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Trekking Fitness: Preparing for a Multi-day Trek

snow lake trek pakistan

As with anything in life, the preparation and training you put in to achieve a big goal will only benefit you when “go time” comes.

Preparing your body for the mountains is not something that can be achieved overnight. A simple, yet effective training program is all about consistency and what feels right for each person.

Whether you are preparing to join us for a big, multi-day trek like the K2 Base Camp Trek or climbing Island Peak, you can use this document as a guide to help you achieve your fitness goals and to ensure that when day one of the trip starts, you are in prime shape to take on the mountains. 

Setting A Target Fitness Level

To achieve optimal trekking fitness, the goal is not to be in marathon shape or to be able to win a body-building contest. You want to be doing exercises that directly translate into trekking fitness and endurance versus being exceptionally strong or ready for an Ironman. 

These are the core areas you should focus on in the months leading up to the trip:

  • Leg and core strength training
  • Cardio health
  • Trail legs 
  • Endurance
  • Pro-biotic/ gut health

The simple trekking fitness  goal for our trips: 

Hike at a comfortable pace, for 5-8 hours over 15-18 kilometers (9-11 miles) with 1000 meters (3280 feet) of elevation gain. You should feel appropriately tired after putting up trail numbers like that, but not so fatigued that you feel totally depleted and can’t do it again the next day. 

trekking fitness

Log your Physical Activities

If you are above the 55-year-old age limit we have for some of our treks, then keeping track of your fitness is mandatory.

Keeping track of your workouts and hikes is a great way to track progress and also gives concrete proof that you are holding up your end of the bargain when it comes to arriving in prime shape for the trek in question.

For those Epic clients over 55 planning on joining us for the K2 Base Camp Trek or equivalent, please note the following:

  • Use a phone application like Strava or Gaia GPS to track your workouts and all hikes/walks. 
  • Starting 4 months before the start of the trip, please send us an email containing screenshots of your GPS data from hikes you have logged. 
  • You should log a minimum of 4 hikes or long walks per month. 

Make sure that you consistently do hikes with some elevation gain and a minimum distance of 10 kilometers (6 miles). 

spantik expedition

The Most Important Part of Your Trekking Fitness Journey: Go for some Hikes!

In our opinion, there is not a gym machine in the world that gets your legs as “mountain-ready” as hiking does. There will be no avoiding it: to properly train for this adventure, you will do some regular hiking. Since you signed up for a hiking trip with us, this should not be too much of a chore!

You should try to do hikes that offer some significant elevation gain and loss so that you can train your body for what conditions will be like in Pakistan, Nepal, etc. 

“Flat” is not a word known in the Karakoram or Himalayas. 

These simple exercises combined with hiking will prepare you for the up and down hills found on our treks:

1). Step Downs

2). Elevated heel squats

3). Calf Raises

4). Lunges with Weight

5). Stability and Balance

6). Core Strength Exercises like sit-ups, etc

7). Squats

Building a Training Program for Trekking Fitness

There is no one right way to train but here is a proven formula that others have used to achieve an ideal trekking fitness. A combination of targeted strength training and hiking is a pretty simple recipe for success. Find what works for you and experiment with different things until you get your personal program dialed in.

Base Phase Training:

Initiate your training regimen with stretching exercises followed by 30 to 45-minute sessions, five days a week. As you progress, extend your workout duration gradually, aiming for 45 minutes to an hour without breaks. Tailor your training to suit your trekking aspirations, gradually building up to a solid hour with a sustained intensity before advancing. Introduce light backpack weight midway through this phase, adjusting it based on the demands of your chosen trek. Hike on the weekends. 


Build Phase Training:

Transitioning into the build phase, each workout serves a more targeted purpose aligned with your trekking goals. Elevate the intensity by progressively increasing the weight on the stair master or elliptical bike to enhance your weekly stress load. You should be aiming to do a 3-5 hour hike 1-2 days a week at this point. 

