Home » How to prepare for your trekking adventure: our 10-step training guide

How to prepare for your trekking adventure: our 10-step training guide

written by James Shackell March 15, 2018
Trekking in Patagonia

UPDATED: This blog was originally published on February 18, 2015. 

Sure, you can turn up at the foot of Mt Kilimanjaro with nothing but a song in your heart and a pocket full of dreams. But you’re going to be in for a bit of a shock.

Without at least some pre-trip training, or a good basic level of fitness, trekking is hard work. Let’s be real – it’s hard work anyway. The toll for a great trek is paid in sweat. Sore calves and aching quads are badges of honour, with blisters and lost toenails marks of pride.

But in return, you get some of the most untouched, pristine and jaw-dropping scenery on the planet. And you know what? The more you train for your epic hike, the easier it’ll be.

Travellers trek to Everest Basecamp

Photo by Kieran Wallace

And you don’t have to be an Iron Woman/Man to climb to Everest Basecamp or reach the top of Mt Toubkal. Far from it. Trekking is available to anyone; you just have to be sensible and work a bit for it. Here are a few of our top prep tips for your upcoming trek:

1. Start walking now (it’s never too early to start training)

This may seem like the most obvious step to start with (pardon the pun), but you’d be surprised how many people don’t do it. The best way to prepare for a really long walk? Do some really long walks. You should start with small-ish distances and work up to the length you’ll be trekking on your trip. When you start your training, leave a day in between each walk to let your body recover. But as your body gets fitter, try to do back-to-back sessions each day – it’ll help build your stamina for the relentless nature of a ten-day trek, where you won’t have the luxury of rest days. Ideally, you want to be able to walk 4-6 hours – comfortably – before you leave.

CHECK OUT OUR RANGE OF SMALL GROUP HIKING ADVENTURES HERE

2. Make leg-based cardio part of your routine…

As well as doing long walks, you should also work some leg-based cardio into your daily routine. Cycling is awesome for building up muscle in your legs, but soccer, football, squash and swimming are all great too. If you’re more into gym workouts, mix up your spin classes or cycling bursts with squats and lunges (the more weight, the better).

3. …and take the stairs every chance you get

The Inca Trail

Photo by Patrick O’Neill

Stair climbing is also a good one for building up calves and quads, so take the stairs instead of the lift or escalator when you’re at work or the train station.

RELATED: WHAT I WISH I KNEW BEFORE TREKKING EVEREST BASE CAMP

4. Make sure you’re walking properly

You’ve been doing it since you were around one year old, but it’s super important to monitor how you’re walking and if you’re doing it correctly. Make sure you’re hitting the ground with your heel first, then rolling onto your toe, which propels you onto the next step (this will help reduce the risk of shin splints and tendon pulls – ouch). Walk with your head up, eyes forward and shoulders level.

5. Mix up your training terrain…

A group of Base Camp trekkers

Photo by Kieran Wallace

When you’re on your trek, it’s unlikely you’ll be walking on level footpaths and roads, so avoid training solely on level footpaths and roads. Instead, try to train on surfaces that will be similar to the trails on the trek. If you’re heading to Everest or Kili, aim to train on steep, rocky terrain and loose shale; if it’s Kokoda, try to find muddy paths. It’s really important you prepare your feet, ankles and knees for the stress they’ll experience on the trip.

RELATED: WHAT’S REALLY LIKE TO TREK THE INCA TRAIL

6. …and walk in all types of weather

It’s also unlikely you’ll get ten straight days of perfect weather on your trek, so prepare yourself for all conditions by walking in cold, windy, rainy, warm and humid conditions (where possible, of course!).

7. Try using walking poles

Travellers trek to Machu Picchu

Photo by Patrick O’Neill

When you’re navigating Kili’s gravel trails or lumbering down Dead Woman’s Pass on the Inca Trail, walking poles will become your two new best friends. They take the pressure off your knees on the downs, and give you extra support on the ups. Incorporate poles into your training sessions so you get used to walking with them.

RELATED: TREKKING TO MACHU PICCHU? HERE’S YOUR ULTIMATE PACKING GUIDE

8. Train with a backpack

On almost all of our trekking trips, you won’t be carrying your main pack, but you will need to carry a small daypack, packed with essentials like your camera, snacks, sunscreen, water and wet-weather gear. So with all your days/weeks/months of training, make sure you’re challenging yourself with a weighted bag. If you really want to push it, pack your bag with a few extras, so it’s a little heavier than what you’re planning to hike with on the trip – it’ll make the eventual trek feel like a walk in the park (chortle).

