Training for Everest

One of the most common questions I get asked is "How do you train for Everest?"  The answer is sometimes surprising:
Training can be divided into three parts 1) Cardio  2) Strength  3) Weight 
Cardio is pretty straight forward, I believe that climbers should arrive in Kathmandu with a strong cardio base fitness. They may have got this from running, swimming, biking, cross country skiing (my favourite) or hard work in the gym. It doesn't really matter how they got cardio fit because they will transfer into mountain-cardio-fit over the next few weeks climbing for acclimatization.
Strength is a bit more complicated and tied into weight. I try to ensure that the muscles I am going to need the most are strong and healthy before I go. I work on strength training for my quads (descending), shoulders and arms (jumaring and hiking poles), calf (ascending) and others. Together with the muscles I try to promote tendon and ligament health, especially in the knee and Achilles tendon. Because the body will try to metabolize protein at high altitude I also try to bulk up with some muscle and this brings us to:
3)Weight. Somedays on the mountain you burn through 4000 - 6000 calories a day and as appetites are often suppressed at altitude you may only take on board 1500 calories that day. It doesn't take a mathematician to see that weight loss is inevitable. with this in mind I usually try to put on about 20lbs (9KG) before I leave for Kathmandu. Of that 20lbs, ideally I would add 8lbs of muscle and 12lbs of fat, but I can't tell exactly what I'm putting on, I just know that I'm adding over 10% of my body weight and arriving in Kathmandu looking a little pudgy!
Don Whillans (look him up if you've never heard of him - amazing climber) used to arrive at the mountain out of shape, dare one even say fat? He always declared that the mountain would make him fit and who am I to argue when you look at his record of achievement? Although I don't advocate this approach (Don was one-in-a-million) I do recognize that the activity that you undertake hiking to the mountain and setting up the camps/acclimatizing does hone your fitness to a "mountain fit".
Don't over train and don't show up out of shape and don't forget to prepare yourself mentally - more on that in another blog.