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Mountaineering Training | Fit To Climb: Week 3

Posted by: | February 18, 2013
Categories: *Mountaineering Fitness & Training

Now the real work begins! This is the beginning of Phase 2: Foundation / Build. You’ll be adding strength work and cross training to your daily training routine.

Fit to Climb: Week 3 Schedule

1 Rainier Dozen (*see below) / Easy Hiking ( 30 min) 42 min. Medium
2 Rainier Dozen / Stair Interval Training (40 min) 52 min. Hard
3 Rainier Dozen / Rest 12 min. Recovery
4 Strength Circuit Training x 2 (*see below) 38 min. Hard
5 Rainier Dozen / Rest 12 min. Recovery
6 Rainier Dozen / Cross Training (1 hr) 72 min. Medium
7 Rainier Dozen / Hike (2 hrs) 132 min. Medium
Total 6 hrs

You’ve been doing the Daily Dozen for two weeks, going forward the new Daily Workout will be the Rainier Dozen. The Rainier Dozen is based upon the Daily Dozen and it’s a more advanced workout.

Here are a list of the exercises. You may be familiar with all or some. A description is added below for each exercise. Following the Rainier Dozen, you’ll find a description of the Day 4 Strength Circuit.

1.  Steam engine
2.  Three quarter squats
3.  Turkish Get Up
4.  Lunge
5.  Arm extender
6.  Triceps Dip
7.  Deep squat
8.  Steam engine laying down
9.  Mountain climber
10.  Push up
11.  Ranger crawl
12.  8 Point Body Builder

If you have any concerns about performing these exercises, consider hiring a coach or fitness trainer to help you learn how to get the most from each movement.

1. Steam Engine
How to do it: Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and your hands clasped behind your head. Lift your left knee, simultaneously twisting your body to the right, while keeping the muscles of your core engaged. Alternate the movement, using your right knee and left elbow.

2. Three Quarter Squats
How to do it: Stand with legs shoulder width apart and arms at your sides. Swing your arms forward and up, raising them above your head, palms facing forward. At the same time, bend your knees as if you were sitting in a chair. Hold the Squat briefly, then stand up by pushing through your heels, until you are in a full upright standing position.

3. Turkish Get Up
How to do it:
Step 1: Starting in a laying down position, with the right hand vertically toward the sky, bring the right knee into a bended position, while rolling towards your left. Placing the left hand on the ground, bring the right foot over the body and placing it on the floor. From here, keeping the right arm vertical, bring your body into the lunge position. From this position, push down on the right leg to bring your entire body into the standing-upright position.
Step 2: Drop back to the lunge position, with your left foot back. Place your left arm on the ground. Simultaneously rotate your body towards the right, while extending the right leg. Place your bottom on the ground, proceeding to lay flat while the right arm remains vertical throughout.

4. Lunge
How to do it: Stand upright, feet and legs together, hands on hips, elbows out to sides. Step your right leg backward. Bend your left knee until the kneecap is directly above your foot, causing the leg to form a 90-degree angle. Simultaneously lower your right leg until the knee almost rests on the ground, forming another 90-degree angle. Step back to starting position, and repeat, stepping backward with the left leg. Continue to alternate legs.

5. Arm Extender
How to do it: Standing upright, start with the hands and elbows at shoulder level. Simultaneously extend elbows outwards three times, and on the fourth time, completely extend the arm to finish with arms completely straight out to the side. Pause, and repeat.

6. Triceps Dip
How to do it: Find a solid object, such as a wall, stairs, or a bench. Facing outwards, place the hands behind your body on the edge of the object. Your legs can be straight, or to reduce the resistance, they can bent at the knees. With the core muscles engaged, simply lower your body until the angle behind your forearm and upper arm is approximately 100 degrees. Be careful to not lower yourself more than this, because to do so will place undue strain on the shoulders. Reverse movement to start position.

7. Deep Squat
How to do it: Stand with your feet a little wider than hip distance apart, toes pointing out at 45-degree angles. Put your hands on your hips and bend your knees out to the sides, making sure to keep them in line with the toes. Lower your body in a Squat until your thighs are parallel to the ground, and then push up through your heels to a standing position. Repeat.

8. Steam Engine (on ground)
How to do it: Lie on your back with your hands behind your head, head slightly raised, taking care not to pull on your neck. Extend your legs fully, holding them an inch or so off the ground. Bend the left knee in toward your body as you extend your right elbow to touch the left knee. Alternate the movement, touching your right knee to your left elbow as you extend the left leg fully.

9. Mountain Climber
How could the mountain climber not be good for mountain climbing! Seriously though, the mountain climber is a great exercise for core strength, hip flexor extension, agility in the calves and strength in the feet and ankles. How this benefits the climber is through the improved flexibility, coordination, strength and endurance required during the stepping-up motion.
How to do it: Starting in the plank position, bring the right foot forward as if you were in the starting blocks of a 100 meter sprint. From here, simply alternate your left and right legs between this position with a small hop or jump, as if running or bounding. The length of the movement can be shorter or longer depending on your level of ability.

