Critique Workout Plan for Mt. Rainier & Denali Climb

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abhinavkulkarni

 
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Critique Workout Plan for Mt. Rainier & Denali Climb

by abhinavkulkarni » Mon May 18, 2015 8:17 pm

Hi,

I am planning to climb Mt. Rainier and then Denali sometime mid next year (2016) - approximately one year from now. I have little mountaineering experience, so I'll be practising climbing skills on Mt. Shasta several times (>7-8 climbs for sure, I live in Northern California) and taking self arrest, crevasse navigation classes, etc.

In the meantime, I want to start working out on my fitness and general preparedness for the climb. Now, here's a little background:

  • I have been working out (mostly functional training) for more than 1.5 years now and am reasonably fit already.
  • I can run half marathons in sub-2 hour marks (although I don't have (nor do I wish to develop) endurance for a full marathon - I mostly enjoy doing functional training). I can maintain sub 8-minute per mile pace for first 3-4 miles.
  • My lifts are above novice category (and some are well within intermediate category according to http://www.strstd.com/). I work my posterior chain (glutes, quads, hamstrings and adductor muscles) pretty seriously, so I have strong legs and hind.

I have been thinking of making a switch to CrossFit for a while and I have made up my mind pretty seriously. I love their workouts and the believe it will get me in a state of general preparedness for the next year's climb. I do understand that CrossFit is broad generalization of various abilities and one needs to tweak it for one's specific purpose (and also that elite mountaineers would suffer from such a broad generalization, but then I am not an elite mountaineer. See other posts on this forum and Mark Twight's Gym Jones program for more on this topic). Here's how my workout for next year is going to look like:

  • Bike to and from work - 6.5 miles, elevation gain/loss of 500ft each way on weekdays.
  • Crossfit on weekdays.
  • Rest - Saturday.
  • Running - 6-7 mile loop, elevation gain/loss of 500ft on Sunday.

Please care to critique my workout plan. I know there aren't any interval training or hill/stair climbing workouts there, but I am hoping CrossFit will make up for that and improve my anaerobic threshold. Is it too light on endurance? Towards the end of the year, I'll introduce hiking with heavy backpack.

As I said, I have little mountaineering experience, so really need inputs here.

Thanks.

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Re: Critique Workout Plan for Mt. Rainier & Denali Climb

by ExcitableBoy » Tue May 19, 2015 6:27 pm

You need to do more endurance training. Hilly trail runs 3+ hours, long hilly bike rides, long hikes.

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Re: Critique Workout Plan for Mt. Rainier & Denali Climb

by WyomingSummits » Tue May 19, 2015 7:11 pm

ExcitableBoy wrote:You need to do more endurance training. Hilly trail runs 3+ hours, long hilly bike rides, long hikes.


Exactly. Crossfit has it's place in preparing you to make a steep climb at a very fast pace in an emergency, but should only be added in once a week. For snow slogs like Rainier, and especially Denali, long endurance is key....especially the psychological aspect. A rope team can be a lonely place with 25m between you in a strong wind, just slogging uphill. Mental prep is critical.

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Re: Critique Workout Plan for Mt. Rainier & Denali Climb

by abhinavkulkarni » Tue May 19, 2015 7:44 pm

Hey ExcitableBoy and WyomingSummits, thanks for your replies.

How would you modify the above program, because it's quite full already (6 days a week). Isn't biking 13mi a day going to help me with the endurance aspect?

Are you indicating the lack of endurance in terms of weekly mileage or lack of one or two long runs/bike rides per week?

Thanks.

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Re: Critique Workout Plan for Mt. Rainier & Denali Climb

by ExcitableBoy » Tue May 19, 2015 7:44 pm

I think it is generally better to have big/hard days alternating with easy/active recovery days rather than doing moderate workouts day after day. You daily bike rides can be your active recovery workouts. I have found having one really big day (12+ hour alpine climbs, 6+ hour trail runs) per week followed by an active recovery day(s) is really beneficial. So that means really increase your Sunday runs in duration and elevation and climb Shasta as often as possible. In the Gospel according to Mark (Twight) these are referred to as 'depletion days'. I view CrossFit as a replacement for traditional strength and/or interval workouts, so no more than three per week.

