Ice and Mixed Climbing Strength Plan. 8 weeks. Beginner to Advanced Intermediate.

This plan is ideal for beginner through advanced-intermediate climbers preparing for the winter climbing season. Climbers looking to start leading grade 4 and 5 ice will realize a big boost in confidence that comes with increased ice-climbing-specific strength, especially in the forearms, shoulders, and calves.

This is a strength-focused eight week program and assumes that the climber has some basic fitness, including the ability to hang from two ice tools for a minimum of 10 seconds and complete 0-3 unassisted pull-ups on ice tools. You will need a selection of gym equipment, the exact equipment will vary depending on your level, and a pair of ice tools. This program involves 2-3 gym-based strength workouts per week and assumes that you will climb at an indoor rock climbing facility or be climbing outdoors a minimum of once per week.

This plan is based on scientifically sound training and follows the principles of continuity, gradualness and modulation. We have brought a combined thirty years of professional endurance coaching experience and sixty years of world-wide climbing experience to bear on this program design.

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 combine this program with other strength training of any kind. This is meant to be a stand alone strength program and adding other strength work, even lower body, may have a significant negative impact on your recovery, and therefore a negative effect on this training. 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

Thanks for becoming an #uphillathlete

Steve House
IFMGA-certified Mountain Guide, Coach, and Founder of Uphill Athlete

Training load by weeks

Sample Workouts

Workout #1: Strength
Planned Time: 1:00:00

Warm up (dynamic stretches 5 minutes total): a) range of motion stretches b) 2-arm hangs with fully extended shoulders c) Full 360 degree rotation arm swings for 30 seconds per arm: then; 10x burpees, 10x incline pull-ups, and 30 second 360-degree arm swings.

You’ll need a minimum of a yoga mat or similar, a pull-up bar, a bench or chair, and two ice tools to do this workout. To start we’ll do a general strength workout which follows the training principle of increasing specific strength exercises as general strength progresses. All exercises should be done with an emphasis on perfect form and executed in a controlled manner.

Core routine: 1x through. 30 seconds between exercises. See attachment for explanations of exercises. A video of this routine is also available at www.uphillathlete/

  • Bird dog. 5x/side
  • Strict sit ups. 10x.
  • Windshield wiper.
  • Straight legs. 5 to each side.
  • 3 point hold. 5 seconds each side.
  • Kayaker 10x each side. 5lbs/2kg.
  • Push up or Knee-push-ups. 10 reps.
  • Hang leg raise, knees to pulled tight to chest. 10x.
  • Bridge 5 second hold each leg
  • Gymnast L sit. Try for 10 sec. (most people take 4-6 weeks to be able to get this)
  • Side plank 5 second hold on each side. 1x through

Then 10 x of each:

  • Pull-ups. Do as many as you can until you first start to shake. Even if you just try to pull up, that’s fine, try for three to five seconds.
  • 2 min rest.
  • Toes raises (consult  video, link available once purchased)
  • Push-up or knee-push-ups
  • 2 min rest
  • Toe raises
  • Bench Dips
  • 2 min rest
  • Toe raises
  • During the 2 min rests between the arm exercises stand with toes on a block or step to do these. Start with 2 feet and 10-15 reps then progress to one foot with 6-10 reps then to adding weight and slowly lowering for 4 reps. This is demonstrated in the video tutorial that comes with the plan purchase.
  • Ice tool hangs for 30 seconds, tools in both hands. Stop if you start to shake. Keep your shoulder muscles active, don’t hang fully relaxed so that your shoulder is stretching out, this can cause injury.

Workout #3: Other
Planned Time: 2:00:00

Climbing, indoors or outside. Aim to do 60% of the maximum number of pitches you could do in two hours assuming the pitches are 2 number-grades below what you can climb onsight.

Photo by Kennan Harvey. Athlete: Steve House.

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