Gym Training for Trekking

Here is some information on gym training for trekking. There is never a one size fits all your training so it is important to seek professional advice. You should consider getting a fitness test. For bigger expeditions consider doing a vo2 max test and really build a program based on your specific results.  You will also need to consider the time it will take in achieving specific results. Check out our top tips for gym training and start mapping out your training plan today. Follow us on Instagram.

1). Walking up and Down Hills

Obviously the best way to train is walking up and down steep hills, building up to 1,000m/ 3,282 feet on back to back days. Remember this depends on your chosen trip and will vary depending on a wide range of factors. It is always best to talk with us and we can explain the terrain, distances, elevation gains you are going to face.

If you really want to access your ability get on a plane and come to Colorado and test yourself on 14,000 foot peaks. We have hills, mountains, altitude and can help you understand the training required for your trip. I highly recommend taking on a 3/4 day adventure culminating with a 14er, 14,000 foot/ 4,300m peak.

Join a hiking group or club and hike with added weight on your back. Building up the weight you carry is key to adding the critical strength and conditioning needed to get the body ready for mountain adventures.  Building the weight you carry in the gym and on the hills will be critical to gaining the muscle memory and conditioning needed.

Training for Trekking


2). How Much Gym Time Per Week

If you are training for a one or two week trek, you should be working out 6 – 10 hours a week depending on your trip. Gym exercise training is important as it supplements your longer weekly hike.

Walking up hill on the Stairmaster and 30 degree incline treadmill for an hour or 1 hour 30 minutes will be important.  Cycling with resistance for an hour and use the stair master for an hour or longer. You can add in weight training and interval training later to strengthen your core and build the specific conditioning for hills.

3). Stairmaster Training

The key is to build slowly. Start in a base phase of training, then after a few months move to a build phase, before finishing in your peak phase of training.  The goal is get comfort with the added stress of more training and slow increase the time and weight.

Getting a fitness test and understanding your heart rate training zones will help. I am 45 years old, and 70% of my training is done at 140 to 150 heart rate.

4). Train for the Downhill

There are some very specific and targeted exercises you are undertake to improve your balance, core and leg strength for the downhill. Learn more.

1). Step Downs

2). Elevated heel squats

3). Calf Raises

4). Lunges with Weight

5). Stability and Balance

6). Core Strength

7). Squats

Base Phase Training

For example start with stretching, then doing 30 minutes 5 days a week in your zone 2. Then when you feel stronger add more time get up to 45 minutes or an hour without stopping in zone 2. Depending on your chosen adventure you should be building up to 1 hour in zone 2 before moving forward. Adding weight to your backpack should be done half way through this phase. The weight you carry with depend on your chosen trip.

Build Phase Training

During the next phase, or build phase of training, each type of workout takes on a more event-specific purpose where greater emphasis is placed on escalating the weekly stress load with more weight on the stair master. The goal will be to increase time and weight you carry in this phase. Most of your training should be in zone 2 and 3 in this phase.

Peak Phase Training

In the peak phase you will maintain all your endurance, strength and cardio sessions on the stair master. In addition, you will add in 1 or 2 short, fast workouts. These workouts increase your aerobic capacity and further stress test your body for high altitude. This should improve your lactic threshold and help you perform for longer periods of time.  Adding extra weight in small increments is also important.  Add weight not speed.

Training tips for trekking

5). Core and Stability Training

Core stability training is important for balance and movement up and down hill.  Stability, while trekking up and especially downhill is extremely important. If you have good core stability, you have a greater level of control over the position and movement of this area of their body. The body’s core is frequently engaged in trekking and mountaineering. Add some planks, side planks, floor bridge, chest press and one leg cable work into your routine.

6). Endurance Training

Long and slow is the key. Keeping your heart rate consistently at the same level will aid your body in coping with hours of exercise. For me right now my zone 2 hear rate is 125 to 135 and zone 3 heart rate is 140 to 155. On a trek to Everest or Kilimanjaro I do not want my hear rate to go above 130. After my base phase of training I want to make sure I can maintain a 145 heart rate for 1 hour 30 minutes.

On any multi day trek or expedition we will be walking for hours, so in your training you need to be simulating something similar. For example read about our approach to summit night on Kilimanjaro. You will hike uphill for an hour, take a short break and repeat that for 6+ hours. Have you done this in your training? You should be if you are thinking of climbing Kilimanjaro.  Learn more about training for high altitude.

