to buy a Heart Rate watch for this and a chest strap. You can buy a watch that picks up your heart rate from the pulse in your wrist but these are not very accurate. My favourite and most recommended brands are Polar and Garmin.
4. Spend as much time as you can training and moving with you backpack on
The more time you spend getting used to your backpack the better. Doing this gives you time to adjust your straps and find the perfect positioning, especially if you have a new bag. This is one way of making your training specific to mountaineering and trekking because it is simulating one of the conditions you will be facing on your adventure.
Pack your backpack to the same weight you expect to carry on your adventure
An empty bag is pretty comfortable. Add 12 to 15kg to that bag and all of a sudden you’ll find you have aches and pains all over the place. Doing this not only adds extra weight to your training thus making it harder for your body but it also helps you mentally prepare for what’s to come. Even if you find the most perfect positioning for your straps and your bag is as comfortable as possible, at some point on your adventure, it will become a burden and cause you some sort of discomfort.
5. Train in the gear you plan on trekking in
This tip follows the same suit as training with your backpack on. Doing this gives you time to perfect your gear and get a good idea of what’s too warm and what’s too cold. Obviously, if you live in a hot country, you can’t train in your down jacket but you can play around with your first layer and find what’s most comfortable for you.
6. Spend as much time as you can on your feet
The days on a mountaineering or trekking route can be long and being able to go for long hours on your feet without feeling much discomfort will do you the world of good. Spending time on your feet helps build the small muscles that surround your ankle joint and help stabilise your feet. This in turn helps prevent you from falling over because your stabilising muscles are strong.
By spending a larger portion of your day on your feet, you are inadvertently training the same muscles you use when you walk.
At the beginning of 2016 when I began training for my first high altitude adventure I made a commitment to walk to every single client as part of my training, with a weighted backpack. Within my 6-week training plan that I had created for myself, I had walked close to 458km. I was (and still am) very fortunate that I was running my own company and working for myself, which gave me the freedom to book my clients in with enough time in between each to walk wherever I needed to go.
You may have a desk job that requires you to be at one location most of the day making it difficult to get your kilometres in as I had but one solution to that is to simply spend as much time as you can standing.
7. Practice balance
I’m not talking about balance in your life or mind, I’m talking about those little stabilising muscles again. You can integrate this into your daily life by always brushing your teeth on one foot or showering while on your tippy toes. You’ll find your balance will improve in a matter of days and in time help prevent you from tripping or falling.
8. Regularly take time to stretch
Particularly your hamstrings, glutes and hip flexors as these are the main muscles used in mountaineering & trekking. Often with training, these three muscle groups begin to tighten and can cause lower back pain along with a host of other niggles
9. Learn about a little muscle in your glute called the piriformis
Your piriformis is a little muscle that can be found underneath your gluteus maximus (your biggest butt cheek muscle) and it is incredibly difficult to stretch and loosen when it is tight. The problem with a tight piriformis is that it pressing directly over your Sciatic nerve and can cause back pain, hip pain and potentially numbness and tingling in your foot. One of the best ways to prevent this from happening is by massaging it. Check out my instructional video on my Resources Page to learn how to massage it on yourself.
10. Listen to your body
Some days you’ll feel like superman or superwoman and other days you will feel exhausted and more like a sack of potatoes. It’s okay to take a rest day when you were scheduled to train, but do your absolute best to make up for the missed training session. Don’t give yourself an excuse not to train, but do heed the warnings of a tired body.