- Posted by DanTomas
The fact that you are here means you have probably figured out that trekking can have a profound effect on your physique. Increasing lean muscle mass while lowering your body fat percentage. Perhaps you are looking for the magnitude of change you can expect and your best options for taking action. I will cut to the chase right now and say that out of all the strategies available to you, be it fat-burning supplements like CLA, calorie counting, vegetarianism, running, weight lifting etcetera; no other single strategy comes remotely close in terms of the magnitude of transformation that prolonged endurance activities like worldwide trekking can deliver.
We are not talking about small barely perceptible changes either. We are talking about a potential full-blown metamorphosis. I mean you fly out looking like you do today, and you get stopped by airport security on your way back because you look like a different person to your passport. Perhaps the most well-known celebrity transformation is Jack Osborne…
Jack’s success was achieved by focusing on endurance activities which included a Muay Thai training camp and a Trekforce trekking expedition (more on Trekforce later). I could probably end the article right here, but for the sake of thoroughness let us look at the science behind the strategy of trekking for building lean muscle and fat loss. As we know, lack of physical activity is significantly related to mortality and so called lifestyle diseases such as cerebrovascular disease, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and diabetes. There are also profound consequences to self-esteem for many people. Sounds bad but the glass-half-full perspective is that increasing physical activity is virtually a panacea to fix all the above.
What does the research say? According to a 2014 systematic review of exercise and weight loss studies, the conclusion was that exercise training programmes were likely to be ineffective unless the volume of training was well above minimum recommended levels. What this means is that typical prescriptions for exercise fell well below the intensity level to make a significant difference. This is not to belittle moderate exercise because any improvement is beneficial in terms of overall health, especially cardiovascular. However for weight loss the conclusion is stark, you need to commit to long-term endurance training. The other take home message is that calorie restriction combined with long exercise duration produces the largest effect. Now, long-term endurance with calory restriction is practically THE definition of a trekking expedition.
Do not confuse hiking, trekking, and mountaineering
There are various definitions floating about but hiking is generally considered a long walk in natural surroundings. With hiking, you will start with a hearty breakfast to power you through to picnic-time, then finish up where you started in 4 to 8 hours. You will probably end the day watching TV on the couch. Hiking is a one-off day out and you do it for the peace and tranquillity of being in nature, it counts as good exercise but there is no way this will turn you into a Greek God/Goddess. Trekking typically means muti-day trips that are more endurance orientated, through trails that are planned out with supply stops and lodges. Bear in mind some people and companies do use hiking and trekking interchangeably.
Mountaineering is about navigating through hazardous environments like glaciers, crevasses, seracs, avalanches, serious rock or ice fall. Mountaineering involves climbing and requires specific techniques and specialised equipment. While it is certainly an exhilarating activity that allows you to see spectacular scenery, it requires a commitment to learning mountaineering skills and it is not the best option if your goal is pure endurance.
Worldwide Trekking is the optimum activity for body transformation
Worldwide trekking expeditions (aka adventure trekking) is a different beast altogether. These are multi-day endurance-trekking through steep inclines, declines across inhospitable terrains, carrying only essential supplies. You are joined by fellow adventurers with a lust for life and adventure, who you will bond ever tighter with. You are guided by an expedition leader to keep you safe, impart knowledge, and keep the group to schedule. You will naturally be in calorie deficit, building and consolidating lean muscle. You will be sweating profusely, flushing out toxic metabolites, and rehydrating with clean water with only essential electrolytes. At the end of each day your muscles will ache, you will be exhausted, and you will love it. There is an overwhelming pleasure and sense of fulfilment when you reflect back on the day’s progress. Assuming you embark on a true trekking adventure then you will have moments when you are standing in awe at your surroundings, appreciating the majesty of nature.
Worldwide trekking expeditions are activities that tick all the boxes for maximising fat-loss according to clinical research. You will be able to make visible changes to your physique, so no need to fuss over nominal changes on the scales anymore. Trekking unlike other endurance sports like cycling or perhaps skiing does not require skill or a super high fitness level to start, and you will learn all you need on the trek itself. If you can walk then you can hike, and if you are able to cope with a full-days hike then you are ready to trek. That said always make sure you talk through any fitness or health concerns with the trek company. Which brings me to the best trek companies on Mother Earth.
Two outfits that both have an excellent reputation are G-Adventures and Trekforce. If I were a beginner trekker looking to shed weight I would start with G-Adventures because they have the best treks ranging from beginner-friendly to advanced level treks. They also win on the sheer amount of choice. However if I was at least moderately fit and aiming to look like an Olympian, then Trekforce has no equal. Treks range from 2 to 16 weeks, and that’s the duration that is required to see massive change. Whatever option you choose, know that every trek will change the person you see in the mirror. Don’t get caught up in over analysis of your options too, take action and move forward.
Worldwide trekking expeditions should be a lifestyle choice. You can do a one-off expedition and see results, but it is better to integrate this activity into your life and make it part of your character. This is where transformations happen, and it will be one of the biggest and best turning points you ever make.
Have any thoughts or experiences of worldwide trekking? Lets me know in the comments.