How to build your stamina for a high altitude trek?

Climbing is a highly aerobic activity!! You must have definitely felt the heavy lungs and shortness of breath in your uphill climb that gets tougher as you go higher.

Try to recollect about your last climb.

 You would realize that most of it involves hours or days to reach your destination. The terrain would not have allowed you to move fast. You can see the peak and you keep asking the people coming down ,”How far ? How much time ?”The incline and unsteady way slows you down and towards the end ,the load on your back feels heavier and the steep curves do not seem to end. The result is stopping after every 5 mins for a break and taking a lot more time than expected.

So how does your body breathe during a climb?

While climbing, your body will function according to the amount of oxygen that you can absorb in each breath. It is common knowledge that with increase in altitude the oxygen in the air decreases and hence you obtain less oxygen in each breath. This is precisely the reason why climbing 8000m peaks require oxygen tanks.

The training for this kind of aerobic activity involves two basic fundamentals :

#1 . Increasing your overall stamina which is covered under Cardio Workouts

#2. Improving your body’s ability to utilize oxygen efficiently which comes under Interval Sessions.

Cardio Workouts


Running is the best way to improve the stamina. If you can add an uphill run in your regular workout routine you would be training similar to a BMC course. You can begin with a natural 10 min run, and gradually increase it to 20 mins. Do this 3 times a week. Usually mountaineers who have scaled 8000m+ peaks train for 60 min runs about 5 times a week. You can start slowly and we have told you the limit.

Stair Climber

If you have access to a stair climber in a gym, you can start with 15 min sessions and go upto 30 mins.

Interval Sessions

 This involves high intensity training followed by low intensity sessions. The following steps will help you get started

  1. Warm up with a slow jog for 1 min
  2. Sprinting for 20 seconds
  3. Immediately followed by 2 min jogging
  4. Sprint again for 20 seconds
  5. Repeat this twice a week

How does this help you ?

Changing the intensity of your workout helps work your heart muscles, thus improving your cardio vascular activity. You are essentially getting better at working for longer durations at varying intensity levels. You are improving your Anaerobic threshold, i.e., your body’s ability to use oxygen efficiently . You are essentially able to do more before you run out of breath.

Working this schedule will help you improve your cardio-vasular capacity. If you can include these in your daily workout schedule, your next climb would defnitely be less taxing.


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