Heart Rate for Uphill Weighted Muscular Endurance

  • Creator
  • #13981
    Felipe Q

    I am an amateur working through my Time Crunched Mountaineering Program. I have reached the Uphill Weighted ME workouts which I am just tackling now by doing laps of the fire stairs of a tall building with a weighted pack. After watching the example video of a long 60 degree climb with 40lbs of water in the pack at conversational pace (zone 1) I am finding it very difficult to replicate (at a lower incline with less weight) while staying at or below my AeT (likely an ADS problem), which is what I believe is the required exertion level.

    I am starting with about 15% body weight in the pack and moving slowly, but I find to sustain a pace of about 1300 ft/hour, I need to be operating in the 80-95% of AnT range (zone 3). I can still nose breath at this pace and sustain it for the duration of the exercise, and I feel the burn in the legs which is the point of this training. I plan to do a lot of these workouts in the coming months in preparation for Rainier and I don’t want to 1) waste my training time or 2) damage my aerobic capacity.

    As the focus of the time crunched plan is higher intensity generally and most training is measured against the AnT as opposed to the AeT for longer plans, is it OK to do these workouts at higher intensity (zone 3), should I slow down and drop pack weight (and leg burn)to stay below AeT (zone 1), or move off the stairs to an inclined treadmill to get the heartrate into zone 1? I have also leafed through the Weighted Hill Climbs page in TftNA looking for clarification. Thanks for any assistance.

  • Inactive
    Anonymous on #13992

    For these weighted ME workouts do not place emphasis on the HR but on the local muscular fatigue that you feel in your legs. Even though HR may be in Z1 or 2 the ‘feel’ in your legs will be in Z3 and that is what matters. By the way the hill in that video is 60% not 60 degrees: Very different. It sounds like you are doing this workout correctly if the limit is in the legs and not the breathing.


    hafjell on #14011

    “By the way the hill in that video is 60% not 60 degrees: Very different.”
    Could you explain the difference?

    allan.xperia on #14013

    A slope in % is the ratio between the vertical distance travelled and the horisontal distance travelled.

    For slight slopes there is an almost proportional relationship between percent and degrees:
    1% = 0.573°
    10% = 5.71°

    …but for steeper slopes, the relationship becomes more non-linear (a 90° slope – a vertical wall – has an infinite slope in percent):
    6% = 3.43°
    60% = 31.0°
    173.2% = 60.0°

    So a 60° slope is almost twice as steep as a 60% slope when comparing degrees, and almost 3 times as steep when comparing percent.

    James on #14017

    I think of it more simply in terms of a 100% slope- i.e., a 45° angle. It’s 100%, because the distance you go forward is 100% (or the same) of what you go vertically.
    For those familiar with roof pitches, a 12 on 12 roof is a 45° angled roof – 12 inches horizontal for every 12 inches vertical. 12 is 100% of 12.

    Pete on #20969

    Hi all,

    yesterday was my first Z3 weighted climb in my 16 week programme for summer alpine climbing. I started with around 24,5 kg in my pack and going up a steep hill as hard as I could (as laid out in the plan). I felt that the legs were not burning all the time, so I’m guessing that the weight could be a bit higher (probably 1-2 kg more) cause at times it felt like my breathing was the limiting factor. The plan says to do at least 450 vertical meters and go as hard as you can for 1 hour. I went for 47 minutes, did 521 meters and my average HR was 162, my max was 176.

    Ma questions are:
    1) I can do more then 450 meters in 1 hour, so I guess that I should aim for 1 hour regardless if I do more than 450 meters. Yes or no?
    2) Can I use my average HR as my AnT? Do you think that this was a valid test, despite that it didn’t last for 1 hour? Yes or no?
    3) As my AeT is very low, around 116-118 BPM on a flat terrain (with this HR I usally get Pa:Hr ratio at or bellow 5% – what is suggested in the plan) I am certain that I suffer from severe ADS (returning from a leg injury, 6 months of doing practicaly nothing, just some biking on flat terrain). I wonder if I should rather do Z3 weigthed climbs in Z1/Z2 in order to get as much aerobic traning as possible as this seems to be my crucial week point?

    I would answer yes to all of these questions, but would still be glad to get some more insights and thougths from other more experienced uphill athletes up here. I love to train and see how can I improve, but don’t have all the time in the world for this, so I really have to spent my available time wisely and that is the reason for asking these maybe very basic questions.

