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Mountaineering Fitness

Mountaineering Fitness


Postby Relayer2112 » Wed Nov 02, 2011 1:07 am

The long and short of it is - while I'm fitter than some obese, doughnut scoffing pleb, I am nowhere near as fit as I would like to be. I can take on a couple of munros no problem, but I'm usually pretty ****** for a couple of days afterwards. I usually run out of energy quickly and end up having to take lots of little micro-breaks on ascent, and generally move at a bit of a plodding pace - really not where I want to be.

Ultimately, I want to be alpine fit. My dream is to get into 'mountaineering proper' - and with that, I will need mountain fitness. I'd like to be able to take on a decent 4000m peak by next summer - but at the moment I'm just too damned slow to move quickly enough for alpine ascents - or even for longer hill days here in Scotland.

A couple of examples of my longer days so far have been:

Cobbler from Glen Croe, with ascent of Beinn Narnain, reascent of Cobbler at a running pace (left sunglasses at top) and then Beinn Ime before returning to carpark at Glen Croe - I was absolutely ****** at the end. Well and truly done in.

Buachaille Etive Mor, all 4 peaks, but was a good hour slower than I had planned for with Naismith's rule (I included breaks in the estimated time). Wasn't too bad when I got back, but nowhere near as quick as I want to be.

I'm asking for help from the fitter amongst you, in how to put together some sort of fitness plan that will have me mountain-fit in a reasonable time. I cannot afford a gym membership at the moment, and have very minimal exercise equipment at home - so it's going to have to be a bit more home-grown and leave out complicated exercise machines.

I'm 6ft tall, 130lbs, built like a rake with pretty much no fat on me whatsoever but also not a whole lot of muscle. I know cardio will be a big focus, as it's the first thing I feel on the hill starting to go - I get out of breath long before my legs pack in. However, they do eventually pack in and I end up at a pace akin to continental drift.

Any thoughts?
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Re: Mountaineering Fitness

Postby Cameron94 » Wed Nov 02, 2011 1:27 am

Apart from lots of walking this is what I do and would recomend.

I would start doing interval training once a week.. Interval training consisting of jogging at a normal speed for yourself then sprinting between 25-100 meters depending on fitness levels, followed by normal jogging untill your heart rate is back to what it was before the sprint. Then repeating the whole process again untill you're tired but not exhausted.

If you really want to go to town add some swiming in as well... Being the best all around condition exercise there is you will be working your legs as well as your core and arms. Its also great for improving cardio!

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Re: Mountaineering Fitness

Postby SouthernUplandKing » Wed Nov 02, 2011 12:28 pm

As Denis Urubko said "For training in climbing, you must go run in mountains" Advice I would think about taking on board, seen as he has climbed the 14 highest peaks in the world including two winter ascents of 8000 meter peaks.

The best training you can get for climbing and walking is up-hill running. Whether that be on a treadmill or hitting a steep grassy slope, uphill is the best way. If you can run up a Graham or a Corbett for training, you can climb Munro's for fun. Interval training is good for endurance and long flat distances but for out and out up-hill endurance you need too hit a steep slope a bust your lungs.

I am lucky that I have a gym literally 30 seconds walk away from my front door.

That said, I only use the gym sometimes when I wat a really specific workout, such as running on full incline with a low speed for 45 minutes. After this I would then hit the cross trainer and do an Alpine Pass cycle for 15-20 minutes (depending on how busted I am). Then I would go and do 3 sets of 50 calf raises and hit the leg curl machine and do a few sets on that. Lots of reps at a low weight is the way too build the muscular endurance you need. Then I would do my arms (ice axe strength and scrambling) and then finish off on my abs which gives you good strength too carry heavier packs. After this I was totally wasted and could do this 3 or 4 times a week and then go for my walks at the weekend.

All this training did help me out. MY first day in Munro country was 5 in the Lawers Range ad although my legs were sore the day after, they weren't so sore I didn't want too move. And by the Monday morning I was back in the Gym.

I couldnt sustain the gym ethic though and got fed up of a "groundhog" routine. I had too get outside and run in proper terrain.

Obviously you said you cant afford the gym, so most of the above is pointless info, but it gives you something too work on and move forward with.

