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Training Exercises For A Mountain And Why A Basic, Downloadable Online Training Plan Is Not Enough

Updated: Jun 7, 2020

If you’ve read any of my other blogs, you’ll pick up a trend – I don’t agree with cookie cut training programs that you can download online, for a number of reasons:

1. The vast majority of them are not sport specific. Meaning they are not specific to mountaineering and trekking. It would be like asking a golfer to a general strength program in order to improve his golf – he or she should be doing exercise specific to golf in order to the strengthen the muscles he or she actually uses in golf.

2. A basic, one size fits all training plan does not take into consideration your personal strengths and weaknesses, your current fitness levels or the high altitude route you plan on taking.

3. Cookie cut plans generally assume you need 6 weeks or 12 weeks to train for a mountain or trekking route – what happens if you actually needed more time or less time?

4. Online plans generally don’t take into account your lifestyle, environmental surrounding or the fact that you may not have access to a gym, and current or past injuries.

For these reason and so many more, you won’t find cookie cut plans in my blogs, BUT what you will find is recommended training hours spent withín The 5 Essential Training Principles (see link below for more info). I have done a whole series on training plans for specific routes and mountains based on the average age and fitness of adventurers who attempt those routes. Once you understand the Essential Training Principles, it is easy to use these timeline guideline plans to develop your own personalised plan. I know it would be so much easier for you but you wouldn’t be climbing a mountain or doing a high altitude trek if you wanted easy, you’d be spending that time on a beach if you wanted easy.

You won’t even find two training programs that are the same on my Mountaineering & Trekking Training Program. Everybody’s body is different and their training plan should reflect that.

So rather than giving you a cookie cut plan, I have taken the time to explain and teach what your training plan should consist of and why, in terms of the 5 Training Principles specific to high altitude mountaineering and trekking. In this blog you’ll find a list of examples of the exact exercises you should be incorporating into your training plan based on the 5 Training Principles Of Mountaineering & Trekking, as well as a brief explanation of each Training Principle.

This blog would be best used and understood in combination with another blog that I wrote that explains each Training Principle in great detail - “The 5 Essential Training Principles Of Mountaineering & Trekking”

1. Ankle Mobility and Balance

This involves a combination of flexibility and strength in the tiny surrounding muscles that stabilise the ankle joint. Coincidently, while you work on your ankle mobility and balance, you will also be working the muscles surrounding your knee joint that support it. This is a particularly important aspect of this training principle for moving down the mountain or trekking slope, as most people strain and hurt their knees during this part of the trip and not the going up part.

  • Knee to Wall Ankle Mobilization

  • Plate Ankle Mobilization

  • Plantarflexion

  • Dorsiflexion

  • Self Myofascial Release (SMR) of the calf muscle

  • T-Stand with Hinge and Side Bend

  • Single Leg Balance Exercises

  • Calf Raisers (with your eyes closed)

  • Single Leg Step Downs

  • A variety of Squats on a Foam Roller

2. Aerobic Fitness

The goal here is to increase your ability to move at a certain speed (55% to 79% of your maximum heart rate) over long periods of time without getting tired. At a cellular level, three very important things happen: an increase in Mitochondrial mass, an increase in the amount of aerobic enzymes within those mitochondria cells and an increase in capillary bed density.

  • Running

  • Speed Walking

  • Uphill Walking

  • Rowing

  • Swimming

  • Cycling

3. Anaerobic Power

This metabolic system is like the brother to Aerobic Fitness but completely the opposite in character, performance, function and sustainability. This training principle requires you do train in short, explosive, powerful movements in order to activate it and train it. It amy seem contradictoring for a slow, endurance event like climbing a mountain or taking on a 12 day trek but if there is a sudden massive rockfall or avalanche, or you simply slip down the path and need to spring back up again, it is your Anaerobic Power that will save you and propel you in those moments.

  • Split Jumping Lunges

  • Box Jumps

  • Squat Jumps

  • Hill Sprints

  • Burpees (with a high jump)

4. Core Stability

Your core is what connects your upper body to your lower body and in order for both parts to move biomechanically well, you must strengthen your core. Your core is not just your abs or six pack muscles. It is a host of other muscles that work hard with every movement you make to stabilise your spine, expand and contract your rib cage properly allowing you to breath correctly and so much more.

  • Front Plank

  • Jacknife

  • Leg Raises

  • Swimming (Pilates exercise)

  • Mountain Climbers (with a band around both feet)

5. Leg and Glute Strength

Did you know that it takes over 200 muscles to take one single step. Now imagine taking an average of 130,000 steps to reach the summit of Kilimanjaro. You get the picture right? You need strong legs and more importantly strong glutes (your butt muscles) to get you to the top. Having strong glutes is essential because with a big step up (like climbing a flight of stairs two steps at a time) it is actually your glutes that do most of the work rather than your leg muscles.

  • Step Ups

  • Walking Lunges

  • Squats (with varied foot positions)

  • Side Lying Glute Exercises

  • Wall Sits

If you’d like to get more information about these 5 Training Principles then click here to find my book “A Step-By-Step Manual To Mountaineering & Trekking Around The World”. You’ll also find a detailed, easy to follow three step process to creating your own training plan, including the use of The Sielmann High Altitude Training Formula to calculate the exact amount of hours you should be training per week.

Including these 5 training principles into your Mountaineering & Trekking Training plan is critical to your success and overall enjoyment on your adventure. Dedicate yourself to these 5 principles and the exercises I have given and you’ll reap the rewards by training your body to be in its optimal physical condition, capable of tackling even the most challenging mountaineering and trekking routes.



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