All you need to know about the Everest Base Camp Trek

7). Training in the Correct Heart Rate Zones

It is important to understand heart rate zones and where you need to be spending most of your time. The zones will depend on the phase of training you are in. It is critical to understand this as you could be under training or over training. Why play a guessing game!! You should use a heart rate monitor and establish a training program around that. Meet a trainer and do a fitness test so a proper plan can be implemented for your specific needs. Learn more.

8). Can you Hike 4 to 8+ hours?

Depending on the trip you sign up for most trips have days, even back to back days where you are hiking 6+ hours. You should be able to hike  4 – 8+ hours with a backpack in the hills in preparation for trekking adventure. The key is to build up start with 2 hour hikes, build to 3 and 4 hours hikes and in the peak phase of training doing back to back hikes covering 1,000m of elevation gain up and down. Again this depends on your chosen trip. Some trips will require less and some more training than this.

Gym training for trekking

9). Seek out a Trainer in Your Local Gym

To maximize your training you should contact a trainer in your local gym or even hire a personal trainer.  After picking an itinerary with more acclimatization. It is important to structure your training. A trainer can help you week push your goals, evaluate your process and offer advice and critical assistance.  You can always email us and we can explain a little more to get you started.

If you are training for mountain climbing above 20,000ft, (6,000m) then we recommend you get a vo2 max fitness test and gauge your program based of accurate fitness testing. This will help you progress much faster.

10). Strength Training for the Downhill

Once you have reached your goal, you need to be have energy and the ability to walk out after a successful trip. One of the best exercises for hikers and mountaineers alike. This involves you doing a normal step down (i.e. standing on a plate, step or box and slowly dropping your heel to the floor), but in this instance, you have a slight raise under your heel. This replicates very closely the angles associated with downhill hiking.

Squats are quadriceps-dominant, and great multi-joint exercises. They also target the glutes and hamstrings. This exercise improves range of motion at the knee, helping to recruit more quadriceps muscle fibers. Learn more.

If you are concerned about your fitness levels, talk to your doctor and hire a trainer.

Gym training for trekking

11). We Need you to Come Prepared

We have a search box on the homepage of our website and you can type in anything you are interested in learning about. Alternatively email us any time. You can also check out our BLOG with information, videos and tips to help you get started and move further in your preparation for your chosen trekking adventure.

Talk to the Experts

We hope this page gym training for trekking was useful. Ian has climbed Everest to the top. Climbed Kilimanjaro 39 times, lead 40+ Everest Base Camp treks and many more treks and climbs. We have the knowledge, experience, advice and really understand what it takes to have a successful, enjoyable and worthwhile, life changing mountain trekking adventure. We want to help you get the best important possible so you can prepare correctly and have the best acclimatization possible. Contact us.
Sunrise on Mount Kilimanjaro

Gym Training for Trekking – The Principles of Training

If you are planning to design the most effective training program as you prepare for your trekking adventure, there are some basic facts which you will need to know.

1). Training needs to be specific for you

Every individual is unique and remember that everyone will respond differently to the same training. This can be due to a number of factors, such as past experience, individual ability, age, personal commitment and previous training for trekking and Mountaineering.

Heredity: Everyone has inherited physical and mental qualities from their parents.
Maturity: A young body will still be growing and developing and will have less energy for training and adapting to low levels of oxygen on a trip. Older people may have better life experience and be able to mentally cope better. From a physical perspective older people need to train much harder to maintain balance, endurance, and strength.

Nutrition: It is vital for trekkers and mountaineers to have an adequate, well-balanced diet. Without this, you will respond to training less effectively.
Rest and Sleep: When you start developing and progressing a vigorous training program, you need more rest than normal.

Level of Fitness: You will need to get a fitness test to access your personal heart rate zones so you can understand where you need to start. You will need to develop a training plan that has you doing 80% of your training in your endurance training zone.
Illness or Injury: If you get injured or sick, rest and recovery and make sure you don’t make the problem worse. Best not to train if you get sick.

2). Adapting to the New Level of Training

Subtle changes will take place in your body adapts to the new demands imposed by training. Your body will adapt slowly, so important to build a training plan with a Base phase, Build phase and Peak phase. If you try to rush the process, this may well result in injury, illness or both. The goal should be to improve circulation, respiration and heart function. You should also be looking to improve strength and muscular endurance, along with tougher bones, tendons, ligaments and connective tissue.

3). Build the Weight you Carry

Do not overload your body in the early stages of training. In saying this, unless you subject the body to increasing levels of stress, its condition is unlikely to improve. If you stay at the same level of training and stress you will at best merely maintain the current level of fitness. If a training program is to be effective it must place specific demands on the body’s systems.