Plan Focus: Mountain Sledding Training Plan

Hill Climb World Champion and MTI Athlete, Jess Tutur. Photo courtesy RTL Photography.

By Rob Shaul

Western Wyoming where MTI is headquartered is a mecca for mountain sledding and Jackson itself is home to the Hill Climb World Championships.

I work with both “granola” and “redneck” and a mix of mountain athletes in my gym. Granola mountain athletes are the alpine climbers, skiers, ski mountaineers, etc. The “redneck” athletes are the sledders, mountain dirt bikers and backcountry hunters.


Several of us, myself included, are mix of both.

One thing I’m not is a mountain sledder. It’s too hard! Ridding a snowmobile in deep powder is much more athletic and physically demanding than just aiming the skis and pushing the throttle.

A couple years ago a couple of my pro sledders dragged me out for a day. I spent much of it stuck … digging my sled out … or getting “muscled” by the sled. At the end, I was worked. To watch those who are good at this sport is to experience a beautiful melding of finesse, athleticism, and strength between person and machine.

This program is designed to prepare snowmobile athletes for the mountain sledding season. It is intended to be completed the 6 weeks directly before your mountain sledding season begins.

It is a  progressive, gym-based training program. You will train 5 days/week for a total of 30 training sessions. The intention is that Monday through Thursday are are training days. Friday, Saturday and Sunday are rest days.
You will need a commercial gym, with basic equipment. The only unique piece of equipment needed to complete the program is a sandbag. Men will need a 60 pound sandbag, and women will need a 40 pound sandbag.


  • Build Lower Body Strength and strength endurance for shifting weight back and forth across the seat, as well as digging out and lifting stuck sleds.
  • Build Grip Strength and grip strength endurance for long days working the throttle and handle bars.
  • Build All around mid-section strength and strength endurance, especially isometric, rotational and extension strength.
  • Build Upper body strength and strength endurance with a single limb and rotational component.
  • Build Multi-modal work capacity for intense top marking efforts.
  • Build Multi-modal endurance for dawn to dusk days of mountain sledding.


Monday: Leg Strength, Strength Endurance, Upper Body Press/Pull Strength Endurance, Chassis Integrity (mid-section strength)
Tuesday: Grip Strength, Gym-Based Endurance
Wednesday: Total Body Strength
Thursday: Leg Strength, Strength Endurance, Upper Body Press/Pull Strength Endurance, Chassis Integrity (mid-section strength)
Friday: Grip Strength, Multi-Modal Work Capacity



How long should the training sessions take? 
Generally around 60 minutes, though near the end of the program, training sessions may take up to 75 minutes.

What if I can’t keep up the Monday to Friday Training Schedule?
The days you train are not as important as completing the training sessions sequentially and taking 2 full day’s rest between weeks.

What if I can’t complete the exercises using the prescribed loads?
Drop, or “scale” the load or weight as necessary to meet the prescribed number of reps. For example, if the training session calls for 5x Bench Press @ 135# and this is too, heavy, drop down to 115#, – or whatever is required, to get 5 reps.

What if I’ve never training in a gym before?
This training program is going to be quite an adventure in athletic training for you! Wednesday’s strength work 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 weights, 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?
Fully Equipped gym including barbells, plates, squats racks, dumbbells. 14-16″ Box or bench for hippity hops and step ups and a Sandbag:  60# for men. 40# Sandbag for women.

What if I miss a day?
Begin where you left off when you return to training. This programmed is progressed – each session builds upon the prior session – so don’t skip a session or skip around. Follow the training sessions in order, regardless.

Where do I find unfamiliar exercises?
See our Exercise Library HERE. The Run/Ruck Calculator is listed as an exercise.

What about nutrition?
See our Nutritional Guidelines HERE.

More Questions?

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