10. Push Up
How to do it: Start with palms and toes on the ground, body in the air, as straight and strong as possible. Your arms should be directly underneath your shoulders, and you can spread your fingers wide for stability. (If this is more of a challenge than you’d like right now, do a modified Push-up with your knees on the ground.) Keeping the back and neck straight, inhale, bend your elbows and lower yourself until you are about 2 inches off the ground. Exhale as you push back up into the starting position. Repeat.

11. Ranger Crawl
How to do it: Starting in the plank position, bring the right knee towards the right elbow. Pause, then return to the start position. Then, switch feet and bring the left knee towards the left elbow, again, pausing, before returning to the start position. Repeat. What’s important with this exercise is to engage the core muscles and the arm and shoulder muscles prior to beginning the movements. Keep the hips low to maintain the plank position.

12. 8 Point Bodybuilder
How to do it: Starting in the standing position, drop to the ground and then thrust both legs back to the plank position. Perform a push up. Then, perform a scissor, spreading the legs wide, then returning them to the start position. From here, bring the feet forward into a position to be able to perform a power jump. Finally, perform the power jump, finishing with a hand clap before returning to the start position (see this video for an explanation).

A. (Rainier Dozen to warm up) - 12 minutes
B. The 8 exercises for this circuit (40 seconds on, 20 seconds rest) x 2 - 16 minutes, based on the Rainier Dozen, are:

1.  Stem Engine
2.  Push Up
3.  Squat
4.  Lunge
5.  Plank
6.  Jump rope / Jumping Jack
7.  Mountain Climber
8.  Side Lunge

C. (10 Minute Cool Down) - 10 minutes. See the Home Stretch for exercises.

- John Colver

Have a question? See the Fit To Climb FAQ for explanations of specific exercises and general pointers to help you through the Fit To Climb Program.

John Colver is a longtime climber, former mountain guide, and certified personal trainer with the American Council of Exercise. Colver introduced outdoor fitness classes to athletic clubs throughout the greater Puget Sound region before creating his adventX brand. Currently, adventX leads training programs in Seattle and Colver presents clinics on outdoor fitness at companies such as Microsoft, Boeing, the American Lung Association, and REI. Colver lives in Seattle, and is working on his second book, Fit to Climb - a 16 week Mount Rainier Fitness Program.



Hi Rick,

We couldn’t find a video of the Arm Extender but here is an alternative description from Colver’s Book Fit By Nature:

“This is a 4-count exercise… read more

Posted by: RMI Expeditions on 4/25/2014 at 8:25 am

Hi—I’m not sure I understand the description of the “arm extender” exercise in the Rainier Dozen.  Is there a video available?  Thanks!

read more

Posted by: Rick on 4/24/2014 at 2:04 pm

Mountaineering Training | Fit To Climb: Week 1

Posted by: | February 04, 2013
Categories: *Mountaineering Fitness & Training

This is officially the first training week Fit To Climb and of your Mount Rainier adventure. Much like fastening up a coat, it’s really important to get the first button in the right hole, or no amount of effort at the other end is going to make the process successful!

In physical training, a core foundational principle is to develop correct movement patterns, this so we can use our bodies efficiently while avoiding injury. The method we’ll use to practice this week is the Daily Dozen. (Download a description of the Daily Dozen here).

During this first week of training, measure your success by performing the exercises with the greatest amount of skill possible. Consider how you’ll want to move on the mountain during your climb, moving over rocks covered in ice, wearing crampons and a heavy backpack, potentially in a snowstorm. At that point, you’ll want your foot to end up exactly where you want it, and you’ll want to have the strength and coordination to efficiently move your body upwards.

The very first step toward getting there is to figure out how to move your body right. Therefore, do not worry about how many exercises you can do or how intensely you can do them; simply focus on the quality of movement and make a strong commitment to quality training during this week and for the weeks to follow.

Fit to Climb: Week 1 Schedule

1 Daily Dozen (Crux Workout) 12 min. Recovery
2 30 Minute Hike 30 min. Medium
3 Daily Dozen / Rest 12 min. Recovery
4 30 Minute Hike 30 min. Medium
5 Daily Dozen / Rest 12 min. Recovery
6 1 Hour Hike 60 min. Medium
7 Rest - Recovery
  Total 2 hrs 36 mins  

- John Colver

Have a question? See the Fit To Climb FAQ for explanations of specific exercises and general pointers to help you through the Fit To Climb Program.

John Colver is a longtime climber, former mountain guide, and certified personal trainer with the American Council of Exercise. Colver introduced outdoor fitness classes to athletic clubs throughout the greater Puget Sound region before creating his adventX brand. Currently, adventX leads training programs in Seattle and Colver presents clinics on outdoor fitness at companies such as Microsoft, Boeing, the American Lung Association, and REI. Colver lives in Seattle, and is working on his second book, Fit to Climb - a 16 week Mount Rainier Fitness Program.

