Conditioning for Everest

So, we’ve been a bit quiet for a while, as the project took a bit of a sideways slant for one very large reason: Everest.

Just over a month ago, work asked me to film an expedition to Everest Base Camp as part of the Walking With The Wounded Everest 2012 Expedition.  The trek I was to be a part of was in support of Glenfiddich, the title sponsors of the Everest expedition.  I would be filming and photographing 4 competition winner trekking to Base Camp, and then I would produce and live broadcast a whisky tasting from Everest.

I immediately thought two things: 1.  This was the best job in the world.  2.  I’m not fit enough to be running around with a camera up there!

The trek to Everest Base Camp has two factors that would affect me: going up and down big mountains all day, and altitude.  At higher altitudes, there is less oxygen in the air.  This means there is less oxygen in your lungs, so every time your heart beats, less oxygen is absorbed into the blood, which your cells require for everything they do.  To compensate, two things happen: you breath heavier, and your heart beats faster.  When you do any form of exertion (which requires more oxygen) you find yourself quickly tiring, and even the smallest form of exertion can be challenging.  We would also be climbing ascents of up to 600 metres, and a distance of 11 kilometres on a daily basis.  Walking uphill is basically lunging, so I knew there would be a lot of exertion in store!

There’s not much you can do to prepare for altitude.  You simply have to climb slowly, to allow your body to physiologically adapt by producing more red blood cells.  This process of slowly gaining height, and walking higher in the daytimes, then sleeping at lower altitude, is known as acclimatisation.  In the meantime, recovery from exertion is slower as your body has less oxygen to heal sore muscles overnight.

I realised that the best thing I could do was to get as fit as possible and do relevant, specific training.  This meant recovery from exertion and strong legs – sprint training, squats and lunges!

I’ll leave Mike to explain the regime to you, and the intent behind it, but I thought I’d let you know how I’m getting on so far – I’m currently at 3800 meters in a town called Khumjung, on my way to Everest Base Camp.  This is where we start to meet serious altitude, and we first started to notice the effects at 2800 meters.  However, my legs are feeling strong and haven’t been sore once so far, testament to the training and conditioning that Mike prepared for me.  And just to demonstrate how my recovery is getting on, today I played football with a group of Sherpa children in the snow.  

Altitude what?!

(photos to come, of course…)

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Back In The Game

So the week started with a much better shopping list. The problem – eating whilst I’m out. I’m getting better and more self-disciplined, but there’s still room for improvement.

It’s now Saturday and I’ve done three runs and two of the bodyweight workouts that Mike set. I plan on doing another bod weight workout tomorrow, making six exercise events in total. My aim for next week is to do six bodyweight workouts AND three runs (I’m keeping the running up in preparation for Everest). The running is hard, but I’m actually enjoying it and easing myself in slowly. Today I did 400m intervals (run 400m, walk 400m x4) followed by the leg workout, so I’m expecting to be sore tomorrow.

Here’s a video of the upper body workout Mike set me to do.

I misunderstood what he meant by skydivers, so I just did a set of 50 of those at the end. I’m enjoying the body weight workouts outdoors much more than the gym. I’m going to ask Mike to make sure there’s a mix of both as we move forward – I’ve just discovered the playground on Hackney Downs and its a bodyweight workout paradise, complete with bars for pullups. I hope Mike can put something together for me – I’ll be leaving for Everest in 3 weeks now!

One thing I forgot to do was time my workouts – bad boy. I’ll start again on this tomorrow.

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A Better Shopping List

Having my Sunday evening back was great for two reasons: I can plan my week, and I’ve done my shop. Much improved, I think you’ll agree. Working for myself this week means I can prioritise my training much better than last week, and I can hopefully catch up on what I missed out on for the last couple of weeks.


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Why do people want a Personal Trainer?..


After Ash’s recent falling it made me think a little. What is it that was different about last weeks 0 gym visits and poor eating habits, from the weeks prior where food was steadily improving and Ash was enjoying his workouts.

In my opinion, with Ash, it’s about accountability!

I wrote an article in 2010 titles “What’s the point of personal training?”

