As I write this blog, I’m 134 days away from the biggest event I’ve probably ever done. I’m not quite sure how I’ll feel when I board the plane to South America, I’ve never even been out of Europe before. There’ll be a whole lot of excitement for sure with a dose of nerves, intrigue and maybe a little fear. One things for sure though, I’ll be prepared. Machu Picchu, I’m coming for you.
The major part of preparation is physical. I’ve completely transformed how I train, specifically to get ready for this event. Many people will probably look to me as a Personal Trainer and assume I’ll already be in good enough condition to complete this task and to be honest they’d probably be right. Barring the possible altitude challenge, I am fit enough to climb over 4000m above sea level. The thing is though, I don’t want to ‘maybe’ be fit enough to complete it. I don’t want to be average, I wanna climb this monster of a hike whilst being one of, if not the best conditioned person in the group. Why would I want to be average?
Transforming the Training for Machu Picchu
As I highlighted above my training has completely changed from where it had been in the first few months of 2021. I completed my photoshoot in April and was in the shape of my life aesthetically. This was an incredibly tough and rigid weight training plan alongside a meticulous diet. After the shoot I gained around 10kg which was over 15% of my bodyweight, in others words – a lot. Since then I’ve lost around 4kg of that and I’m back at a weight I’m content with. The training now consists of a mix of activity because the requirements of this trek are much more complex that a simple aesthetic goal.
Much of the training consists of metabolic circuits which are basically relatively high intensity exercises that are bunched together performed back to back, usually it will be 3-5 exercises for around 60 seconds each, there will be a rest of around 60 seconds and I’ll complete around 4-5 rounds. This training is important for overall conditioning and to prepare me for periods of hiking at higher inclines where the intensity increases. The workouts also include lots of compound movements incorporating multi joint actions and even some plyometric exercises which will help reduce injury risk
I’m also completing strength training still but this is completed at a higher intensity once more. I’ve been working with my coach completing supersets of squats and deadlifts, or high volume work on the leg press, both of which will improve the strength and the conditioning of my legs and back.
One of the most obvious requirements of this challenge is general cardio fitness. In order to improve this I’ve been doing lots of ‘steady state’ training also known as LISS (low-intensity-steady-state) cardio. I’ve specifically been doing this on the stepmill as this is probably the most transferrable cardio movement I could do. I’ll often do 30-40 minute sessions working at a continuous steady pace throughout, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching Clarkson’s Farm whilst doing this!
I’ve also been varying the work on the stepmill by also performing some sessions whilst wearing a 10kg weighted vest. Whilst on the hike I’ll be carrying a backpack of around 6-8kg with me at all times and so I need to ensure that I prepare for this. Continuous work on the stepmill with extra weight is not easy and so I’ve been doing 3-4 sets of 10 minutes with 3 minutes rest in-between sets. I’ve been trying to work at a similar level to the steady-state sessions without the vest but I have to say that’s not easy so I’m normally operating 1-2 levels slower.
My nutrition currently is solely aimed around fuelling my training. My coach has targeted me for 3000 but on average I’m not hitting that but I’m still feeling pretty good and I’m maintaining weight. I think energy wise I could maybe add some more carbohydrates in to get closer to the 3000 mark. I’m not meticulously tracking but the goal is to make sure I have enough energy to perform at my best in the training sessions. Of course I don’t want to be carrying too much bodyfat which will both slow me down and require more energy overall so I’m still keeping an eye on my bodyweight each day and striving for roughly maintenance which I’ve managed to do.
Here’s a rough outline of what I’m eating each day…
- Meal 1/Breakfast – Usually around 5:15am – 60g Oats, 1.5 Sc of Whey Protein (millionaire shortcake flavour) mixed with hot water – Plus a black coffee – Roughly 330kcal
- Meal 2 – Between 9-11am – 150g Chicken Breast with 1/2 Pack of Microwave Rice & Sweet Chilli Sauce – Roughly 390kcal
- Snack – Between 12-2pm (sometimes post-workout) – Dairy Milk Bar – 179kcal
- Meal 3 – Between 2-4pm – 150g Chicken Breast with 1/2 Pack of Microwave Rice & Sweet Chilli Sauce – Roughly 390kcal
- Meal 4/Evening Meal – Between 6-9pm – This meal is a ‘flexi meal’ meaning it changes each night depending on what I fancy, I find it very easy to keep the rest of the day the same but I like freedom at night. It could be anything from a pasta, to a burger, to steak or even wraps. I’ll try to ensure I include some form of vegetables in this meal with a solid source of protein and carbs. Roughly 700-1100kcal
- Snack/Supper – I usually don’t bother but I’ll seldom have a dessert of choice from time to time. This might be something as simple as a yogurt or if I fancy it, cookies and ice cream – yep I eat that stuff and I’m not gaining weight. As I say however this isn’t every day. As for calories – no damn clue.
Generally if my evening meal is smaller and around the 700kcal mark, this is when I’d have a bigger supper, if the evening meal is bigger, I might not bother. I’d say I’m averaging around 2500 calories tipping closer to 3000 than 2000.
On the 1st September I commenced a 93 day challenge where I’d document my progress with the final date being my client Christmas Do. I also managed to go 70 days without a drop of alcohol which I absolutely loved, it got easier and easier to abstain as time went on. I regularly posted pictures of my workouts and the content of them, I did this to level up my accountability so that I had to do what I said I would, otherwise I’d be letting people down. It really helped me maintain discipline to ensure I did what needed to be done.
The alcohol abstaining did wonders for my mental health, my sleep, my energy and my motivation, I’d highly recommend trying something like this to prove to yourself, you really don’t need alcohol that much and people really do eventually get used to you saying no.
I’ll be continuing the good work I’ve started and with 134 days to go there’s lots to do. What I love about this particular goal is that the aesthetics don’t matter. I’m driven by one thing which is conquering this trek and being one of if not the most conditioned person in the group. I don’t need any willpower for that, I’m inspired to achieve it. That’s the key when you’re setting your goal you need to choose something that will pull you by inspiration rather than relying on being pushed by willpower or motivation – that’ll never work.
Charity – Mental Health Foundation – The Important Bit…
Although I’m doing this as a challenge to myself, the primary reason is of course for charity. I’ll be raising money for Mental Health Foundation and I’ve set a target of £4,000. At the time of writing this I’ve got around £1,500 still to raise. With the world in pandemonium right now, people’s mental health is at an all-time low and the work that Mental Health Foundation do can really help improve upon that but only with your help, so please, whatever you can afford can make a real difference. If you’d be kind enough to donate to this fantastic cause, please do so by clicking the button below.
I’ll be back soon with more updates about my preparation for the big event!