Peak Phase Training:

As you approach the peak phase, maintain a consistent routine with endurance, strength, and cardio sessions on the stair master or elliptical bike. Incorporate one or two short, high-intensity workouts to boost aerobic capacity and prepare your body for altitude challenges. These workouts aim to enhance your lactic threshold, enabling sustained performance. Incrementally increase backpack weight to enhance challenge, prioritizing resistance over speed.

Here is a sample 16-week training program for you to target:

Trekking Fitness: Weeks 1 - 4

Start slow and develop consistency. Try to hike 1-2 days out of the week if your schedule permits. 

MondayLeg strengthOptions: Squats, leg presses, elliptical, Stairmaster, or elliptical bike45 minutes
TuesdayActive rest + mobilityStretching, low-intensity leg workouts, yoga30 minutes
WednesdayCardio + legsElliptical bike with some intensity and/or walk for 1 hour.30-40 minutes + 1 hour
ThursdayLeg strengthOptions: Squats, leg presses, elliptical, Stairmaster, or elliptical bike30-40 minutes
FridayCardio + legsElliptical bike with some intensity and/or walk for 1 hour.30-40 minutes + 1 hour
SaturdayHikeChoose a route with some elevation gain4-5 hours
SundayRest dayWalk the dog 🙂

Trekking Fitness: Weeks 5 - 9

Maintain and develop what you have built on. Try to hike 2 days out of the week if your schedule permits.

MondayLeg strength + walkSquats, leg presses, elliptical, Stairmaster, or elliptical bike45 minutes + 45-minute walk
TuesdayActive rest + mobilityStretching, low-intensity leg workouts, yoga30 minutes
WednesdayCardio + legsElliptical bike with some intensity and/or walk for 1 hour.30-40 minutes + 1 hour
ThursdayLeg strength + walkSquats, leg presses, elliptical, Stairmaster, or elliptical bike45 minutes + 45-minute walk
FridayCardio + legsElliptical bike with some intensity and/or walk for 1 hour.30-40 minutes + 1 hour
SaturdayHikeChoose a route with more elevation gain4-5 hours
SundayRest day

Trekking Fitness: Weeks 10 - 14

Maintain and develop what you have built on. Increase difficulty or duration when possible. Try to hike 2 days out of the week if your schedule permits.

MondayLeg strength + walkSquats, leg presses, elliptical, Stairmaster, or elliptical bike1 hour + 45 minute walk
TuesdayActive rest + mobilityStretching, low-intensity leg workouts, yoga30 minutes
WednesdayCardio + legsElliptical bike with some intensity and/or walk for 1 hour.30-40 minutes + 1 hour
ThursdayLeg strength + walkSquats, leg presses, elliptical, Stairmaster, or elliptical bike1 hour + 45 minute walk
FridayCardio + legsElliptical bike with some intensity and/or walk for 1 hour.30-40 minutes + 1 hour
SaturdayHikeChoose a route with more elevation gain4-5 hours
SundayRest day or optional hike

Trekking Fitness: Weeks 15 - 16

The final stretch until the trip starts. This is where all the work you have put in thus far pays off. Taper off intensity levels a few weeks before the trip starts, but keep everything going. Use more caution than normal when doing physical activities. Now is not the time to have an injury!

MondayLeg strength + walkSquats, leg presses, elliptical, Stairmaster, or elliptical bike1 hour + 45 minute walk
TuesdayActive rest + mobilityStretching, low-intensity leg workouts, yoga30 minutes
WednesdayCarido + legsElliptical bike with some intensity and/or walk for 1 hour.30-40 minutes + 1 hour
ThursdayLeg strength + walkSquats, leg presses, elliptical, Stairmaster, or elliptical bike1 hour + 45 minute walk
FridayCardio + legsElliptical bike with some intensity and/or walk for 1 hour.30-40 minutes + 1 hour
SaturdayHikeChoose a route with 1000 meters of incline4-5 hours
SundayRest day or optional hike

Try to Get to Altitude Before Our Big Trip

At some point before the trip, we highly recommend that you plan a quick weekend getaway to the closest mountain range near where you live. This can be the Rocky Mountains in USA, the Alps or the Pyrenees in Europe, the Scottish Highlands, New Zealand Alps, etc. The goal would be to target and/or sleep at 3500-4300 meters for a few days. 