RMI Climbers on Ingraham Flats, Mt. Rainier




Thank you for posting this information, as I really had no idea where to start! Just to confirm, we’re only supposed to do the 12 minute workout today? No… read more

Posted by: Kate on 1/5/2015 at 10:52 am

I have booked an RMI 4 Day climb of Mt. Rainier, June 7-10.  I’m in reasonable shape already, and have some climbing experience, and I’m currently a ski patroller at… read more

Posted by: Mel Goudge on 12/27/2014 at 6:47 am

Summit for Whittaker, Viesturs and Team

Posted by: | May 19, 2009
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Everest
Elevation: Top of the World

Peter Whittaker and Ed Viesturs reach the summit of Everest.

Peter Whittaker on the summit of Mount Everest Ed Viesturs on the summit of Mount Everest Jake Norton on the summit of Mount Everest Peter Whittaker and Ed Viesturs shake hands on the summit of Mount Everest


Mountaineering Training | Answers to Common Questions from Fit To Climb

Posted by: | February 28, 2013
Categories: *Mountaineering Fitness & Training

Below are some answers to help to common questions that we receive regarding the Adventx Fit To Climb Program:

How do I complete the Stair Intervals?
First, find a set of stairs. They can be outdoors, indoors, at a stadium or even a stairmaster or eliptical trainer at the gym. Warm up with steady walking for 10 - 15 minutes. Then make repeated high intensity efforts - about 2 minutes is a good length of time (this may mean two or more flights/sets if your stairs are short). In between efforts, rest for 2 - 3 minutes until you can breathe comfortably before starting again. If you are new to interval training, start with 3 or 4 efforts. Don’t worry about your performance level today as you’ll see gains as the weeks progress. The 40 minutes is an average time frame, the amount of time it will actually take you depends on the number of efforts you put in. Be sure to allow 10 minutes to cool down at an easy pace.

What is a Turkish Get Up (from the Rainier Dozen)?
Steve Cotter offers a great instructional video on the Turkish Get Up using a variation I find very helpful for climbers in building strength for the big steps often found on climbs. Using a kettle ball or additional weight, as demonstrated in the video, is optional depending on how challenging this exercise is for you. See the video below. Be sure to complete the exercise on both your left and right sides.

How do I complete the Timed Run?
The Timed Run (or walk) is a benchmark that allow you to see progress over the sixteen weeks. When not setting benchmarks, it’s easy to ‘feel’ fitter, or even less fit, at times. The Timed Run is a timed effort over a short distance that allows you to see tangible gains. You can choose your actual distance, I suggest about 1 mile, four circuits of an athletic field or the perimeter of a city park - but it can be any moderate distance that you choose and can follow again over the coming weeks. The Timed Run also acts as an improvement target, providing focus for this workout.

What is the Fitness Test all about?
In Fit To Climb we’ll do the test every four weeks to act as a measurement of overall fitness as well as specific core muscle endurance and agility. The repeated test is designed to show progress and these sessions should also be fun. Be sure to record your results from this week’s test and we can compare them to the results of the next test. As with all training, there should be an emphasis on safety and self care. Push your limits but don’t place undue stress or strain on your body. Rather than go all out, try to nudge your results forward in a controlled and sensible way, much like a successful mountain climb.

I don’t have the time or the right terrain to fit in all of the training!
There is no doubt about it, the Fit To Climb Program is a demanding training routine and asks for a significant investment of time. Additionally, ideal training takes place on terrain that can replicate the demands of the mountains. Finding both the time and the terrain to fit in all of your training is a difficult task. Check out our Time and Terrain Tips for Mountaineering Training, a collection of ideas, suggestions, and tips that our guides and climbers have used over the years to get the most out of your training. Be creative with the time and terrain you have available! Additionally, consider alternate activities like cycling to get your workouts in, see Cycling for Mountaineering Training for more ideas.

-John Colver

John Colver is a longtime climber, former mountain guide, and certified personal trainer with the American Council of Exercise. Colver introduced outdoor fitness classes to athletic clubs throughout the greater Puget Sound region before creating his adventX brand. Currently, adventX leads training programs in Seattle and Colver presents clinics on outdoor fitness at companies such as Microsoft, Boeing, the American Lung Association, and REI. Colver lives in Seattle, and is working on his second book, Fit to Climb - a 16 week Mount Rainier Fitness Program.

Questions? Comments? Share your thoughts with John and other readers on the RMI Blog!

You can read the past Weekly Mountaineering Training Series on the RMI Blog.



