ME Questions

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  • #13420

    Hey Guys,

    I’m just finishing up the max strength period and preparing to transition into the Muscular Endurance phase. I’ve read through the book twice and the articles and forum posts on here but I still have a couple questions. Thanks in advance for any help and/or insight.

    1. The book mentions an example of progression for an older Mt. Rainier climber. The weight protocols are pretty low (10-15lbs starting out). However, in the training log, articles on here, and forum posts everyone talks about using a heavy weight to cause the legs to be the limiter. Examples from the 6 month mountaineering plan are that the weight should be about 50lbs or so. I understand this is going to be individual to each person, but should I be starting around that 50 lb marker and adjust from there?

    2. Speaking to the hill used for training. I live on the front range of Colorado, but I haven’t had much luck finding the “text book” hill. Obviously, some of these workouts will have to happen during the week, so location and travel time are a factor. The hill that seems to come as close as possible to meeting the criteria is the Round Mountain Trail just off of Hwy 34 on the way up to Estes Park. However, the grade isn’t completely consistent. The average grade is 13% and the max grade is 47%. Here is a link to the trailhead infromation:

    The trail’s steepness various and is most certainly not 45 degrees. Is this going to seriously stunt my growth when it comes to making gains during this phase? I feel it’s better to get outside in the foothills verses a stair master or other gym equipment, is this correct?

    3. With respect to progressing load my goal climb is the Cassin Ridge in alpine style. Including the fact that we will acclimate on the West Butt, our biggest potential day would be doing a summit bid from 14k camp and back, so 6,000 feet. On the other hand, if we are able to keep moving we are going to try for the Cassin in one continuous push, which would be a 9,000′ day. Would you recommend training towards a higher ending vertical given the technical nature of the Cassin? Do you have any advice on a 12 week progression relating specifically to the ME workout vertical?

    4. The ME workouts are separate from the normal longer zone 1 hiking with a weighted pack correct?



  • Inactive
    Anonymous on #13435


    Let me start by saying that there are many effective ways to build muscular endurance. What we showed in the book was one simple and very well tested method. As with many subjects we’ve expanded on the topic on the website where space is not a factor. You’d be surprised at how much we had to leave out of an already long book to make it pass muster with the editor.

    Now to your questions:

    1) See above comment regarding the variability in methods to improve ME. In the book we were trying to give a simple and tested method that would not hurt anyone. On the site we can go into more depth about what is a more advanced method. How much weight you use is determined by how strong your legs are. I’ve had 130lb guys who needed 70lbs before they felt that their legs were the limiter. I have 180lb guys who felt the leg limit with 30 lbs. The only way to figure this out is with trial and error.

    2) 13% will not be steep enough. 20% is prob the minimum and 50% is better. I have used 60% and found it ideal. Needless to say you can’t use a trail unless you have one with big steps like that huge set of stairs in Colorado Springs. You are going to have to find an off trail fall line to use. BTW 45 degrees is 100% and you’d need to be using your hands at that point unless you were on stairs. If you can’t find a steep enough hill then a stair machine will work much better than a 13% trail.

    3) If you use the above method of ME with heavy weight going as hard as you can manage then you will not use the same progression as laid out in the book for the more conventional weighted hikes using 10-20% of body weight and hiking in the aerobic zone. I can tell you that Steve and I have both done as much as 5k vert in a workout carrying 35-40 lbs of water. We progressed to that over about 3 months of 1x/week. This was using the conventional type as laid out in the book. Using the Zone 3 weighted method I had David Goettler doing no more than 1000m in any workout and he was super strong both times he was on Shishapangma. You will not need so much volume with this higher intensity. But it’s gotta be steep. He did one workout on the North Face of the Aig. Vert with about 15kg if I recall correctly. No progression is needed with the Z3 type. You just go as hard as you can for say 1hour. When you come back to that hill in a week you’ll pass your 1 hour mark at 45-50 min and so you’ll go higher in an hour.

    4) If you use the Z3 hard weighted hikes you will not need much weighted hiking otherwise. Lots of Z1-2 volume between these hard workouts.


    Josh Gray on #13439

    Hey Seth,

    Pretty cool to see a mention of Round Mountain on this site! I’m based out of Northern Colorado and have used Round for training for mountain running. Apparently per a friend of mine there is a way to follow some rock ribs all the way to the summit which would certainly make it steep. I’ll ask him for more information on it. Also Alexander Mountain would be a good candidate for a ME workout and is even closer than Round. Though you want to avoid it May-October

    s.luedtke on #13447

    Thank you so much for the insight Scott!!

    Josh, it’s great that you are on the front range!! Thanks so much for the help. I’d love to talk with you more about round and Alexander’s. Maybe we could even get together for some training…



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