16 Week Big Mountain Training Plan

$79  This plan is ideal for those climbing the high peaks of Peru, Boliva and Ecuador by mountaineering routes. This is the minimum training plan that we can recommend for those who have a goal of climbing an high altitude expeditionary peak such as Denali, Aconcagua, Peak Lenin, Cho Oyu, or Everest. This 16 week plan progresses gradually but will require considerable effort to complete. It is not for the totally-out-of-shape as it starts off with over 6 hours of required training per week and culminates in 11 hours per week. Stick with this plan and you will see great results in your fitness.

2022 Updates include:

  • Greatly expanded educational content explaining why you are doing certain workouts.
  • Muscular Endurance progression explained.
  • DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) reduction tips.
  • Explanations as to the modulation in the training load throughout the plan.
  • Tips and ideas to get the most out of your recovery days.
  • We update our best-selling training plans regularly and all updates are automatically loaded into your plan each time you reapply your plan for a new training cycle.

This plan is based on scientifically sound training and a combined thirty years of professional endurance coaching experience and sixty years of world-wide climbing and mountaineering experience. The plan starts with an Aerobic Threshold assessment test. From this you will establish the training intensity limit for most of the aerobic base training that will dominate in the overall plan but especially in the first 8 weeks. The first 8 weeks also include a simple, easy-to-apply strength program to develop what is called strength reserve, the ability to repeatedly execute strength-dependent movements such as taking a step while wearing a heavy backpack. The final 8 weeks applies more complex strength training methods.

We take a multi-faceted approach aimed at maximizing your strength through proven strategies to improve neuromuscular control of muscular contractions; you’ll become a lot stronger without adding any weight or size during these weeks. Starting in the tenth week of the plan we include our proven mountaineering-specific muscular endurance workouts. Complete these, but only after laying the base with the previous weeks of properly executed and periodized strength training, to put the frosting on your fitness cake.

Tips: Rest when you are tired. If you miss one workout in a week, do not try to make it up, simply move on. If you miss more than two workouts in any one week then repeat that week. Do not increase the intensity and hope to gain more benefits or to squeeze a 1 hour workout into 30 minutes. There is no short cut when it comes to aerobic adaptation.

This plan has proven successful for climbers all over the world who used it to prepare for moderate climbing objectives including guided ascents of Denali and Everest. For those of you planning to climb Everest or Denali we very strongly recommend using the 24 Week Mountaineering Training Plan. Following that plan will give the athlete a chance to utilize a more advanced periodization schedule. In our experience, and we’ve climbed and trained climbers to climb all of these mountains, the order of difficulty (from harder to easier) for these climbs via the normal routes is: Everest without supplement oxygen, Cho Oyu without supplemental oxygen, Denali, Everest with supplemental oxygen (those last two are very similar in difficulty), Cho Oyu with supplemental oxygen, Peak Lenin, and Aconcagua. Of course this list assumes equal conditions and weather. Obviously any of these climbs can be rendered completely impossible in poor weather and/or conditions.

For detailed information and to understand how this plan is constructed, please consult our book, “Training for the New Alpinism” published by Patagonia Books.

Here’s useful beta about how to purchase and start your new plan and why we use TrainingPeaks.  For specific questions about this training plan, or to send us your success story email us at coach@uphillathlete.com.

Thanks for becoming an #uphillathlete

Steve House and Scott Johnston

Big Mountain Training Plan

Sample Workouts

Workout #1: Run
Planned Time: 0:40:00
40min Run. Aerobic threshold test.

Workout #2: Strength
Planned Time: 0:45:00
1x core routine and 1x general strength from Training for the New Alpinism book.

Workout #3: Run
Planned Time: 1:00:00
Run/hike on rolling terrain

Workout #4: Run
Planned Time: 0:30:00
This should be a very easy run/hike on flats. HR should be well below AeT. (AeT-10-15bpm)

Workout #5: Strength
Planned Time: 0:45:00
1x core routine and 1x general strength from Training for the New Alpinism book.

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