Running on sub 2000er's and Grahams would be a good way of getting your fitness up. These wee hills are generally flat topped and rolling but they still know how too bust your lungs with plenty up's and downs. I am again lucky that I have a Coalbing which I can run up and down a few times and then go for a run through cross-country terrain, all from my front door. Another way I found, without leaving your house, is too do a weight training session and then fill up a pack with your camping gear or bottled water and simply leg it up and down the stairs. Try doing this for 20 minutes and you will see how much it burns your quads, calfs and your lungs.

The most important thing is too stick too a routine you can manage. Theres no point committing to 5 days a week training if you can't make those 5 days of committed training. If you start on 3 days a week and go with 30-45 minute runs then you should be able too fit that into your lifestyle. It's about fitting the training into your lifestyle and not having to think "aw crud a need too go and train again" It should just become second nature after a few weeks and just hitting it consistently.
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Re: Mountaineering Fitness

Postby Mountainlove » Wed Nov 02, 2011 1:36 pm

In my opinion running outside is great-and uphill running -even if you do it very slow will build up your stamina quickly.

Apart from that skipping! 10min of skipping is as effective as 30 of jogging. Trust me after 10 min of skipping you will feel your legs the next day. Skipping is also great fun-try skipping from side to site, hop ob one leg a few times, kick out your legs (with some good music it can be really fun)

You can also try a cario workout which really trains your whole body (I do that at gym at work)
but you can also do that anywhere. Take 20 min to do that -dont take any breaks between excercises and you feel you have done 1h :-)
Start with 3 min of running without a break do 1 min of press ups, 1 min of squats, 1 min of lunges
3 min of running again followed by 1min of upper arm work - again do 3 sets of 1 min
3 min of running followed by 3 sets of 1 min excercises again
Afterwards do stomach excercises (rty to start with 3 sets of 20 sit ups)

As a goal try if you can do 10 min of skipping, followed by 80 press ups ;-)
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Re: Mountaineering Fitness

Postby NickyRannoch » Wed Nov 02, 2011 2:21 pm

as an obese,donut scoffing pleb who is wholly comfortable doing 20 mile days or multi days with a tent on my back I would say there is no great mystery to this.

To get fit enough to walk in the hills just walk in the hills.

At the start it might be hard and then it will get easier.
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Re: Mountaineering Fitness

Postby Red Peak » Wed Nov 02, 2011 2:31 pm

Pass me another donut (burp!)

As mentioned above, just keep climbing hills and the fitness will follow.
Last edited by Red Peak on Wed Nov 02, 2011 2:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Mountaineering Fitness

Postby Red Peak » Wed Nov 02, 2011 2:32 pm

P.S. I'm guessing with a user-name like that, you're a Yes and Rush fan ...
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Re: Mountaineering Fitness

Postby malky_c » Wed Nov 02, 2011 2:39 pm

I'd echo what NickyRannoch says. Best way to get hill fit is to go up hills.

I run and cycle as well (more for some kind of amusement and upkeep of exercise while living in the flatlands), but I'm not convinced that it affects my hill fitness in any way at all.
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Re: Mountaineering Fitness

Postby SouthernUplandKing » Wed Nov 02, 2011 2:42 pm

Sorry guys above, have too disagree.

If you want too be able to move fast across mountainous terrain, you need to be trainng between hill days. Even if you were walking the hills twice a week it wouldn't be enough for me. Especially if you want too go to the Alps where the guides don't even let you stop for a photograph because they just want too get clients up and down safely. Less time on the hills means less chance of danger or exposure.

Its different if you want to plod along at your own pace and take 12 hours on a big day out, not my game though :)
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Re: Mountaineering Fitness

Postby skuk007 » Wed Nov 02, 2011 2:59 pm

I'd agree with MountainLove's skipping comment. Several 10 minute sessions of skipping and I'm pretty knacked.
I only skip because I really am not into jogging at all. Swimming is really good too.
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Re: Mountaineering Fitness

