Many of my adventures take place at altitudes exceeding 10,000ft. Without having the time to travel and train in the mountains, and without the means or desire for an altitude tent, I have a few techniques which can be performed at sea level that I believe have helped me perform successfully at altitude.
My techniques are based on the fact that at higher altitudes there is less oxygen, and therefore the body must learn to function with less oxygen. Anaerobic exercise (without oxygen) can be performed in short, intense bursts, usually under 2 minutes in duration. Longer bouts of exercise, or aerobic exercise, require oxygen. What better way to repeatedly activate anaerobic metabolism, but through short, intense…intervals!
My favorite devices for punishing, nausea inducing intervals are stairs, the erg (rowing machine), jump rope and everyone’s favorite, burpies.
Stairs are a fantastic natural interval tool that allow you to power through the ascent and recover on the descent. The only limiting factor is the number of times you can do them.
The erg is like the devil. Do 500 meter sprints with a brief rest in between and your heart will feel like it is going to burst out of your chest.
The jump rope is another great tool. See how many jumps you can get in a minute, take a brief rest and then maintain that jump number for the next interval. Go for triple digits!
Last but not least are burpies. I don’t know anyone that likes burpies, yet somehow they are extremely rewarding. Pick a number, do that many burpies, take a quick break and do it again, and again.
With intervals, start with a work to rest ratio of 1:1, and as you get more comfortable increase the work and decrease the rest to a ratio of 2:1. Track your progress by keeping track of your interval numbers.
Thanks to Justin’s Nut Butter and ZICO Coconut Water for supporting me through my altitude training. What better way to recover from these intense bouts of exercise but with a bunch of protein and potassium! Let’s see how all this work pays off as I journey to climb the highest mountain in Africa, Kilimanjaro, this week!