    Many thanks and stay safe!


    pshyvers on #20990

    Pete, I exhibited ADS & couldn’t keep my HR down while trying to do ME workouts. I found nothing helped- changing the weight, or the slope, or whatever. Now after lots of work on my AeT, I have occasionally noticed heavy legs slowing me down before my heart rate takes off, and I will be working on ME this summer.

    I don’t have any data to support the best course of action, but based on my experience I feel the most productive thing to do is focus all your aerobic efforts on developing your AeT. (Still doing core & general strength, of course) Knowing how it felt then, and how it feels now, I just don’t think you can fudge your way to a valuable & productive ME session if you don’t have the cardio to support it.

    Anonymous on #20995


    Thanks for writing in. There is definitely some general confusion around the implementation of of these weight climb ME workouts. So, don’t feel alone. These are most common things I see people struggle with.

    1) How steep was the hill? Keep in mind that a steep trail may hit 20%. Most trails are built to average under 15% and closer to 10%. If you “hill” was a typical trail at 10-15% it will be very hard to get the legs to be the limiter. We generally tell folks to look for a fall line they can hike straight up for these workouts. The video of me doing one of these workouts is on a steep hillside that has an average angle of over 50% for almost 2000 feet. You really NEED the poles to balance and keep forward progress on this steep and usually loose terrain.

    2) Having the breathing be the limiter with such a heavy pack and assuming your hill was 25-50% grade is definitely a sign that you cold use more aerobic base building (raise your AeT). We try to avoid adding any intensity until the AeT is within 10% of AnT as explained here https://uphillathlete.com/when-to-add-intensity-training/. Of course at some point (typically 6-10 weeks before your main event) in your training you will need to add intensity (like the ME for mountaineers) even if you are still aerobically deficient. If you can fix the ADS you’ll get even more benefit from the ME.

    2) 450m/hr is a very respectable rate of climb fully laden. You’ve got strong legs if they weren’t the limiter. But I would not use this test to set you AnT HR. Our AnT test recommendation is to go uphill as hard as possible for 30-60 minutes unladen. The average HR for that test will be, by definition, the maximum sustainable power output as reflected by the HR.

    4) How did you determine max HR. Its a very hard thing to do and is one reason we stopped recommending that test. Its not as relevant for determining training intensity as AeT and AnT heart rates.

    5) There is one magic formula for how much vert you should do in one of these workouts. 450-521 meters… I can’t really say. If you over do this work it will take a lot to recover from it. I can tell you that the strongest professionals I coach, all of whom do this sort of workout do no more than 1000m in a workout. And they’ve all been doing this for years working with me and they still continue to see gains with this method.

    I hope this helps shed some more light on this important workout.
    You might also want to watch a lecture by Sam that focuses on ME work. It is on our FB page. Scroll down a bit and you will find it.


    Pete on #21004

    Thanks guys, your answers are very helpful.

    I watched your video Scott again and it seems that my hill (the grade of it) is more or less the same as yours is in the video, but will check it anyway. Just to make sure. It is a path of some sort and also used by downhill MTB riders, so I guess is steep :). But I can also walk on the terrain beside the track. It is steep. Will try it next time, with the same weight in my pack (approximately 54 lbs) and see if my legs will be the limiting factor or still my breathing. Guessing that it will be the legs, because of the roughness of the terrain. Elevation will keep more or less the same, around 500 meters tops. From the last workout I felt some “heavyness” in my legs the next day, but today I feel that they are back to normal so I’m guessing that the effort was just about what I can handle at the moment.

    I am aware that is crucial for me to improve my AeT, so I will be even more vigilent about my aerobic training and it seems I have a long road ahaed of me to improve my aerobic engine.

    The AnT test will have to wait for a while, cause my leg only allows me to walk at the moment. Running is out of the question for now (still need one more surgery). In regards of my max HR I haven’t even thought about it, cause I learned through UA that all you need is basically your AeT and AnT HR and I am still playing around with AeT especially, cause it keeps changing so much. It really depends wether I do a workout in the morning or in the late afternoon after work.

    Enough talking, gotta do some walking 🙂

    Thanks again!

    Best, Pete

    Jan on #38413

    @Scott Johnston: You say none of your professional athletes is doing more than 1000 m during the weighted hill climbs, but in the “Vertical Beast Mode” article it says that Steve House was doing 4500 m in one workout. Can you explain that?
    Also, in the article Steve is doing 4500 m with 40 pounds, in TftNA at page 239 it says that Steve did 2743 m with 30 pounds maximum. Both seem to be from the same training cycle (Makalu 2008). Which one is right?

Viewing 9 replies - 1 through 9 (of 9 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.