Confusion About Transition Programming

  • Creator
  • #15880

    I just finished reading TFTNA, and first off, I have to say thank you. This book has not only changed the way I think about mountaineering, but about fitness as a whole. I come from a primarily weight-lifting and gym climbing background, and I thought I had pretty good knowledge of fitness and sports science. I was completely wrong– this book has been humbling and revelatory. I’m grateful I found it.

    I’m training to climb Mount Elbrus this July via the South route, and so I’d like to start the transition period right away, but I have a bit of confusion.

    Let’s say my average training volume last year was 5 hours per week. That would put my transition volume at 2.5 hours weekly (50%).

    I want to follow the example plan in the book of 2 strength sessions, 1 climbing session, and 4 aerobic sessions per week. Let’s say strength/climbing sessions take 45 minutes each– that’s 2.25 hours, which only leaves me 15 minutes for my weekly aerobic volume!

    Even with the 10% and 5% increases later, overall volume seems quite low. Am I misinterpreting something here, or counting strength/climbing volume incorrectly?


  • Participant
    amathie on #15930

    Hi Michael,

    I found Scott’s replies in this thread from a few years back really helpful.

    The upshot is that strength training is not well tracked by time. Naturally, you could spend the same length of time in the gym two weeks running but lift twice as heavy the second time as you did the first. Tracked by time, these workouts are the same, but in reality they’re totally different in terms of load.

    What I’ve settled on, based on what I’ve read here, is taking the hourly volume as just aerobic. Any additional strength or climbing sessions, or stuff like stretching/foam rolling to be completed that week is on top of the weekly aerobic volume. If you do the same, you’d start off with 2.5 hours of aerobic volume plus whatever other workouts you have to fit in. Adjust from there. And be consistent in the way that you track your volume throughout the programme.

    Hope that helps.

    Anonymous on #15931


    amathie is correct. Use only the aerobic training volume in the calculations for starting volume and subsequent progression. I know I have written about that before and thanks to amathie for finding the post. It was an oversight in the first printing of the book.

    With you strength training background you may find that your overall work capacity is quite high even though you may suffer from aerobic deficiency syndrome. The aerobic paces you need to use may be quite slow and hence you can probably tolerate a higher starting volume that 50% of your average weekly aerobic hours. You will need to experiment.


    michaelrichardmcbride on #16060

    Thank you so much for the responses! That makes a lot more sense.

    And thanks again for writing the book! Before reading it, I had planned on 6 months of HIIT training to prepare for Elbrus– boy would I have been in for a rough time!

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