Training for Everest with POWERbreathe, by Sam Lipscombe

In April 2013 Sam will be embarking on a 70-day expedition to climb Mount Everest, the Earth’s highest mountain, from Tibet along the north ridge. It’ll be one of the hardest things Sam has ever done (and he’s done a lot, with challenges aplenty), and he’s doing it to raise money for Cure Rett, a small UK charity that help families of little girls with Rett Syndrome.

You can read about Sam’s previous challenges on his website where you can also find out how to make a donation towards Sam’s fundraising for Rett Syndrome too.

As part of Sam’s preparation for this challenge, he’s just begun using POWERbreathe and agreed to blog about his training. This is his first entry…

Altitude is a funny thing. When you’re sitting about, idly chatting in your tent it sort of goes unnoticed, you feel normal. It’s only when you move to pick up your water or stand up to go to the loo that it hits you. You’re breathless.

When I first made the decision to climb Mount Everest I knew that I had to do everything I could to give myself the best chance for success. I wanted to be fitter, stronger and more technically competent than I have ever been before.

I’ve run numerous marathons and ultramarathons over the last 10 years so I knew what I needed to do to condition my muscles. But when you’re climbing a mountain like Everest you need to be more than just strong, you need to be strong at altitude.

But I live and work pretty much at sea level, how on earth do I train for altitude?

The thing is, no-one really seems to understand the cause of altitude sickness. It has no relation to fitness, age, or even past experience. I’ve been in the mountains and seen Sherpa’s being helicoptered away after suffering its effects - these are people that have been born, live and work at these heights.

While fitness doesn’t remove the risk of getting sick it does help you cope better. So I’m going to use the POWERbreathe device as part of this training. It was recommended to me by other climbers as a way to condition your breathing muscles for the added strain of altitude. While this device does not replicate altitude, hopefully it will help train my body to cope with it more effectively.

With just under 2 months to go now before I leave for Everest, I’ve been using it consistently, morning and evening for about a week. I can’t say I’ve noticed any significant difference in my training just yet, however it’s pleasing to see my progression up the levels of resistance in the device.

Over the next few weeks I will be training in the hills and running a half marathon. The guys at POWERbreathe have asked me to write about my progress, both good and bad using the device.

I’ll let you know how it goes.


Read more about how POWERbreathe Inspiratory Muscle Training (IMT) could help prepare your breathing muscles for the rigours of breathing at altitude, however if you’re already using POWERbreathe for this reason, or have used it in the past to help cope with breathing at altitude then please leave a comment here as we’d love to hear from you.

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