Beginner’s Guide to Pre-Trek Fitness
Many trekkers have an idea that trekking is all about capturing moments and nature on their SLRs. But it is not as simple as it sounds. One must never underestimate a high altitude trek or compare it to a previous experience of a hill station trip.
Most of the high altitude treks require a high fitness level even to keep up an average pace on the trails. Bottom line - you have to stay fit to enjoy your trek to the fullest. It is never too early to start working for your next trek. You can never do too much in too less time. Most of the first timers take this on a light note and ignore fitness and end up paying a big price on the day of the trek. Lets look at few of the best fitness routines one can follow to maintain a good fitness level before the trek. YATA-India advises its participants to start these routines at least 30 days prior to the day of the trek.
Start with walking every day. First day at least 2000-3000 steps and gradually increase them by hundreds as days pass. Important things to be noted when you walk are; choose the right footwear and don’t forget your walking socks and most importantly don’t use new shoes which cause blisters. Don’t give a break in your workout days because it will replicate your actual trekking days. Don’t just try to walk on plain jogging tracks but explore different terrains which will be similar to your trekking grounds. Also, try to maintain stable BMI so that the weight of body doesn’t affect your fitness regime. Practice with heavy backpacks and walking poles.
2. Squats and Lunges
Squats are for legs fitness. Start with a set of 10 and 3 sets for at least 5 days in a week. Hold weights in hands to increase the effectiveness of the exercise. Lunges increase flexibility and strength of the legs. Go ahead with both front lunges and side lunges. Repeat 3 sets with a count of 15 each giving an interval of 30 seconds. Add more effect with Squats and leg kicks. Do squats using resistance bands and heavy ropes.
Crunches are for core tightening. Start with 20 crunches for 3 sets. To get a six pack you have to do 50 crunches at one go everyday for at least 7 weeks. To make this routine more interesting try different kinds of crunches like basic crunch, reverse crunch, twist crunch, long arm crunches side crunches, bicycle crunches, vertical leg crunches and cable crunches.
4. Push ups
Push-ups and Pull-ups increase your hand power. Keep your core tight and body parallel to the ground and start working. If you are not able to work with your legs straight then you can take the support of knees on the ground and complete your work out. Start with 5 push-ups at a time and increase gradually over time. This will tone your biceps and triceps and will help in climbing up faster during bouldering.
When you trek to higher altitudes oxygen level decreases, to reduce heart risk or heart stroke in such conditions you will need aerobic fitness training. Aerobics also improves blood circulation, breathing and endocrine functions. It tones muscles, makes lungs strong and strengthens bones. Your body will mold itself for change in climatic conditions and body temperature.
6. Dead Lifts
All the way in your trek you will be carrying heavy weights and backpacks. When you start doing dead lifts and weights in your training, it will make your journey more comfortable. You can try on different dead lifts like Sumo dead lift, Trap bar dead lift, snatch grip, Romanian dead lift, stiff leg dead lift, hack lift, conventional dead lift etc. Dead lifts work on grip strengthening, lower back or erector spine, hip joints, gluten and abdominal muscles.
6. Step ups
While you climb up the mountains you will be stepping up and up and up. Every trek involves both ascending and descending various elevations. So practice step up exercises before you go on a trek. This will stretch your legs and hips. Try trunk rotation and hip rotation along with different heights of steps and leg rises. All exercises should start with warm-ups so that you do not get cramps due to sudden muscle contractions and extensions.