Mountaineering Training – Week 1

A few weeks ago I asked myself, “How do I get ready to summit mountains ranging from 1,651m – 5,956m?” Then I asked the Internet.
Most trainers will tell you that the best way to train for any sport is to do that sport. By that logic, the best way to train for mountaineering is to go up mountains. The problem is that I live in Toronto and there aren’t any mountains close by. Sure, I can drive for 7 hours and be in the Adirondacks. But realistically, I need a daily training plan that will get me alpine-ready.

Enter Fit Climb, a website with tons of FREE training plans to get you mountain ready. I just started following their 8 Month Mountaineering Training Plan. This plan is designed to get someone ready for elevevations below 7,000 metres – which is perfect for me.

I’ll run you through how the first week has gone and what I expect going forward, but first I’d like to give you the basics…

The Basics

The main goals of any mountain fitnes plan is to increase your endurance, strength, balance and agility. Here is why each of these elements is important:

Endurance

As most people know, the higher the elevation of the mountain, the less oxygen is available. What this means is that as you climb, your body has to work harder to get the same amount of oxygen. So, if you can raise your endurance level, your body becomes more efficient. This level of efficiecny is measure by something called your V02 max – the ratio of how much work your body can do in relation to oxygen intake.

Strength

As the height of a summit increases, or as the technical difficulty increases, there is an increase in the amount of gear to carry. Mountaineers can easily be carrying packs of over 40lbs and dragging sleds of over 200lbs, so strength is a key factor. The focus is on abdominal, back, and leg strength. Strength in these aresas also increases your efficiency of movement and help with your endurance levels.

Balance and Agility

Things like carrying a pack, moving up steep elevations, and crossing unstable terrain all are tests on your balance and agility. The more comfortable you are standing on one foot or balancing on one hand, the more comfortable you’ll be when your body starts to get tired, or the terrain shifts, or you have to move around various obstacles.


Here is what I did for Week 1 of the new fitness plan I am following and my notes on how it all went down:

Monday

  • 10 min dynamic warm up
  • 30 min run
  • 1 set of 10 reps of the following:
    • Step ups front
    • Step ups side
    • Step downs
    • Push Ups
    • Crunches
    • Plank (60 seconds)
    • Mountain climbers

This day felt great. I always start with a dynamic warmup instead of a stretch. Stetching before a workout can cause injury, while a dynamic warm-up (like leg-swings, air-squats, a light jog) can prepare your muscles. I’ve been running for the past few weeks and so the run went well. I ran 5.04km at an average pace of 5:58/km. The workout afterward went smoothly; the hardest part being the 60 second plank.

Tuesday

  • Rest Day

Wednesday

  • 10 min dynamic warm up
  • 20 min cardio @ 70% MHR
  • 3 sets of following:
    • Squats (15)
    • Step ups front (40)
    • Step ups side Left and right (40)
    • Step downs (40)
    • Push Ups (10)
    • Crunches (50)
    • Plank (60 seconds)
    • Mountain climbers (50)

Because I biked for over 20 minutes this day I went right to the workout. During the workout it felt great and I kept an even pace. Total time was 36 minutes. Almost immediately after, however, my adobinal muscles began to really ache.

Thursday

  • 10 min stretch and warm up
  • 40 min stairs @ 70% MHR
  • 20 min walking

For this I focused on keeping an even pace, keeping my head up, and breathing consistently. I completed 2,061 steps up and 1,976 steps down.

Friday

  • 10 min stretch and warm up
  • 30 min cardio @ 70% MHR
  • 3 sets of following:
    • Squats (15)
    • Step ups front (40)
    • Step ups side Left and right (40)
    • Step downs (40)
    • Push Ups (10)
    • Crunches (50)
    • Plank (60 seconds)
    • Mountain climbers (50)

My calf muscles were quite sore from Thursday and I skipped this workout.

Saturday

  • 10 min stretch and warm up
  • 2-3 hr walk or hike with 15-20 lb pack

I skipped this wokrout as well and went for a longer bike ride. However, I wish I hadn’t skipped this.

Sunday

  • Rest Day

Final thoughts

This week went relatively well and I’m excited to move forward. I’ve been doing CrossFit for 3 years and this plan really showed me where there are still some weaknesses. My cardiovascular system is already improving drastically with a few runs a week. My abdominal strength still needs work.


I’m curious about what you do to prepare for mountains or other similar acitivies. What are you doing? How are you staying motivated? Let me know in the comments below. Also, make sure to subscribe to our newsletter and never miss an update.