Expert tips for getting fit for adventure

TRAINING | 01 Jun '17

Our Trek Training expert tips for getting fit for adventure, as published in the Australian Geographic Outdoor Mag!


What are the benefits of interval training?

  • High Intensity Interval Training is time efficient which means you can squeeze it in most days, plus it has been shown to get you fitter faster!
  • You'll burn more calories working at a higher intensity for short bursts/intervals.
  • You'll improve your aerobic capacity. As your cardiovascular fitness improves, you'll be able to exercise longer or with more intensity.
  • You can vary the length of the intervals and rest periods, you can choose steeper stairs or hills, so can constantly vary your training.
  • You don't need special equipment. Grab your pack and choose a set of stairs or a large hill nearby home or work and download an interval training App which will count down your interval periods for work and rest.

What are the benefits of soft sand training?

Training on an uneven surface helps you to prepare your body, especially your feet and legs for being on uneven trails and adapting to working on a surface that requires more effort than just a flat road or pavement. Walking on soft sand increases caloric expenditure up to 100% if you can keep up the pace.  It’s  been estimated that walking 3-4 kilometres an hour in soft sand is equivalent to walking about 6 – 7 kilometres an hour on flat pavement. Walking soft sand is great training because your muscles work harder to lift your legs out and to propel you forward on each step as you’re sinking backwards. This extra effort translates into extra muscle strengthening; an increase in cardiovascular fitness plus extra fat and calories burned. You should always start our slowly when you begin soft sand training and gradually increase the distance and time you spend training on it, as your body adapts.

What are the benefits of rock scrambling?

This is a mind-body experience which requires you to “be in the moment”. You have to focus on where you are stepping and climbing and it prepares you for trekking on uneven surfaces. You get the chance to practice balance, coordination, face your fears and enjoy being a kid again!

What is technical walking? Why do it?

This is a walking technique used at altitude to assist you in maintaining even pace and keeping your heart rate down. It allows you to climb for long periods of time with less fatigue than if you sped up the mountain. It encourages a slow, even pace which is ideal for climbing at altitude. The technique is that of locking the back knee and pausing momentarily with each step as you climb up. It is easiest to practise this on a long set of steep stairs.
I have implemented this technique on many climbs at altitude with teams of up to 14 people, and it works well! Everyone gest in a rhythm with the person in front of them as you climb the steep passes or mountain trails. It keeps the team together and means less chance of someone speeding ahead and then feeling ill from exertion at altitude.

How can you build mental toughness?

Mental toughness is built by consistently putting yourself in situations where you have to complete a task or activity which might seem boring or repetitive or difficult at first. By pushing through the mental/emotional or physical barriers of discomfort, you learn to go beyond your comfort zone and never give up. By setting yourself some challenging goals which require endurance, or stamina, you can break through any pre-conceived expectations of what you are capable of. When climbing or trekking in the wilderness, you will always have to face unexpected challenges, such as bad weather, snow storms, long days climbing, possible injury or discomfort, sore feet etc , but if you have previously challenged yourself to survive and thrive outside your zone, you will have the mental toughness required to push through when the going gets tough. I take on challenges such as stair or hill repetitions, setting a time in which I need to complete a set number of reps, or timing myself on the climbs and trying to beat the fastest time each set. I also train at night, and in all weather conditions including the rain, wind and cold, and throw in some endurance treks which require being on yor feet for up to 8hrs a day.

How can you prepare your body for altitude?

  • Be as fit, strong, lean and balanced as possible using a variety of cross training modalities such as Trek Training, High Intensity Interval Training on stairs and soft sand, bike riding, swimming, yoga, Pilates, and remedial massage.
  • Rest well and eat nutritious food to ensure recovery time and optimal health
  • Focus on anaerobic interval training where you push the body to 8 -9 out of 10 breathlessness, recover and repeat
  • Include some breath control activities such as yoga and swimming
  • Practice mental toughness by doing boring repetitive challenging activities such as stair, sand or hill repeats
  • If you have access to an Altitude Gym where you can experience what it “feels like” to be at altitude when exercising, this has been shown to produce some benefits, including confidence building for first timers.

How can you manage altitude while on a trek?

  • Avoid over-exertion and avoid getting out of breath while acclimatising.
  • Hydrate well, sipping on water regularly. Drink enough liquid to keep your urine pale and plentiful.
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine, excess salt.
  • Use the buddy system to keep an eye on each other for symptoms of AMS.
  • Use technical walking during the ascent, focusing on “The Brigitte or Pause” technique of locking the back knee and pausing momentarily with each step
  • Gain altitude slowly: above 2,500m the maximum height gain between sleeping altitudes should not exceed 300m per day, with a rest day for every 1000m of ascent or every third day.
  • Only ascend when there are no symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness. (Acute Mountain Sickness, or AMS is not life threatening and is very common).
  • Make your bed on an upwardly sloping angle and use a blow up pillow, or pillow case stuffed with soft clothes to elevate your head and reduce those ugly eyes that come from sleeping at altitude.
  • Use Diamox, if advised by your doctor or guide. 




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