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general weight loss, climbing training, and cardio training for cragging and alpine


Original Post
neils · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2016 · Points: 30

I am a rock/ice climber with some alpine trips planned. I am currently losing some weight (about 15 lbs down so far) and training cardio for approaches in conjunction with my climbing. Typically I have 1 hour per day to train/workout. My current schedule is: 1 day per week full day outdoors on rock or ice - typically gunks or catskills for rock and ice, 2 days a week indoor climbing on home wall. 2 days per week cardio (Insanity, rowing machine, bike), 1 day per week weight training for antagonist muscles and general strength. 1 day per week rest/stretch/yoga.

My goals are to up my grades for my general climbing life cragging (I can follow about 5.9 and WI4, lead 5.6 and WI3) but also be ready for climbs with 5-10 mile approaches. I can do this now...but I'd like to do it with less energy exertion etc. Also I know weight loss will greatly help all of my overall causes in every way. I am down from 192 to 176.  In my adult life the lightest I have been is 164. I am pretty short and really thick and stocky by nature.  I am currently on a pretty good eating plan of healthy food, etc...I think I am doing good there.

I hit the gunks every weekend.  I have a Chamonix trip planned early May and Sierras late June.  Climbing on the weekends is my solace so I want to continue to do that.  Just the trips alone aren't my sole goal. Meaning I don't want to give up my day of outdoor climbing to train.  I was looking for general feedback on what I am currently doing, especially in the area of best cardio one can do 2-3 times per week with a one hour time limit, in a flat area, to promote endurance and weight loss for mountain hiking.  I have a treadmill, rowing machine, and bike at my disposal.  I find the Insanity workouts to be pretty damn effective for me though TBH in terms of quick hit cardio workout and weight loss.  When I was in the best cardio shape of my life doing 15-19 mile hikes regularly I did the insanity workouts a lot. But I was not a climber then with the additional complexity of multiple activities.  I have a climbing wall at home as well as weights.  Pretty much trying to hit as many bases as I can with the time I have each day.

Sure I am not alone here - I probably could have asked this in a shorter way but oh well :)

Thanks

jessie briggs · · Bah Habah · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 367

Seems like you’re on track. If you aren’t training for hard climbing, then what you are doing seems fine to me. I am terrible at keeping up with cardio, but HIIT seems to be the choice for many climbers. I’d also try to climb outside more, and focus solely on leading to up your lead head and efficiency outdoors. 

neils · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2016 · Points: 30
jessie briggs wrote: Seems like you’re on track. If you aren’t training for hard climbing, then what you are doing seems fine to me. I am terrible at keeping up with cardio, but HIIT seems to be the choice for many climbers. I’d also try to climb outside more, and focus solely on leading to up your lead head and efficiency outdoors. 

thanks - my goal this season is to break into gunks 5.7's :)  my long term goal is to be a competent moderate trad leader anywhere alpine or crag - i'd say up to 5.9ish...maybe...gasp...5.10 :)  so yeah you're comment pretty much hit my goals on the head.  I also continue to work on my climbing technical skills, safety, efficiency, etc to be better at alpine and multi pitch skills.  I climb and lead multi pitch at the gunks but I want to get to spot where I am comfortable doing a trip as the leader/experienced climber in other more remote settings (yosemite, cochise, tuoloumne, etc)  ive been to those places and climbed but always with a more experienced partner - so my goals are multi faceted i guess

Blake Bolton · · Boise · Joined Nov 2017 · Points: 0

Pick up Training For The New Alpinism. Alpine climbing is an endurance sport so don't neglect your zone 2 training.

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 15,491

To make more effective use of your limited time, eliminate most of the stuff that's not specific positive for rock or ice or alpine climbing:
So can eliminate, e.g.
* yoga (except for climbing-specific hip-abduction / plie or high-stepping stretches).
* antagonist muscles (except for scapula-retraction).
* most weight-training.
* rowing
. . . (note that cycling does not help train for getting back _down_ after alpine climb).

If you have access to the stairwell of a building, go up (and down) stairs two a time : and progressively work up to carrying a more weighted pack.