This trip to altitude will serve two purposes. You will get to see first hand to how your body is feeling being at altitude. If you do this trip a few weeks before the trip starts, then you will start the trip with some prior acclimatization, which will only benefit you. 

I understand that in some countries, there is no convenient access to high-altitude environments (shout out Australia!). 

Please note that a pre-trip visit to a high mountain range is not mandatory. If you can swing it you will get a real-time feel of how your fitness is coming along and direct feedback on how you feel above 4000 meters – which is the exact feedback you want before a big trekking trip. 

Building Trekking Fitness Endurance

On any extended trekking trip, you are in it for the long game. 

Consistency is key to keeping your body happy after hours spent on a challenging trail. Finding your own pace that 1. keeps your heart rate stable and 2. can be sustained for long periods of time is pretty much the name of the game out here. Check out this article for information on how to train using heart rate monitoring.  

We like to tell people to “hike their own hike” as much as possible. Your training at home before this trip needs to simulate the kind of demands your body will face in the mountains. 

It is not common for people to start their training journey and easily be able to walk uphill for 5 hours with minimal breaks. You should be working towards this target though as much as possible. 

Your “hike day” of the week should leave you feeling challenged and should give you some pretty good feedback as to where you are at and where you need to work towards. 

Consider Hiring a Personal Trainer

If time and budget permits, you can hire a personal fitness trainer who can help to determine your starting fitness level, the heart rate zones that you should be training in, and keep you on track for achieving your fitness goals.

If hiring a trainer for weekly sessions is not possible for you, we do suggest at least doing a one-time consultation with a fitness trainer who can provide you with many insights about your own fitness needs given your trekking objective. 

The more you put into your training – and this includes external help – the better you will feel in the mountains when “game time” comes. 

Prioritize Gut Health

Building your body up to a great level of trekking fitness, but neglecting your gut biotics is a kin to doing a tune up of your car but neglecting to put the wheels on before you start driving out of the mechanic. 

In developing countries like Nepal and Pakistan, western trekkers can have issues with upset stomachs occasionally. 

While there is no magical formula for avoiding some of these less-then-pleasant gastro issues – there are some things you can do to prepare your body for the microscopic belly demons that might try to effect your trekking holiday. 

Starting a regimen of probiotics is a good place to start. We actually wrote a whole blog article about this topic which you can check out here

Probiotics for Travel and Hiking Nutrition

Injury Prevention

We would be neglecting our duties here if we did not mention injuries and what they can potentially do for your trip aspirations… IE end them completely. 

So you have done all of this work to prepare your body for the trip of a lifetime. You are ready to roll. But… 3 weeks out from the start date you break your arm playing football or tweak your ankle on an epic trail run. And heartbreak ensues… 

The point being here is that without fail, every year we have clients get injured before the trip starts and they are unable to join us. Please don’t let this be you. 

A few months out from your planned trip, you should cease doing any physical activity that could result in a major injury. 

  • Avoid contact sports like MMA, football, and rugby.
  • Avoid trail running.
  • Taper down road running
  • Avoid powerlifting or other gym activities that carry high-risk for injury. 
  • Take care of yourself and watch where you step on challenging trail terrain
  • Use common sense when training and do not over do it to the point where you are doing more harm to your body than good. 
is Pakistan safe?

Wrap Up: Trekking Fitness Starts Now

Being able to experience the magic of the big mountains is a once-in-a-life time opportunity. You are now making your dreams a reality. Congratulations.  

