2014-10-23 Ice step ups Big
Mountain Base Lab Rats complete a session which combines ice climbing-specific fitness and mountain endurance – uphill hiking under load.

Our Mountain Base training sessions are designed to fill in the periodes between event or season-specific train ups. In general, the closer to the event or season, the more “sport specific” you want your fitness training to be.

For example, six weeks before a Spring desert climbing trip to Moab, you’d want to complete our Rock Climbing Pre-season training plan, or six weeks before your alpine ski season begins, you’d want to complete our Dryland Ski Training Plan.

The Mountain Base sessions are designed for those periods between these sport-specific train ups, or for recreational mountain athletes who are frequently doing a variety of mountain sports on the weekends – these sessions are designed to create a solid level of mountain-specific fitness so you can play hard Saturday and Sunday.

The Mountain Base sessions build a high level of mountain “base” fitness in athletes – upon which the sport-specific cycles/training can be added. Five attributes are trained:

  • High Relative Strength (strength per bodyweight) – not only for mountain performance, but also for durability and injury prevention. Stronger athletes are generally harder to injure in the first place, if they do get injured don’t get injured as bad, and recover faster than weak athletes.
  • Work Capacity – Relatively short, but intense events (30 or less minutes) with emphasis on modes transferrable to mountain performance – running, uphill hiking under load, sprinting, chassis work
  • Endurance – mountain focus – unloaded running, trail running, uphill hiking under load
  • Chassis Integrity – Our version of core training – with a focus on functional movements transferrable to mountain sports
  • Climbing Fitness – we’ve found climbing fitness – specifically finger and forearm grip strength, is one of the most erode-able components of mountain fitness. The Mountain Base sessions include focused climbing work using bouldering problems, campus boards and system boards. Not a climber? We have substitute activities.

The Mountain Base Sessions are year-round, daily training subscription service for mountain athletes. For $29/month you get:

  • 4-6  Daily Training Sessions per Week (depending upon the cycle)
  • Coaches’ Notes & Videos
  • Access to all of our other program daily sessions (Military, Law Enforcement)
  • 120+ Plans for training for specific fitness goals and PFTs. These include sport-specific train ups for Rock, Alpine and Ice Climbing, Alpine and Backcountry Skiing, Mountain Biking, Kayak/Paddling, Backpacking, etc.


Unfamiliar Exercises? Click HERE.

Obj: Work Capacity, Chassis Integrity

Warm Up:

4 Rounds

  • 5x Power Clean @ 65/95#
  • 5x Wallking Lunge
  • 10x Push Ups
  • Instep Stretch


(1) 10 Rounds … Every 60 sec:

  • 3x Power Clean @ 85/115#
  • 3x Box Jump @ 24”
  • 3x Burpees

(2) 20 Minute Grind

20 Minute Grind ….

  • 6x Sandbag Clean Toss & Chase @ 40/60#
  • 3x Standing Keg Lift @ 40/60
  • 6x 1-Sided Dead Lift @ 15/25#

(3) 3 Rounds

  • Hip Flexor + Instep + Pigeon Stretch
  • Foam Roll Legs/Low Back

Obj: Strength, Climbing Fitness


(1) Work up to 1RM Back Squat

Record 1RM

(2) 1 Round

  • 20x Back Squat @ 65% 1RM.

Take 3 big, slow breaths between each rep (leave the barbell on your shoulders). 20x reps should take 3-4 min to complete if done properly.

(3) Max Reps Pull Ups

Record Max Reps

(4) 6 Rounds

  • 5x Scotty Bobs @ 15/25#
  • 35% Max Rep Pull Ups
  • 5x Shoulder Dislocate

(5) Hang Board Primary Position Complex at 5 Sec work, 10 sec rest.

(6) 5 Rounds

  • 60 Sec Campus Board Constant Movement
  • 60 Sec Rest

(7) 2 Rounds

  • Foam Roll Legs, Low Back
  • Ultimate Elbow Stretch


If you managed 3 or less max pull ups today, do 3x negatives for part (4) and for the remaining pull up progressions until we re-asses.

