Weighted Hill Climbs and Heart Rate

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  • #10648

    I’ve been using weighted hill climbs the last couple of years to prepare for spring couloir climbs, and I’ve found that they’ve helped me develop the leg strength and stamina to at least keep up with my partner, though I still struggle relative to other regular climbers.
    But one thing has always perplexed me, and that is the repeated advice that if your heart rate is what’s slowing you down, you need to add more weight. In my experience, adding weight is what elevates my heart rate even quicker. In fact, I can’t even comprehend in my mind what it looks like to exhaust the legs without elevating the heart rate. Even if I’m doing squats in the gym, I’m usually huffing and puffing, and that only gets worse when I do heavy sets.
    For my hill climbs, I typically carry 3.5 gallons (primarily b/c that’s all my pack will fit and I don’t want to tear up my good packs!) and go up and down at Red Rocks in CO. I can’t keep it below high zone 3, YET I can usually feel it in my calves and glutes the next day (not severely sore, but enough to know they’ve been sufficiently stressed).
    So my question is, are my legs too strong for my aerobic capacity, or is my aerobic capacity way too underdeveloped?
    I’m 37, 5’9″, 180lbs, 17% body fat, fairly athletic build, have always been more of a sprinter than a marathoner, if any of that matters or helps.

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    Anonymous on #10660


    I suspect the reason you are seeing your HR spike in these weighted climbs is that the weight you are using is too light and/or the hill is not steep enough. The idea is to keep raising weight or steepening the hill util you find that the leg strength is the limiter. 3.5 gallons is 28 pounds. I have had some folks with strong legs need to carry 50+ pounds to get this effect. It’ll be different for each person based on the balance between aerobic capacity and leg strength. If you are using the stairs at Red Rocks they’r not very steep. Look for something in the 50% gradient range. I have used 60% and more for these workouts. If you have not done so please read and watch this: https://uphillathlete.com/vertical-beast-mode-what-is-muscular-endurance-why-it-is-important-for-any-alpinist-or-mountaineer-and-how-do-you-train-it/


    James on #10701

    Thanks, Scott, that all makes sense. I’ve probably focused my training too much on developing leg strength beyond what is necessary, so it sounds like it’s hurting my ME workouts now. That link is very helpful and cleared up a lot of things for me.

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