You have probably been saving money, planning for, and dreaming about this trip for a long time. Now, the trip is on the horizon and you are one step closer to being able to achieve your personal travel + adventure goals in the world’s most epic mountain ranges. 

During these crucial months ahead, embrace the training and the process. The best things in life are never the easy options. Challenging yourself as much as possible, but enjoy the journey along the way. 

Put in the work you need to do to have an excellent trekking holiday and you will only reap the rewards once you get out there. 

Keep hiking, training, and we shall see you in the mountains in a few months!

More from the blog

Welcome to our Journal!

snow lake trek pakistan

Here at Epic Expeditions, adventure is constantly on our minds. 

Our blog – or Journal as we like to call it – contains epic trip stories, photo diaries, and news about new tours. 

Thanks for checking it out! 

What's new in the journal?

The trip we're most stoked about

MONGOLIA
Horse Trekking in Mongolia Expedition

Next trip: September 3rd - 17th, 2024

Adventure Guide

Hailing from the Toronto region of Eastern Canada, with a background as a former standout athlete (hockey of course) and a  love of mountain adventure, Clark is a welcomed addition to the Epic team.

In addition to being a keen photographer and adventurer, Clark brings his brilliant sense of humor, leadership skills, and positive attitude to everything he puts his mind to. 

When he is not leading trips, he is working on taking over the hard apple cider game in Canada as a skilled craft brewer. 

Adventure Guide

Noemi grew up in the mountains of German-Speaking Switzerland where she naturally developed a deep love and respect for mountain environments.

She is a talented photographer, aspiring climber, and speaks at least 5 languages fluently including Arabic (and probably a few more that we don’t know about), which she taught herself in a matter of months by watching YouTube videos. 

Noemi has spent the last several years traveling, hiking, and photographing her way around many different countries in the Middle East, South and Central Asia, and Europe, and we could not be more stoked to welcome her to the Epic team! 

Adventure Guide

As our man on the ground in Mongolia, there is not much this legend can’t do. As a native the Bayan-Ölgii province of the Western Mongolia Altai, Syerik has been working as a guide and tourism entrepreneur…

for the past several years and is one of the rising stars in Mongolia adventure travel industry. 

He is currently building a beautiful Ger (Yurt) camp near his hometown where he will host Epic Mongolia team members on our trip as well as other travelers from around the world! 

He is the perfect guide for your trip to Mongolia. Serik did an amazing job giving us a well rounded experience in the Altai NP region and down in the Gobi…
The food was fantastic and Serik gave us many opportunities to learn about the Kazakh culture in that region including traditional meals. (I can’t recommend enjoying the milk tea enough!)

– Coastal

Head of canine operations

Choriza started off life as a care-free vagabond on the streets of Madeira Island without any place to call home. From the moment we met her, we knew this dog was just different, and it was pretty much love at first sight. 

She gave up the dog street life in favor of joining her new dad Chris to become a full-time member of the Epic family towards the end of 2022.

These days she can be found listening in on the fringes of important Epic business meetings while half-asleep on the couch. She is a keen hiker, lover of mud, rare steak, and might just be the sweetest little dog we have ever seen. 

Adventure Guide

An experienced trek leader and
IFMGA aspirant ski guide, avid alpine climber, devoted adventure photographer.

Organized and guided trekking expeditions, climbs and ski tours in Tajikistan’s Pamirs, Patagonia, Peru, Morocco, Nepal, Kyrgyzstan, Georgian and Russian Caucasus and Kamchatka.

A full member and meets the organiser of the British Alpine Club. Visited over 40 countries, lived in the UK for four years. Certified first-aider.

We joined Andrew on a fantastic trip to the Fann Mountains in Tajikistan, pure nature and magnificent scenery! Andrey was super prepared and led us safely up and down numerous passes and through some rough and icy cold rivers. Thank you for a very memorable trip, your planning and prep was excellent!