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Re: Critique Workout Plan for Mt. Rainier & Denali Climb

by beean » Wed May 20, 2015 3:02 am

Cardio is king in the mountains.

Check out Steve House's book Training for the New Alpinism. The basic premise is that long, easy cardio workouts are the go, with the heart rate being in your zone 1 for the entire time.

I would say that for non-technical mountaineering objectives you can cut back on upper body work outs significantly, if you wish.

I also agree with ExcitableBoy's advice on a big day every week. This is what I do and I have found my endurance and speed have improved dramatically over a six month period.

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Re: Critique Workout Plan for Mt. Rainier & Denali Climb

by abhinavkulkarni » Wed May 20, 2015 6:29 pm

Thanks everybody for the replies. I will certainly modify my workouts to incorporate more steady-state cardio.

Thanks.

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Re: Critique Workout Plan for Mt. Rainier & Denali Climb

by Alpenglow » Sat May 23, 2015 1:10 am

Work your way up but make sure to do some hikes where the gain/mile gradient is high. Shasta is about 6 miles to the summit about with 7000 ft of gain via Avy Gulch. This is good. Also longer hikes 15-20 miles eventually would be good. Don't know what is up in NorCal but in SoCal hikes like San Jacinto via Idyllwild (16 miles/4500 ft of gain), San Gorgornio (18.6 miles/5700 feet of gain) and Baldy (8 miles/4000 ft of gain) are all the type of training hikes you'd want to do.

I think the most important thing to do is workouts with elevation gain, as Denali and Rainier are going to involve a lot of elevation gain and be very steep. 6 miles of running is fine but only 500 ft of gain is not going to help too much.

Freedom of the Hills also has a novice mountaineering training regimen in one of the early chapters.

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Re: Critique Workout Plan for Mt. Rainier & Denali Climb

by WyomingSummits » Sat May 23, 2015 1:57 am

In my winter training I do a lot of track running, incline treadmill, stair master, and a TON of weighted step ups on a 32" step. I currently do 45 minutes on 7% incline at 5-6mph for treadmill workouts. Track is just distance.....pure mileage not worried about time. I indoor rock climb 3 mornings a week to start my mornings and then move to the workouts. On step ups I'm now doing sets of 50 with an 80lb barbell. I then do lunges with a 50lb kettelbell in between step up sets as my rest. I also do a couple of distance runs per week that are 4-6 miles in length......at the end of this phase I'll be at 10 miles. I also do weighted sled sprints.....nothing works your max lung capacity in short bursts like those! I like trail runs and boulder field scrambles with a pack. This is my regimine for fast day trips on 14ers. The further the trip, the more the mileage increases. Hope this helps.

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Re: Critique Workout Plan for Mt. Rainier & Denali Climb

by splattski » Sat May 23, 2015 2:14 pm

I found steep hikes with a heavy pack to be useful. I was doing 2k gain with a 70# pack once a week.

This was especially true on Denali. Came in handy when a partner started feeling crappy on our cache carry to 13k.
http://www.splattski.com/2009/denali/day_seven.html

Same training worked on Rainier, where we did a carry over from Kautz to DC.

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Re: Critique Workout Plan for Mt. Rainier & Denali Climb

by ScottyP » Sat May 23, 2015 6:56 pm

beean wrote:Cardio is king in the mountains.

Check out Steve House's book Training for the New Alpinism. The basic premise is that long, easy cardio workouts are the go, with the heart rate being in your zone 1 for the entire time.

I would say that for non-technical mountaineering objectives you can cut back on upper body work outs significantly, if you wish.

I also agree with ExcitableBoy's advice on a big day every week. This is what I do and I have found my endurance and speed have improved dramatically over a six month period.



Highly second this recommendation. I hired Scott to prep me for everest this year and felt very ready. Lots of zone one workouts were key. Cross fit will build some strength but you need just as much endurance. I also frequent shasta as well for training. Where in Northern California ?

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Re: Critique Workout Plan for Mt. Rainier & Denali Climb

by spapagiannis » Mon Jun 08, 2015 8:38 am

I too agree with all of the above. What you have mentioned sounds alright for building a base level of fitness - from which you can springboard from into more specific training. The motto I've always liked for mountaineering fitness level after hearing it is "better than the best shape of your life".

