A Complete Trek Fitness Guide for Himalayan High Altitude Treks - From...

Share this story

A Complete Trek Fitness Guide for Himalayan High Altitude Treks - From Easy to Difficult Treks

Category Fintess And Nutrition Tips

By Akanksha Raju

2023-04-30

Getting fit for a trek is intimidating. You might not know what goals to set and how to reach them. That is why we designed three trek-specific workout guides for you.

Complete the guide over the course of one month. With each week your muscles will shape up and get ready for the steep ascents and descents of the Himalayas!

Save these images for easy access when you’re working out.

Before we get into the schedule you should follow, once you start your trek fitness, it’s easy to just focus on the runs. This happens with many trekkers. Many times, strength training gets sidelined. This is why we have consciously incorporated strength training into your trek fitness routine.

Table of Content:

Stretching and Strengthening Exercises for Your Trek

The key to avoiding injuries on your fitness journey is to start by stretching. Here are some videos to help you get started.

Click on the image to view the Video
Click on the image to view the Video
Click on the image to view the Video
Click on the image to view the Video
Click on the image to view the Video

Fitness Plan for Easy-Moderate Treks

5-6 km each day | Gradual ascents and descents | Max. altitude about 12,500 ft.

There are no technical sections on these treks, but there could be small sections of steep gradients or tricky patches that require you to be surefooted.

Refer this chart to plan your fitness routine for easy-moderate treks

Here is an easy plan for you to follow:

Weeks 1 - 4:

Keep the distance of your run/walk to just 2 km (Week 1), 3 km (Week 2), 4 km (Week 3), and 5 km (Week 4) on running days. Do not increase the distance.

For Strength Training, do at least 10 repetitions and 3 sets of all the exercises mentioned.

- Take your rest days seriously, and rest. Your body recovers quickly when you rest.

When you climb stairs, target for at least 15 floors (20 stairs per floor), and repeat it for 3 sets.

Weeks 5 - 8:

- Once you can comfortably run 5 km, the following weeks are focused on building speed.

On every run day except when you run easy, run 5 km with an intention to finish within 38 minutes. Do not worry if you are not there yet. You will get there by the end of Week 8.

- Strength Training days will be the same as the previous 4 weeks. If you can easily do 10 repetitions and 3 sets of each exercise, increase your repetitions to 15 or 20 in each set.

For stair climbing, add an 8-10 kg backpack and climb for the next 4 weeks.

What is a repetition and a set? Repetition is the number of times you repeat the workout. A Set is a combination of repetitions, usually performed three or more times during the workout session. For example, doing 10 push-ups, 3 times (10x3=30 push-ups) will constitute 10 repetitions and 3 sets.

Fitness Plan for Moderate Treks

6-8 km each day | The ascents and descents could get steep | Max. between 13,000 ft to 14,000 ft.

You’ll come across tricky patches frequently (like snow or scree), which require you to navigate with a certain amount of caution. There might also be small stream/river crossings.

Refer this chart to plan your fitness routine for moderate treks

To elaborate further, here is an easy plan for you to follow:

Weeks 1 - 4:

Keep the distance of your run/walk to just 2 km (Week 1), 3 km (Week 2), 4 km (Week 3), and 5 km (Week 4) on running days. Do not increase the distance.

For Strength Training, do at least 10 repetitions and 3 sets of all the exercises mentioned.

- Take your rest days seriously, and rest. Your body recovers quickly when you rest.

When you climb stairs, target for at least 15 floors (20 stairs per floor), and repeat it for 3 sets.

Weeks 5 - 8:

- Once you can comfortably run 5 km, the following weeks are focused on building speed.

On every run day except when you run easy, run 5 km with an intention to finish within 35 minutes. Do not worry if you are not there yet. You will get there by the end of Week 8.

- Strength Training days will be the same as the previous 4 weeks. If you can easily do 10 repetitions and 3 sets of each exercise, increase your repetitions to 15 or 20 in each set.

For stair climbing, add an 8-10 kg backpack and climb for the next 4 weeks.

What is a repetition and a set? Repetition is the number of times you repeat the workout. A Set is a combination of repetitions, usually performed three or more times during the workout session. For example, doing 10 push-ups, 3 times (10x3=30 push-ups) will constitute 10 repetitions and 3 sets.

Fitness Plan for Moderate-Difficult Treks

8-12 km each day | Gradual to steep ascents and descents | Max. altitudes of 15,000+ ft.

Expect technical sections (such as rockfall zones, near-vertical sections, glacier walks), which our technical teams will help you navigate.

Refer this chart to plan your fitness routine for moderate-difficult treks

To elaborate further, here is an easy plan for you to follow:

Weeks 1 - 4:

Keep the distance of your run/walk to just 3 km (Week 1), 4 km (Week 2), and 5 km (Week 3 onwards) on running days. Do not increase the distance.

For Strength Training, do at least 10 repetitions and 3 sets of all the exercises mentioned.

- Take your rest days seriously, and rest. Your body recovers quickly when you rest.

When you climb stairs, target for at least 15 floors (20 stairs per floor), and repeat it for 3 sets.

