Mtn advice for a long-distance triathlete: strength, power and athleticism

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  • #30284
    Chris R.

    Hi – I’m a long-time distance athlete (10+ IM tris) looking for some mountain / alpine training advice. I’ve been on a number of multi-day mountain and trekking routes at 14-20K feet over the past few years and have been really disappointed and alarmed at how much strength, power and athleticism I’ve lost as my triathlon training and results have improved. The loss becomes fairly obvious when I’m trying to make any types of dynamic movements with a 20kg pack over a short distance.

    Any thoughts on how to rebuild these skills? I’ve been working the general strength / transition training routines described in “Training for the New Alpinism”, but have noticed that the workouts seem to skip any plyometric or explosive movements. Is this intentional?

    Thanks in advance for your thoughts!

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    Anonymous on #30287


    With your training have been focused on long steady state aerobic training it is no wonder that your strength and agility has suffered. Our bodies get really good at the things we do the most and you have spent a prodigious amount of time in your training. We do not address plyometrics because this is not an important training method for mountaineers and alpinists. Without adequate strength and coaching it is a very good way for the inexperienced to get injured however. Other than making dynamic moves on hard rock climbs I can not think of time in my life time when I need to have explosive strength (like pylos are used to develop) in an alpine or mountaineering scenario.

    I suspect that agility is a bigger issue than explosive power. Your training has either been seated on a machine (bike), supported in water or running on pavement. In all of these the movement pattern is strictly in the sagittal plane and every pedal stroke, every swim stroke and every running stride is virtually identical. Trail running and good mountain mobility requires dealing with changing foot strikes and more lateral (frontal plane) movements. There is a special sort of reactive strength, balance and agility needed to move efficiently over rough terrain. We’ve tried, but never found a way to train this outside of a mountain environment. You have to spend many hours on rough terrain. This might range from rough/rocky trails to talus slopes to 3rd class scrambling.


    Chris R. on #30289

    Thanks Scott, appreciate the advice, and your answer was what I expected / was afraid of. I hear you on dynamic moves on hard rock climbs; it’s often much more difficult for me to complete “easy” graded bouldering routes with dynamic moves than intermediate / hard routes requiring more finesse and technique or long-roped in climbs. Without regular access to rough/rocky trails, I’ll experiment with some multiplanar exercises and see if that helps. Thanks again.

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