Free Pre-Season Training Plan for Skiers

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If you are like us, you want to be ready when the snow comes and you can get into the back country. Even if you’ve fallen off the endurance training wagon with all the rock climbing you’ve been doing, you’ve still got time to make some appreciable gains in the next 8 weeks.

A couple of years ago we published an article called Preseason Ski Touring Training (you are encouraged to read it for background info) which outlined the training in general terms and even described some typical workouts. But it was not a detailed day by day plan like our normal training plan. With this article we hope to rectify that oversight.

We’ve put together this free 8 week training plan as a supplement to our paid Chamonix Mountain Fit guided workout progression. That plan, which is strength and muscular endurance focused, should be in every mountain athlete’s training quiver. “But…it’s only 2 days/week,” you say. What should you do to fill in the rest of the days to ensure you’ve laid a solid foundation for the winter ski touring season? Read on and you’ll find out.

The following is a suggested 8 week program that incorporates the Chamonix Mountain Fit workouts which are an important component to this plan. Omitting them will not give the best results.

Since we can’t predict which days will work for everyone who uses this plan, we simply list the workouts we recommend for the other 4 days of the week and let you figure out how to fit those days into your schedule. Take the proposed weekly layout as a suggestion only.

We highly recommend you get a free Training Peaks basic account. You will have a 2 week free trial of the Premium version. Conduct the Aerobic Threshold heart rate drift test in those 2 free weeks and you will not need to upgrade to Premium. You’ll also be well served by using a heart rate monitor/GPS watch and connecting it to Training Peaks so you can upload your training as well as your ski touring days this winter (you do want to track your ski days, don’t you?) as explained here.

Do not get hung up on the suggested hour range we are showing! The low number is a good target to hit if you really want to see gains, but NOT at the expense of exhausting yourself. Monitor your recovery and take rest days if you feel you are not recovering. Trying to tough your way through the training will end badly. The high end hours are mere guides for those with a bigger recent training history.

Additional resources:
Our ski touring training plan offerings (not free) https://uphillathlete.com/training-plans/ – ski-mountaineering-training

Week 1: Testing week. 6-10 hours total training time depending on your current fitness and recent training history.
Since aerobic capacity is the most important quality that will sustain those long touring days, you need to establish your intensity zones so that your endurance training can be done at the correct intensity. If you are interested in a deep dive into this aerobic testing business, please review this article

Day 1- conduct the AeT HR drift test as explained here. Once the test data is in Training Peaks you can set your Zone 1 and 2 heart rates by using this.

Day 2- Chamonix Mountain Fit guided workout video Level 0 to familiarize yourself with the program.

Day 3- Anaerobic Threshold test as explained here to establish the top of your Z3. If the spread between the top of Z3 and the top of Z2 is more than 10% you will be doing most of your aerobic base training in Zone 2. If it is less than 10% you will do this training in Z1. For a fuller explanation read this.

Day 4-Aerobic base building run or hike or mix of these. Do this with your heart rate either in Zone 1 or Zone 2 as determined by the two tests you have done this week. Since skiing is a foot borne sport, you will get the most bang for the time spent by doing most or your aerobic training on your feet rather than on a bike. Do not carry added weight for this YET. This type of training can be effectively done in a number of ways: running or hiking on trails in the mountains or rolling hills or on gym machines such as a steep treadmill set to at least 15% incline or a stair machine. Do not despair if you are what we call “terrain impaired”; despite the boredom factor these machines are amazingly effective. This day can be from 3/4 to 2 hours total time based on your recent training history.

Day 5- Chamonix Mountain Fit guided workout video Level 1. Don’t worry if you can’t keep pace with Neil on this. Most of us can’t. Pause the video where you need extra time and go at your own pace. Proper form is much more important than speed.

Day 6- Long aerobic base building. Depending on your fitness status (see Day3) you’ll do this while keeping your HR in Z1 or Z2 as much as possible. Should be at least 1 hour long and can be up to 3 hours if you have the time and capacity for this volume of work.

Day 7- Rest and Recovery. No training today, but it is wise to fit in some light recovery activities such as: easy spin on the flats on your bike, yoga, foam rolling your legs, swimming. This may not feel necessary this first week, but start making a habit of this at least one day per week.

Week 2: Aerobic base building week. 6.5-11 hours total training time depending on your current fitness and recent training history.

Day 1- Aerobic base building run or hike or a mix of these. Do this with your heart rate either in Zone 1 or Zone 2 as determined by the two tests you have done. Since skiing is a foot borne sport you will get the most bang for the time spent by doing most of your aerobic training on your feet rather than on a bike. Do not carry added weight for this YET. 1-2 hours.

