Yes, you need to be in good shape for Everest Base Camp (EBC) Trek!
No, you do not need to be in good shape for EBC Trek!
What? You need to be in good shape, but at the same time you don’t? I saw old and young doing this trek. Their were large bodies and small bodies making it to basecamp. People were bent over catching their breath, while others were marching right along. What should I know about being in shape for this trek? Lets me explain a little more…
Being in Shape Will Make Experience Better
If you are in shape, and can handle walking for 5-8 hours, your experience will be more enjoyable. You will spend less time trying to catch your breath, and more time taking in all that the Khumbu Valley has to offer. If you work out before hand, your legs and body will not feel the fatigue for trekking for 12-20 straight days.
Your lungs will feel better. The air is THIN! If you have never been above 4,000 Meters, you will notice a difference in the amount of oxygen in the air. I remember having to catch my breath after climbing a set of 4 stairs in the tea house at 5,000 meters.
You Do Not Need to Be in Amazing Shape
I was not in amazing shape during my trek. I could hike all day, but by no means could I have ran a 10k. There would be zero chance of me climbing stairs to the top of the Empire State Building. This trek does not take any previous mountaineering experience at all!
Being in shape will just make you more comfortable, but it will not decrease your chances of getting altitude sickness. You could be a couch potato, and I could be a marathon runner, and we will have equal chances of getting altitude sickness. Developing symptoms of AMS, HAPE, or cerebral edema are the dangerous aspects of this amazing adventure.
Altitude sickness is caused by your body not receiving enough oxygen. Different people react differently to the lack of oxygen in the air. There have been cases of experienced mountain guides who have lived their whole life at a high elevation getting altitude sickness and dying out of the blue. You cannot train for the lack of oxygen, but you can be aware of your body and everybody in your trekking party.
I would recommend training if you are able. This will not decrease your chances of getting sick, but will improve your quality of life during your trip. Your body is amazing, and it will tell you how it is feeling. It is up for you to stay safe by reading your body signs and symptoms.
Here is a little workout I did 3-4 days a week.
Everest Base Camp Workout
20 minutes stair stepper
20 minute leg workout (squats, cleans, calf lifts, wall sits)
10 minute ab workout
10 minute treadmill running