Postby soulminer » Wed Nov 02, 2011 3:49 pm

I am of the opinion that it is not necessary to train in between hills. I have mostly avoided the mundane and repetetive aspects of gym work- have tried it,but have only succeeded in turning up the noses of the poser element :( Just because I drink the wrong water and wear 'different' outfits- pure snobbery in some gyms, and put in some effort does not mean I'm a bad person, I'm from Johnstone not Essex :thumbup: . Well they can stick there elitism, I'll just keep my monthly installments and spend it on hillwalking, which keeps me twice as fit as your average poser- thank you very much !
Not training in between does not mean I can't walk across multiple tops on longer days at a fair pace, attitude is more to do with it than 'in between' training.It can be said I have attitude in abundance :lol:
I am not in any way debasing anyone who does train in such ways, it is personal choice after all. My opinion is to gain hill fitness requires the walking of hills not mechanical inclines.
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Re: Mountaineering Fitness

Postby ChrisW » Wed Nov 02, 2011 4:15 pm

soulminer wrote:I am of the opinion that it is not necessary to train in between hills. I have mostly avoided the mundane and repetetive aspects of gym work- have tried it,but have only succeeded in turning up the noses of the poser element :( Just because I drink the wrong water and wear 'different' outfits- pure snobbery in some gyms, and put in some effort does not mean I'm a bad person, I'm from Johnstone not Essex :thumbup: . Well they can stick there elitism, I'll just keep my monthly installments and spend it on hillwalking, which keeps me twice as fit as your average poser- thank you very much !
Not training in between does not mean I can't walk across multiple tops on longer days at a fair pace, attitude is more to do with it than 'in between' training.It can be said I have attitude in abundance :lol:
I am not in any way debasing anyone who does train in such ways, it is personal choice after all. My opinion is to gain hill fitness requires the walking of hills not mechanical inclines.

I agree with soulminer on this, in February this year I was struggling to get up clachnaben (1500 feet) on a short wander following long term injury. Last week I walked 18.5 miles over 4 munros, my training between the two was little hills and big hills but always hills. I hate gyms for all the reasons stated by soulminer and because you simply don't push yourself as hard in the gym as you will in the hills, maybe physiotherapy put me off gym equipment for life but even doing that every day did nothing for my fitness, when I stopped physio and focussed on hills I got much fitter much faster, I have a way to go yet but I'm going to get there with great scenery to look at as I do it :D
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Re: Mountaineering Fitness

Postby orion » Wed Nov 02, 2011 4:21 pm

Like most others on this thread I agree that it`s just a matter of getting in the hill days.I`ve never trained in my life and have had no problem on 4000 metre peaks. I smoke as well :D

Relayer2112 wrote:Buachaille Etive Mor, all 4 peaks, but was a good hour slower than I had planned for with Naismith's rule (I included breaks in the estimated time).
Any thoughts?


As a certain amount of hill fitness is in the head so to speak maybe you could try this. Work out your projected trip time with Naismiths formula.Add two hours to the total time. That way you will get round in an hour under your projected time.Bingo..instant hill fitness :D

On a more serious point,there is no way of knowing in advance how your body will react to altitude until you have been there to find out. Even if you follow Southern Upland Kings torture routine :D
The most important thing of all is to enjoy youself....
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Re: Mountaineering Fitness

Postby taylor94 » Wed Nov 02, 2011 5:08 pm

I have done fitness training for many years and have helped many.

What you want to look at is cardio vascular exercise. This will put more strength into your legs and also build on your endurance.

I tend to run a mile and a half in 7.45 minutes aprox. I would go out for a run 2 - 4 times a week f each session 2 15 - 20 minutes at a good pace.

First two weeks the muscles in your legs will be sore as they will be getting use to running. Baths will help the muscles relax.

As you do this for three weeks change your running route and time and even terrain this will give your legs more work a shock of different terrain so your muscles dont get lazy (does happen) and also saves you getting bored of the same route.

Change route time and terrain every two or three weeks.

hope this helps
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Re: Mountaineering Fitness

Postby andyfitz » Wed Nov 02, 2011 5:32 pm

At 130 pounds you may be under-nourished. You could try some doughnuts.

My regime involves 40 fags a day and more than my fair share of scotch and doughnuts. I manage to haul my svelte 230 pound 6ft 1 frame around the hills because I walk up hills regulary. Hill fitness comes from walking up hills.

I'm assuming you know by now that the use of the word pleb construed as being quite offensive.
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