9. Keep the tank fuelled

Trekking in Patagonia, Chile

Photo by Miguel Gutierrez

It’s SO important you’re stocked with enough water and food during a trek (hydration is key!). Nuts, dried fruit, muesli bars and chocolate are all good, quick sources of energy and protein; keep a selection of these healthy snacks in your daypack. Also, bring along a reusable canteen;  alpine streams are usually a great source of fresh water, but our guides provide boiled (and cooled) water daily throughout your trek. While you’re in training-mode, try to eat and drink ‘on the go’ as much as you can, so your body can get used to digesting during strenuous exercise.

RELATED: WE ASK A LEADER WHICH ROUTE TO TAKE UP MT KILIMANJARO

10. Invest in a good pair of shoes

Trekkers arrive at Base Camp

Photo by Kieran Wallace

Your feet are your most crucial body part on a trek, and it doesn’t take much to keep them in toe-tappingly tip-top shape. First, invest in a pair of good-quality, water-resistant hiking boots; you want plenty of support and ventilation too. Then, wear them in. How do you do this? Wear ‘em everywhere. On your training runs, on walks to the shops, to work, to formal events (well, maybe not). You get the idea though; by wearing them in as much as possible in the weeks and months leading up to the trek, it’ll help avoid blisters, bunions and lost toenails. Then, stock up on a few pairs of really good hiking socks (preferably a wool/nylon blend), that will wick moisture and keep your feet dry. If you want to get a bit crazy, wear two pairs while walking to minimise your chance of blisters.

Ready and raring to go? Step right this way to pick your next small group trekking adventure with Intrepid.

Feature photo by Miguel Gutierrez.

 

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52 comments

Carl Gutierrez November 16, 2021 - 4:22 pm

thanks for sharing this training blog!

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The vin Art November 6, 2021 - 1:26 pm

Thanks for updating..
Keep writing in detail

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Nick Junior September 23, 2021 - 5:57 pm

The visuals of Mt. Kilimanjaro are super amazing. I do not climb mountains due to some internal issues with my body but I’ve been to Solukhumbu district of Nepal once and the trip was amazing. Thank you for sharing your tips. Enjoyed it. 🙂

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Sam Hood August 26, 2021 - 7:38 pm

Thank you for sharing guidelines on a trekking adventure.
Keep Sharing!

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Nima Sherpa August 5, 2021 - 6:50 pm

I admire this article. It has detailed very well-researched hiking tips. Really useful for all hiking and trekking lovers. Thank you so much for sharing it.

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James July 10, 2021 - 7:46 pm

Your article is both educational and entertaining. You’ve perfectly summed up everything. In the coming month, my buddies and I have agreed to go trekking in Paksitan’s northern regions. All of these suggestions should be followed by everyone. It will assist us in preparing for our next hiking excursion. Thank you so much for this fantastic blog post.

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Abhishek Sapkota February 18, 2021 - 10:03 pm

So informative
I have faced so many troubles even in the small trek. I have been to some of the most amazing places in the world like Everest Base Camp, Manaslu Circuit trek. There I found that proper trekking gear and preparation will make your trek more comfortable and amazing. We all should follow all of these tips.

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Lily December 23, 2020 - 2:39 pm

You have summed up everything so well. It proved to be quite helpful while preparing for my trek.

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https://bagcottage.com December 23, 2020 - 2:37 pm

Great tips James! While trekking poles can be helpful for hiking in some terrains but they should not be used in boulders strewn trails. Your hands come in handy and save you from a major accident when you slip on a boulder. Walking with poles doesn’t help in such conditions.

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arun saini November 23, 2020 - 7:04 pm

Thank you so much for sharing trekking hill station …..

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Eric sharma February 4, 2021 - 12:46 am

Thank you for great hiking trip.

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Michael September 8, 2020 - 12:28 am

It is always difficult to walk by picking up a backpack. I am doing it for years but your tips are still useful for me. Thanks for sharing these great tips 🙂

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arun saini November 23, 2020 - 7:02 pm

yes, it is good post and thank you for sharing..

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School Backpacks July 25, 2020 - 2:47 am

Wow this is one of the best trekking training guide tips that’s I ever read. Thanks for your valuable article. It’s my pleasure to read.

