In training athletes, especially higher level ones who have been training consistently for years it is necessary to approach training from new directions. The stimulus must change or the athlete stagnates. With basic aerobic training, that variation is provided by doing longer and longer workouts with more and more vertical because the main stimulus for aerobic adaptations is the volume of training. When it comes to high intensity training we have also to find new ways of “embarrassing’ the body to make it it respond with additional adaptations.
David has done several training cycles in the past few years using the long, medium intensity muscular endurance training of carrying weight on steep terrain, sometimes significant alpine routes even. He and Ueli did a bunch of this stuff around Chamonix the past few winters.
David has achieved a very high level of this event specific endurance. As I noted in this article from last February: https://uphillathlete.com/goettlersteckkhumbutraining/
I made the following note about their performance improvement in the time to climb Island peak
Performance note: These alpinists cut 30 minutes off last year’s identical climb of Island Peak and felt much less fatigued when they got back to their lodge in Chukung. This represents a performance gain of over 8% for already very well trained athletes in about 8 months. We have seen gains of over 30% in similar tests by less well trained athletes we’ve coached.
For elite athletes we can’t expect them to continue making these sorts of gains using the same training. These guys were already very fit. So, I decided to add in a different ME stimulus during the final 2 months of training after they got home from this Khumbu training camp. I used a type of ME workout I have used with top XC skiers and with some top ultra runners. My thinking being that David had ridden that Long Duration ME horse about as far as it was going to take him. They needed a change but still directed at developing more ME.
I have not publicized this Short ME workout, which I developed years ago by modifying a similar workout that Yuri Verkhoshansky made for his work class middle distance runner. As you can tell form David’s workout video it is very hard. It is a multi-week progression of increasing number of the 10sec reps with ever decreasing rest intervals and increasing weight. The potential for injury doing this kind of training is quite high which is why I have not made the workout itself public. I KNOW that too many people would jump immediately to that workout as a Silver Bullet and Steve and I would hear about all the injuries and overtraining. These guys do nothing but eat sleep and train so they can deal with much higher work loads that an amateur can.
It may seem unfair to tantalize UA viewers with his video without divulging the actual workout. Our point in doing this was to show that as an athlete progresses from year to year his/her training will need to progress as well to keep the stimulus high.
Theoretical Side Bar:
ME training targets the endurance limiting muscle fibers. These are the fastest twitch (largest fibers and motor units) that can sustain work for the desired duration. It causes those endurance limiting fibers to develop more endurance (like a ST fiber). By shortening the duration and increasing the intensity of the ME work bouts these high intensity ME workouts reach faster twitch (less endurance endowed fibers) and give them an aerobic training stimulus. This goes along with our general operating principle of building the basic aerobic capacity of the ST fibers for along base period then adding the ME work to hit the next level up the fiber power scale. David’s workout is hitting still another rung up the fiber ladder.
Could you handle two long ME workouts a week? Possibly and this would be easy to test. Try two and see how it goes for you for a couple of weeks. If you don’t see improvement though by workout 3 or 4 you better pull the plug as it indicates this is too much work of that type and you are not adapting to it. This type of training is the quickest way to get overtraining so be very aware of your feels and recovery state. Get lots of sleep and plenty of Z1 work in between.