The right training tools for Ski Mountaineering?

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  • #3301

    I am starting to train for snowboard mountaineering this winter (we’ll assume it’s close enough to ski mountaineering for the moment. 😉 ) I’m coming off a summer season of road cycling.

    I’ve just signed up for Training Peaks, and uploaded about 2 years worth of data from my workouts, so I have a pretty good history, and a well established TSS/CTL. My questions is if TSS and CTL can be good tools for the training I need to be doing this winter? One of the things that motivates me is to see my “scores” after a workout, so if I can use these tools for ski mountaineering, that will definitely be a benefit.

    I own and have read TFTNA (need to read it again to brush up). And I’m planning on incorporating the following types of work, and here is how I understand they can map to TSS. Please let me know if I am off-base!

    Things I think will map to TSS well: Running/cycling/nordictrack cardio, days spent skinning, box step-ups with a HR monitor
    Things I worry will not map to TSS well: Core-strength workouts, snowboarding inbounds (even with HRM), sport-specific strength training

    Thanks in advance!

Posted In: Ski Mountaineering

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    Anonymous on #3304


    Glad to hear you are going to be using Training Peaks. I think it is THE best training tracking/monitoring tool ever. And I have been trying different systems for over 30 years with myself and many athletes from junior level right up to Olympians. You have hit on its one failing… TSS (Training Stress Score) for strength, power, anaerobic capacity, anaerobic endurance work. As a cyclist and if you are using power to determine TSS it will do a excellent job for the aerobic work but still not for strength/power workouts. But if you are doing various modes of foot borne work especially in hilly terrain where pace become meaningless then you must use hrTSS (that is Training Stress Score based on heart rate). And since HR is not a good monitor of the work done in strength sessions the TSS measure will under report your actual training stress. Here is the work around I have evolved to. Bear in mind that this is more art than science, but if you are consistent across all these types of workouts then the arbitrary nature of what I am about to describe won’t matter.

    For very high intensity (non-aeroibic) workouts like those mentioned above I look at how long it takes the athlete to recover from them then award a TSS to that work of the same level as he would have achieved in an aerobic workout of requiring a similar recovery time. In other words you fudge the TSS number around so that the TSS matches the fatigue level. Make sense?

    As to a day of inbounds skiing of boarding, that is a tough one because not every day will be the same. How many runs are you getting in on a day? It is not like a standard strength workout where you can learn after a few weeks that this is like a TSS=80.

    TP know this they just do not know how to fix it. It is like comparing apples to oranges. It will be highly individual and you are the only one who knows.

    I’ll be discussing how I do this “fudging” in our Boulder training workshop on November 12 and 13th.


    Shep on #3307

    Thanks for the feedback! Tracking the recovery time to fudge the does make sense, although I will need to figure out what that looks like for me. Coggan has some rough estimates on TP:,-intensity-factor-training-stress

    In your experience, is TSS via HR-only good for things such as XC skiing? My TSS from mountain biking without a power meter feels lower than my Perceived Exertion, but I’m guessing (hoping?) it will be more accurate for XC since it is a more consistent work output.

    Thanks again,

    Anonymous on #3309

    If you are riding on steep hills the perceived effort will likely be higher than the hrTSS. Same thing for XC skiing or ski mountaineering. That is my experience.


    scott.ferguson on #3313

    Interesting points brought up here. Hopefully I’m not beating a dead horse but I too have been frustrated with trying to find a suitable way to incorporate the stress of strength training into my training stress score (or similar measures). One thing to keep in mind is the type of contraction you’re performing mostly (i.e. concentric vs. eccentric). The scientific literature suggests that eccentric contractions, where the muscle is stretched against a contraction (much like resisting bumps on the downhill ski/board decent), results in far greater damage than a concentric contraction like uphill skinning (for a cool review see Proske and Morgan (2001)). This is despite your Heart rate suggesting the uphill being more taxing. So… your big day at the resort may wreak greater havoc on the muscles of your quads and glutes even if your heart rate doesn’t show it. We need a better metric to measure muscle damage on the fly…. a biopsy or urine test just aren’t practical ?.

    My only solution is to train smart with regards to the scheduling of your weight vs. endurance sessions. If I hammer it at the resort on a Sunday, I’m not planning to have a heavy weight session on Monday (at least not on squats or other lower body exercises). Instead, depending on the stage of my training I’m much more inclined to have a lighter endurance day coupled with an afternoon of rest. It is worth mentioning, however, that the degree of muscle damage following each eccentric session will be reduced following repeated exposure. So…you’ll get less taxed as your downhill season wears on (assuming you are getting out often enough).


    Proske, U., & Morgan, D. (2001). Muscle damage from eccentric exercise: mechanism, mechanical signs, adaptation and clinical applications. J Physiol, 537(2), 333-345.

    Mariner_9 on #3326

    Interesting thread.

    If I understand correctly, TSS works when measuring training focused on cardio rather than strength. If so, then some aspects of resort riding should capture OK (e.g. hiking lines, hopefully in deep snow, should raise your HR) whereas others definitely won’t (e.g. traverses, jumps), so it depends in part what you’re riding.

    hafjell on #8949

    Also assuming you’re getting appropriate rest, right? If you’re on a trip and skiing consecutive days, you might over-exhaust, no?

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