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Title image:  Getting ready for expeditions, resources and tips

Expedtion Training Series

High Altitude Trekking: Proper Execution of Back-to-Backs

If you will be participating on a high-altitude trek that involves at least 2 consecutive days of pack carrying (i.e. a BAI trek to Everest Base Camp), include Back-to-Backs in your training program. Whereas most training programs for foot travel with a pack will include hiking training, to prepare the body and mind for consecutive days of hard training, you need to simulate that experience by carrying a pack two or more days in a row in training. That way you will learn how to continue to work on less rest, even though you may feel a little sore or tired. Knowing psychologically that you can work through it is a big boost to your confidence and morale, and far safer on the body if you’ve trained it to do so beforehand.


A Back-to-Back is exactly what it sounds like: carrying a pack on one day for a hike, then with no recovery day between them, hiking again on the following day with similar or less weight. You do not have to exactly duplicate the elevation change and distance of your target adventure. However, carrying slightly more weight and covering less elevation gain or distance, carrying slightly less weight but going for more distance, or covering more elevation in less distance (steeper) with equal weight will do as much for you as duplicating your target adventure specifications.

If you live somewhere where ready access to elevation change or higher altitude is next to impossible (i.e. Florida or Texas) you can carry a pack on uphill-climbing gym equipment to get as much of your elevation as possible (such machines include high ramp treadmills, elliptical cross-trainers, stairmasters, step mills, stairwells or stadiums) and on the second day, carry a lighter pack outside for greater distance, on as much varied terrain as you can find, whether that includes a sandy beach, grasslands, dirt trails or gravel walking, or even an urban route that includes stairwells and on-ramps (just stay safe!).

The best time to start Back-to-Back training is deep into your program, about 4-6 weeks from your adventure, after you have built a good tolerance to your target trekking pack weight and have increased the strength endurance in your legs, core, and back muscles. Aim for doing your first Back-to-Back roughly 4 weeks before your trip to test out your gear and recovery capacity, then another 2 weeks before your trip. Please keep in mind that Back-to-Backs can be quite challenging, and if you are over the age of 50, you may need to add an extra day or even two of recovery or low intensity training following such workouts. Stay safe, and happy training!

This article brought to you by Berg Adventures conditioning partner, Body Results. For more conditioning information, products and services and special pricing for Berg Adventures members go to