Gym ME vs Outdoor ME (Water Jug Carries)

  • Creator
  • #49240

    Are water jug carries more optimal than the Gym ME from a muscular endurance training standpoint?

    I am fortunate enough to have access to good trails and hills but the gym ME would be more time efficient for me.

    Training for a 15 km, 1500m heavy pack (probably 50lbs) skin mountaineering approach this spring.

  • Participant
    Aaron on #49248

    Interested in any thoughts here too. I do the gym ME for ski mountaineering including heavy packs and approaches. For sure it helps, not just on the up, but also for leg burning descents. My approach so far has been to do a long gentle gym ME progression and add in a small handful of harder water carries towards the end of the cycle before tapering out in advance of goal trips. My go to vertical ski training run is not quite steep enough, I am thinking of changing to adding a few bootpack based steep water carries later in the winter this yr, and just keep with the gym progression as the bread and butter.

    My sense in optimization is that the workout that gets done is the better one. Time efficiency using gym makes sense.

    Shashi on #49254

    I believe the outdoor ME Endurance workout is preferred if you have easy access to hills, but the gym-based ME workout has been effective. Here is what Scott Johnston said about gym-based ME program in this article –

    This muscular endurance workout is appropriate for mountaineers, mountain runners, ski mountaineers, and any athletes who lack easy access to steep hills. Anyone who needs to go steeply uphill faster for longer will see gains from this gym-based ME program. It has been well tested and proven effective even for elite-level athletes.

    I like Aaron’s comment –

    My sense in optimization is that the workout that gets done is the better one. Time efficiency using gym makes sense.

    russes011 on #49283


    As you may know, outdoor trail runs, ME workouts, and uphills for time/elevation gain are more difficult because you are moving on (usually) uneven terrain which taxes a variety of muscles in different ways, as well as engages your ability to balance and move efficiently. Furthermore, if there’s any downhill, even if unweighted, this is often the most intense, soreness inducing, portion of the workout with all of its ‘negative’ reps–many indoor workouts lack this downhill component. If the goal is ME then outdoor is often best, in my opinion. That said, indoor workouts are better for efficiency as well as pushing the limit on weight and intensity with the uphill, since it’s in a more controlled ‘laboratory’ environment. Pure uphill endurance and ME in the muscles solely used on a uniform grade can be developed well (and even better) in the gym, but even after really building up these attributes in the gym, if you then go for a weighted outdoor hike or workout, you not only may look a bit uncoordinated and inefficient on the uphill, add any downhill you often get quite sore, regardless of what you built up in the gym. This has been my experience.

    — Steve

    Anonymous on #49612

    It depends on the event.

    For a slow-cadence, pack-laden endeavor, heavy carries are ideal because it’s sport-specific. For a high-cadence, lightweight event, gym ME will be more effective.

    So the multi-day ski tour would benefit more from the carries, but it’s the opposite for a skimo racer where speed and cadence are so important.

    And yes, if it’s one or none, choose the one that you can do.

    Brett on #49614

    I asked a similar question once and Scott J. mentioned that the jumping split squats in the gym workout have a big benefit for downhill running due to the eccentric movements. I’ve found that this is very true.

    Here’s the post:

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