– Monika Steinlechner

epic expeditions team

Adventure Guide

Our man in Nepal, Sandip is what we like to call a “Swiss Army Knife”. There is not much Sandip can’t do when it comes to helping Epic to run our expeditions smoothly in Nepal.

His tireless work ethic, passion for all things trekking in the Himalayas, and smart decision-making mean that Sandip is a truly invaluable member of our team.

Sandip is passionate about showing visitors to his country an amazing time, and he goes above and beyond to make sure that happens. 

His company Himalayan Masters is Epic’s trusted partner in Nepal and one of the country’s top new tour agencies.

We really enjoyed the entire journey, and I would like to say that Sandip is truly professional. He guided us and he is a hardworking person, providing us with the best service and taking care of each one of us. Plus, he is super funny! The kind of professionnal you always want to find on your path for your explorations! 

– Alexandra Ruth

Fairy Meadows

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Our Favorite Experiences

#1 Sunrise from Reflection Lake

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#2 Hiking to Nanga Parbat Base Camp

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#3 Playing cricket with the locals

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Trips Where We Visit Fairy Meadows

Our flagship Pakistani adventure tour.  Road trip with some  hiking and cultural immersion.

A trekking-style tour that features some very remote locations, inlcuding a K2 viewpoint.

Adventure Guide

João has born in the mountains of Madeira Islands in Portugal. Nature lover, writer, musician, guide, for him, a day without contact with outdoor vibes is a nightmare. 

With a degree in Cultural Studies in Portugal and a Master of Arts in Global Cultures and Creativity in the U.K.

João found out what really matters in life can be found on the trails, and in the contact with people from different backgrounds and cultures.

Guiding, crazy trekking missions, and sharing observations about the natural world, – these are some of João’s passions. 

After trekking to K2 Base Camp and exploring all over Northern Pakistan, he fell in love with the country and the local people. His experiences resulted in his desire to share these feelings with the world.

João is one of the most experienced guides at Epic and his skillset and positive mindset in the mountains is second to none

When not in Pakistan, João is  guiding and exploring in the Madeira Islands trails –  discovering some of the hidden treasures on his Portuguese Island.

João I can not thank you enough for the off the beaten paths and views you keep giving. Definitely one of the most challenging and amazing hikes we did 1200m meters all the way up to Fanal forest and circling back to the hidden village. Wow!

– Jeffery 

travel hunza valley

Adventure Guide

Sohail is the newest addition to the Epic team and we are beyond stoked to have him on board. As a veteran of the Karakoram and a native of Karimabad in Hunza, there is not much Sohail can’t do in the mountains. 

Besides having the ability to speak more languages than we can count, Sohail has explored every corner of Gilgit Baltistan and logs more trekking miles 

in a year than most people will do in a lifetime. As of the summer of 2022, Sohail has summited Gasherbrum 1, Gasherbrum 2, and K2 – three of Pakistan’s five 8000-meter peaks. Sohail guides several trips including our annual bespoke expeditions but specializes in Hunza Valley tours.

Chris and Sohail, and the team at Epic are FANTASTIC! Highly recommend anyone to do a tour with ‘Epic’. They have the perfect balance of fun, excitement and wild adventures, tied in with being super professional and ensuring your safety/health in a foreign environment. Don’t waste a moment and book a tour with these guys as the value for money is UNREAL!

– Borgan

iran travel tour

Adventure Guide

Pedro’s been traveling all around the globe since 2009. His keen interests in documentary photography, rural life, and local people from different ethnic groups have been the focus of many of his professional projects.

Since 2012, he has developed his passion for travel and awesome shared experiences into a full-time adventure photography tour leader position.

Pedro has found himself continuously going back to the Middle East, with his likely favorite destination being Iran. Pedro lead his 11th tour in Iran with Epic in spring 2020

When Pedro’s not traveling the world with Epic Expeditions, you’ll find him based in the western south of Portugal planning he’s next adventure missions, logistics and working out his photos in local exhibitions.

