When contemplating or preparing for a Himalayan trek one of the main concerns most people have is whether they are fit enough for the demands of the trail and how to improve their conditioning. In my experience almost everyone who arrives in Nepal has adequate fitness to complete their chosen trek (aside from possible altitude-related problems), but many do not have adequate fitness to fully enjoy the trek. Many trekkers make it to their destination but are so exhausted by the effort that the only reward is being able to boast about their accomplishment. It should also be noted that there are some people who are so concerned about not have adequate fitness that they over train and injure themselves before getting to Nepal. A well-planned physical fitness program, ideally started at least six months before starting the trek, is really essential to having a successful, enjoyable trek.
In an earlier post I outlined a recommended training program to prepare for a trek. The emphasis of course was on aerobic conditioning and building leg strength, both with gym exercises and hiking. Another aspect that is too often overlooked is having overall fitness and strength in all parts of the body to reduce the risk of injury of in any area. This is especially important since you will need to move a lot of gear around in a variety of situations (airport baggage claim, hotel rooms, mountain lodges, etc) which can put an abnormal strain on the back and neck. It is all too easy to pull a back or neck muscle trying to lift a heavy bag from an awkward position, and the resulting pain can literally ruin a trekking vacation. It is also important to exercise caution while you’re travelling to lift and carry your bags carefully, always lifting with your legs as much as possible with a straight back.
So be sure to include core and upper body exercises into your fitness program for optimum trek preparation.. You’ll look good, feel good, and have a wonderful, unspoiled trekking vacation.