Are there any other videos or picture descriptions of the exercises in the “Rainier dozen” in addition to the one for the Turkish get up?

read more

Posted by: Matt Roberts on 2/11/2015 at 7:19 am

Hi Anne,
None of the guides here have firsthand experience with the Versaclimber but it seems like a good tool. The best bet is try and mimic the… read more

Posted by: RMI Expeditions on 4/24/2014 at 1:54 pm

Mountaineering Training | Interval Training

Posted by: | November 19, 2012
Categories: *Mountaineering Fitness & Training

Interval Training is a training technique employed in many endurance sports. It refers to a training session where periods of high intensity effort, followed by rest, are repeated during a training session. 
The benefits of interval training: 
Benefits include improved cardiovascular fitness, increased aerobic performance and increased anaerobic threshold. It has its place in a weight loss program too, due to the high levels of energy burned during and after the workout. 
It’s true that during a climb, the goal is to ascend at a steady pace and to conserve energy, which begs the question; 
“Why do high-intensity interval training”? 
There are several reasons. One is that as we climb higher, the air is thinner and every effort becomes more taxing. Interval training, by raising the anaerobic threshold, will simply extend the range of effort we can make before we get out of breath. It also helps us to recover after a short, hard effort. 
Some ideas to implement this type of training: 
As a general rule, you’ll want to be fully warmed up with some mobility exercises (for example, try the Daily Dozen) and 10 to 15 minutes of moderate walking or running, just enough to get your blood flowing and your muscles ready for a hard effort.
Stairs: If you have a set of stairs available in town or at an athletic stadium you can use them for interval training. Simply push hard up the stairs for about a minute then rest by going easy down the stairs. How many times you’ll want to repeat this depends on your fitness ability. To start off, you may chose 3 or 4 efforts. During the peak phase of training a dozen or more will provide significant benefits. 
Steep grade: Same as above and use a stopwatch or mark a spot as your turn-around point. 
Indoors: You can do intervals on treadmill, bicycle, stair-master and elliptical machines
None of the above? You can even do intervals with a step, a low wall or even a box you might find in a gym. Simply use your watch and do repeated step-ups. You can even wear a pack, hold weights or a medicine ball while you work. 
Example workout: Short high intensity interval training

Here is the timeline for a one hour interval training session: 
• 0:00 Daily Dozen
• 0:12 Ten minutes moderate walking or running 
• 0:22 Two minutes rest
• 0:24 One-minute high intensity
• 0:25 Repeat six times
• 0:43 Ten-minute cool-down walk
• 0:53 Stretch
• 1:00 Finish

If you are new to interval training, expect to feel both exhilarated and fatigued. When I do interval training with groups it’s always easy to see the effort evidenced by sweat and hard breathing. 
Another version of interval training is ‘Fartlek’ training. The word originated in Sweden and means ‘Speed Play’. It’s popular with cyclists, runners and cross-country skiers. You simply chose random ‘targets‘ like the top of a hill, a loop of a track, a tree or trail marker and then get after it with gusto! Increase your effort level as high or moderate as you feel like and mix up the length of the intervals. I like this type of training very much as it replicates the unpredictable nature of mountain terrain. It’s fun too, helping to pass the time while training alone, or to add a competitive challenge with friends. If you lack stairs, you can use any uphill grade and no matter what the terrain, you can always increase intensity by adding weight to your pack. Learn more about Fartlek Training…

Other ideas for interval training include:
The 4 x 4 Interval Workout
Ladder Interval Training

How often to include Interval Training?

I find that two times per week is a good amount and I’ll choose days of the week where I’m likely to be fully rested and recovered. Avoid doing back-to-back sessions as you’ll need a day or two to recover after the effort. 
In summary: 

Interval training is a valuable part of a mountaineers training. It’s energetic, gets the adrenaline flowing, boosts your cardiovascular system, burns energy and helps your body cope with the stresses of a high altitude, low oxygen environment. 
As with any training session, make sure you are rested, hydrated and properly fueled before interval training. It’s hard work - you’ll need good energy to complete the sessions. 

- John Colver
John Colver is a longtime climber, former mountain guide, and certified personal trainer with the American Council of Exercise. Colver introduced outdoor fitness classes to athletic clubs throughout the greater Puget Sound region before creating his adventX brand. Currently, adventX leads training programs in Seattle and Colver presents clinics on outdoor fitness at companies such as Microsoft, Boeing, the American Lung Association, and REI. Colver lives in Seattle.

Questions? Comments? Leave a comment to share your thoughts with John and other readers!

RMI Guide Linden Mallory trail running outside of Moab, UT.


Mountaineering Training | Nutrition For Mountaineering Training

Posted by: | November 05, 2012
Categories: *Mountaineering Fitness & Training

Mountain Climbing has a high requirement for energy. Quality nutrition is a key component of training success. In this conversation with Registered Dietician Sally Hara of Kirkland, Washington, I had a chance to ask some of the questions which often come up in training for mountaineering

John Colver: How much protein do I need?
Sally Hara: Most athletes require 1.2 to 1.4 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight (1 kilogram is equivalent to 2.2 pounds). Ultra-endurance athletes may require up to 1.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. This is typically not difficult for an athlete to get if he or she is eating a balanced, nutrient-dense diet and is responding appropriately to hunger cues. An ounce of meat, fish, poultry, or cheese contains about 7 grams of protein. Other good sources of protein are 1 to 2 tablespoons of nut butter, one egg, 1/4 cup cottage cheese, and 1/2 cup cooked legumes. A slice of bread, 1/3 cup of pasta or rice, or 1/2 cup cooked oatmeal can contain about 3 grams of protein each - check the nutritional label to be sure.

