Adventure Consultants/Uphill Athlete 8 week Basic Mountaineering Plan

Average Weekly Training Hours 08:31
Training Load By Week
Average Weekly Training Hours 08:31
Training Load By Week

The Uphill Athlete 8 week Mountaineering Plan is designed for climbers bound for a 1-3 day mountaineering objective. It has been used successfully for climbs of Mt. Rainier, the Grand Teton, Mt. Baker, Mont Blanc, the Matterhorn, Mt. Elbrus and many 4,000-meter and 14,000-foot peaks. This plan assumes that you have no strength training background. This plan is ideal for mountaineers and trekkers who have never engaged in an organized training program or who have not done so for a long time.

This plan is based on scientifically sound training principles and a combined thirty years of professional endurance coaching experience and sixty years of world-wide climbing and mountaineering experience. In order to complete this plan it is important to keep a few concepts in mind: Rest when you are tired. If you miss a workout do not try to make it up. Move on to the next day. If you miss more than two workouts in any given week, then repeat that week.

For those with higher aspirations we strongly recommend using our 16 week Big Mountain Training Plan or our 24 Week Expeditionary Mountaineering Training Plans. Following these longer programs will give the athlete a chance to utilize a more advanced and effective periodization schedule.

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 your training. The first 8 weeks also include a simple, easy-to-apply strength program to develop what is called strength reserve, the ability to repeatedly execute strength-dependent movements such as taking a step while wearing a heavy backpack.

Do not increase the intensity and hope to gain more benefits or to squeeze a 1 hour workout into 30 minutes. There is no short cut when it comes to aerobic adaptation.

For the very complete discussion of the concepts put to work in this plan, please refer to our 464-page 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 email us at

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Steve House and Scott Johnston

Sample Day 1
Aerobic Threshold Test for Zone 1 and 2 determination

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.
If you do not have a good idea of your aerobic threshold heart rate you need to establish that first thing before beginning training as this will set the upper limit for your aerobic base training. Since this is most important training you will be doing it is a good idea to get it dialed. One way to do this (the best) is with an expensive lag test.
It can be tricky to find a good lab as detailed here.
If you are careful and diligent you can do your own test using Training Peaks Premium edition. 
Thats what we are going to explain now. Read this article to understand this test better.

This test can be done on either on a treadmill, stair machine or a flat to very gentle loop course outdoors.  It can not be done on an uphill/downhill out and back course.

1) TREADMILL: Set treadmill to 10% and begin running slowly. Gradually build speed till HR stabilizes at what you FEEL is an easy aerobic effort. Allow 10 min to find the speed allow you HR to stabilize there.
Once that is dialed in do not adjust speed or grade. Run continuously for 60 min at this speed. Record HR and upload to TP

2) OUTDOORS: Run, preferably on a flat (or very gently rolling) course, at what feels like an easy aerobic pace. Once your HR stabilizes start the recording feature on your GPS enabled HR monitor watch. Record for one hour while you do your best to keep the HR as close to that initial HR number. Upload the data to TP.

If the Pa:Hr is greater than 5% your initial HR/pace was above your Aerobic Threshold and you should do the test again at a lower HR. This may take several attempts to find a Pa:Hr decoupling of less that 5%.

Once you determine your AeT HR set that as the top of your Zone 2 in your Training Peaks Zones. Subtract 10% from this and set that as the top of your Zone 1.

Sample Day 2
Core and Gen. Strength

1x core routine and 1xgeneral strength from Training for the New Alpinist book.

Sample Day 3

Run/hike on hilly terrain.

Sample Day 4
Recovery Run/Jog/Walk

This should be an easy run on flats. Be below well below AeT even if this means walking

Sample Day 5
Core and Gen. Strength

1x core routine and 1xgeneral strength from Training for the New Alpinist book.

Sample Day 6
Aerobic Threshold Run

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

Sample Day 7
Hike on Hilly Terrain

Run/Hike on hilly terrain, vert gain min of 1,000ft.

Uphill Athlete by Steve House and Scott Johnston
Uphill Athlete LLC.

What originally inspired us to write Training for the New Alpinism, and what inspires us to continue to share the things we’ve discovered through, is the information void when it comes to specialized training for endurance mountain sports. We have successfully demonstrated a more systematic approach, using proven principles, to help you improve both your chances of achieving your goals, and your long-term fitness and safety in whatever mountain sport you are practicing.