Obj: Endurance Speed over Ground, Chassis Integrity

Warm Up:

3 Rounds

  • 10x Squats
  • 10x Push Ups
  • 10x Situps
  • Run 100m
  • Instep Stretch


(1) 24 Min AMRAP (As Many Rounds as Possible)

  • 25x Step Ups at 20”
  • 6x 25m Shuttle Lengths (3x Laps)

Record Final Rounds – Include Half Rounds

(2) 4 Rounds

  • 20/20 Standing Founder
  • 20/20 Low Back Lunge
  • 20/20 Kneeling Founder
  • 10x Face Down Back Extension


Part (1) is serious effort. Our lab rats managed 11-13 rounds.

Obj: Strength, Climbing Fitness

Warm Up:

3 Rounds

  • 6x Back Squat @ 40/50/60% 1RM
  • 6x Hand Release Push Ups
  • 6x EO’s
  • Instep Stretch


(1) 1 Round

20x Back Squat @ 65% 1RM.

Take 3 big, slow breaths between each rep (leave the barbell on your shoulders). 20x reps should take 3-4 min to complete if done properly.

(2) 6 Rounds

  • 35% Max Rep Pull Ups
  • 5x Kneeling Curl to Press – increase load each round until 5x is hard, but doable.
  • Lat + Pec Stretch

(3) Hang Board Primary Position Complex at 5 Sec work, 10 sec rest.

(4) 8 Rounds

  • 15 Sec Campus Board Rapid Movement
  • 15 Sec Shake
  • 15 Sec Campus Board Rapid Movement
  • 15 Sec Shake
  • 60 Sec Rest

(5) 2 Rounds

  • Foam Roll Legs, Low Back
  • Ultimate Elbow Stretch

Obj: Uphill Climbing Endurance, Downhill Running Fitness


(1) Hike 2000 vertical feet, Moderate Pace, Run down

Load: 3 Gallons of Water (approximately 25#)

Moderate = Comfortable but not easy.

Note: If possible, dump water at the top and run down unloaded.


You likely won’t have a 2000 foot hill to hike. You can do laps … i.e. up/down, up/down, etc. It’s important you get in 2000 vertical feet.

If you have no easy way to measure vertical feet, hike for 60 minutes.


Thank you for this (freeski) program. I used to compete in the IFSA comps, coached the Winter Park Juniors and now patrol at Vail. I use this program for injury-prevention as well as to further enhance my working ability and skiing. I cannot sell this program enough to my friends and co-workers (though most of my co-workers are old crumudgens who are stuck in their own ways). My strength has improved dramatically with each training session. My injury recovery time is almost nothing (I had an old knee injury resurface last winter and was back within the week), and my general fitness is the best it has ever been. I trail-run on my lunch breaks at work in the summer, on the hill and have never been able to run as far, as fast or enjoy myself as much as I do since starting Mountain Athlete. Gym-wise, my bench has gone from a 135# 3rep max to a 180# 4rep max (I have never been able to bench my weight, let alone more), and my squats are now up 50#, my cleans are up 30# and my sprints are faster than ever. My job requires everything from skiing hard, fast and safely, to carrying everything heavy on skis or in boots, to hiking, to running rigs in the winter and I am stronger than most of my co-workers, even at 168# of personal weight. I also lost twelve pounds this summer, after taking a break in the spring. Thank you again


I like the overall gains I’ve seen both from Mountain and Strong swift durable.  I’ve noticed solid gains in ground I can cover or (particularly with a load, i.e. hunting pack, entry vest, etc.) along with stamina and core strength which comes out in cross-country MX races.  I’ve managed top 5 finishes in nearly all of the races I’ve entered in the past two years, thanks in large part to the stamina and strength gains I’ve made (I was finishing 15-20th in the year before).  While I may not be able to bench press or squat as much as some, being “pretty damn good at most everything” is worth a lot to me, especially at work. Along with that, I had great results with the lower back strengthening plan following a back injury last spring.  I got fairly sick of standing/kneeling founders and such, and as much as I hated them, I’m a fan because they worked. Thanks again and tell everyone down there to keep up the good work


I started doing your Mountain Athlete and Military Athlete workouts about 2-3 months ago after doing CrossFit for about 2 years, and I can say without any doubt that I am in the best shape of my life. Since starting your program and adding some Gym Jones and CrossFit I have lost 15lbs and my strength and endurance have both improved as well as my cardio. I can easily run my 2 mile in under 13 minutes and run 5 miles over a hilly course in around 37 minutes. I routinely jump from airplanes and while others get hurt, I walk away and I know it’s a reflection of the tough and austere style of training.