JC: How much water should I drink?
SH: The general recommendation for daily fluid intake is about 64 to 80 ounces per day. This includes all fluids consumed, not just water. When you factor in endurance exercise, an athlete’s fluid needs will increase. Although specific needs may vary depending on duration and intensity of the exercise, the ambient temperature and humidity, altitude, and individual differences between athletes, the following are general recommendations appropriate for most athletes.
• 2 to 3 hours before exercise? Drink about 20 oz. water or sports drink
• During exercise? Drink 6 to 12 oz. every 15 - 20 minutes
• After exercise? At least 20 oz. after exercise, with continued regular hydration for the remainder of the day. Ideally, enough to replace water lost via sweat, urine, and respiration. Consume 24 oz. for every pound of body weight lost during exercise.
*Source: ADA. Position of the American Dietetic Association, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine: Nutrition and Athletic Performance, 2009

JC: How often should I eat during a normal day?
SH: To optimize metabolism and both physiological and psychological performance (including mood, focus, and efficiency), I recommend eating every three to four hours. Serious athletes sometimes need to eat at least every two hours because of their high metabolism and energy needs. Spreading food intake throughout the day helps ensure that your brain and body will have enough energy to function properly during the day. Eating at regular intervals helps prevent overeating at the end of the day caused by extreme hunger. It seems paradoxical, but eating frequently can actually help regulate body weight better than skipping meals and snacks. If a person is in tune with their natural hunger and fullness signals, the best advice is simply to eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re satisfied. Unfortunately, people who have a history of dieting often are disconnected from these signals because they have a history of ignoring them. If you are truly hungry, eat high-quality, nutrient-dense food. Hunger is a signal that your body is asking for more energy. Just respond to hunger with the most nutrient-dense food available.

JC: How do I know when I’m getting the correct mix of macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, and fat) to enable my best performance?
SH: This is one issue a sports dietician can help you determine. Most athletes think they need much more protein than they actually do, and many vastly underestimate their need for carbohydrates. While protein is necessary to build and repair muscles and other tissues, carbohydrate is the preferred fuel for exercise (even for strength training). Protein is building material, carbohydrates are fuel. The more you work out, the more fuel you need.

JC: Do I have to eat breakfast?
SH: For optimal health and performance, yes. When we wake up in the morning, our glycogen stores are significantly depleted, because that is our primary energy source when we sleep.

JC: What do you eat before a morning training session?
SH: Usually a light but balanced meal or snack is best; something that contains mostly carbohydrate and a little protein for longer workouts is ideal. The size of the meal depends on the duration and intensity of the workout. Yogurt with granola or fruit can work well. Including a combination of simple and complex carbohydrates provides both an immediate energy source (simple carbs) and one that is digested more slowly, giving you more energy over time (complex carbs). An example of a meal that serves this purpose could be oatmeal with soymilk and raisins.

JC: Should I eat before a workout? What can I eat and how soon before the workout?
SH: Yes. I recommend a snack with carbohydrates (fruit, granola bar, smoothie, etc.) within two hours prior to exercise. If you will be training for over ninety minutes, it is also good to include a protein source (peanut butter, yogurt, meat, soy products, etc.) to help stabilize your blood sugar for a longer period of time. How close to your workout you eat depends on you. Some people can eat a three-course meal five minutes before intense exercise, while others can barely tolerate a small yogurt two hours before the workout. This is very individual.

JC: What should I eat after a workout and how soon after?
SH: The most important requirements for recovery are carbohydrates, fluids, and electrolytes. The perfect recovery snack is chocolate milk - it offers all of this plus a little protein. There are other options, of course, but the focus should be on carbs and hydration. A small amount of protein may also be helpful for post-exercise recovery, but the bulk of your post-exercise meal should be made up of carbohydrates. Remember to eat something within one hour after exercise to get a jump on replenishing your glycogen stores.

JC: Should I take a multivitamin?
SH: In theory, we should be able to get all of our vitamins and minerals from the food we eat. Even if there is a slightly higher nutritional need in endurance athletes, the increased amount of food necessary to meet energy demands should contain the additional vitamins and minerals needed as well. That said, not everyone has a perfect diet, so a basic multivitamin may not be a bad idea. There is no need to overspend on specialized vitamins, however. For instance, those little packets with four to six vitamin pills in them are mostly a marketing ploy.

JC: I don’t eat fish - should I take fish oil supplements?
SH: Fish oil supplements are an excellent idea. The omega-3 fatty acids in these supplements have multiple documented benefits, including cholesterol balance, anti-inflammatory effects, and mood stabilization. A good substitute for vegetarians would be flaxseed oil.

JC: What type of beverage should go into my water bottle when I’m exercising - something with electrolytes?
SH: For anyone exercising over sixty minutes, I recommend a sports drink containing both electrolytes and carbohydrates. Since you should be fueling as you go, this is a convenient way to take in the recommended carbohydrates.
Alternatively, you could fill the bottle with an electrolyte-only drink and eat solid foods as an energy source. It really depends on the sport and whether or not you typically eat while training. Either way, fluids and electrolytes are both important to have in your sports bottle.

