Questions about 8 week ice and mixed plan

  • Creator
  • #5945

    Hi Folks,

    I am in the second week of the 8 week ice and mixed plan and I have some specific questions.

    I’ll list them below from general to specific, warm up to ice tools hangs, in the same order as the workouts progress.

    If anybody has any input, I would appreciate it!



    Warm up
    How should the warm up feel? Some exercises feel a little too hard for a warm up. For example, ten Burpees feel more like a principal exercise. Should I simply lower the reps so that they feel right for what I am accustomed to for a warm up, or do the full amount?

    There’s a big difference in how these feel. Some feel easy (Bird dog or Side plank). Some feel hard but possible for 4-5 reps (Knee raises or Super push ups). Some feel impossible for now (L sit). Should I adjust the reps/weight so that they all feel equally easy/hard, or just accept the variation in intensity?

    Pull ups/Ice tool hangs
    In my basement the ceiling is not so high. Hanging from my ice tools, I can’t really extend all the way down, even with my shoulders engaged. I either bow my back a little with my knees/legs behind me, or I raise my knees/legs partially in front of me. This changes the bio-mechanics. For example, with my knees/legs in front, it almost becomes a core exercise, and the limited factor might be my core. That’s not necessarily bad, but my understanding was that this exercise was intended to isolate the arms/forearms for grip strength. Should I continue, or find another place where I can really stretch out to do the hangs?

    Ice tools hangs
    During the general strength phase, the ice tools hangs transition from 30 seconds with both arms to possibly 15 seconds with each arm. What about later during the specific strength phase, when the hangs only last 10 seconds? Is the goal to do these with both arms, or one arm and then the other?

    Calf raises
    When I do calf raises, it’s customary for me to balance with one hand lightly resting on a surface or door frame. Is that acceptable, or is part of the exercise learning to control and balance the movement completely without any support?

    Ice climbing progression
    Do you find a new principal exercise (PE) periodically as you get stronger, or do you just keep using the PE that you found at the beginning?

    I notice that some kind of swinging exercises are absent from this program. Has anybody ever incorporated any swinging exercises, such as hanging from one tool in an inclined position with your feet on the floor, while swinging another weighted tool or a hammer/barbell/whatever? Would this be useful or a waste of time?

    OK, that’s it for now.

    Thanks again for any input you might have.


Posted In: Alpinism

  • Keymaster
    Steve House on #5952

    Hi Bruno,
    Thanks for the question, here are my thoughts:
    Warm-up. The burpee part of the warm up is meant to get your aerobic system online and working, this is often indicated by the fact that you start to feel a bit sweaty. 10 is a somewhat arbitrary number, but chosen because in our experience this series puts a person well warmed up state and ready to train.

    Core: For the easy exercises, add resistance (weight) until you are limited to the specified number of reps. For side-plank, this is easy, grab a bigger dumbell. For bird-dog use an ankle weight or slip on your mountain boots for weight.

    L-sit always feels impossible for about 6-10 weeks and then one day you’ll be able to do them. Keep trying, this exercise is usually impossible more for neurological reasons (your muscles don’t know how to fire that way) than strength reasons.

    Pull-ups. I know what you’re talking about, and this can be annoying. I recommend holding your feet in either position (in front is more sport specific) and counting it as extra core training. It won’t detract from the work the arms/forearms are doing.

    Calf raises, yes a balancing hand is fine.

    It’s best to stick to one good exercise for one training cycle so that you can progress the resistance appropriately. Randomized training is no longer training (thank you cross-fit) because it violates one of the three fundamental concepts which is that training depends on a progressive (slowly increasing) resistance. With strength training we progress the weight. With aerobic training we (primarily) progress the duration, and (secondarily) the intensity. (the other two principles are modulated training load and consistent training stimulus)

    Swinging. While we don’t advocate swinging, using momentum, we do outline an Incline (horizontal) pull-up progression on pages 220-221 of Training for the New Alpinism. If you have an e-book version it’s on the page before the start of chapter 8.

    Hope that helps.

    Anonymous on #5953

    HI Steve,

    Thanks a lot for your answers–that really helps.

    Just to clarify, about the PE, I guess I did not mean finding a different exercise, but increasing the intensity. So, as you get stronger, does the level that you can do the PE increase? You start out at whatever level you are in the ice climbing progression (your PE) and then later try for PE + 1. Have you found that, over this time period, the place you started in the progression remains your PE, and the PE + 1 level also remains unchanged, or does the original PE + 1 eventually become your new baseline PE, and you try for even higher levels in the progression?

    OK, hope that makes sense.

    All the best,


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