steep uphill alternatives

  • Creator
  • #25451

    There are a couple of references on the forum about steep uphill alternatives.
    Not sure if the following was discussed.

    For a continuous steep uphill hiking activity in training plan(s) the best bet is to have a hill with grade > 40 and a elevation gain of say 800-1000 meters (e.g. Mailbox Peak trail).

    Since many of us do not have long trails steeper than 15% grade or tall 70+ story buildings
    Some (boring) alternatives
    a. box steps ( grades > 75% )
    b. stair climbing (short building e.g. 4-5 stories) (grade = approx 63%)
    c. short hill repeats (e.g. 36 m climb in a 90 m walk = 40% grade)
    d. incline trainer (upto 40 %)
    e. stair master (50% ?)

    All the natural alternatives (a,b,c) are like interval training i.e.short cycles of x steps up , x steps down.
    There is a significant cool down during the downhill cycles of these repeats.

    Will these alternatives approximate the training effect of a continuous steep hill climb ?


  • Participant
    gliderx on #25483

    I would like to know this also, I only have access to a hill with 1000ft climb, do the benefits disappear when you have to walk back down and go up again

    Anonymous on #25521

    You’ve covered all the options.

    Ideally the best aerobic stimulus will come from long sustained uphill hikes. They need not all be on steep trails (>20% grade) or very steep (>30%). Most hiking trails are under 15% especially if they were built for horses. While not ideal hiking trails in the 15% range are still very useful for aerobic base building. This is especially true if you struggle to stay in Z1-2 on the steep to very steep hills. You’ll need to develop that aerobic base on less steep terrain. The best options of those listed for someone without access to long sustained uphills are the machines. They are actually more time efficient (for aerobic training) than real hills because you do not spend time going down hill. Although, the down hill serves a valuable strength training function.

    Doing repetitions of of the shorter hills or building is not a waste but as was mentioned the recovery time on the down hill reduces their effectiveness for aerobic base work (Z1-2).

    When it comes to the ME workouts then shorter hills can work fine. The main thing for these workouts to have their maximum effect is the steepness. This is where a stair machine may be the best option. These workouts are shorter, more intense and less frequent so the monotony is more tolerable.

    Many of our coached clients live in cities with no access to real hills let alone steep ones and they do great on big mountains. Read this article about David Roeske who did virtually all his training in stair wells of tall buildings before becoming the 6 person ever to climb Everest and another 8000m peak back to back in one season with no supplemental O2. It can be done if you really want it. But there is no magic other than doing the work one way or another.

    The Martian Trains for Everest


    us on #25571

    Thanks Scott, this helps !

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