Being built a sprinter, and having competed as such in my younger years, endurance has been a challenge, and is now focus on my own personal training regimen. My body has not been able to cope with endurance naturally like many of the gifted X-country runners and marathoners. It has taken disciplined training to make my body adapt, and it's still a work in progress for me.

Not too long ago I hit a training plateau which I couldn't break through for weeks, and that's when I was inspired to start reading this book for new ideas and a fresh approach. I am still reading it. My usual MO was 3-4 mile Zone 3 tempo runs 4x per week w/ hills, a 10 mile Zone 2 run 1x week, 1 workout of uphill and stair run intervals per week, along with 3-4 days of the week involving weights, Stairmaster intervals. Every other weekend or so usually would have a 15-18 mile day hike with 5,000+ ft gain. Anything to mimic a mountaineering climb/slog. It worked well for me, it has helped me establish a base level of fitness over the past 9 months or so. But I hit a wall: endurance.

I've now pulled back and changed those 3-4 mile Zone 3 runs to 7-8 mile Zone 1 runs, planning to add a long 20 mile run once per week, and back off the strength training a bit. Clocking 18 miles per week average has become somewhere between 30-40 miles per week. One week in to Steve's approach on running and I've already seen improvement when it came to interval training. I really can't wait to implement some other great training ideas from this book.

And I do believe the concept of functionally training the components of climbing is great. This I think becomes particularly vital when considering strength training choices (i.e. which muscles to target, and how to target them). When you can't train with actual climbing up the snow slopes, the next best is train as similarly as you can to match what you'll be doing: a Stairmaster, boots (and pack weight if you can), and time. Might not have much of a view this way, but it does help that mental preparation aspect!

Shasta is certainly a good training ground. For hiking traning, I found Clouds Rest from Happy Isles/Curry Village round trip to be excellent, Freel Peek from TRT at Highway 89 also seems good (on map - haven't done it yet). Mt. Diablo is another great choice - it's a rather steep and sustained hike from the east, the 4-peak look is a solid 14 miles. If you do find yourself in Southern California, I certainly agree San Gorgonio via Vivian Creek is great. And do consider San Jacinto via C2C - it is extreme, it will beat you up (mentally, at least), but it will prepare you - just wait until October or November to do it! :wink:

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Re: Critique Workout Plan for Mt. Rainier & Denali Climb

by bird » Mon Jun 15, 2015 2:24 pm

beean wrote:Cardio is king in the mountains.
.


OP - Check out mtnathlete.com The coach says the opposite, strength is king in the mountains.

I don't believe CF and some biking will get you up Denali without a lot of suffering. It will probably get you up Rainier with a normal amount of suffering. A mix of long days with a pack (once a week), some strength training and then some long CF style workouts will work better

Bike to and from work - 6.5 miles, elevation gain/loss of 500ft each way on weekdays. Will give you some baseline fitness
Crossfit on weekdays. 2-3 days is good, mix strength and then longer work capacity WOD's. Think Murph instead of Fran. -
Rest - Saturday.
Running - 6-7 mile loop, elevation gain/loss of 500ft on Sunday. Swap this out with as many days doing hills with a pack.

The objective is work capacity. As you get a few months out, program hour long or 2-hour long (if you cant' get a sunday hike in) along the lines of 100 step ups - 10 TIre Flips - 10 Pullups...AMRAP 1 hour. And it's not a Fran style sprint, but a grind it out slog (like Rainier)

I've used this style and Mtnathlete.com as a program to get up Rainier a few times. I live in the flatlands and find it prepares you better than just crossfit, and just running/cardio. While Crossfit and oly lifts and such are fun, remember, you are not going to clean and jerk your way up the mountain. :D

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Re: Critique Workout Plan for Mt. Rainier & Denali Climb

by radson » Mon Jun 15, 2015 11:34 pm

From my experience, I would workout how to stop your bloody sled from trying to kill you.

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Re: Critique Workout Plan for Mt. Rainier & Denali Climb

by AdanClinton » Wed Jun 17, 2015 8:34 am

You need to consider all gear,route,weather and how many days .The most important thing is need to protect yourself , take a lamp for SOS.Safety is the most important.


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