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FITNESS PREPARATION FOR HIMALAYAN TREKS


By: Jolly November 21, 2017
Trekking in Himalayas is a joyous and wonderful experience, but it’s good to understand this activity in detail. Most of people who are going for the Himalayan trek must be on their fitness level at which they can truly enjoy the trek.
Training to be fit for treks is no rocket science. Training smart helps and training effectively helps to gain energy which in turn will help you truly enjoy your trek.
There are many different type of people who come on the trek, some of them are lured into the idea of walking on the mountain by clicking fabulous photos, some of them may be interested in wildlife and star gazing or some people come for the new experiences but they don’t know the physical requirement and how to prepare physically for the trek.

Why should we prepare for Himalayan Treks?

We prepare so that we don’t go through the following:
  • Back Pain because of carrying backpack weight
  • Muscle pulls because of too much exhaustion of a particular muscles
  • Breathing problems in high altitudes because of less practice which may lead to AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness)
  • Joint Pains because of strenuous terrains 
  • Muscle Cramps and Stomach Aches because of dehydration
  • Fatigue if we are not well prepared
If we are not prepared for the Himalayan Trek then the trek may become very tiring and hectic instead of enjoying the beautiful places and getting a wonderful experience. This is why we urge you to prepare well for your trek to reach the summit without any problems.
 
Trekking up hills or mountainsides can be hard work and it engages multiple muscle groups in tandem, all while burning a serious number of calories and increasing your aerobic threshold. 
Here are the main body parts which are used most in this activities.
  • Shoulder
  • Back
  • Legs
  • Knee and Ankles

Here are the muscles used most strenuously:
• Glutes
• Quadriceps
• Hamstrings
• Calves
• Abdominals & Obliques
• Lower Back
• Ankle and Knee Complex
• Inside and Outside Thigh

Based on the challenges we get during the trek, we divide our exercise into 2 main category.
  1. Aerobic or Cardio Vascular Training
  2. Strength Training

Aerobic (Cardio) Exercise

Aerobic exercise is any physical activity that makes you sweat, causes you to breathe harder, and gets your heart beating faster than at rest. It strengthens your heart and lungs and trains your cardiovascular system to manage and deliver oxygen more quickly and efficiently throughout your body.

Physical activity such as walking, jogging, indoor cycling, or aerobic dancing are all examples of aerobic exercise that strengthen the heart and lungs, therefore improving your body's utilization of oxygen.

How to Plan Exercises:


It’s better you start practising 2 months before your trek.


Initial Time : 

  • Walking: Walking is a very good exercise to start preparation for Himalayan Treks. A good walk is 4-5 Km everyday, slopes and hilly terrain will be the best for this preparation. In this phase, it’s very important to concentrate to maintain the pace of your walk. You can start with 1 km and slowly increase it.

Final Preparations:
  • Jogging: It is one of the most effective ways to get ready for the Himalayan Treks. It will be better to avoid jogging on concrete or tarred surface. We should use a properly cushioned running shoe to get comfortable in less time. Initially try to cover 3-4 Km in 20 minutes and later 5-6 Km in 30 - 40 minutes.
  • Cycling: It is another effective way to increase your aerobic capabilities. Outdoor cycling is the best, if the roads are spacious enough to cycle well. But in today’s traffic condition it is difficult. Using a static cycle in home/gym is also a good option, Initially cover a distance of 5-6 Km in 20 min and Later  at least 8-9 Km in 30 minutes.
  • If you find this aerobic preparation monotonous daily then you can climb the stairs or you can jog with your backpack too. 
  • Follow stretching exercise as mentioned after the Jog/Run. Continue for 4/5 days a week for 5 weeks span.


Stretching Exercises:

Glutes:
                                                                          
  • Reach your right arm behind you, and plant your palm or fingertips on the floor. 
  • Place your left hand or elbow on your right knee or thigh, and gently pull your knee to the left until you feel the stretch in your glutes. 
  • Hold for 30 seconds, then release and straighten your legs again. Repeat on left side.
  • This exercise is also used to reduce the pain of Lower Back and to strengthen your outer thigh muscles.

Quadriceps:

                                                                           
  • Start off on your hands and knees, then lift your leg off the floor and hold the foot with your hand. 
  • Use your hand to hold the foot or ankle, keeping the knee fully flexed, stretching the quadriceps and hip flexors. 
  • Focus on extending your hips, thrusting them towards the floor. Hold for 10-20 seconds and then switch sides.

Hamstrings: (Standing Hamstring Stretch)


                                                                           
  • While standing, bend forward at the waist with arms hanging down toward the ground and with legs straight, without locking the knees. 
  • Try to touch the toes but do not strain to do so. 
  • Stop bending forward when a slight pulling sensation is felt in the hamstring. 
  • This exercise will reduce the pain in your back.

Calves:


  • Stand approximately 1 metre away from wall with legs straight and heels on floor. 
  • Step and lean forward and slowly push hips towards wall. 
  • Should feel a slow pull in the calf muscle behind. Hold for 10 secs, swap legs, repeat 3 times.

Abdominal:


  • Stand with your feet planted on the floor about hip-distance apart. 
  • Reach both arms up overhead. 
  • Hold your left wrist with your right hand and gently bend to the right side. 
  • Hold for five to 10 breaths and return to center.

(High Cobra Stretch)


  • Lie on your stomach on a mat. 
  • Place your hands under your underarm creases and bend your elbows against your rib cage.

Ankle and Knee:


  • Ankle exercises tone the muscles surrounding your ankles.
  • Stand a foot or two away from a wall and then bend one knee, pushing it toward the wall with your foot flat on the ground, until it touches the wall. 
  • Hold for five seconds then repeat on the other side. Aim for five to 10 reps on each leg. Next, stand on one leg and hold for 30 seconds.

Inner Thighs: Butterfly Stretch


  • The butterfly stretch is a seated exercise that allows you to gently elongate the muscles of your inner thighs. 
  • Sit on the floor, bend your legs and press the soles of your feet together. 
  • Place your hands on your ankles and, keeping your back straight, pull your heels toward your hips while leaning forward with your torso. 
  • Continue until you feel a mild stretch on the inside of both thighs. Hold the position for 30 seconds.
  • It’s better to do these exercises twice before and twice after the Aerobic Exercises.

Do the experienced trekker also need physical fitness?

Yes, one must have the physical fitness level required for the particular trek even if you go to the treks regularly. The only advantage he or she has over a first timer is that they have experienced the trek once and now they know the challenges they went through and they can prepare accordingly for the next trek. This deals purely with the mental preparation before a trek.

Remember along with all this training you don’t forget proper diet and enough rest. Finally trekking should be fun we should enjoy every moment at our fullest. Trekking should never be racing to a destination. The moment you think it’s a race and want to go ahead of everyone, you are putting yourself into trouble and in the process miss the wonderful mountains around you.

Tags: trekking , himalayas , himalayantrek , uttarakhnad , northindia , blog , clothing , altitude

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