GEC Training and Preparation for Mountaineering Expedition

GEC Training and Preparation for Mountaineering Expedition




All members of GEC must reach a certain fitness level and be in good health condition for a successful expedition. Our usual training will focus on cardiovascular and strength training. Each training will be programmed according to the expedition and its requirements. The strength training will focus on developing capability and strength of muscles to help in endurance trekking and expeditions.

Hill running, mountain biking on hills and swimming are beneficial. During aerobic training it is necessary to monitor your heart rate to ensure you are training your cardiovascular system. There is no specific training method for climbing. Sport specific training will ensure your muscles, ligaments and tendons are conditioned for the stresses of expedition climbing.

GEC provides recommendations for training according to the trekking and expedition selected by the members. Be careful not to over-train just prior to the trip as to avoid any injuries. 



Basic Training Programme


Aerobic training

Begin with 4 x per week at least 30 minutes continuously (70-85% HR max). Progress to 5 x per week at least 60 minutes continuously (70-85% HR max).

On one day a week you should undertake sustained aerobic activity (approximately 6 hours) to increase your endurance. This training can be incorporated with a recreational activity of your choosing. For example: hill walking with a pack for six hours (70% HR max).

At least two aerobic sessions per week should be on hills or stairs (a stair-climber will work). During your hill sessions progressively load your pack over time. You may begin with 5-10 kilos and progress upwards from there. If you are able to walk up a hill, consider carrying water containers. You can empty the containers at the top thereby decreasing the load downhill. If you do not have hills in close proximity you can work out on a treadmill by wearing a pack, increasing the incline and walking quickly. Remember to monitor your heart rate to ensure you are training high in the aerobic zone.

As your body gets used to the stresses try making 1 session out of 5 interval training. That is, stress your system hard for 1 minute, then less stress for 2-3 minutes throughout your workout. This will work at training aerobic and anaerobic energy systems. You may also try making a ‘super effort’ by adding an extension to a workout. This may involve an extra 10-15 minutes or an extra hour!  ‘Super effort’ will train you for the extra push you may need on longer days.


Strength training

Three sessions per week no longer than one hour (3 x Week).

Strength training is important to get the body used to the increased forces that will be placed upon it. Anaerobic strength training has a carry-over effect on the aerobic system. Stressing muscles to failure will allow for greater energy storage and power generation in the muscle.

Strengthen upper and lower body. Ensure you go to failure (in other words get to the point where you cannot lift the weight through full range…this should happen in under 10 reps during your 2nd or 3rd set). The weight you are pushing should increase over time. If you are accustomed to lifting weights, try altering the type of exercise you do for each muscle. Also try to work with tempo variables to challenge the system. For those not experienced in weight training it is advisable to have your programme written and progressed by a personal or athletic trainer.



One or two days a week should be used for sustained training in an activity you enjoy. If you can get out into the mountains in the months and weeks prior to your expedition, all the better, as a good hard weekend in the hills with a couple of rest days afterwards can be more rewarding than gym training.



One day per week should be reserved for rest.

Naturally you will want to start with achievable levels of activity rather than do yourself damage getting started. Work up to those goals rather than have too high an expectation of yourself right away. Listen to what your body is telling you and if you feel niggles in any area of your body you are training, work out some other muscle groups or do another form of exercise for a while.


Mental Attitude

There are many ways to prepare mentally for a climb and this differs for each of us depending on our circumstances. There are pressures such as work and family commitments or projects we cannot seem to drag ourselves away from. Previous experience in the mountains can play a major role in how you approach the ‘mental challenge’ of expedition climbing. If you are a seasoned mountaineer you are less likely to get flustered prior to the climb. It is important to be relaxed on the expedition and take things one day at a time. Many potential summit climbers have worn themselves out thinking about how they will perform on summit day when they are only just beginning the trip. If you leave your personal expectations behind and just do your best on each and every day you will be heading in the right direction.


Every climber need personal training preparation programs and GEC will be able to guide members to achieve and peak at the right time with the right training schedules.