"cardio" ? Your central cardio-vascular system responds so quickly to training stimulus, there's no need to expend precious exercise time focused on "cardio" training. Assuming you're traning appropriate specific speed+endurance stuff for your desired climbing performance, your Central CV will develop just fine from that stimulation.

Find ways to do short intense intervals of your climbing-specific stuff. Endurance is simple to develop once you've got speed and strength.  About once a week climbing-specific endurance workouts should be enough.

Keep in mind that rock climbing performance in the short-height Gunks is not much like the requirements for real multi-pitch alpine rock around Chamonix or Sierras. If you get accustomed to the "pace" of the Gunks, other parties around Chamonix are going to just climb right over you.

Ken

O · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2011 · Points: 65

Try Rucking with 45lbs for cardio for the hour at 15:00/pace, Walk don’t run...

Start out with 25lbs plus whatever water you will need for a bit and once your body feels adapt to it go up in weight. The area Doesn’t need to be super steep and would actually help not to be.

It builds your core and cardio with less of an impact than running.

Also google  Marine Recon short card and long card workouts. They are recommended prep for SOF operator courses and are pretty brutal. But you will see results 

rgold · · Poughkeepsie, NY · Joined Feb 2008 · Points: 526

BITD we trained for mountain climbing by doing long continuous days of climbing in the Gunks.  Conditioning protocols have advanced enormously since then, but I'm not sure there is much that is better than getting in a whole lotta climbing in a day.  Make a plan, I'd say in the range of 8--15 full-length Trapps routes (so at least two pitches each). Unless you are very ambitious, it is fine to include a bunch of easy routes, but add some that are at or somewhat above the level of the cruxes you expect to do.   Carry the pack(s), gear, food, and water you'd bring on the climbs; you should be self-contained for the day.  Start at dawn or a little before.  No rappelling back to the base, walk (or jog) back to the Uberfall and then back along the Carriage Road to your next route.  

As for cardio during the week, I guess something is better than nothing, but I agree with Ken that treadmill, level jogging, etc. is of little use; you gotta go up and downhill.  Stairs are good.  If not available, then box-steps (maybe the most boring exercise in the world) are effective.  If none of those can be done, maybe walking lunges holding dumbells in your hands...

One of the big things climbers used to small crags have to adjust to is efficiency in all its aspects.  Don't get the rope tangled, place the right gear first try, don't dink around at cruxes, and most of all make belay set-up, take-down, and changeovers fast!  But early May in Cham is more of a ski-touring thing, right?

Here's some advice aimed at UK climbers but still relevant. (Note the recommendation not to chose Cham for the first experience...) https://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/skills/series/top_tips/ten_for_your_first_alpine_adventure-6372 .  Also, all kinds of advice about travel, hut usage, and etiquette at http://www.cosleyhouston.com/alps-climbing-advice.htm .

neils · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2016 · Points: 30
rgold wrote: BITD we trained for mountain climbing by doing long continuous days of climbing in the Gunks.  Conditioning protocols have advanced enormously since then, but I'm not sure there is much that is better than getting in a whole lotta climbing in a day.  Make a plan, I'd say in the range of 8--15 full-length Trapps routes (so at least two pitches each). Unless you are very ambitious, it is fine to include a bunch of easy routes, but add some that are at or somewhat above the level of the cruxes you expect to do.   Carry the pack(s), gear, food, and water you'd bring on the climbs; you should be self-contained for the day.  Start at dawn or a little before.  No rappelling back to the base, walk (or jog) back to the Uberfall and then back along the Carriage Road to your next route.  

As for cardio during the week, I guess something is better than nothing, but I agree with Ken that treadmill, level jogging, etc. is of little use; you gotta go up and downhill.  Stairs are good.  If not available, then box-steps (maybe the most boring exercise in the world) are effective.  If none of those can be done, maybe walking lunges holding dumbells in your hands...

One of the big things climbers used to small crags have to adjust to is efficiency in all its aspects.  Don't get the rope tangled, place the right gear first try, don't dink around at cruxes, and most of all make belay set-up, take-down, and changeovers fast!  But early May in Cham is more of a ski-touring thing, right?

Here's some advice aimed at UK climbers but still relevant. (Note the recommendation not to chose Cham for the first experience...) https://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/skills/series/top_tips/ten_for_your_first_alpine_adventure-6372 .  Also, all kinds of advice about travel, hut usage, and etiquette at http://www.cosleyhouston.com/alps-climbing-advice.htm .

thanks for the thoughtful reply - I was out at the Gunks today - I got 8 pitches in - does that count?  :)

The Cosley website is very good - I had read some stuff on there but hadn't seen that page - real good info.

Perhaps I should have clarified my "trips" a bit.  The Cham trip may or may not be Cham.  I have two days to climb as an extension of a business trip.  I booked a guide in the area recommended to me by someone from the Gunks.  We will do two days but as you said May is variable.  We might be able to do rock, or we might ice climb.  We might go to Aosta or Martingny Switzerland.  We talked about multiple options and it will conditions determined.  Ideally we will take a cable car to midi and climb a route there.  Stay at the Cosmiques hut and next day do another route of some kind, possibly chere couloir or something like that.  Again, all conditions specific but I will be guided and its for 2 days.  I still want to be in the best shape I can be in though for whatever we do. It will only increase what is open to us and enhance my enjoyment.

In the Sierras I am also going guided but this guide is allowing me to lead portions of the climbing that are within my ability.  Day 1 we will climb Crystal Crag near Mammoth.  Day 2 hike in to Temple Crag.  Day 3 climb Venusian Blind (5.7 12 pitches) and hopefully hike out that day.  Day 4 climb something else.  Part of my getting in shape motivation was to be ready to climb 12 pitches in  day and hike out the 6 miles to get a 3rd climbing day in.  It won't be a tragedy if we don't and simply camp out and hike out the next day.  But I'd like to get that 3rd climbing day in, and I'd just like to see if I can do it.  Many people do that climb in a long one day car to car effort.  I'm not interested in that - I am looking forward to a nice backcountry experience.

My last motivation for all this really has nothing to do with alpine climbing at all.  It's just to lose weight that I know I have to lose cause I think it will help me climbing in a general sense.  I have led up to Gunks 5.6.  I led a bunch of 5's today.  My current goal is to become a 5.8 leader. I am not certain why that grade but its something to work on that I find attainable so...I'll go with it...it's motivating me.   Losing weight to a healthy level can only help that cause but outside of my one full climbing day per week I basically have an hour a day to train/exercise.  So I want to try and use that hour to meet all these goals as best I can.  Oh...and as you said I am also continually working on my efficiency and technical systems skills, safety, etc as that is important to me too.  I'm not bad - I am completely comfortable at the gunks taking less experienced people out on multi pitch climbs in my range, but the Gunks isn't the Sierras, or Wallface, or The Armadillo, or RMNP - or any other destination 5-10 miles from the car.  I'm working at being comfortable and proficient in those venues too.

Thanks again for your reply - I think I bumped into you at Rock and Snow several months ago - as in literally...you were (or who I think was you) speaking to Rich G and i bumped into you on my way to the bathroom :)  I'm not shy and I would have said hi but I didn't want to interrupt.  But I do appreciate your comments on this forum.  I find them helpful.  And I love climbing history so much of what you say is interesting to me, especially since I am at the Gunks almost weekly.
Jaren Watson · · Idaho · Joined May 2010 · Points: 2,506

Treadmill between 10-15% incline at 12-15 minutes per mile is far from worthless.

It’s an excellent workout and is great training for mountains. Very low impact, builds leg strength and improves heart/lung endurance.

I’m not suggesting other forms of exercise aren’t as good or better, but it’s not accurate to claim treadmills aren’t beneficial for alpine climbing.

Edit to add: I see that level treadmills and jogging were dismissed, not inclined treadmills, specifically.

neils · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2016 · Points: 30
Jaren Watson wrote: Treadmill between 10-15% incline at 12-15 minutes per mile is far from worthless.

It’s an excellent workout and is great training for mountains. Very low impact, builds leg strength and improves heart/lung endurance.

