Training for your Inca Trail Trek to Machu Picchu Adventure

The trek to Machu Picchu on the Inca Trail will be one of the highlights of any trekkers career and an incredible adventure.  Although the Inca Trail is accessible to most relatively fit individuals, you definitely want to make sure that you are putting in the right training and preparation to make your journey a safe and successful one.

One thing to remember about the Inca Trail is that is heavily consists of stairs, going both up and down.  This can be one of the most challenging parts of the trek and something that you want to make sure you are prepared for.  Depending on what itinerary you choose to do will also play into how much training/preparations you need to do.  We recommend our Classic 5 Day Inca Trail because it spreads out the walking to four full days of walking.  The 5 Day trip also sees a LOT less people on the trail than the traditional 4 day option.  GET IN TOUCH today for more information on the options for the Inca Trail.

What Does the Trek Entail

The total distance of the traditional Inca Trail is 33.7 miles. READ MORE. Pretty much all of this distance is on steep ascents and descents. You will cover 2,065m/ 6,774 feet of ascent and you will descend 2,265m/ 7,431 feet throughout the trip.  Most of this is done over two longer days. For a lot of people, going downhill on the steps can be more challenging than the up-hill, so coming with the right physical preparations are essential.  You don’t want to endure the Inca Trail, you want to enjoy it.  The only way to do that is to put in the work beforhand. Read some REVIEWS from our trips, watch our video below and then CONTACT US.

1. Steps, Steps and More Steps

Thousands and thousands of steep challenging steps up and down will likely be the most testing part of the trip. And for most, the way down will be the hardest. Throughout the trail, you have to go over three high passes. From the third pass, at 3,670m/ 12,041 feet, you will have to get down to the final camp site at Winay Wayna, which is at 2,700m/ 8,858 feet. So, on that day alone, you will be dropping down 3,183 feet on a steep descent. On another day, you will be walking up 1,115m/ to the highest altitude at 4,215m/ 13,828 feet, then dropping down 715m/ 2,346 feet in one day. This is tough on the knees, Calves and quads, especially when you also will be carrying your backpack with approximately 5kg – 10kg/ 11lbs – 22lbs.

You must come prepared for this amount of altitude gained and lost each day for your enjoyment, safety, success and the safety of the others around you.

Walking up to the Second Pass on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

2. Long Days on the Trail

No matter what itinerary you choose to take, the Traditional 4 Day, Classic 5 Day, or the Salkantay 6 Day trek, you will have some very long and difficult days of trekking ahead.  The highest point on the Traditional 4 Day or the Classic 5 Day is at 4,215m/ 13,776 feet at the pass of Wanusca (Dead Woman’s Pass). On the Salkantay 6 Day option, you will reach the high point of the Incachiriasca Pass at 4,850m/ 15,912 feet. In order to safely and successfully reach those high points, it is imperative that you take it slow and steady and have the right physical preparations in place. Trekking at altitude needs to be managed correctly. Speak to us about how to train and prepare.

Once you have reached the high points on the trail, either on the second or third day of the trek (depending on which itinerary you chose), is not the end of your up-hill on the trail, nor does it mean the hard part is over.  Dropping down on steep inclines as well as more added up-hill travel on the trail, after the body is already fatigued is something you want to be ready for.  Make sure that you have done the correct training.  Training with your weighted backpack on, going up and down hills and stairs will be paramount to your success.

The starting point for your Inca Trail trek

3. How Should you be Training

You should aim to train 4/5 times a week in preparation for your Inca Trail Trek to Machu Picchu. However it is hard to give a one size fits all for your training plan. Everyone is starting in a different place and has different levels of access.  So your training program will depend on a wide range of factors. We recommend getting a fitness test, before you start the training, so you know you max heart rate and training zones. Most of your training should be done at lower heart rate levels in the aerobic zone. You also need to start will less time and less weight in your back pack, and work your way up. Your goal should be to build, endurance, leg strength, overall body strength, balance and lung capacity.

The most important factors for your trip will be to build strength and endurance.  The strength is needed to carry your body up and down the hills.  The endurance training is needed so that you can perform for 4 – 6 days in a row. The key training you can do is walking up and down hills and stairs, with a weighted back pack, building from 5kg to 10kg.  This activity will stress your legs and build strength prior to your trek. If you do not have access to hills/stairs for training, you should use a stair master, building up to 1 hour 30 minutes per day with a weighted backpack on.  Both of these ways will help you build the specific leg strength to get up and down these hills safely. Lunges and squats should also be key elements of your training. Contact us for further information.

The Inca Trail is full of uneven stairs going up and down hill!

4. Where Should you Start

Contact our team of professionals. Ian has trekked the famous Inca Trail to Machu Picchu over 15 times and our office has a combined 25 times on the trail!  We are your best resource for the trip, and want to help you get the best information.  You want to enjoy the journey on the Inca Trail.  Therefore, you need to make sure you pick the right itinerary and team to get you there!  Read our Top 10 Tips on the trail, and sign up to one of our many treks to the incredible city of Machu Picchu.

The Beautiful City of Machu Picchu

Join us Today!

We have the best option for you on your journey to Machu Picchu!  You can join 4, 5 or 6 day itineraries to suit your specific needs.  Not only are you going to experience stunning scenery and great trekking, you will  also learn along the way.  Experience the history, culture and beauty of the Incan People with our team! Machu Picchu is a truly unique place and experience and we hope that you will join us there soon!  CONTACT US!

All you need to know about trekking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
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Top 10 tips for your Inca Trail trek to Machu Picchu