JC: How does alcohol affect my performance?
SH: It’s all about timing and moderation. Alcohol is a known diuretic and can lead to significant dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. If you have an occasional beer, rehydrate before turning in for the night and limit yourself to one to two drinks per day. Alcohol is a known toxin that can hinder liver functions, including the ability of the liver to produce blood sugar from glycogen (for fuel) during exercise.

JC: How much fiber do I need?
SH: The current recommendation is about 30 grams of fiber per day. Consuming whole grains most of the time and getting at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day will likely provide this amount of fiber easily.

JC: What if I don’t have much time to cook?
SH: This is a big problem in our society. Some strategies could include cooking once a week and freezing several meals that you can easily heat up later. One great tool for athletes is a slow cooker. You can chop meat, vegetables, and spices, put them in a slow cooker for eight hours, and you’ll have wonderful meals. Personally I enjoy curries, chilies, stews, soups, and even baked potatoes. It’s easy, safe (you can leave it on all day), inexpensive ($50 to $100), and nutrient dense, as the cooking method used does not leach vitamins or minerals, nor does it destroy nutrients with excessive heat.

JC: For vegetarians, are there specific things to know about eating for athletic performance?
SH: The basic needs for vegetarian athletes are the same as for other athletes. What differs is the source of some of the nutrients (especially protein, iron, B12 and calcium). A great resource for this is the book The Vegetarian’s Sports Nutrition Guide, by Lisa Dorfman, RD, CSSD.
Vegetarians should pay particular attention to getting enough protein, but it’s not that difficult to do. The main sources of protein for vegetarians are legumes (such as dried beans, peas, and lentils), soy products, and (for non-vegans) milk, cheese, yogurt, and eggs. The good thing about vegetarian protein sources is that most also contain carbohydrates, which are an athlete’s best friend.
Iron, one of the nutrients that all vegetarians must be aware of, is found abundantly in animal products but sparsely in plant products. Some good sources of iron for vegetarians include dried beans and dark green leafy vegetables. Iron absorption is increased by eating foods containing vitamin C together with iron-rich foods in the same meal.

JC: If I am a vegetarian, how can I get enough vitamin B12?
SH: Vitamin B12 is found only in animal products. Lacto-ovo vegetarians can get B12 from dairy products and eggs. Vegans (who eat only plant products) need to supplement their diet with B12 either by including nutritional yeast, foods that have been fortified with it (like some soy milks), or by taking a B12 supplement. The recommended intake of B12 for adults is 2.4 micrograms daily. Inadequate B12 can result in a condition called macrocytic anemia, in which you will be overly tired and have difficulty training and recovering from exercise.

JC: How do I know if I’m getting enough iron?
SH: Iron deficiencies are common in endurance athletes, especially runners. There is controversy over why this occurs. Iron plays a key role in transporting oxygen to the muscles. This increases the need for iron in endurance athletes. Athletes who overtrain will often develop iron-deficiency anemia despite consuming what should be adequate iron, because a body that is in a stressed state from overtraining makes the iron unavailable. If you have a history of iron deficiency (determined by simple blood tests your doctor can order), taking an iron supplement routinely is a good idea. If this doesn’t fix the problem, you may need to examine your training and nutrition habits. Certainly, making sure to include iron-rich foods (especially red meat, which is very high in iron) is very important.

- John Colver
John Colver is a longtime climber, former mountain guide, and certified personal trainer with the American Council of Exercise. Colver introduced outdoor fitness classes to athletic clubs throughout the greater Puget Sound region before creating his adventX brand. Currently, adventX leads training programs in Seattle and Colver presents clinics on outdoor fitness at companies such as Microsoft, Boeing, the American Lung Association, and REI. Colver lives in Seattle.

A fruit vendor in Kathmandu, Nepal.



Or beer.

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Posted by: John on 5/4/2014 at 8:23 pm

A great periworkout drink for long endurance climbing is pedialyte with bcaa and glutamine added.

read more

Posted by: Eli on 5/4/2014 at 6:05 pm

Mountaineering Training | Introduction to the Fit To Climb Program

Posted by: | January 28, 2013
Categories: *Mountaineering Fitness & Training

We are excited to share a weekly trainings series from the book Fit to Climb: The Adventx 16 week Mount Rainier Training Program authored by former RMI Guide John Colver! This conditioning plan is designed to help you train for a successful Mount Rainier climb. 
As the plan unfolds you’ll quickly gain momentum, achieving milestones, and navigating each phase of training. Before you’re halfway through, you’ll feel confident in your abilities and have experienced significant physical gains.
Features of the Fit To Climb plan are:

• A progressive training schedule with measurable milestones
• A weekly chart with day by day workout descriptions
• The ‘Rainier Dozen’ daily strengthening workout
• Tips on cross-training and alternative training options
• Instruction on aerobic endurance, anaerobic endurance, and strength training
• Nutrition for training and climbing
• Tips on motivation, goal setting, and mental preparation

The Fit To Climb Program is designed to be done anywhere and with the minimal of equipment. No matter where you live, you’ll be able to participate and each week you’ll build strength and endurance for the climb ahead.
The 16 weeks are comprised of four phases:

• Phase one = Adaptation Training (Weeks 1 - 2)
• Phase two = Foundation Training (Weeks 3 - 10)
• Phase three = Peak Training (Weeks 10 - 15)
• Phase four = Expedition (Week 16)

These phases are the building blocks, each ending in milestones. We start with general conditioning, then add endurance, followed by the addition of high intensity interval training in the peak phase and ending with a short ‘tapering’ phase during the final preparation in the week before your climb. 

