Log In

Need an RMI account? Create an account

Register With Us

Already have an account?

*required fields

The password must meet the following criteria:

  • At least 8 characters
  • At least 1 lowercase letter
  • At least 1 uppercase letter
  • At least 1 number
  • At least 1 symbol (allowed symbols: !?@#$%^&/*()[]{}><,.+-=;)

Keep up to date with information about our latest climbs by joining our mailing list. Sign up and we'll keep you informed about new adventures, special offers, competitions, and news.
Privacy Policy


Check Availability

RMI Logo

Mountaineering Training | Training Phases

A well crafted training plan is one that comprises multiple phases of training. Commonly called Periodized Training, this is the method of dividing your training program into phases in order to focus on different aspects of your training while effectively incorporating the needed rest and recovery.  Periodized training is effective because it is a strategic approach to training. If you try to focus on every aspects of your training all at once, you're likely to get injured or burn out. Much like building a house, the foundation must be laid before the walls can be put up and the interior finished. In the same manner, periodized training is focusing on different aspects of your training in a complementary manner, where each phase makes you stronger and more prepared for the next. 

Basic Training Phases

Phase 1: Building Base Fitness 

Your goal in this phase is to build your overall "base fitness." This entails improving your aerobic endurance, increasing strength and flexibility, and incorporating occasional interval work. This critical training phase focuses primarily on aerobic fitness. Aerobic training increases the amount of oxygen carried to the muscles, lowers the rate at which lactic acid is created and helps the body remove it more effectively, and increases the overall metabolic rate (1). Put simply, you are getting into good overall shape in order to prepare your body for the stresses of more intense and specific mountaineering training. 

Phase 2: Introduce Mountaineering Specific Training 

This phase focuses on maintaining endurance and aerobic fitness while improving speed and strength by introducing more interval training and mountaineering specific training. Begin incorporating interval sessions into your training to increase your aerobic capacity and and broaden your range of comfort at various effort levels. Make your workouts more mountaineering specific with hikes and climbs with moderate weight in your pack. This phase is beginning to hone your fitness to the demands of mountaineering. 

Phase 3: Tailor Training Specifically for the Climb Ahead

In the final phase you are training specifically for the climb ahead. Try and train on terrain similar in steepness and difficulty to the mountain in terms of vertical change, weight in your pack, and length of days. Find training hikes with the vertical change that is similar to the amount of vertical change on your climb. Stack long workout days back to back to mimic the challenges of multi-day climbs. Train and with a pack weight mimicking what you will be carrying on the mountain and incorporate interval sessions to boost your anaerobic threshold.  Remember to dramatically dial down your training in the final week or so before the climb. This process, called "tapering", gives you the needed time to rest and recover from your final training push. The last thing you want to do is show up at the base of a mountain exhausted and worn out. 

Applying Phased Training

Pull out a calendar and mark down the date of your upcoming climb. You have every day between today and the start of your climb to build your fitness. Divide this time into three phases. Your current fitness level and the amount of time between now and your next climb will determine the length and focus of each phase. As you hone in on your different phases, also reflect back on your past climbs and training to determine what areas of focus (flexibility, balance, speed, etc.) to incorporate into the more mountaineering specific training phases. Find out more about specific training routines with RMI's Mountaineering Fitness and Training resources. We strongly encourage you to work with a trainer or fitness coach to help you map out this process and provided the specific routines and exercises for you. 


(1: "Train Smart This Winter: Base Training Basics", Active.com)

Questions? Comments? Share your thoughts here on the RMI Blog!

Leave a comment for the team

* required fields

More to Explore

Mt. Kilimanjaro: Hahn and Team Recover from Jet Lag and Prepare to Climb

September 16, 2013

Kilimanjaro: Hahn & Team at Machame Camp

September 17, 2013

Filter By:

Sign up for Expedition Dispatches

check the Summit Registry try our Adventure Finder alerts for 2025 RAINIER DATES
Back to Top

Sign up for our Newsletter

Image of Mt Rainier
    *required fields
    • Keep up to date with information about our latest climbs by joining our mailing list. Sign up and we'll keep you informed about new adventures, special offers, competitions, and news.
      privacy policy

Thank you for subscribing to the RMI Expeditions Newsletter!

While you're at it, you can sign up some of our other mailings as well:

Please choose the programs you'd like updates on: