Our main preparation for our trek was doing Crossfit. Crossfit London UK and Ronin Crossfit being the two boxes that provided us with the location, knowledge, guidance, and programming. You can read all about them and what Crossfit is about in their websites.
So, does Crossfit prepare you well enough to do multi-day treks in the Everest region you might ask. Here are some of my thoughts on it.
Being comfortable with the uncomfortable
This saying is thrown around in the Crossfit community and it has some bearing on doing multi-day treks. You will be uncomfortable in multi-trek days in the Everest region. No modern facilities, no showers for days on end, hours of walking, the altitude, the cold, everything is different from the comfort of your own little bubble in life.
While I wasn’t completely comfortable with the uncomfortable, having experienced FGB, Filthy Fifty and Hero WODs gives you that mental edge.
15-60 minute HIIT vs 16 day trek with 4-8 hour trekking days
Not comparable by a long shot. Your mind messes with you when you’ve been walking uphill, huffing and puffing for 15 minutes and you know you still have a long way to go.
Despite the no comparison above, Crossfit does prepare you for chipping away at the task at hand. Whether it is going through rounds for time or getting to the next village for lunch, you just have to keep you head down and next thing you know you are lying on the floor making sweat angels or having a nice cup of tea.
Lunges and step ups are what usually come to mind when trekking preparation is discussed, but I’ve got a few that you can add to the list. Pistols and squats train the related muscles in walking as well but did you know that muscle up progressions and ring dips also help? Yep, going uphill you can use you trekking poles to pull yourself up that step (muscle up) and going downhill, you can lean on the trekking poles as you lower yourself (ring dips). I even got to do some power cleans with our bags, cool huh?
After experiencing trekking altitude for the first time, it dawned to me that it was like trying to breathe halfway through a WOD. Your heart is pumping and you try to get as much air but can’t because your body is compensating by hyperventilating. But at sea level a deep breath is all it takes to get enough O2 to reset, but at altitude there isn’t enough air to breath in the first place. WODs with gas mask anyone? (not that I’ve tried that one… not as bad ass as I want yet)
So where does that leave us? Crossfit brings in some components that help you in the trek, but I think a bit more low intensity, long duration work (walking along Regent Street and going into each store perhaps) is in order. At the end of the day of course, any exercise program is better than no program at all.
**Pictures courtesy of Crossfit London UK