The final preparation...
So here we are: you’ve come to your final month or so of preparations, and you’re wondering how exactly to take your training to the next level. Literally.
How can you get in those final important adaptations, and ensure you’re as ready as you can be for the trek?
So far, you’ve assessed your baseline tolerance to high altitude, been training at moderate altitude to kickstart the acclimatisation process and accelerate your fitness improvements, as well as training passively at high altitude to get that all important exposure.
Now it is time to combine it all in The Summit Phase of your training. Trekking at high altitude.
The Summit Phase
The Summit Phase allows you to trek at high altitude in the comfort of your own home with our rental equipment, or at our City HQ under the guidance of one of the Performance Team. It’s the chance to experience what you may well experience on your Summit night. High altitude trekking.
Just as you will be on the trek, we’ll be starting low and building the altitude as we progress through the sessions. It’s not every day you can trek at 5000m in the UK, so it’s important that we don’t jump straight from sea level to the dizzy summit heights. It’s important to remember that training is all about adaptation, and improvement, not how high you train.
Your Performance Specialist will adjust the altitude, incline, and speed of your training session based on the live SpO2 and Heart Rate data, so it means that your sessions may differ from day to day based on hydration, fatigue, stress and other factors too – so it’s key to remember that higher isn’t always better in your training – adaptation is key.
We have discussed it before, but the research suggests that higher your SpO2, the less susceptible to altitude sickness you may be. What it also shows, is that the smaller the reduction in SpO2 when trekking at altitude in comparison to sea level, the less susceptible you may be as well. So what is the goal of the session? Exactly that.
Over time, we will train your body to maintain a higher SpO2 while trekking at altitude on the treadmill, improving your tolerance to low oxygen environments, and reducing your susceptibility to high altitude.
What can often be overlooked are the psychological benefits to trekking at high altitude prior to travelling, as well as the opportunity to practice the breathing techniques you’ll be putting to use on the mountain. Just by knowing how you can expect to feel on the mountain, you’ll be in a stronger position to tackle the altitude. Knowing when to adjust your breathing, when to rest, when to slow down. These are all important factors to consider for your high altitude summit, and one that you’ll be living and breathing before heading off on your trip.
It’s even been show that a positive and relaxed attitude actually increases your SpO2 while at altitude, so it's important not to underestimate this!
So what does each session involve?
Trekking at Altitude
This is what it comes down to. The final few weeks of preparation are about increasing the altitude, and reducing the exercise load at the same time.
The phrase ‘Pole Pole’ is often used on Kilimanjaro to ensure trekkers take it nice and slowly, and the same applies to your training here. The intensity of training is not high enough for you to be working up a real sweat (that comes from the sessions you went through earlier in training – see here), but the altitude is high enough to get your heart pumping and your lungs working – just like the Summit Phase on the mountain!
The team at The Altitude Centre will adjust the speed, incline, and all important altitude based on your live stats as they record your SpO2 and Heart Rate data as you go, meaning that we are optimising your training for adaptation. Again, it’s important that you remember the focus here is on adaptation, not altitude.
During the hour-long session, we’ll replicate the speeds and inclines that you’ll be experiencing on your trek, and it’s great if you can replicate some of the other variables too; so don’t forget to bring your day pack and your boots for the ultimate experience, and maximum benefits!
When do I add trekking at altitude to my POD sessions?
As we close in on your departure date, your high intensity sessions will switch out for some high altitude trekking as the focus turns to acclimatisation rather than fitness improvements, and we also want to minimise risk of injury in the lead up to the trek.
These are great to do right before you head off, in the 3-4 weeks prior to departure if you can train 2-3 times per week, or in the 6-8 weeks prior if you can only manage 1-2 sessions per week.
You should also continue to supplement these with POD sessions, and higher intensity exercise in the chamber at 2700 m, but trekking at high altitude will begin to take over. Remember – the more exposure you get, the better the acclimatisation effect.
The Real Summit Push
And there we have it – once you’ve completed your personal training sessions, you’re all set for the trip. This is the final stage in your training preparations and you are ready to attack the summit with the same intensity you did your training. But don’t forget there are lots of things to consider between leaving for your trip, and reaching the summit, a few of which we will touch on for next week’s final instalment in The Summit Push!
Book your sessions now - Personal Training - Online here