How many ME workouts in a week?

  • Creator
  • #15705

    I’ve been using the fantastic article Steve wrote on training for ice and mixed climbing ( for my strength training over the last 4 months. I’m just moving into the muscular endurance phase now, and had a quick question about the optimal number of ME workouts in a given week.

    In the article, there’s this table:

    Sunday Climb
    Monday Rest
    Tuesday Rest
    Wednesday Ice-Beast Workout
    Thursday Rest
    Friday Rest
    Saturday Climb

    And there’s also this table:

    To progress the Ice-Beast Workout, add rounds per the following schedule:

    Weeks 1 and 2: 2 rounds
    Weeks 3 and 4: 3 rounds
    Weeks 5 and 6: 4 rounds
    Weeks 7 and 8: 5 rounds

    To me, this suggests I should be doing 1 ME workout a week. But elsewhere in the article, Steve suggests:

    “For another eight weeks, add this workout into your program once every 10 days. This is a difficult, and also very powerful, workout. Do not overuse this, as you’ll end up sick and/or injured without sufficient rest.”

    Doing it once every ten days will mean that there will be weeks that have no ME workout in them. Is this right? Also, what should I be doing for my other strength workouts? Every other week I’ll be adding in a Max Strength maintenance session, and aiming for two climbing sessions every week. Do I need another strength workout in there?


  • Participant
    Reed on #15710

    At risk of being too simplistic: you’ll be providing a stimulus via a workout, then letting your body recover and get stronger. The time required to recover and get to a supercompensated state might be 6-12 hours for a short-duration, low-intensity run. Maybe 24-48 for a weekly low-intensity long run, 48-72 hours for a strength workout. And, within the context of a large ongoing volume of base training, it might take 5-10 days to recover and supercompensate from a muscular endurance (ME) workout. (I don’t have any real experience with ME workouts, so take this with a grain of salt.) If you can recover in 6-7 days, and basing your training on a 7-day schedule fits the rest of your life, great. If you need 10 days to recover, give yourself 10 days to recover.

    Anonymous on #15716


    Reed is right in what he states about recovery time but I think he is not understanding the question you pose. Let me see if I can answer what I “think” you are asking.

    What Steve means when he says Week 1 and 2: 2 rounds

    Is that in the one ME workout you will do during each of week 1 and week 2 you will go through the ME circuit 2 time (2 rounds in a single workout). What he does not mean is to do 2 ME workouts in each week.

    In subsequent weeks you will repeat the ME circuit more times hence:
    Weeks 3 and 4: 3 rounds (in each workout)

    You do not increase the number of workouts. You increase the amount of work done in each workout.


    amathie on #15718

    Hi both,

    Thanks for your replies. Looking back, I don’t think my original questions was clear so let me rephrase.

    If you do an ME workout on the Friday of Week 1 (assuming the week runs Mon-Sun) then in ten days, the next workout will be Monday or Week 3. This means that there is no Week 2 workout, and so I would be confused by Steve’s prescription of 2 rounds through the circuit in Week 2’s workout.

    I suppose the issue is this — the article prescribes a certain number of rounds through the ME workout for each week. But if you only do the workout very ten days, some weeks actually don’t have an ME workout in them.

    Does that make sense?

    amathie on #15719

    Sorry, that should read ‘Monday of Week 3’.

    Anonymous on #15770

    For the first 8 weeks try to follow the plan and its progression as laid out in your first post. If you want to continue ME for another 8 weeks you can space the workouts 7-10 days apart. 7 days to keep building and 10 days for maintenance. By that time you will have a good feel for the load and recovery time needed to handle these workouts.

    There is no one prescription that is ideal for everyone. I find that those with extensive strength backgrounds handle these ME workouts much better, less soreness, fewer recovery days and able to do them closer together. The typical slow twitch mountain runner finds these really tough and one a week is all they can handle. For the climbing ME workouts we tend to err on the conservative side and recommend 1/week.

    Do not fall into the trap of trying to follow any general training plan as if it was a personalized recipe. When writing a plan or an article for an larger audience we can only approach it with general recommendations. You MUST take responsibility for finding what works best for you within the general guidelines and not follow blindly what is written. That is why there is so much training theory in our book and so much similar info on how to monitor training here on this site.

    If you have read this then you know that if you do not feel stronger from workout to workout you are over doing it. By providing this type of info we hope to help you be better able to manage your own training to best suit you.


    amathie on #15781

    @Scott Johnston

    Thanks Scott, that helps clear things up.

    I am definitely keeping an eye on training intensity but just wanted to know what a good starting point would be. And was conscious that overdoing it with these powerful ME workouts had the potential to bury me.

    Will stick to 1/week and see how it goes.

    Steve House on #15802

    HI All,
    Sorry for the confusion I created, but happy that people are using the information. As Scott already pointed out, a good general guideline (which obviously will vary from person to person, but we’re going middle of the road here) is: do the ME workout every 7 days to keep building and every 10 days for maintenance.
    I’ve found that people without a lot of background in this type of workout will be better off doing it once every 10 days the first 8 weeks or so, but again, significant variation between individuals.

    My rule of thumb is if you start the workout, complete the warm up, and if during the first round you feel really flat or weaker (in any sense) than you felt the last time you did the workout, stop immediately and call it a workout. Wait another 3-4 days and try it again. That will help you dial in your workout spacing, what coaches often call density.

    Great job digging into this stuff. Knowledge is power!

    amathie on #15816


    Thanks Steve. That’s really helpful, especially the rule of thumb.

    Strength-wise, my weeks currently look like this:

    M: Off
    T: Off/Max strength maintenance (alternating)
    W: Off
    T: ME
    F: Off
    S: Climb
    S: Off

    I’ll stick with this for the time being and keep a close eye on how I’m feeling. Will drop down to ME every ten days if needed.

    Another thing — this seems to have way less core work than previous phases of the training. I generally do a short core routine as part of my warm up on my climbing day. And previously I had some core work as part of the max strength workout, but the ice/mixed training article suggests replacing this with a 10min aerobic warmup, some stretching and then 20 burpees and 20 pull-ups. I’m worried I’ll be losing core strength like this.

    My intuition would be to replace the burpees and pull-ups with a max strength core routine as a warm up for my fortnightly max strength maintenance session. Any issues with that?

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