Day 2- Chamonix Mountain Fit guided workout video Level 1

Day 3- Aerobic base building run or hike or mix of these. Do this with your heart rate either in Zone 1 or Zone 2. Do not carry added weight for this yet. 1-2 hours.

Day 4- Aerobic base building run or hike or mix of these. Do this with your heart rate either in Zone 1 or Zone 2. Do not carry added weight for this yet. 1-2 hours.

Day 5- Chamonix Mountain Fit guided workout video Level 1.

Day 6- Long aerobic base building . Depending on your fitness status (see Day3) you’ll do this while keeping your HR in Z1 or Z2 as much as possible. Should be at least 1.5 hours long and can be up to 3 hours if you have the time and capacity for this volume of work.

Day 7- Rest and Recovery. No training today, but it is wise to fit in some light recovery activities such as: easy spin on the flats on your bike, yoga, foam rolling your legs, swimming. This may not feel necessary yet but start making a habit of this at least one day per week.

Week 3: Aerobic base building week. 6.5-12 hours total training time depending on your current fitness and recent training history.

Day 1- Aerobic base building run or hike or mix of these. Do this with your heart rate either in Zone 1 or Zone 2 as determined by the two tests you have done. Do not carry added weight for this yet. 1-2 hours.

Day 2- Chamonix Mountain Fit guided workout video Level 2. Progress to the next level ONLY if you feel you can do so while maintaining the correct form in the exercises.

Day 3- Aerobic base building run or hike or mix of these. Do this with your heart rate either in Zone 1 or Zone 2. Do not carry added weight for this yet. 1-2 hours.

Day 4- Aerobic base building run or hike or mix of these. Do this with your heart rate either in Zone 1 or Zone 2. Do not carry added weight for this yet. 1-2 hours.

Day 5- Chamonix Mountain Fit guided workout video Level 2. Progress to the next level ONLY if you feel you can do so while maintaining the correct form in the exercises.

Day 6- Long aerobic base building Depending on your fitness status (see Day3) you’ll do this while keeping your HR in Z1 or Z2 as much as possible. Should be at least 1.5 hours long and can be up to 3.5 hours if you have the time and capacity for this volume of work.

Day 7- Rest and Recovery. No training today but it is wise to fit in some light recovery activities.

Week 4: Consolidation week. 3.5-6 hours total training time. This week you’ll back way off the training volume to give your body time to absorb the training load.

Day 1- Aerobic base building run or hike or mix of these. Do this with your heart rate either in Zone 1 or Zone 2. Do not carry added weight for this. 1/2-1 hour.

Day 2- Chamonix Mountain Fit guided workout video Level 3. Progress to the next level ONLY if you feel you can do so while maintaining the correct form in the exercises.

Day 3- Aerobic base building run or hike or mix of these. Do this with your heart rate either in Zone 1 or Zone 2. Do not carry added weight for this. 1/2-1 hour.

Day 4- Aerobic base building run or hike or mix of these. Do this with your heart rate either in Zone 1 or Zone 2. Do not carry added weight for this. 1/2-1 hours.

Day 5- Chamonix Mountain Fit guided workout video Level 3. Progress to the next level ONLY if you feel you can do so while maintaining the correct form in the exercises.

Day 6- Long aerobic base building Depending on your fitness status (see Day3) you’ll do this while keeping your HR in Z1 or Z2 as much as possible. Should be at least 1 to 2 hours

Day 7- Rest and Recovery. Complete rest day.

Week 5: Aerobic base maintenance and Muscular Endurance. 6.5-12 hours total training time depending on your current fitness and recent training history.

Day 1- ME (muscular endurance): read this so you have a good understanding of how to conduct these critical workouts. Use a weight that limits your speed due to muscle fatigue, not your breathing. Find steep terrain. Best effect will be with a minimum of 25% grade; even better is the 35-50% grade. Normal trail gradients will NOT be steep enough to get the ME effect. Likewise treadmills that only go to 15% probably won’t get the job done either. If you don’t have access to steep terrain, stair machines or fire stairs in tall buildings work great for this. If you have never done this type of training before, start with no more than 15 minutes. Those with a lot of experience carrying a heavy pack or past ME experience can go up to 1 hour. Note your vertical gain.

Day 2- Chamonix Mountain Fit guided workout video Level 3. Progress to the next level ONLY if you feel you can do so while maintaining the correct form in the exercises. Skip the muscular endurance portion of this workout

Day 3- Aerobic base building run or hike or mix of these. Do this with your heart rate either in Zone 1 or Zone 2. Do not carry added weight for this. 1-2 hours.