I’m not suggesting other forms of exercise aren’t as good or better, but it’s not accurate to claim treadmills aren’t beneficial for alpine climbing.
Edit to add: I see that level treadmills and jogging were dismissed, not inclined treadmills, specifically.

id agree. when i did a mt whitney winter trip 2 years ago i walked on my treadmill at max incline with a 40lb pack on my back in 1hr sessions coupled with 30 min sessions i could squeeze in on the stairmaster near work and it definitely helped my effort. i did quite well on that trip. 

i do like the idea of stairs ken said above. i have access to that at work. and stairs let you go up...and down. i could work some sessions in on my lunch hour with a weighted pack. theres stairs in the building as well as the parking deck which is nice cause its outside. 
Carter Erickson · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2019 · Points: 0

I agree with Jaren and what you said, Neils. The incline function turns an otherwise mild exercise into something else entirely. I could do a 4 MPH walk on a treadmill for hours, but when I turn it up to 15% that's a whole other story entirely. It's a much different cardio workout at that point, which my heart rate monitor confirms as it jumps up another 30+ beats per minute.

 I've even toyed with the idea that you talked about of just grabbing a pack and getting on one to better get my body used to the stress. I even found out that they have treadmills that go as high as 40 on the incline -  treadmillreviews.com/nordic… - which seems like it would more than simulate a mountain for training purposes. I don't know if the workout functions can mimic any actual trails that get that steep though.

Feels like there are plenty of ways that would get you in Alpine shape though. I think the routine you're doing now mixed with maybe a slight alteration in diet can get you to the ideal weight for taking on the mountain. 

neils · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2016 · Points: 30
Carter Erickson wrote: I agree with Jaren and what you said, Neils. The incline function turns an otherwise mild exercise into something else entirely. I could do a 4 MPH walk on a treadmill for hours, but when I turn it up to 15% that's a whole other story entirely. It's a much different cardio workout at that point, which my heart rate monitor confirms as it jumps up another 30+ beats per minute.

 I've even toyed with the idea that you talked about of just grabbing a pack and getting on one to better get my body used to the stress. I even found out that they have treadmills that go as high as 40 on the incline -  treadmillreviews.com/nordic… - which seems like it would more than simulate a mountain for training purposes. I don't know if the workout functions can mimic any actual trails that get that steep though.

Feels like there are plenty of ways that would get you in Alpine shape though. I think the routine you're doing now mixed with maybe a slight alteration in diet can get you to the ideal weight for taking on the mountain. 

ive been at it for a little less than 3 months now - I am 20 lbs down!!!  :)

Jaren Watson · · Idaho · Joined May 2010 · Points: 2,506
neils wrote:

ive been at it for a little less than 3 months now - I am 20 lbs down!!!  :)

Nice work! That’s awesome!

Redyns · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2011 · Points: 90

i'm a big fan of the stair master if you have one at your local fitness gym.  running stairs in your office is good too (my jawn has 54 floors, so...).

once the stairmaster begins to "hurt" (level 12 of 20), usually around 8-10 minutes, i crank it up to 14 or 15 and basically run up the thing until i can't breathe, then lower back to level 6, catch my breath and do another sprint for as long as i can, then level down until my BP is under 120 then walk away, deflated, realizing that i have to go back to my sh*t-ass office for an afternoon of spoon feeding leadership and calls about calls to discuss calls.    

neils · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2016 · Points: 30
Redyns wrote: i'm a big fan of the stair master if you have one at your local fitness gym.  running stairs in your office is good too (my jawn has 54 floors, so...).

once the stairmaster begins to "hurt" (level 12 of 20), usually around 8-10 minutes, i crank it up to 14 or 15 and basically run up the thing until i can't breathe, then lower back to level 6, catch my breath and do another sprint for as long as i can, then level down until my BP is under 120 then walk away, deflated, realizing that i have to go back to my sh*t-ass office for an afternoon of spoon feeding leadership and calls about calls to discuss calls.    

you have just described my life :)  and you said jawn...you GOTTA be from Philly!!!

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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