This is an ideal plan is for those who have a goal of maximizing their chances of success on a big expeditionary peak such as Denali or Everest. This would also be an ideal plan for an experienced mountaineer with a good base of endurance to use in preparing for the most difficult 8,000ers such as K2 and Makalu. This 24 week plan progresses gradually. Each of the three 8 week periods serves a different purpose and are not meant to be a stand alone programs. Stick with this plan and we are confident that you will see very significant changes in your fitness.
This plan is based on scientifically sound training practices and a combined thirty years of professional endurance coaching experience and sixty years of world-wide climbing and mountaineering experience. The plan starts with a self-administered Aerobic Threshold assessment test. From this you will establish the training intensity limit for most of the aerobic base training that will dominate in the overall plan but especially in the first 8 weeks. The first 8 weeks also include a simple, easy-to-apply strength program to help you develop what is called strength reserve, the ability to repeatedly execute strength-dependent movements such as taking a step while wearing a heavy backpack. The next 8 weeks applies more complex strength training methods aimed at maximizing your strength through proven strategies to improve neuromuscular coordination of muscular contractions; you'll become a lot stronger without adding weight or size during these weeks. Starting in the seventeenth week of the plan we incorporate our proven mountaineering-specific muscular endurance workouts. Complete these, but only after laying the base during the previous weeks of strength training, and you'll put the frosting on your fitness cake.
Tips: Rest when you are tired. If you miss a workout do not try to make it up. Just move on. If you miss more than 2 in a week then repeat that week. Do not increase the intensity and hope to gain more benefits. There is no short cut to when it comes to aerobic adaptation. The 24th week of this training plan is a taper week designed to be completed the week before you depart home for your expedition. This plan could be extended beyond 24 weeks by repeating weeks 12-16 with slight increases in weekly aerobic training volume.
This plan has proven successful for climbers all over the world who used it to prepare for climbing objectives including guided and un-guided ascents of Denali, Everest, Cho Oyu, and Makalu (with and without supplemental oxygen). In our experience, and we've climbed and trained climbers to climb all of these mountains, the order of difficulty (from harder to easier) for these climbs via the normal routes is: K2, Makalu, Everest, Cho Oyu, Denali, Everest with supplemental oxygen (those last two are very similar in difficulty), Cho Oyu with supplemental oxygen, Peak Lenin, and Aconcagua. Of course this list assumes equal conditions and weather. Obviously any of these climbs can be rendered impossible in poor weather and/or conditions.
For detailed information and to understand how this plan is constructed, please consult our book, "Training for the New Alpinism" published by Patagonia Books. For specific questions about this training plan, or to send us your success story and be featured on our website www.uphillathlete.com email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Steve House and Scott Johnston