Adventurer Gerry Moffatt’s Training Plan to Stay Fit Forever

Here's the season-by-season training plan and strength workouts the veteran explorer follows.
Here's the season-by-season training plan and strength workouts the veteran explorer follows. Steve Dondero

Gerry Moffatt's guiding and expedition credentials place him on a very short list of the best adventure guides in the world. As an elite whitewater kayaker, Moffatt laid down a series of impressive first descents in incredibly remote terrain around India, Nepal, and Bhutan. He's climbed Mt. Everest, twice. He recently kayaked India's equivalent of the Grand Canyon alone, and also rode a Royal Enfield Motorcycle 3,000 miles across the Himalayas for his film Roof of the World.

A river and mountain guide for most of his life, Moffatt is going as strong as ever at the age of 52. His secret to longevity and surviving decades of extreme adventure? "Survival and performance comes down to preparation," says Moffat. "Both times I've stood on top of the world I knew emphatically I had what it took to get down and then some."

Moffatt's foundation of high performance is built on a training regimen that mixes outdoor activity with three days a week in the gym. "Depending on the season, I'm on my mountain bike, in my kayak, or skiing at least four days a week," Moffatt says. "The activities add excitement and spatial awareness to my training. I never get tired of being outside, and it always inspires me." To reduce wear and tear on his body, Moffatt keeps his training load at 70 to 80 percent of his maximum capacity, only ramping up the hours and intensity in the two to three months before a big expedition. Here, his season-by-season training program:

The summer workouts outside:

  • 4 mountain bike rides per week. Each ride averages 2 hours with 2,000 feet of vertical climbing per ride
  • 2 days per week kayaking for at least two hours, ramping up to 4 days prior to a Himalaya expedition 

Making the most of winter snow:

  • 4 winter hikes on skis with skin per week, averaging 1.5 hours with 3,000 feet of vertical climbing
  • Up to 4 days skiing per week for two hours minimum, added directly after his post-hike downhill run

The year-round gym workouts:
Moffatt hits his gym in Sun Valley, Idaho, Zenergy, three days a week, devoting a day to chest and triceps, one to back and biceps, and one circuit-training day. Because his outdoor activities are leg-intensive, he backs off intense leg days to reduce stress on his knees and hip flexors. Give these routines a try:

Chest & Triceps

  • Warm-Up: 2000 meter row (Don't have a rower? Sub in any form of cardio, and go for eight minutes.)
  • Aerobic burst: 500 meter row at an all-out sprint (For other forms of cardio, go all-out for 90 seconds.)
  • Strength Moves: Perform four sets of the following three exercises with decreasing reps (start with 15 reps, then go down to 12 reps, then 10 reps, and your last set should be done with 8 reps) and gradually increase the weight: Bench press, cable crossovers, and inverted push-ups. Take 30 to 60 seconds of rest between sets.
  • Aerobic burst: 500 meter row at an all-out sprint (or 90 seconds all-out using any form of cardio)
  • Cool down: 30 minute swim (If you don't have access to a pool, try a 30-minute slow jog or cycle)

Back & Biceps

  • Warm Up: 2,000-meter row (Don't have a rower? Sub in any form of cardio, and go for eight minutes.)
  • Aerobic burst: 500-meter row at an all-out sprint (For other forms of cardio, go all-out for 90 seconds.)
  • Strength Moves: Perform four sets of the following three exercises with decreasing reps (start with 15 reps, then go down to 12 reps, then 10 reps, and your last set should be done with 8 reps) and gradually increase the weight: Lat pull-downs, Lat rows, wide-grip pull-ups. Take 30 to 60 seconds of rest between sets.
  • Aerobic burst: 500-meter row at an all-out sprint (or 90 seconds all-out using any form of cardio)
  • Cool down: 30 minute swim (If you don't have access to a pool, try a 30-minute slow jog or cycle.)

Circuit Training 

Warm-up and cool down with your choice of cardio for 30 minutes at a steady pace. (Moffatt does a 30-minute warm-up on the bike, and cools down with a 30-minute swim). For your workout, perform three rounds of 20 reps of the following three exercises, taking no rest between moves, and 60 seconds of rest at the end of each round. 

  • Wall balls using a 15-pound medicine ball (make the target as high as you can)
  • Box jumps with a 24-inch box
  • Push-ups