The timing commitment of the Fit To Climb Program varies. The Adaption and Foundation Training Phases ask for 4 - 7 hours a week of training. During the Peak Training Phase the focus is on building solid and aerobic endurance with long training sessions and the plan calls for 10 - 15+ hrs of training per week. It’s a big time commitment so plan ahead and try and prepare your schedule to handle the increased training demands. For some tips, see RMI’s collection of ideas to maximize the time and the find the right terrain for your training.
The timing of the sixteen weeks is designed to prepare you for Mount Rainier climb that is four months away. If your climb is later or sooner you can adjust the timing as necessary, either getting a head-start or beginning in the appropriate week.

The Fit To Climb Program can easily be tailored to prepare you for any mountain beyond Mt. Rainier. In developing training plans for other climbs, plan your training with the end in mind: is the major challenge the high altitude, extreme temperatures, heavy pack, or multiple days or weeks? 
As you create the training map, ensure that there are stepping stones to gain new skills and strengths as well as milestones where you can “test” your ability. One principle of training for mountaineering in all ranges, is that aerobic endurance conditioning is the primary training component for most climbers. Start by making sure that you have what it takes to “go long,” then focus on the specific challenges of your climb or expedition.

The Fit To Climb training program is rigorous and to complete it in its entirety requires a substantial commitment of time and effort. Do people follow it to-the-letter? Sometimes yes, often no - people become ill, work or family situations come up and the best plans work on the basis of flexibility. A paradox of training for a major climb is that we want to set the bar high in training in order to replicate the demands we’ll have during the expedition, however, we also want to maintain confidence if we fall short of a training session or goal. It’s rarely a linear process; sometimes we feel awful just when we expected to be strong, sometimes our perfect plan goes sideways, and sometimes we feel doubt when everything has been completed perfectly.

As you start the process, think of the key elements of success: Maintain momentum, rest when you need to, push hard when you feel strong, and constantly think about how you can recover well. And most importantly, be confident that your efforts will pay off; many people have climbed and succeeded in their goals while having not completed all of the training or while feeling sub-par. I remind myself that one can miss a few classes and still graduate. It’s progress, not perfection, that counts. 

- John Colver

Have a question? See the Fit To Climb FAQ for explanations of specific exercises and general pointers to help you through the Fit To Climb Program.

John Colver is a longtime climber, former mountain guide, and certified personal trainer with the American Council of Exercise. Colver introduced outdoor fitness classes to athletic clubs throughout the greater Puget Sound region before creating his adventX brand. Currently, adventX leads training programs in Seattle and Colver presents clinics on outdoor fitness at companies such as Microsoft, Boeing, the American Lung Association, and REI. Colver lives in Seattle, and is working on his second book, Fit To Climb - a 16 week Mount Rainier Fitness Program.

RMI Climbers on the upper slopes of Mt. Rainier



The 4x4 email arrived last night. I read it and filed it in a folder. When I opened the email to re-read the information the was missing. There is a… read more

Posted by: John Kelly on 12/23/2014 at 6:47 am

I am working in retail so on my feet a lot. I plan to train when off…two days a week up to 2,3 hours. Will this prepare me for Kilimanjaro… read more

Posted by: Giulia on 10/24/2014 at 5:29 pm

Mt. Everest: RMI Expedition Ends

Posted by: Dave Hahn, JJ Justman, Billy Nugent, Mark Tucker | April 23, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Everest
Elevation: 17,575'

We began the day with hope that we might be getting closer to resuming climbing.  Billy and JJ took the climbers hiking while Mark Tucker and I met with a number of other climb leaders and Sherpa sirdars.  Those meetings convinced us that the right course was to give up on Mount Everest for Spring 2014.  In future dispatches, we’ll try to quantify the reasons for such a decision.  But for now, suffice to say that the risks outweigh the possibility of success.

This week has been a roller coaster of emotion for many of us, from the horror that came with the avalanche of April 18, to the confusion that followed it regarding the right course to take for balancing respect for the dead, concern for team safety and summit ambitions.  Following the accident, our list of serious obstacles to an Everest summit was always significant, but we believed it worthwhile to continue looking for some way forward.  Our climbers, Sherpas, guides, and outfitters had put too much into the planning and execution of this trip to let go of the goal with less than our best effort.  We’ve given that now.

We’ll start heading for home soon.

