Alpine Fitness I - 8 Weeks (Intermediate)


Scott Ferguson and George Bieker

All plans by this Coach


8 Weeks

Typical Week

1 Day Off, 3 Run, 1 Walk, 1 Custom, 2 Strength, 2 X-Train

Longest Workout

1:00 hrs

Plan Specs

fitness beginner intermediate hr based strength base period

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This program is designed for climbers who are not currently participating in regular exercise training and want to move towards more preparation for the alpine terrain. The overall goal of this plan is to introduce our climber to structured exercise training and to build a foundation of endurance and strength that will enable them to complete more rigorous goal specific training in the future.

This plan is perfect for weekend warriors or rock climbers who have been climbing for a while and want to prepare themselves for more technical objectives in the mountains.

This plan is perfect for climbers wanting to transition to structured training to tackle their first 14'er or multi-pitch alpine climb in the summer. All strength training sessions are designed so that they can be completed with minimal gym equipment. Emphasis is placed on getting outside and running/hiking to build solid training habits. Once instilled, these habits will enable you to tackle more difficult training regimens in the coming weeks and months. In a sense, you are "training to train." The rock specific exercises are better done with access to a rock climbing gym, though pitched climbing will work if needed.


Training Load By Week
Average Weekly Breakdown
Average Weekly Training Hours: 06:08
Training Load By Week
Average Weekly Training Hours: 06:08
Average Weekly Breakdown

Scott Ferguson, Ph.D. and George Bieker M.Ed.

Summation Athletics

Summation Athletics offers training for a variety of activities based on the fundamental principles of exercise physiology. We specialize in mountain athletics including rock-climbing, trail running, mountaineering, big-game hunting, and alpine climbing.

Back to Plan Details

Sample Day 1

Lactate (aerobic) Threshold Test

The first 4 weeks of this plan are meant to help you transition you into a regular structured training program, They are primarily meant to prepare you for the harder work ahead and may not feel particularly challenging in the initial weeks.
The first workout you find your lactate threshold (LT).
Before we can start improving your fitness, we need to see how fit you already are. To do this, I'll have you perform two field-tests to determine both your critical intensity (CI, your highest sustainable exercise intensity) and your lactate threshold (LT, the intensity where you start to rely more on glycolytic energy production, rather than mostly fat oxidation).
Use one of the following protocols to determine your LT, which will be the upper heart rate (HR) limit for your aerobic capacity building workouts. For more information on Aerobic Capacity and Lactate, threshold you may reference the book “Training for the New Alpinism” by Steve House and Scott Johnston (note: the LT is called the aerobic threshold and the CI is called the anaerobic threshold in their book, but both refer to the same physiological responses). You may also contact Dr. Ferguson if you would like to gain a more scholarly perspective on the subject.

1) LT Test
We would like you to use the first test listed below only if you have engaged in a regular low-intensity aerobic training program for over one year. By regular we mean a structured program of training at least four days a week for extended periods of at least 30 minutes of continuous aerobic work in each training bout.
LT test: Walk, jog, or run on flat ground (or on a treadmill) easy for 10 minutes to warm up enough that you're starting to break a sweat. Then close your mouth, continue to breathe normally, and continue to increase the running/walking pace to the point where you can no longer breathe only through your nose. Back off the speed and hold this pace for the rest of the 20 minutes. This will also correspond to the upper limit at which you can carry on a conversation without needing to catch your breath. In your mind, make a note of what this intensity feels like and also note what your typical HR is at this intensity (check your HR monitor for this). This is your lactate threshold (LT) pace and HR.

2) Maximal aerobic function (MAF) HR estimation to determine LT.
If you have not engaged in the type of aerobic training referred to above or have been involved in a training program utilizing regular bouts of high-intensity training such as CrossFit, P90X, Tabata or other gym-based interval protocol type workouts, then use the following formula to estimate the top of your aerobic zone:
180-age=MAF HR.
You should also perform the first test as a comparison but use whichever is the LOWER of these two HR values as the upper limit for ALL your aerobic training unless otherwise instructed in the workout info.

Note: All aerobic training for long duration activities (i.e., mountain climbing, big game hunting, alpine climbing) should ideally be done on foot. Cycling and swimming, while great exercise, are not weight-bearing exercises while running and hiking is much more specific to your sport, which requires you to perform on your feet for extended periods.

Sample Day 2

SA General Strength - 1 X 10

This is our base strength and core routine. Expect it twice a week for most weeks. Number of sets will very but for the first few weeks we are doing just once (1x) through the core routine and 1x through strength.

Sample Day 4

Lactate (aerobic) Threshold Run/hike

Lactate Threshold (LT) Run/hike. Run/jog/walk at a pace you can maintain while breathing through your nose (assuming your nose is clear).

Sample Day 5

SA General Strength - 1 X 10

This is our base strength and core routine. Expect it twice a week for most weeks. Number of sets will very but for the first few weeks we are doing just once (1x) through the core routine and 1x through strength.

Sample Day 6

Recovery Run/Jog/Walk

This should be a very easy run/hike on flats. HR should be well below LT. (e.g., LT-10-15 bpm)

Sample Day 6

Climbing Endurance (ARC Training) - Floating

ARCing, or Aerobic, Respiration and Capillarity is a technique used to build sport-specific endurance in the rock climbing medium. Here is a rough guideline to our progression. Depending on your current climbing ability this may be adjusted. Email for more specific questions before starting your routine.

Week 1 & 2 - 1 set per week of (2 x 10 min)
Week 3 & 4 - " (2 x 15 min)
Week 5 & 6 - " (2 x 20 min)
Week 7 & 8 - " (2 x 25 min)

Rest 10-15 minutes between sets.

Each set will be performed by continuous climbing for the allotted time. The KEY to this workout is maintaining a slight "pump" in your arms the ENTIRE time. Traversing or tread-wall is a great way to do this and is typically more effective than pitched climbing.

If you are onsighting 5.11 or harder you may need to start week one at the 20 or 25-minute mark. Progress through the 8 weeks by adding 5 minutes per week.

This workout may also be substituted for a floating climbing day. Just make sure you are staying on the wall for about the prescribed times. A good way to think of this is just about onsight level. THIS IS NOT as effective as traversing or treadwalls but will give you a good opportunity to build technique and systems on real rock.

Think of the pitches breakdown as so..
Week 1 & 2 - 1 set per week of (3-4 pitches)
Week 3 & 4 - 2 Sets of (3-4 pitches)
Week 5 & 6 - 2 Sets of (4-5 pitches)
Week 7 & 8 - 2 Sets of (5-6 pitches)

Sample Day 7

Hike on Hilly Terrain

Run/Hike on hilly terrain, vert gain min of 500 ft.

Alpine Fitness I - 8 Weeks (Intermediate)

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