Phoebe, Kate and Kat battle it out during Australian Survivor Episode 9's Basketbrawl Immunity Challenge.
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Get fit with former Australian Survivor competitors

Former Australian Survivor contestants Kat Dumont and Sue Clarke will be walking the Great Wall of China in support of Australian charity Act For Kids (read about it here) – here’s an insight into their training regime.

So, I’ve signed up, I’ve started fundraising and now it’s time to get my hiking boots on! As I am embarking on my first ever trek, I’m not going to lie… I’m slightly nervous about what’s to come. I mean the Great Wall is HUGE. It’s one of the few manmade structures that can be seen from space!

Walking the Great Wall is going to be an adventurous challenge of physical stamina mixed with fascinating cultural and historical exploration. There will be amazing sights to enjoy as we trek through the mountains, wooded valleys and rocky gorges but it’s also going to be really, really hard.  We’re going to be hiking through remote and seldom visited locations and it’s going to be steep!

Obviously, training is key. It is a fundamental step when it comes to any kind of trek, especially one that is renowned for being physically demanding! Although walking is something that I do every day – walking uphill, over 10kms a day, in hot or cold conditions and sometimes in high altitude is something that I definitely need to train for!

Lucky for me, my close friend and fellow Survivor Contestant Sue Clarke – who is a personal trainer – is also trekking with me, so she has been able to put together an amazing training program.

Starting twelve weeks out, my main aim is to develop my strength, stamina and cardiovascular fitness. “Having an increased cardiovascular fitness level, will enable the tissues within the body to consume oxygen more efficiently. This means that the body will be able to effectively use energy supplies and be less fatigued over long periods,” said Sue.

“We’re going to be performing the same action for prolonged periods, so we need to ensure the body is trained and prepared to cope with monotonous activity on consecutive days! We will have few rest days, which means not a lot of time to recuperate.”


Kat, centre, is walking the Great Wall of China in support of Australian charity Act For Kids.

The four key fitness components

  1. Aerobic training. No matter which trek you are on, your lungs will be working hard, especially if you are at altitude. You need to ensure that your cardiovascular fitness is at its best. Always begin slowly, especially if you haven’t done a lot of aerobic exercise in the past, and increase your duration and intensity as you get fitter and stronger. Interval training is excellent when preparing for a trek, as it trains your lungs to function at peak capacity.
  1. Strength and conditioning. Sometimes people have the misconception that if they do lots of hiking as preparation for their trek, then they will be prepared. We do need to get lots of “miles in our legs”, but we also need strength in both the upper and lower body. Strength training is essential and may involve body weight exercises and/or using traditional weights and weight machines. Make sure you include fundamental strength exercises such as squats, deadlifts, shoulder, triceps’ and bicep exercises to help develop lower and upper body.
  1. Core and stability. Core strength is what helps you maintain your posture and supports your back to remain strong. Remember that heavy pack you are going to have on your back – a strong core will make this so much easier. Stability and balance exercises are necessary to ensure your body is able to adapt to any terrain. It takes time to develop your stability and balance, so ensure you are training for this early in your training plan. The types of exercises that support abdominal strength are sit-ups, leg raises and crunches.
  1. Trek specific training. While you are on your amazing trek, you will be walking for up to six or seven hours per day. Your body will need to be prepared for this type of endurance. At least once a week, take yourself out to a beautiful bushwalking location near you and do a longer walk – usually a three- or four-hour walk is perfect. This will also ensure you have “walked in” your boots and tested your hiking gear! More importantly this will condition your body to “keep going” and to adjust to the increased amount of time you are out on the track.

With that in mind, Sue has created a tailored training plan for me which involves a mix of aerobic conditioning, interval training and strength training.

Week 1 and 2

  • 3 x Functional HIIT sessions per week (45-mins) all over fitness (covers strength, core and cardio) – Monday/Wednesday/Friday
  • 1 x stair walk for 30-mins (Tuesday)
  • 1 x 10-km walk (Sunday)
  • Saturday – rest

Week 3 and 4

  • 3 x Functional HITT sessions (45-mins) – Monday/Wednesday/Friday
  • 1 x stair walk x 4 Tuesday pm
  • 2 x 40-minute walks (am) Tues/Thursday
  • 1 x 60-minute walk with 10kg backpack
  • Saturday – rest

Week 5 and 6

  • 3 x Functional HIIT Sessions per week (45mins)
  • 2 x stair walk for time (30-mins)
  • 1 x 10kg walk with 15-kg backpack
  • Saturday – rest

Time to get busy and serious

Week 7 and 8

  • 3 x Functional HIIT sessions per week (45-mins)
  • 1 x stair walk (5 times)
  • 3 x 40-min walks (treadmill or outside)
  • Sunday – hill work with backpack
  • Saturday – rest

Week 9 and 10

  • 3 x Functional HIIT sessions per week (45-mins)
  • 3 x 40-min walks am (treadmill or outside)
  • 1 x stair walk x 5
  • Hill work Sunday or Saturday
  • One-day rest

Week 11 and 12

  • 3 x Functional HIIT sessions per week (45-mins)
  • 3 x 40-min walks am (treadmill or outside)
  • 1 x 20-km trail walk with 20-kg backpack (Sunday with group)
  • 1 x stair walk (AMRAP for one hour)

I know that there are going to be times when I feel like training is a chore, and I’m not going to want to do it, but I just need to persevere. I need to remember that yes, it’s going to be tough, but it’s going to be an incredible challenge and one that I will look back on for life.

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Kat Dumont

A Project Officer at The University of Western Australia, Kat Dumont is known to fans of Australian Survivor after competing in the 2017 Samoan series. Kat's next challenge involves an 11-day trek along the Great Wall of China to support Act For Kids, an Australian charity that provides free services to prevent and treat child abuse and neglect.

The opinions expressed in this article are the opinions of the author(s) and not necessarily those of Homeloans Ltd.