This 10-week training program is designed to prepare athletes for multi-day/week non-technical mountaineering expeditions such as climbing Denali, remote peaks in the Canadian Rockies and big mountains in the Himalaya.
You’ll train 5 days/week for a total 50x training sessions. The first 4 weeks of the plan are gym-based and designed to build a base of “mountain chassis” strength. The plan pivots to big mountain endurance and stamina for the final six weeks.
(1) Strengthen your legs and lungs for miles and thousands of vertical feet you’ll be hiking up and down during your climbing trip.
(2) Build your core/midsection strength and overall strength so your body will be able to perform well with a loaded backpack, and be able to recover from long days in the mountains.
(3) Increase your overall durability and injury resistance.
The first few weeks of the program has a solid strength and work capacity focus. The goal here is to build your strength – specifically leg and midsection – to increase your durability for the climb and build a solid “base” of work capacity.
At week 4, the plan begins to pivot toward climbing – specific strength and endurance. We work on eccentric leg strength for the downhills, and uphill hiking under load via increasing numbers of step ups.
How long should the training sessions take?
Most training sessions are designed to be completed in 60-75 minutes. The Wednesday sessions during the final 6 weeks of the plan, may take up to 120 minutes.
What if I can’t keep up the Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday Training Schedule?
Do not skip a training session. Rather, complete all the training sessions in succession. Whatever the schedule, always take two days a week, ideally together, as total rest.
For this plan, Training Sessions 1, 6, 11, 16, 21, 26, 31, 36, 41 and 46 are Mondays.
What if I can’t complete the exercises using the prescribed loads?
Drop, or “scale” the load or load as necessary to meet the prescribed number of reps or intervals. For example, if the training session calls for 5x Mr. Spectacular’s at 25# dumbbells and these are to heavy for you, drop to 20# dumbbells – whatever is required, to get 5 reps.
What if I’ve never trained in a gym before?
This training program is going to be quite an adventure in athletic training for you! Our strength training is built primarily around classic barbell exercises. These are not complicated exercises, but they can be awkward at first. If needed, you can seek exercise instruction from a local coach or personal trainer. You can also teach yourself these exercises by being patient, using lighter loads, and sticking with it. Practice helps! There are many web-based sites and resources to find information on performing these common exercises. You’re not helpless. Be resourceful.
What equipment do I need?
This plan is designed to be completed in any commercial gym, but there are 2-pieces of special equipment you will need:
Sandbag – During the first 4 weeks of the plan, male athletes will need a 60# sandbag, and female athletes will need a 40# sandbag. During the final 6-weeks of the plan, male athletes will need to increase the weight of their sandbag to 80#, and female athletes will need to increase the weight of their sandbag to 60#. Sandbags can be made from duffle bags, old army gear bags, or purchased through our online store. Use wood pellets or mulch made from ground up tires for fill. Be resourceful.
Kettlebells – Some of the training sessions call for kettlebells or dumbbells. If you don’t have access to kettlebells, don’t worry about it. Dumbbells can be used in place of kettlebells for all the prescribed exercises. Kettlebell weights are in kilograms. Here are common kettlebell weights in pounds:
Backpack – During the second 6 weeks of the plan, you’ll be doing thousands of stepups wearing a backpack with weight. Any sturdy backpack or day pack will do. Regular weight room iron plates can be used for weight – but be sure to wrap the plates in a towel before putting them in your pack so they don’t chafe your lower back during step ups.
Is the loading different for men and women?
Yes – It is indicated in the exercise which load to use for men and which to use for women.
Where do I find unfamiliar exercises?
See our Exercise Library HERE. The Run Calculator is listed as an exercise.
What about nutrition?
See our Nutritional Guidelines HERE.
Can I see sample training?
Click the “Sample Training” tab to see the entire first week of programming.