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

Mt. Everest, Nepal. Photo: Jake Norton

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RMI guides make great decisions.  Dave, Billy, JJ.  This is why I’ve climbed a number of summits with RMI—you literally are trusting them with your life to make good decisions. … read more

Posted by: Dan on 4/25/2014 at 6:38 am

So sorry for the loss and for the tough situation it put you all.  I’m glad you are safe and coming home.  JJ—you’ll have many, many more climbs….

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Posted by: Randy Christofferson on 4/25/2014 at 4:23 am

Mt. Everest Expedition: RMI Climbing Team Safe at Camp One

Posted by: Dave Hahn, JJ Justman | April 25, 2015
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Everest
Elevation: 19,900'

This is Dave Hahn with RMI’s Everest Expedition.  This morning, early this morning we got up from Camp 1, five climbers Jeff Justman, Chhering Dorji and myself.We completed a good circuit, climbing up to 21,300 feet Advance Base Camp and back to Camp 1.  We were here about 11:30, 11:15 this morning. And then shortly after that, at about noon, there was a major earthquake and resulted in avalanches off of all the mountains around us.  Our camp was in a good place we got dusted but here at Camp 1 we were just fine. Our concern then shifted to Base Camp. We are hearing reports of some pretty destructive action down there, injuries and loss of life. Our entire team is ok.  We have talked with our Sherpa team down below and with Mark Tucker [at Base Camp]. And so our team is okay About the same time as the earthquake a pretty good snowstorm commenced up here in the Western Cwm and down at Base Camp.  We’re sitting things out safely at Camp One. But we don’t have the ability to travel right now, good mountaineering sense dictates that we stay put and ride this storm out.  This may take a little time to ride the storm out and that’s what we’ll do.  It may take this a little time but we are okay. We are self sufficient up here and our concern is with our friends at Base Camp.  We’re hearing the strenuous efforts that our Sherpa team and Mark Tucker are going through down there trying to help with the injured and those who haven’t fared so well. We’ll try to be in touch. We obviously are in a situation where we won’t have great communication. It’s likely that the earthquake destroyed any cell service around the Base Camp area.  We are calling you on a satellite telephone, we got some batteries and we will nurse those batteries to make them last. 

RMI Guide Dave Hahn

RMI Guide Dave Hahn calls from Camp One with update on the RMI team.

On The Map

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JJ: heard the bad news and knew you were on everest- stay safe man (we did mexican volcanoes last oct)


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Posted by: Pedro/ Merrie Vieco on 4/26/2015 at 1:24 am

Glad to hear you and your team are doing well Dave. Sorry for the loss sustained thus far. Prayers to all during this difficult time and prayers for everyone’s safe… read more

Posted by: Rachael C Lujan on 4/26/2015 at 1:19 am

Mountaineering Training | Core Strength Training

Posted by: | October 29, 2012
Categories: *Mountaineering Fitness & Training

The question of how to build strength for mountaineering can be answered in many ways. First, consider what kind of strength is needed when climbing. We need strength in our legs to carry ourselves up and down the mountain; we need strength in our back and shoulders to carry our backpack over uneven and variable surfaces; we need general body strength to tackle the everyday tasks such as setting up camp, digging tent platforms, or even to use an ice axe to arrest a fall. This strength can best be described as overall core strength.
One way to think of core strength is to consider our body’s ability to move functionally through a wide range of motion in a variety of directions with and without resistance. Many activities will develop this, ranging from certain gym classes and circuit training, to activities like dance, yoga, and weight training. These are all activities that can be done for a few minutes a day or for an hour or two several times a week. If you have an activity that meets all of these goals, I encourage you to continue to use it.  
If you are looking for an all-around core strength activity that you can do anywhere, then look no further than the Daily Dozen. This workout can be done anywhere and with no equipment; you can even do it in your pj’s in the kitchen while you’re waiting for the coffee to brew! The Daily Dozen is a key workout of my book Fit By Nature and I use it routinely in my training sessions around Seattle. As a special resource for the readers of RMI’s Weekly Mountaineering Training Series, you can download an excerpt from Fit By Nature that gives a detailed description of the Daily Dozen with accompanying photographs:  
Download the Daily Dozen Description here.
Often, the question comes up: “Is twelve minutes of training sufficient?”  In reality, if you do 12 minutes each day, it adds up to almost an hour and a half per week of core strength training. However, if you prefer to make it a longer workout, you can simply run through the Daily Dozen two or three times. You can even combine it with other exercises to make it an all-around workout. For instance, in between each exercise, you can walk a set of stairs or do a short run.  
What is important is to make your core strength training work for you. Remember the key concepts of moderation and consistency; this means that it’s better to train more often at a moderate intensity than it is to try and do all of your strength training in one big session once a week.
- John Colver
John Colver is a longtime climber, former mountain guide, and certified personal trainer with the American Council of Exercise. Colver introduced outdoor fitness classes to athletic clubs throughout the greater Puget Sound region before creating his adventX brand. Currently, adventX leads training programs in Seattle and Colver presents clinics on outdoor fitness at companies such as Microsoft, Boeing, the American Lung Association, and REI. Colver lives in Seattle.


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