Buiding up pack strength

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  • #25426

    I am doing the 24 week program, and it seems you don’t actually start using pack weight until Week 16? is this correct? is 8 weeks enough time to build up the required pack strength for something like Aconcagua or Denali with big loads?

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    Anonymous on #25520

    Thanks for writing in. This is common misconception. So let me explain.

    You are correct that the plan delays the weighed pack carries until the final 8 weeks. This is intentional and here is why:

    Most folks who come to us for training help are aerobically deficient. We strive first to correct as much of this deficiency as possible in the first 16 weeks. Adding heavy weight hikes will impact that aerobic work negatively because those are muscular endurance training. The theory for this well explained in our books and in several articles on this site.

    We see this misuse of muscular endurance training often and it one of the leading causes of this aerobic deficiency. With our a string aerobic base you will not maximize your muscular endurance work.

    We have used the approach for over 20 years on hundreds if not thousands of athletes form some of the worlds best alpinists to rank amateurs with great success so we stand by it 100%. If you read some of the success stories on the site you’ll hear from many folks who have followed this plan with great success on Denali and Aconcagua and Everest.

    I well understand that this may differ from what you have heard from other sources so you are wise to ask for clarification.


    Jan on #25549

    @Scott: But what about doing the long zone 1 workouts (for example hikes on hilly terrain) with a not too heavy pack, as suggested in TftNA on page 249?
    Good idea, useless or even counterproductive?

    gliderx on #25574

    Thanks for the explanation Scott!

    Anonymous on #25916


    The answer depends upon your fitness level. If you, as many of our readers find themselves, suffering from a big aerobic deficit then I suggest keeping the Z1-2 workouts unweighted or with minimal weight like water and snacks but no significant weight added. To go right to adding weight, especially if it becomes significant (more than 15-20% of body weight) will turn make these workouts more of a muscular endurance workout. You certainly must added weighted hikes and steep uphill climbs at some point in your training. But, curing ADS should be job number one if you want to make the most gains over the long term.

    If someone came to me, as has happened from time to time, with only 6 weeks to prepare for major mountaineering objective I will tell them that they need to go right to using weighted pack carries. This is the specific training that is needed for their event and to ignore that will hamper their performance. They will have to rely upon whatever aerobic base that have developed up to that point. If they have 6 months instead of 6 weeks I will take them through an aerobic base building period first. Even the very fittest pro alpinists and mountain runners I work with do not do more ME workouts. They still periodize the same way I am recommending here.


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