Work and training

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  • #8100

    I work as an arborist, so my job is very physical.

    Because of this I don’t do much specific low intensity training and generally do more higher intensity runs.

    I’ve worn my heart rate monitor to work and I spend most of the day between 90bpm and spiking constantly to 140bpm ( when I’m carrying a log or climbing up a tree)

    So after work maybe twice a week I’ll go for a hill run, it usually takes me 35min to do 650m vert and my heart rate gets up to 180bpm

    And the only time I do any specific mid range intensity stuff is on the weekends when I have time to go cross country skiing or long trail runs.

    Does this sound like a good approach or am I missing something somewhere?

    I’ve been pretty happy with how I’ve felt in the mountains the last few years but I have plans for a 7500m peak in October this year and want to be in the best shape possible.

    Thanks Matt

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    Anonymous on #8101

    Hi Matt,

    Good question. Dealing with time constraints is tough.

    Although your work is physical, it’s not specific to your event (a high altitude peak in October). Your work will probably make you tired, but it won’t make you fit.

    The best thing that I can suggest is to change the intensity of those after work runs from hard to easy. Continuing to do hard aerobic work without a specific, supporting base won’t increase your aerobic capacity. It will destroy it.

    High-intensity training increases the level of acidosis in the muscles. Chronically elevated levels of acidosis destroy mitochondria. As mitochondrial mass decreases, so does aerobic capacity. (Mitochondria are the “aerobic engines” in muscle.)

    A lot of unsupported high-intensity training teaches the body to go anaerobic sooner and sooner. You’ll run out of gas sooner than if you slow down your training and build up your aerobic capacity.

    For high altitude, this is especially important. At altitude, you won’t have enough oxygen to go hard enough to recruit those fast twitch fibers that are helping you on your hard runs. So training that range without a solid base won’t help in October. More easy runs will be more helpful.

    I hope that helps explain things.

    Scott S.

    Matey on #8183

    Thanks for your reply, but I wasn’t really talking about time constraints of work. I was trying to understand the training effect of work and how to incorporate that into my training outside of work.

    From your email its obvious that you don’t think there is a training effect from work dispite that I have worn a heart rate monitor to work and found that I’m in zone 1 during most of my day.

    From reading training for the new alpinism I am lead to believe that is the base of all endurance training.

    I have more concerns about being over trained

    James H on #8193

    Matey – I won’t echo what Scott S has said because he is 100% correct in what he is saying.
    Your output at 180 – age HR is a great measure of aerobic conditioning aka the MAF test. You can hike up a trail or run around a park etc as long as it is easily repeated. You don’t say how long you’ve been doing you’re job but if it’s more than a few months there is a good chance you aren’t getting much of a stimulus from it.

    Anonymous on #8196

    @matey: Thanks, Matt. Sorry I misunderstood your question on constraints.

    With respect to work being a training stimulus, it would depend on how specific the movement patterns are to the activity that you want to excel at. For example, a mail room delivery person in an office tower that chooses to take the stairs rather than the elevator could realistically count where a heart rate monitor, turn it off and on while they were going up and down stairs, and probably count it as training.

    In contrast, I used to work for an arborist as well. I wasn’t climbing trees, but bucking them up and throwing the rounds into trucks. My heart rate was likely in zone 1 or higher during the day, but the movement patterns bore no resemblance to climbing mountains. As such, the work made me a fitter chainsaw operator but had very little impact on my alpine climbing. Mostly, it just made me tired so that I couldn’t effectively train.

    Heart rate only reflects the impact of a stressor on the central system (heart and lungs), but it doesn’t measure the impact (if any) on the peripheral system (the muscles required to do the work of the chosen sport).

    I hope that helps explain things.

    Matey on #8208


    Thanks again for your reply and it does explain some things, but first off to answer James h ,Ive been an arborist for 8 years, before that I did rope access.I climb trees and also spend a fair bit of time caring them from the back yard to the front in order to chip them or cut into fire wood.
    I wear a pair of la sportiva karakorams and chainsaw pants to work.

    Scott,I think your starting to see where I’m coming from and I hope you find this conversation interesting as I think this applies to anyone who has a physical job.

    I wouldn’t say that being an arborist is a go to way of getting fit for alpine climbing but I would think that in terms of base training if you’ve spent say 6 hours out of a 8 hour work day in zone 1 then you go out training your in front of the guy who just spent his day in a chair in the office in terms of volume and base?

    That is unless your training to climb just a hard sport route or mixed route then its likely you’d feel to tired to train properly.

    I’d be interested to know what you’d say to a guide that spent his days walking with a pack on, but slow, because his clients are slow and he has to wait all the time so at the end of the day he hasn’t done that much but still needs to do something otherwise he isn’t training?

    Anonymous on #8211

    A comparison to guides is a good one.

    Typically, guides have a hard time training and getting fit*, because their workdays are long enough to be tiring but too slow for an effective training stimulus. From what I’ve seen, they usually abandon training, because they can’t do both.

    Back to your original point about high-intensity runs after work, I would still suggest scaling those back and doing easier sessions no higher than the top of zone 2.


    * When I say “fit” with respect to guides, I mean it in terms of high-end endurance ability, not in comparison to their clients or the average person.

    guythomasburton on #8225

    I’m really not sure about some of the responses in this thread- Scott says pretty specifically that base phase training is not to do with any sport specific train, it’s building a base or ‘putting money in the bank’. The specific phase is where you cash that in with workouts designed to simulate your training. To that end I would say you, and many guides, have a good job which provides many ‘free’ hours of work potentially over years. However there are training factors your work probably lacks- it’s probably not progressive or overloading, but you can create these with your additional training. With that in mind I would imagine more low intensity to increase total volume above what you are normally conditioned for would be the way forward rather than higher intensity workouts in the base phase. In the specific phase you might have to get creative to negate the fatiguing aspect of work to avoid it interfering with higher intensity workouts.

