Richmond: 604.271.7181
Vancouver: 604.605.1550

Brian vs Mount Everest

On November 28th, 2019, BIM received an email from a new client titled “Urgent training plan for client climbing to Everest.” 

On Dec 4th, 2019, the new client completed an initial assessment with BIM and on the 9th, began the first training session. 

On February 28th, 2020, this client scaled up to the Mt. Everest Base Camp. 

This client was Brian McPherson, age 60.

Back in November, Brian set out a goal to increase his conditioning, in order to prepare for his big trip to the Everest Base Camp. After the initial assessment, this left about 11 weeks of training and preparation time.

“The trek to the Everest Base Camp has been on my bucket list for years. The time was right. I reached out to BIM because a friend recommended their services” – Brian McPherson

The trip would last approximately 12 days, with 8 days to travel up, 4 to travel back down, which factors in rest days to acclimatize to the changes in elevation. On average, it would equate to about 15 km of climbing per day, with a 6 kg pack resting on Brian’s shoulders throughout the entirety of the trip. 

“There was plenty of uphill scrambling. It was difficult to differentiate between the fatigue from physical conditioning, to my body’s response to the decreasing atmospheric oxygen.” – Brian McPherson

Prior to training at BIM, Brian would do long walks up to 20 km a few times a week. He would also do the occasional hour or two on the Stairmaster at his local gym. A year prior, he had successfully done a trek for 26 days, totalling 700 km. However, he also had plantar fasciitis in his left foot, a pulled left calf, limited shoulder flexion as well as a past surgery, and was unable to run due to injuries. 

These might all sound like limitations to prohibit one from achieving a goal such as scaling Everest, but the staff at BIM knew that with the right strength and conditioning program, they would be able to help Brian improve his conditioning, work on mobility, and gain strength. These would all be aspects that would help him achieve success in his upcoming trek to Mt. Everest Base Camp. 

To approach a challenging mountain such as Everest, not only would cardiovascular fitness be enough, but to ensure one stays healthy and injury free during the trek, climbing conditioning, strength training, cardiovascular training, and mobility/flexibility training are all necessary and key components.

Brian worked on all of those aspects through his training with BIM. Below is a sample of a strength program as well as a conditioning program that he followed. 


Strength program: 

Circuit 1: 

  • Tempo heel elevated squat 10 reps (2:0:2:0)
  • Hover plank (5/5/5 reps each direction) 
  • SS low to high cable row 10 reps/side 

Circuit 2: 

  • Kickstands on wall 8 reps/side 
  • Standing band hip flexion 12 reps alternating (on wall) 
  • Side planks 3×10 seconds/side 

Circuit 3: 

  • Single leg glute bridge with foot on ball 8 reps/side 
  • Bird dog 12 reps alternating 
  • Serratus pike arch 5 reps

Circuit 4: 

  • Prowler (high intensity continuous training) 8 minutes 
  • Bear breathing with knees up 2×5 max breaths 


Conditioning Program: 

Week 1:

Day 1

Day  2

Day 3 

Day 4 

Method and Duration 

Cardiac Output

- 45 minutes

- Done on incline treadmill, stairmaster, or bike

Cardiac Output

- 30 minutes 

High Resistance Intervals (stairmaster)

- 15 minutes 

Tempo Intervals 

- 12 intervals 

- Done on incline treadmill, stairmaster, or bike

Cardiac Output

- 60 minutes


HR between 130-150 BPM, practicing dynamic energy control as desired

HRI: 5-8 sec max effort, actively recover until HR returns to 130 bpm, repeat

10-15 sec of 70% effort, HR below 150 bpm, actively recover for 1 minute

In just one month, Brian had already begun to work muscles he didn’t know existed before. His shoulder flexion improved significantly, his core strength improved, his glutes and hamstrings grew stronger, and he was able to increase his walking distances with no complaints and with less fatigue. 

At the end of his training period and as a result of his commitment, Brian successfully completed his climb to the Everest Base Camp, and he credited his success to the team at BIM (aside from his own mental toughness of course). Mostly importantly, he reported no injuries at all, whereas there were many other climbers who he saw being flown out from rescue helicopters seemingly hourly and were not as prepared. 

The old body held up pretty good, thanks to the BIM team. No injuries to report. Others, not so lucky. Altitude sickness is a common problem amongst tourists at these elevations. Plenty of people were helicopter rescued on a regular basis as the condition can be deadly and unpredictable regardless of pre-training conditioning.”  – Brian McPherson

It’s important to note that the improvements that Brian made throughout his 11 week training period did not happen overnight. It was a result of learning the right movements as well as a steady progression through his programs that sparked the progress. 

“I would absolutely recommend BIM to anyone else looking to achieve their goals! I could not have accomplished this adventure without BIM’s intervention.  The customized training proved perfect for conditioning needed.” – Brian McPherson

Of course, we also spoke with Brian after his trip on how he felt upon reaching the base camp, as well as how his outlook on life has changed as a result of it.

I was focused on my footing and breathing when my guide gave he a high five. I wasn’t sure why at first until I looked up and discovered we were at our destination. Of course I was elated (no more uphill) and in awe at the surreal beauty of the Himalayas at this altitude. The only life signs up there were silly tourists and crazy mountaineers. All other practical mammals were thriving somewhat below this altitude. It made me feel like a temporary guest with a polite but necessary departure time. I certainly have a first hand exposure to a culture completely foreign to my own. The cultures of Kathmandu and the various villages up to base camp were eye opening and reaffirmed how lucky I am to live in Canada.” – Brian McPherson

At BIM, we always believe that people are capable of so much more than they think. Setting big goals and trying to achieve them is sometimes just as hard as the actual training process. Brian and his journey to Everest is just one great example of this and we hope his story can inspire others out there to aim high. Of course, we are beyond proud of Brian’s accomplishment as well as all his hard work and dedication, and are grateful to have helped to play a part in achieving his goals. 



If you’re looking for some additional help to achieve your goals, give semi-private training a try. You’ll start with a 60-minute assessment, followed by an intro session to make sure you’re set up for success. 

Get more info about everything else that’s included by signing up here.

Or, if you have a BIM Story that you would like to tell, share with us here!

Get our latest Fitness + Nutrition Advice straight to your email!
Thank you! Please check your email and confirm your subscription.
About the author

Andrea Lawson has been a practicing Kinesiologist since 2008 and is the founder of Balance in Motion, a training facility created for people to rehabilitate from injuries, improve athletic performance, and crush their health and fitness goals. She is passionate about providing a space where anyone can step foot in and feel both comfortable and productive no matter the injury, age, or stage they may be at in their fitness journey. With this vision, Andrea has witnessed her clients achieve goals they never thought possible, and gain unmatched levels of confidence in themselves, helping them to Go Beyond Better.