In the article I discuss why different people have trainers. That’s exactly it – the reasons are personal. But… it’s crucial to tap into these drives in order to get the best from a person. So, with that in mind, I’m going to pester Ash until he’s sick of seeing my name appear on his phone!

To re-jig and re-use his paraphrased quote. I’m not going to let him let me down, let the blog down, or worse still, let himself down!

Look out pal!

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I wish those goalposts would stop moving!




So I arrived back from Hong Kong yesterday. On my flight back was thinking to myself “I wonder how Ash got on with his body weight regime? I bet he didn’t manage all 6 sessions… maybe 3 or 4.”

After reading the post below I realise I was being optimistic. To be honest, I was a little bit gutted. I’d gone to the time, pre-trip to put together 3 new programmes and a structured plan for the week that we were then going to use as a marker for his progress at a later stage, but it seems this was a waste of time.

I then checked my e-mails and had one from Ash explaining that he needed to change the gym regime again as he’s off to Everest for work in a few weeks… the first time I’ve heard THAT from anyone I’m working with!

It makes it a little tricky as we’re moving the goalposts temporarily. However… this is pretty much the purpose of this blog. To show that it IS possible to exercise whatever your situation or lifestyle throws at you.

I myself had an unexpected 5 day trip to Hong Kong just last week. But this wasn’t a green light to have 5 days off. Instead I booked a hotel with a gym and scheduled 3 gym workouts. Then, after landing back in the UK at 4.30am, I slept for 2 hours, unpacked and went and exercised outside – there was no reason for me to have longer rest or not get straight back into a regular training lifestyle.

Back to Ash… he’s asked to incorporate stair running as part of is training. A good idea in my mind, however… I’m going to call him and encourage a level of gym work as it’ll be essential that he’s strong through his full body (particularly lower body and core) when working through tough conditions.

Fingers crossed last week as just a (MASSIVE) blip!

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Letting Myself Down

I’m hugely disappointed with myself.
Last week I utterly failed. I didn’t go to the gym once. I did a single home training session and I ate badly. Why?

No Sunday planning and being busy at work. Well, whilst I can use these as excuses, I know that it’s simply not good enough. I should get up half an hour earlier. I should shop in one of my lunch breaks. I should have done better.

To paraphrase a cliche – I’d let Mike down, I’d let the blog down. But, most importantly, I’d let myself down. It’s a new week and I won’t do the same again.

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Big hurdle #1…

So I received a text from Ash this morning…

It’s the first major hurdle that we’ve had with Ash’s training and, to be honest, it was only a matter of time. One of the main purposes of this project was to overcome these issues and show how an everyday person can still be active and maintain a busy everyday life.

With this in min, I’ve devised a training schedule for  Ash for this week. Shorter, but more frequent – every morning, roughly 20-30 minutes maximum! Below are 3 circuit style workouts, Ash needs to complete each one twice in his week ie: 6 morning workouts.

To complete each circuit perform 5 laps of each circuit:

Workout/Circuit # 1 –

  • 10 x Push Ups (1)
  • 10 x Sky Divers (19)
  • 10 x Shoulder Push Ups (10)
  • 10 x Front Raises using a heavy object found at home (chair etc)
  • 10 x Spiderman Push ups

Workout/Circuit #2 –

  • 10 Body weight squats (deep) (5)
  • 10 x alternating reverse lunges (2)
  • 10 x Jump Squats (8)
  • 10 x Mountain Climbers
  • 10 x Split Squats/Static Lunges Each side OR Jumping alternating lunges (17)

Workout/Circuit #3 –

  • 10 x Burpees (6)
  • 10 x Straight Leg raises
  • 10 x Up/Downs
  • 10 x Crunches (21)
  • 10 x Push ups – Crucifix position (16)
  • 10 x Squat Thrusts

Here’s a video demonstrating a number of these exercises. Those in the video are numbered, and if they appear in the above workout they’re referenced in a bracket such as:

  • 10 x alternating reverse lunges (2)

Each circuit will have a total of 300 reps. Ash will keep time himself for each one and compete against the clock, making sure that he stays close to his “lap time” each time and that he aims to beat his overall time on his second attempt later in the week.

I’ve also asked Ash to keep his times written down so that we can use this as a gauge for his progress at a later date.

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