How Can You Train for High Altitude or Low Oxygen Environments?

The reality is most people can adapt reasonably well to low oxygen environments. In saying that Caution must be taken on every single venture into a low oxygen environment. Most people do not know that very high altitude is from 3,500m/ 11,500 feet to 5,500m/ 18,000 feet. Above 5,500m/ 18,000 feet is extreme altitude. This means you need to be extremely cautious when traveling above 3,500m/ 11,500 feet. That is why we spend 3 nights in Namche Bazaar on our Everest region trips and all of our high altitude itinerary like having 8 days on Kilimanjaro. This gives you a safer and more achievable journey.

High Altitude Cerebral Edema

High altitude issues like HACE (High Altitude Cerebral Edema) can be hard to diagnose and hard to measure. Altitude sickness can affect people differently. I have have seen people serious ill at 3,000m/ 10,000 feet. The only way to manage this, is go up very slowly and have more acclimatization at the start of high altitude at 3,500m/ 11,500 feet.

The one thing you can control is your bodies ability to handle stress. Coming prepared for long days of walking in low oxygen environments requires specific training. You can play your part and come fully prepared so you body can handle the added physical stress. Living and trying to recover in a low oxygen environment adds additional stress on your body. The more tuned your body is to handling this specific physical and mental stress the better.  On our trips we monitor your oxygen saturation daily to make the best assessment of how you are adapting to the lower levels of oxygen. We also encourage everyone to take Diamox. CONTACT US and learn more about what we recommend.

Training at Sea Level

I have climbed Mount Everest to the top.  Over the past 20 years I have led hundreds of treks, climbs and expeditions on 6 continents.  Most of them were at high and extreme altitude. I have lived and trained at sea level and lived and trained at altitude.  Below are some interesting observations I have made. These may help you as you consider your preparation and training,  for your trip into a low oxygen environment.

I grew up outside Dublin, Ireland and trained weekly in the Wicklow mountains for years. Wicklow is pretty much at sea level.  There were so many options for training.  I was lucky enough to be able to gain thousands of meters of elevation daily in my preparation for big altitude adventures. The highest mountain is called Lugnaquilla 925m/ 3,035 feet. I could could hike up and down 3 times in one day, training for Mount Everest.

Multi Day Hiking With Weight

Sometimes I would hike for 8 hours, sleep and hike again for 8 hours. Always carrying anywhere from 15kg/ 33lbs to 30kg/ 66lbs in my backpack. My goal was building up to carrying this weight and managed the weight I carried very methodically. LEARN MORE. I also did a lot of gym work building from 45 minutes to 3 hours per day.

I now live near Vail Colorado. We live at 2,300m/ 7,600 feet above sea level and access to 4,400m/ 14,435 feet peaks most of the year. We can easily gain access to 3,200m/ 10,500 feet peaks year round. I still have to train 5 days a week in preparation for any trips. Creating more red blood cells is important for any trip to altitude. Physical strength and muscle conditioning for hiking up and down hills is also critical for success.

Living at altitude has been a major benefit going on trips. You can always consider going on a altitude machine the weeks leading up to the trip. This would be of real benefit to you in creating red blood cells before going to altitude.

Extreme Altitude

Remember your body can not adapt well above 5,500m/ 18,520 feet. This means acclimatization, personal genetics and luck play a massage role above this elevation.  You need to know your limits and not be shown them.

I have learned a lot over the past 20 years.  One thing is more sure the more physical preparation you put in the better prepared your body is for the stress levels at high altitude. Be Lean, light and strong. LEARN MORE.

Training for High Altitude or Low Oxygen Environments?

In my opinion there is one key component that always pays dividends.  This gives you 3 key elements in each training session. This is hiking up and down steep terrain with a weighted backpack. You also need to supplement your longer training sessions with daily training. The stair master is the best for this. You should build up to carrying double the weight you going to carry on your trip.

Getting in a hike once a week building for 3 to 6 hours. This maybe longer depending on the trip. Along side this build up the weight load you are carrying.  You also need to consider building strength through weight training.  Work on your flexibility and make sure you are not carry too much excess body weight. Read some REVIEWS from our trips.

The Key Components you Need to Have

1). Long hikes with weighted backpack (Build the length and distance)

2). Daily Endurance Training (5 days a week)

3). Strength training

3). Flexibility

4). Interval Training (In the peak phase of your training)

If you are signed up to one of our trips, we can help you develop a training program. We offer free advice on how to come fully prepared for your chosen adventure. CONTACT US and we look forward to speaking with you soon.

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