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Raacho Trekkers June 21, 2020 - 1:19 am

Great tips James! While trekking poles can be helpful for hiking in some terrains but they should not be used in boulders strewn trails. Your hands come handy and save you from a major accident when you slip on a boulder. Walking with poles doesn’t help in such conditions.

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Nepal Flight Ticket May 29, 2020 - 12:42 am

Thanks for your information. Looking forward to hear more tips from your blog.

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John Kalyan May 2, 2020 - 4:41 pm

Thank you for this awesome blog post. I am thinking to visit Nepal for EBC trek after this virus issue shut down. Do you have any tips for me to avoid altitude sickness? because it’s the first trek of my life.

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Intrepid Travel August 19, 2020 - 2:26 pm

Hi John, thanks so much! We have heaps of info for first-time trekkers. See some of it below or feel free to contact us over the phone or email and have a chat. Hope you get to EBC one day!

https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/5-things-to-know-about-base-camp/
https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/trekking-training-guide-tips/
https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/fitness-everest-base-camp/

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Michelle Foster March 25, 2020 - 9:59 pm

Thank you very much for this awesome guide and thanks for posting this, this will really help prepare fully for my next trekking and again thanks.

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Anonymous January 21, 2020 - 1:23 am

Just here praising the Savage Garden throwback in your bio~

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robert reed December 22, 2019 - 3:19 am

Your pack is only as heavy…as your hurry is..

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Shane Marcus December 1, 2019 - 5:10 pm

Thank you, James, for the awesome tips. As you are planning for trekking there are lots of homework is to be done. Clothing, Shoes, Equipment and much more. Thanks for sharing the great trekking tips which would help anyone in planning the trek. The article was an awesome read.
Anyway, Keep up on your awesome work.
Cheers!

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Abhishek Sapkota November 22, 2019 - 6:12 pm

Thankyou James, for the tips. I am going to buy a new pair of shoes and of course the stairs instead of the elevator.
thankyou for sharing this.

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Jay Rowden November 13, 2019 - 8:37 am

This sounds epic and I have always wanted to have a crack at it. I thought I was fit though having read the advice above, perhaps I’m not as fit as I thought!! I am very interested though need to work out how to ask my wife and kids first if I am allowed to be away from home for 2+ weeks. Though as a photographer, I see this as an amazing opportunity to capture some pics as well as drink in the epic views

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Ben Hender October 29, 2019 - 8:28 pm

Hi James,
You have summed up everything so well. It proved to be quite helpful while preparing for my trek.

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Aspiration Adventure August 20, 2019 - 7:22 pm

Thank you James for sharing this great trekking tips which would help anyone in planning. As, I am eager to know how many days prior the trekking the preparation should be started?

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SHARIFAH RAMLAH SYED HARUN July 19, 2019 - 3:52 pm

I will be going for ebc in early sept n i will be 69 yrs while trekking up. I have been to abc last year. I am prone to hypothermia n i have attended talks in this topic. This trip will be sumner n there will be rain. I have prepared myself that during trekking, half way thru’ u will change my sweat wet shirt with new ones. Take along hot drinks in my flask. Stop for energy bars, chocs n drinks every 1 hr. Prepared for emergebcy blanket n emergency tent. When raining, i will get prepared for my rain coat. I train all the time but in times near the trip, i climb stairs with weighted b/pack.
Is there any other advice that you can give me? It will be very helpful.

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Clarisa June 9, 2021 - 9:32 pm

Sharifah, how did it go? What was helpful when preparing? I’m 67 and am in preps for a short (5 days) trekking, my first sleeping on a bevy, but dreading the weight I’ll need to carry.

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Ammoinite Adventures February 14, 2019 - 11:18 pm

Thank you James for this wonderful tips. Can you please recommend me training routine for greater endurance and stimina?

I’d love if anybody could refer me with training style.

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Megan February 2, 2019 - 3:25 am

That seems like a lot of fun.

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Megan January 3, 2019 - 8:07 am

amazing pictures.

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Shyam July 29, 2018 - 1:43 pm

Great preparation guide ! Me n family planning our first trek (Annapurna circuit Nepal this December) and the guidelines given is going to be very handy !

Thank you for the same !

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Far September 27, 2018 - 3:44 pm

My first trek is in AC and its really wonderful except that the weather really changes a lot even at 1,000 masl. Just be prepared for this eventuality, the weather advice can’t be relied on 100% along with some stomach issues. Whatever the weather is, the views are really spectacular. Enjoy and be safe.