Day 4- Aerobic base building run or hike or mix of these. Do this with your heart rate either in Zone 1 or Zone 2. Do not carry added weight for this. 1-2 hours.

Day 5- Chamonix Mountain Fit guided workout video Level 3. Progress to the next level ONLY if you feel you can do so while maintaining the correct form in the exercises. Skip the muscular endurance portion of this workout

Day 6- Long aerobic base building Depending on your fitness status (see Day3) you’ll do this while keeping your HR in Z1 or Z2 as much as possible. Should be at least 1.5 hours long and can be up to 3.5 hours if you have the time and capacity for this volume of work.

Day 7- Rest and Recovery. No training today; fit in some light recovery activities.

Week 6: Aerobic base maintenance and Muscular Endurance. 6.5-12 hours total training time depending on your current fitness and recent training history.

Day 1- ME (muscular endurance) review this so you have a good understanding of how to conduct these critical workouts. If you have never done this type of training before start with no more than 30 minutes. Those with a lot of experience carrying a heavy pack or past ME experience can go up to 1 hour. Note your vertical gain.

Day 2- Chamonix Mountain Fit guided workout video Level 4. Progress to the next level ONLY if you feel you can do so while maintaining the correct form in the exercises. Skip the muscular endurance portion of this workout

Day 3- Aerobic base building run or hike or mix of these. Do this with your heart rate either in Zone 1 or Zone 2. Do not carry added weight for this. 1-2 hours.

Day 4- Aerobic base building run or hike or mix of these. Do this with your heart rate either in Zone 1 or Zone 2. Do not carry added weight for this. 1-2 hours.

Day 5- Chamonix Mountain Fit guided workout video Level 4. Progress to the next level ONLY if you feel you can do so while maintaining the correct form in the exercises. Skip the muscular endurance portion of this workout

Day 6- Long aerobic base building. Keep your HR in Z1 or Z2 as much as possible. Should be at least 1.5 hours long and can be up to 4 hours if you have the time and capacity for this volume of work. Carry 10% of your body weight.

Day 7- Rest and Recovery. No training today. Fit in some light recovery activities.

Week 7: Aerobic base maintenance and Muscular Endurance. 6.5-12 hours total training time depending on your current fitness and recent training history.

Day 1- ME (muscular endurance). Use a weight that limits your speed due to muscle fatigue, not your breathing. If you have never done this type of training before start with no more than 30 minutes. Those who have done a lot of heavy pack carrying or have past ME experience can go up to 1 hour. Note your vertical gain.

Day 2- Chamonix Mountain Fit guided workout video Level 4. Progress to the next level ONLY if you feel you can do so while maintaining the correct form in the exercises. Skip the muscular endurance portion of this workout

Day 3- Aerobic base building run or hike or mix of these. Do this with your heart rate either in Zone 1 or Zone 2. Do not carry added weight for this. 1-2 hours.

Day 4- Aerobic base building run or hike or mix of these. Do this with your heart rate either in Zone 1 or Zone 2. Do not carry added weight for this. 1-2 hours.

Day 5- Chamonix Mountain Fit guided workout video Level 4. Progress to the next level ONLY if you feel you can do so while maintaining the correct form in the exercises. Skip the muscular endurance portion of this workout

Day 6- Long aerobic base building. Keep your HR in Z1 or Z2 as much as possible. Should be at least 1.5 hours long and can be up to 4 hours if you have the time and capacity for this volume of work. Carry 10% of your body weight.

Day 7- Rest and Recovery. No training today. Fit in some light recovery activities.

Week 8: Consolidation week. 3.5-6 hours total training time. This week you’ll back way off the training volume to give your body time to absorb the training load.

Day 1- Aerobic base building run or hike or mix of these. Do this with your heart rate either in Zone 1 or Zone 2. Do not carry added weight for this. 1/2-1 hour.

Day 2- Rest and Recovery. Complete rest day.

Day 3- Aerobic base building run or hike or mix of these. Do this with your heart rate either in Zone 1 or Zone 2. Do not carry added weight for this. 1/2-1 hours.

Day 4- ME (muscular endurance). No more than 30 minutes; those who have a lot of experience carrying a heavy pack can go up to 1 hour. Note your vertical gain.

Day 5- Chamonix Mountain Fit guided workout video Level 3. Progress to the next level ONLY if you feel you can do so while maintaining the correct form in the exercises. Skip the muscular endurance portion of this workout

Day 6- Long aerobic base building Keep your HR in Z1 or Z2 as much as possible. Should be at least 1-2 hours

Day 7- Rest and Recovery. Complete rest day.

To use this plan for a longer preseason preparation:

If you have 9 weeks, repeat week 7.
If you have 10 weeks, repeat week 3 and week 7.

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