    (All the above is just my reasoning from reading the book etc, not an expert!)

    Anonymous on #8250

    Thanks for the great conversation everyone! This is just what Steve and I envisioned for these forums.

    Matey’s situation with a hard physical labor job is the classic case of General vs Specific. I can see why Matey has felt pretty strong in the mountains for the past few years. Doing 8 hours of any hard physical work 5 days a week for 8 years will give on a very high general work capacity. Since climbing mountains is basically just doing a bunch of hard physical labor for hours on end he’s done a decent job of preparing for his ‘event’. A normal ‘training’ program for a mountaineer would involve a lot of low intensity aerobic work coupled with general strength training during the base period so not dissimilar to what he’s doing now. Running isn’t any more climbing specific exercise than climbing trees but both can do a good job of increasing a person’s general work capacity. Up to a point……

    Specificity in your training becomes more important as you become fitter. The closer you can simulate the demands of your event the better especially as you get close to the ‘event’. However the separation between General and Specific isn’t great when we are talking about mountaineering. This is why Matey can see good transfer over to mountaineering from his job.
    But it also explains Scott S’s comments about why guides struggle to reach very high levels of fitness.

    Both guiding and being an arborist or any other physically demanding job will make you tired enough that you may not have sufficient energy to devote to more specific training. We have worked with many guides and as rule that can not train. While they can be pretty consistent they can’t really engage in a program that is progressive or that modulates the work load. As you may recall these are the 3 key things that a good training program must contain.
    These folks will eventually plateau in performance as long as they have this demanding job.

    Matey: Adding “training” on top of such a demanding job is an easy way to become overtrained. So be careful to monitor for excessive fatigue. Since you are headed to very high altitude (7500m) in I would suggest that adding long Z1-2 uphill hike/climbs these days and then in late summer beginning to add the ME workouts described here: The short hard uphill runs may only add to your fatigue now without contributing much in the long run.


    Matey on #8263

    Thanks for all the advice everyone ,I will be taking this onboard for sure.


    lionfish90 on #8282

    Hi, Matey:

    Total amateur here and also a desk jockey as a worker. From my point of view, yes, your job is base training, as I would think you are way fitter than I am as I struggle to do my 5 or 6 hours per week of training! (And as I also struggle to adapt to even that and so will need to over this year before I increase the volume for next year.) I also see it as a more specific and appropriate than, for example, what I do—Z1/2 jogging and Z1/2 cycling, doing strength work, and now entering the part of my base phase where Z3 is prescribed. From my point of view, carrying and tossing around trees, working a chain saw, and in general the climbing and carrying of stuff you do, is more appropriate training for general mountaineering than what I do, for sure! Your overall work capacity is bound to be miles above my own.

    Or at least the job WAS base training for you, up until the point where it no longer provided a training stimulus, given that you are now adapted to the amount of work (and have been for a long time), as the coaches in this thread say. So the point also holds that the job does not have progression and so is exercise instead of training, to put it glibly. And the work capacity may need to be sharpened and re-stimulated for your larger goals.

    Maybe what you need is some data on where you are with your fitness. Have you done the “alpine combine” test in TftNA, and where do you stand with it? Have you tested your AeT and AnT? In terms of heart rate, are they within 10% of each other as TftNA prescribes reaching before doing more AnT training? Maybe that is one way to gauge whether your after-work training should be only more Z1/2 base or is OK to be Z3/4 intervals or other high intensity work?

    Maybe lactate testing in a lab would help making that determination. Maybe you could consider ways to make your work progressive in terms of training. I don’t know how that could work, maybe adding a weight vest with just a little bit of weight (5 lbs?) and then increasing that–over the course of, what, a year?—in small increments, monitoring HR and sleep/fatigue to avoid overtraining and to keep it Z1 instead of turning into muscular endurance work? Of course, the job likely keeps you at some level fatigued and beat up all the time that a long-time desk jockey (such as myself, ahem) can’t imagine, and makes this kind of suggestion naïve and ridiculous. Which is partly their point of not considering work like this training but more like work capacity maintenance that may be fatiguing enough that makes other, more specific training difficult to do.

    An opposite tack would be to consider ways you could make your job LESS physical work. Are there any efficiencies you have been avoiding because you are trying to use the job as training? I don’t know what these would be; something like having a young(er) hired hand doing more of the lifting, delegating more (maybe you work alone), cutting trees in the back yard before moving to the front to lift lower weight. I don’t mean shirking duties! Just to consider ways to make it less fatiguing so you can put that energy to training outside of work. Maybe it’s obvious that you would have or can’t do this already, and I’m mostly showing my own ignorance of real physical labor here.

    Again, I have very little experience in what I am blabbering on about! These are just some things that occurred to me when I was reading the thread as someone on the opposite end of the spectrum who wishes he were as fit as you likely are just from your job. And who mis-spent his youth not exercising and lifting enough when the hormonal environment was such that the gains would still be with me to this day (50 years old now).

    Good luck!

    Anonymous on #8632

    Hi Nate,

    I’m pretty sure that Steve had to reduce his guiding volume so that he could train more, but I’ll ask Scott to confirm.


    Anonymous on #8653

    FYI: Nate’s question about using guiding as training, and how Steve trained, has been moved here:

    Participant on #26892

    I love such training. But maybe we need to focus a bit more on resumes and hiring process. Because who can say that he/she knows how it goes? What should we do to succeed? Yea, we don’t know a lot of important details. And that is exactly we have to learn. Thanks to zipjob reviews service there is an excellent opportunity to manage job interview by ordering a resume. But I still think that it is not enough.

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