 I loved the combination of hiking, camping around breathtaking scenery mixed with the cultural aspects. The guide (Pedro) is knowledgeable and work very hard to make the trip as memorable as possible. All in all an epic adventure with some extremely epic individuals! Go for it, you won’t regret it!

– Coastal

Diane Bouvet

Adventure Admin / Marketing

After fleeing from the corporate fashion world in Paris towards the start of 2020, Diane has been working as a web developer and graphic designer remotely from various bases across the globe

She brings all of her incredible design and organizational power to Epic Expeditions and is responsible for many of the beautiful behind-the-scenes design elements. 

Diane has been to Iran and to Pakistan twice including all over Gilgit Baltistan and KPK.

k2 gondogoro la trek

Head of Operations | Guide

A veteran of Pakistan travel, Ralph is an experienced guide, photographer and writer who specializes in documenting remote locations. 

Not one to simply go where everyone else does, he insists on exploring new and lesser-known areas.

Together with Epic Expeditions, he shows people parts of Pakistan that most other operators don’t even know about. He is particularly fond of the village of Barah, which he believes will become just as famous as Hunza one day.

Just got back from EBT’s Trekking Amongst Giants 15 day tour. The experience was first class. Ralph, our head guide, ensured that the entire trip ran smoothly and relatively on time (a bonus for anyone travelling in Pakistan). We had so many unforgettable days on the tour and the trekking was well-planned, safe but also a rewarding challenge. 

– Calvin


Traveling to a non-tourist destination can be a little intimidating but EBT takes all of the worry and trepidation away. From the pre-trip call to meeting the wonderful staff in person you can tell that you are dealing with a company that has a passion for what they do each and every day. Ralph, Zahid, and Khan were supportive, kind, and always willing to go the extra mile to make sure that everyone on the trip was getting what they wanted out of the experience.

– Katrina 

adventure tours pakistan

Founder | Adventure Guide | Director

Since he started exploring the world, Chris has been seeking out every shade of adventure in various parts of the globe and had visited more than 70 countries along the way. 

Over the last 10 years, Chris has logged more than 7000 trail miles across five continents and climbed multiple 6000 + 7000 meter peaks in Pakistan and Nepal.

A few years back, a distant dream and a deep passion for the mountains and the people of Pakistan led Chris to co-found Epic Expeditions at a time when foreign adventure tourism in Pakistan was almost nonexistent. Since then, Chris has guided more than 20 expeditions to various parts of Northern Pakistan.

Chris believes in using photography and powerful adventure experiences to dismantle negative stereotypes regarding what mainstream media considers “dangerous” countries while facilitating unique and meaningful memories in the mountains for countless people from around the globe. 

For him, an ideal start to the day begins with a steaming cup of good coffee, the beam of a headlamp, alpine boots, and a camera in hand.

He lives in Madeira Island when not leading expeditions in far-flung lands. 

Chris also works as a writer and photographer on his blog Off the Atlas – an adventure travel blog all about Pakistan.  

Read this interview our staff did with Chris to learn more about him!

Chris believes in Pakistan and its people, and he believes in the value of journeys shared with others and family cultivated on the road. Honesty and integrity are at the heart of what he does, and this really shines through in his work as a guide. He also makes great coffee – whether at 5am in an empty guesthouse or half way up a Himalayan peak.”

– Will De Villers

Pakistan is a magical country! Had 3 of the best weeks of my life thanks to Epic Backpacking Tours with owner, and one of our awesome guides, Chris. From detailed itinerary, preparation with an equipment list, and visa assistance. To amazing food, great porters, helpful guides, and great accommodations. Epic really hit home run after home run. […]

Their desire for adventure and amazing trip is just as high as yours. Bring a good pound of coffee for the trip. French press coffee every morning and no average tin coffee, plus you’ll be in your guides good books.

– Clark Tyler

epic backpacker tours

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