Weeks 5 - 8:

- Once you can comfortably run 5 km, the following weeks are focused on building speed.

On every run day except when you run easy, run 5 km with an intention to finish within 32 minutes. Do not worry if you are not there yet. You will get there by the end of Week 8.

- Strength Training days will be the same as the previous 4 weeks. If you can easily do 10 repetitions and 3 sets of each exercise, increase your repetitions to 15 or 20 in each set.

For stair climbing, add an 8-10 kg backpack and climb for the next 4 weeks.

What is a repetition and a set? Repetition is the number of times you repeat the workout. A Set is a combination of repetitions, usually performed three or more times during the workout session. For example, doing 10 push-ups, 3 times (10x3=30 push-ups) will constitute 10 repetitions and 3 sets.

Fitness Plan for Difficult Treks

12-20 km each day | Extremely steep ascents and descents | Max. altitudes till 19,000+ ft.

Technical sections (such as rockfall zones, near-vertical sections, glacier walks, boulder and scree sections) are an everyday affair. Some sections can only be crossed with the help of our Technical Staff.

Difficult treks are the most demanding, which is why we take only those trekkers with prior trekking experience on them. 

To do a difficult trek, target running 10 km within 60 minutes consistently. This will be possible only if you can run 5 km within 30 minutes comfortably before signing up for a difficult trek.

This fitness chart will help you get there by following the plan for 8 weeks (or 2 months) before the start of your trek.

You will receive a questionnaire asking for your current fitness level and high altitude experience. Only those who have prior high altitude trekking experience will be allowed to sign up for difficult treks.

Refer this chart to plan your fitness routine for difficult treks

To elaborate further, here is an easy plan for you to follow:

Weeks 1 - 4:

Keep the distance of your run/walk to just 5 km (Week 1), 7 km (Week 2), 10 km (Week 3 onwards) on running days. Do not increase the distance.

For Strength Training, do at least 10 repetitions and 3 sets of all the exercises mentioned.

- Take your rest days seriously, and rest. Your body recovers quickly when you rest.

When you climb stairs, target for at least 15 floors (20 stairs per floor), and repeat it for 3 sets.

Weeks 5 - 8:

- Once you can comfortably run 10 km, the following weeks are focused on building speed.

On every run day except when you run easy, run 10 km with an intention to finish within 60 minutes. Do not worry if you are not there yet. You will get there by the end of Week 8.

- Strength Training days will be the same as the previous 4 weeks. If you can easily do 10 repetitions and 3 sets of each exercise, increase your repetitions to 15 or 20 in each set.

For stair climbing, add an 8-10 kg backpack and climb for the next 4 weeks.

What is a repetition and a set? Repetition is the number of times you repeat the workout. A Set is a combination of repetitions, usually performed three or more times during the workout session. For example, doing 10 push-ups, 3 times (10x3=30 push-ups) will constitute 10 repetitions and 3 sets.

What to do if you are short on time

Sometimes you may join a trekking group late — less than 30 days to the trek start date. This puts enormous pressure on the training schedule.

In such a situation, start training without losing a day’s delay. You need to compress the training schedule so that it can quickly get you to the cardiovascular threshold of being able to cover 5 km in 40 minutes.

Increase the jogging distance by 0.5 km everyday instead of the 0.25 suggested earlier.

  1. Start by the slowest jog possible by you. Look to see the maximum distance that you can cover without feeling overly fatigued.
  2. The next day, look to increase 0.50 km over the starting distance. Do not worry about the time being taken.
  3. The subsequent day, add another 0.50 km over the last distance covered. Again, do not worry about the time being taken.
  4. Continue the incremental increase of distance for 4 days in a row. On the 5th day take a break. Allow your muscles to recover.
  5. From the sixth day onward, jog for 4 days continuing to increase your distance by 0.5 km every day. Take a break every 5th day. Do not worry about the time being taken.
  6. When you are able to get to a distance of 5 km, note the time taken to cover the distance. This is your starting time.
  7. Over the next few days maintain this distance until your trek starting day. Allow your body to get used to the stress of jogging. This preparation is crucial for the success of your trek.
  8. An ideal benchmark is to cover 5 km in 40 minutes (averaging 8 minutes per kilometer). If you are above 40 years old, then 5 km in 45 minutes would be your benchmark (avg of 9 minutes per km)
  9. The minimum you must aim to do if you are short on time is be able to jog for 4 km in 32 minutes. This is minimum but not ideal. The longer distance you cover, the more endurance you get.

How Children Can Get Fit for a High-Altitude Trek

We've noticed that many families have started stepping out on high altitude treks with their children. It's a heartening trend!

But if your child has not trekked in the Himalayas, or locally, or has not been physically very active then you must watch these videos.

Click on the image to view the Video

Akanksha Raju

About the author

Akanksha Raju is a content manager and graphic designer at Indiahikes. She has studied journalism and mass communication from Manipal University. Trekking, she believes, encompasses all the things she loves - fitness, a healthy lifestyle and nature. You can write to her on akanksha@indiahikes.com.

Upcoming Treks

Related Videos