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Jacob July 20, 2018 - 10:46 pm

Your second advise is very helpful, I still remember my first time when I went to place called Dharamshala in India. On our first day we stayed at Dharamshala, and following day one of our team member said that from the locals he heard a place know as “Triund” which is not very far from here , without giving a second thought we all started our journey to Triund and believe me my man, If you have weak legs, You ain’t going that far.

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Marble Mountain Ranch April 16, 2018 - 3:25 pm

Thanks for the tips! All these preparations will let you enjoy your hiking moments.

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Moumita Mallick March 29, 2018 - 7:42 pm

I got chills just by seeing this. Looks so inviting and adventurous. I just got back from hiking in Kumaon, India. But still I want to take off right now to go on this place. Thanks for this post.

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Ranjit Kumar March 19, 2018 - 8:45 pm

This will be much helpful for Pin Parbati Pass Trek. Thanks

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sunanda March 16, 2018 - 9:36 pm

thanks for the tips very nice post very well written use of pictures are too good… so exciting t visit and follow the tips. thanks for sharing the great article.

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prasant bhatt March 16, 2018 - 4:31 am

Thanks for your information. Could you please tell me how much trekking clothing cost?

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Nikki January 8, 2018 - 6:22 pm

Thanks for the list. It inspires me a lot. Looking forward to more helpful tips from your blog.

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Philip Pettit August 3, 2017 - 4:38 pm

Thanks for sharing this Awesome Article. it really helps me a lot to know about the beauty and tradition of Nepal. The Himalayas and cultural tour really great post.

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Isha Chopra June 1, 2017 - 2:19 pm

Thanks for sharing the information. However, I am keen to know how many days prior to the trek should the preparation be started?

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Alan Rimmer July 2, 2017 - 10:58 am

Hi Isha, I’m Alan who commented in December. I’ve re-read James’s article and he really has summed things up well. Unless you’re very fit and a very strong walker/trekker your preparation/training really needs to start weeks…indeed months before you go so your body gets used to the equipment and the demands you’ll be making on yourself. the other responders have made good comments too.
There’s too much to advise without knowing more about you and your plans. If you want to get back to me my email is : alanjrimmer@yahoo.co.uk.
Happy trekking…
Alan

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marcettri February 3, 2017 - 6:34 pm

I love travelling . I would be sharing my experience about the exotic destinations in nepal . There are so many places that you can visit, treaking in this beautiful country. Chulu east peak is the one of my best destinations at nepal.

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Pam January 23, 2017 - 3:32 pm

Extra tip. Train using your sprung hiking poles.They are like a extra pair of legs .They improve your balance and stability and once you’re used to their rhythm, they give you more confidence on rough or rocky terrain.Remember to lengthen them descending and shorten them ascending.They will take the stress off your knees and reward you with less tired or sore legs.

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Himalaya Destination December 21, 2016 - 5:48 pm

As you are planning for trekking there are lots homework is to be done. Clothing, Shoes, Equipments and much more. Thanks for sharing the great trekking tips which would help anyone in planning the trek.

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Avelaine Labrecque December 5, 2016 - 11:48 pm

Thanks for sharing a good knowledge About Travel. I really loved this 7 tips. When I wrote content about travel missed some tips. Sometimes I will come back to check your next post about Tips for Travel. Thanks in advanced.

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Alan December 9, 2015 - 7:58 am

Hi Everyone..

,..an accurate and most excellent article by James, added to very well by the threee responders above.

You need to be fit and have gear well tested. Trekking is indeed hard work, but the rewards are a lifetime of memories and a chance to get to know a world which so few people are interested in doing.

Happy trekking.

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Kirsty October 16, 2015 - 12:29 am

i would say wear the socks you wear for training as you do for trekking! Sounds daft but ppl on my trek bought new socks n were shocked to get blisters! Your shoes mould n feet are used to those old socks plus new ones can make feet sweater n swell up compared to old ones you are used to x

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Leah March 19, 2015 - 9:34 am

Great tips here! And I love the witty presentation 😉 It truly baffles me how many people fail to consider their level of fitness before embarking on treks while traveling, or any of these other factors! I hiked the Inca Trail with a couple of girls who wore Converse sneakers…needless to say, one of them slipped and twisted her ankle before we’d even gotten halfway.

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Uptourist February 26, 2015 - 12:36 pm

Have to agree that you have to do some preparations. Failing to do that will shock you and will give you a horrible body ache come trekking day. Exercise before the trek. It is an absolute must.

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Abhishek August 30, 2021 - 9:43 pm

True agree with you

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