Your polar expedition is likely to be one of the toughest that you will ever encounter and as such, it is important to be committed to your training program to ensure that you are as physically and mentally prepared as possible. You should train on a daily basis for 3 to 6 months prior to the expedition start.
It is recommended that you focus on cardiovascular training as the cardiovascular system is constantly stressed whilst on the move. Running, hiking and tyre dragging combined with strength, core stability and flexibility training are the best types of exercise to incorporate into your program. It is important to ensure long duration aerobic exercise, gradually increasing your endurance to maintain 8-10 hours of vigorous activity a day for the length of the expedition.
For tyre training, you should link two standard sized car tyres together and attach a 2m trace to pull them with. You can purchase a sledding harness from www.acapulka.com or www.snowsled.com, or you can improvise with a good quality backpack with a padded waist belt. Pull from the waist belt and make sure it is slung low across your hips and always use a pair of hiking poles. Keep your hands low and in front/beside you, with the poles coming out behind you, using all the power in your arms to push back through the poles behind you. Pull the tyres over obstacles such as logs or kerbs, bending your knees and throwing your weight forward to lever the tyres over the obstacles. Incorporate 2-3 tyre pulling sessions per week into your program, gradually increasing the length of sessions and difficulty of terrain over the course of the program.
3 sessions per week including interval training, on a variety of terrain and eventually hill training, gradually increasing distance covered and length of training sessions. Invest in a quality pair of running shoes and consult with a specialist running shop to make sure you get the best model for you.
Weekend hikes with a weighted backpack are a good way to increase your endurance and get out into some interesting terrain. When training with a weighted backpack you should aim for about 25% of your body weight.
Flexibility & Core Strength
A stretching session should be done every day, even on rest days. Focus on leg and back stretches at a minimum.
Rest and Recovery
One day a week should be set aside for rest and recovery and you should consider using a protein recovery supplement following your longer training sessions.
On longer training sessions you should take a high energy snack with you to maintain your energy. Stay well hydrated, drinking every 15 minutes (a hydration pack works well for this purpose) and use an electrolyte drink mix.
There is no training for skiing like skiing but unfortunately, not everyone lives somewhere where ski training is possible. However, any additional experience you can get will be beneficial as the more efficient you are at skiing, the less energy you will waste.
The toughest part of this expedition can be the mental challenges along the way. You will have to ski every day whilst on the ice, even if you don’t feel like doing so, so diligence with your training will help build up this mental fortitude.
Try to put on some weight before starting the expedition – this will help keep you warm and also provide some extra fuel for the intense exercise you will be doing. Most people lose 6-12kg during the South Pole All the Way Expedition. It takes a while for the body to get used to eating more so gradually build up your calorie intake and portion sizes.