Hiking at Altitude | Mountain Travel Sobek

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Hiking at Altitude


Preparing for the discomforts of hiking at altitude most often requires practicing at altitude. But what if you live at sea level? Here are some tips for using a High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) program to help you get ready for your high-altitude adventure.

Why is hiking at altitude so difficult?

Exercise at high altitude compounds the physiologic stress. High altitude may create discomfort and symptoms of illness that you do not experience while exercising at lower elevations, such as shortness of breath, restlessness or sleeplessness at night, and headaches. Arrive physically prepared and you increase your chances of overcoming the negative effects of altitude. 

I live at sea level, how to I practice for a high-altitude trip?

To prepare for the discomforts associate with altitude there are several things you can incorporate weekly. Carry a heavy pack on your hikes but be sure you start with 10 lbs and slowly increase to no more than 20% of what you think is your ideal body weight.  If you have orthopedic issues in the hips and knees, talk with your physician or orthopedist and carry no more than you are expected to on the trip.

Although you will need to engage in total body training, there is something you can do that will help you deal with the discomforts of altitude.  Perform some High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)—specifically this Tabata routine below. 

1) Warm up for approximately 10 minutes. Minute 1 should feel easy. Gradually increase intensity to moderate-hard by minute 10. Warm up can be whatever mode of cardio you select (i.e., elliptical, stationary bike, stepper, brisk walk, jog).

2) After warm-up, immediately segue into your first interval. Perform bodyweight squats at nearly the fastest pace you can handle for 20 seconds. Your form has to be perfect with no exceptions.

Top of squat movement tighten glutes. Bottom of squats should be all the way down so thighs are horizontal or just below horizontal.

This type of fast exercise is very effective but presents a higher risk of muscle strain. 

3) Rest for 10 seconds.

4) Repeat 20 seconds of near-maximal effort followed by 10 seconds off for a total of 8 times. Formula: (20” work / 10” rest) x 8

5) Cool down by simply walking around for at least 5 minutes.

Training properly and consistently for your high-altitude adventure leads to your ability to make a full recovery by the final day of your trip.


About Marcus Shapiro & Fit For Trips

Marcus Shapiro has been crafting adventure travel fitness programs since 2009. His #1 goal: ensure you arrive at your destination physically fit and mentally ready to enjoy every activity—both planned and unexpected—in your itinerary. With over 20 years in the fitness industry, Marcus combines a deep understanding of exercise science and real-world experience with a whole lot of empathy to ensure every traveler is successful and every adventure is awesome. Check out Fit for Trips online at fitfortrips.com!



Legal Disclaimer: The tips and suggestions made by Marcus Shapiro are his alone and are not made by Mountain Travel Sobek. Please consult with your physician before undertaking any new fitness regime.