Backpacking Training | HIIT Workout


Backpacking training, or even mountaineering training, varies by the individual. There are many elements that affect your stamina and endurance at high altitudes, including where you live and train, your daily water intake, cardio upkeep and more. Personally, my workout regime consists of cardio, strength training, rock climbing and HIIT. HIIT workouts have been especially useful for me, as my work and travel schedule varies. Many HIIT workouts only require body strength, so they are the quintessential travel workout with no equipment.

What is HIIT?

Let’s get back to the basics for a second. HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, is a training method in which you go all-out, balls to the wall and give one hundred percent effort through fast, intense bursts of exercise, followed by short recovery periods. HIIT routines pose many health benefits, but most notably this training style keeps your heart rate up and burns more fat in less time, making it convenient and travel-friendly. HIIT workouts are typically kept in the 25 minute range, so if you are someone that is on-the-go, these routines are perfect.

HIIT for Backpacking Fitness and mountaineering

I have found interval training workouts like HIIT to be great preparation for mountain climbing and backpacking training. As we climb higher altitudes, the air thins out and physical exertion becomes more taxing. Interval training, by raising the anaerobic threshold, will extend the range of effort we can make before we lose our breath. It also helps us to recover quicker after a short, difficult climb or challenge. Note: HIIT is not a substitute to strength training or cardio, but an addition to my weekly routine.

The HIIT workout I designed below is more lengthy, covering each muscle group more than once. Hence it can be done in one fell swoop or cycled through 2-3 times. Follow along to feel the burn!


Cardio: one mile run or row machine 2500 meters.

HIIT Routine:

Each move is 45 seconds with 15 seconds of rest between each move. I’ve included the weight I use, but adjust as needed for your own strength and confidence - you want to feel challenged, but not use your max lifting weight. Click each move for a tutorial if you are unsure how to do something, but be sure to research everything prior to starting your workout. The goal is to keep our heart rate up the entire routine:


Abs are to be done 30 seconds each, repeat 1-3 times.

  • Crunches with weight on tummy (10 lbs)

  • Crunches with twist (10 lbs)

  • Starfish crunch

  • Cable crunch (35 lb)

  • Teapots (25 lbs)

  • Commandos (30 seconds) straight into plank (30 seconds)

  • Ab wheel (straight)

  • Ab wheel (side-to-side)

check out my fave workout tools so you can do HIIT workouts at home or on-the-go: