Physical Preparation


You can use your mountain ascent / trek / expedition as a excellent motivator to start and maintain a regular physical training programme. Being physically prepared will help you to be better mentally prepared.

Guidelines to help you physically prepare

1-4  months before

Engage a coach to get you started in the gym or at home.

Get a group of friends and train together regularly. Work on strengthening especially core, thigh and calf muscle groups to improve  muscular endurance for long days ascending and descending, stability for  confidence on the descent, and to prevent injury.

To complement weights and floor exercise (such as yoga or pilates), swimming is good for this.

Work on improving basic cardio fitness by  doing at least 3-4 run / jog / bike sessions a week. Try to do longer warm-ups pre-weights (20-30minutes), and to prevent boredom, try working sets into the programme-  (2-4 x 10 minutes alternating bike and run / jog, building into longer sessions twice a week of  2-3 x 20 minutes or 3-4 x 15 minutes).

Tennis is a good replacement for one of two cardio sessions per week.

Stretching warmed up muscles pre and post workout is essential for maintaining and improving mobility, and it speeds recovery. No bounce, 8 seconds.

Make sure to take 1 rest day per week and dedicate 1 training day as a recovery  session. This is imperative to prevent overtraining, which can quickly lead to burn-out, illness and the inability to accomplish your expedition goal.

Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day or two’s training. Just remember that doing a short session if you are pressed for time, say a warm up and stretch, is better than nothing at all, helping to maintain training gains.

Taking a day off also speeds recovery if you are tired. After two days, however, your training fitness and strength gains start to fade,  and after 2 weeks fitness and strength significantly decreases.

Try to avoid over-eating to compensate for extra training. Eat smarter, not more. Eat to train, rather than train to eat.  That means eating a healthy balanced diet, with a good blend of complex and simple carbohydrates, minerals and protein. After a weights session or a particularly hard or long cardio session, eat a high-protein meal to replenish cells (repairs cell breakdown). This aids cell repair, which is the basis for strength gain – improving fitness, strength, and speeds up recovery.

Get enough sleep. Recovery and fitness gains are made during deep sleep.  Adults require between at least 6-8 hours each night.

1 week before

Eat larger quantities of low glycemic index (GI) and complex carbohydrates (for all meals). Aside from providing a solid energy foundation for long trekking days, carbo loading can help to delay the onset of the effects of altitude, and to reduce the severity of altitude symptoms felt, if you are affected.

Make sure that you eat a healthy breakfast every day.

Drink an extra two or three glasses of water per day (4 litres total).

If you are training, reduce training load by at least half during this week.

Take your rest day 2 days ahead of your first trek day. Warm-up and stretch.

Prepare your feet by cutting your toenails and smoothing dead skin, one or  two days before the trek or expedition. Do not remove too much skin or calluses, because you will be more likely to get blisters.


The International Ecotourism Society
Fauna & Flora International
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