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Alpine Climbing Substitutes
Are you taking a break from your regular training routine over the holidays but hope to maintain your current level of fitness? Do you have a vacation scheduled that will take you away from the mountains? Do you live somewhere year round that is relatively flat such as Alabama, Florida, or Kansas? If you answered “yes” to any of the above but you would still like to plan an alpine trip to the mountains this coming summer, there are plenty of things you can do to maintain your current level of conditioning or build on your existing program.
One trick to try if you are going on an extended trip is bringing a backpack with you as part of your luggage. That way you can always throw travel gear in it and carry it on your back, especially anytime you plan to be walking continuously for longer than 45 minutes. This helps increase your cardiovascular endurance as well as local muscle endurance in your legs, lower and upper back, and calves. Even if you cannot get to the mountains regularly, if you have access to stairs or rolling hills, or even if you can do some training on equipment such as inclined treadmills, elliptical cross trainers, stair masters or step mills, set yourself up to move continuously for 45 minutes or more, up to a few hours at a time if you are training for longer climbing days.
Always remember that the easiest and most accessible exercise you can do practically anywhere—and with great carryover to alpine climbing--is walking. Power walking, a variation on “strolling” that involves more vigorous arm and leg movement, will help you increase leg turnover and speed; by doing this unweighted, whenever you put on a pack you may find that your pace has increased just by getting your body used to faster walking. It is also a great way to explore the area you are visiting. Feel free to mix up the pack walks and power walks with running, biking, step aerobics, cross-country skiing, or other cross-training events that allow you to work the whole body and prevent the development of muscle imbalances.
One segment of training that often gets forgotten during the off season, holidays and vacation is anaerobic, or intervals, training, the shorter, more intense workouts that can help you increase your entire aerobic base. This form of training is usually used more frequently as climbers get closer to a trip, but by including interval training a few times a month even during the off season, you can maintain that edge throughout the year and see an increase in your entire level of fitness as you near your trip. For more please see www.bodyresults.com/e2intervals.asp.
If you are looking for training tips on how to get your legs, arms and core prepared for the rugged terrain of the mountains, please take a look at the following training pages: www.bodyresults.com/e2alpinetraining.asp on preparing for your alpine climbing season www.bodyresults.com/s2climb10e.asp contains 3 stretches and 7 strength exercises that every alpinist should at least be aware of and potentially rotate through his/her routine depending on particular body needs and muscular requirements www.bodyresults.com/s2drills.asp contains 10 technique drills you can do at indoor climbing gyms, good ways to keep your forearms, fingers, lats and all the other pulling muscles in condition for when you return to the mountains (if your particular love is rock or ice climbing) And finally, the following pages include core conditioning programs that include use of medicine balls and help you train your core in functional movement patterns similar to what you experience in the wilderness. Please take a look at /www.bodyresults.com/e2medballs2.asp, www.bodyresults.com/e2medballs.asp and www.bodyresults.com/e2alpinecore.asp.
If you will be facing a severe time crunch on your vacation or holiday, the best way to maintain fitness in the shortest period of time is by including circuit training, combining strength and cardiovascular training in one workout. See www.bodyresults.com/e2skicircuit.asp for more on how to do this. The circuit suggested is for skiing, as many skiers convert to climbing during their “off season!” But a modification of the circuit can be adapted to be directly applicable to alpine climbing as well. While nothing is quite as effective for alpine climbing as getting out there and doing the activity itself, you need not scrap your entire program simply because there will be a few weeks or months when you cannot get to the mountains. By maintaining current conditioning levels year round, and building to a peak close to any selected trip, you will find your fitness levels increasing every year rather than starting over at the beginning of the new year. Happy holidays and good luck with your training!