Tag: how-to

Stair Climbing for Mountaineering Fitness

Stair Climbing for Mountaineering Fitness – the Video

Stair Climbing is a great way to train for mountaineering fitness if you don’t have access to an incline treadmill or Stairmaster Stepmill. If you are creative in locating a set of steps you can try stair climbing as your own way to get in your vertical feet per week goals as spelled out in my “Mountaineering Fitness: Beginner Training Manual” available soon in Paperback and Amazon Kindle. PROGRAM HERE

Stair climbing also has the added benefit of providing negative, or eccentric contractions just like in a real hiking environment. Stepmills and treadmills do not help train your muscles that provide balance, stabilization and deceleration for your downhill hiking. Stair climbing does since you have to go down any staircase you go up. You would be hard pressed to find a stairway over a hundred feet high, so getting in a thousand feet of vertical will require that you do laps when stair climbing.

You will also need to allow for the downward steps when calculating your time. I have found for myself that I go about twice as fast on the way down. In the video I did a test with a stopwatch to find that I was doing a little under :30 (thirty seconds) per lap. With 54 laps required that comes out to around 25 minutes of stair climbing to get in my target vertical.

A few things to be aware of though for stair climbing:

  1. Be sure to be very careful and under control on the way down
  2. Keep your back in a good neutral arch which can be more difficult on the way up
  3. If you’re on slippery wet stairs be a lot more careful, or on metal stairs with some shoes
  4. Use the handrail if needed until you get your balance and strength up to par

From my Youtube Channel: 

In the Mountaineering Fitness: Beginner Training Manual I go into great depth on training on stairs to get in your weekly vertical. I explain the math used to calculate your weekly vertical goals and how to use warm-up and cool-down walking to get in your weekly mileage goals.

In this case there are 21 steps 8″ average height for a total of 54 laps required to get in the target 750′ of vertical (based on 3,000′ of weekly vertical and 4 training sessions). I measured 24 seconds on an average lap without really rushing it, so expect the entire workout to take about 25 minutes on the stairs.

Production Note: For this video my microphone picked up all the noises from a road a few hundred yards away and a crow that was annoyed by my presence on his stairs. Unfortunately the noise reduction was minimally effective. Normally I would do ADR recording but I wasn’t on my studio PC, so I apologize for those few things that were more difficult to understand.

Stair Climbing for Mountaineering Fitness early morning training session
Stair Climbing for Mountaineering Fitness early morning training session

Spiked Running Shoes: Hoka One One Stinson EVO

Spiked running shoes are essential gear for the Winter runner. I had a pair of Hoke One One Stinson EVO with about 300 miles of trail use on them and I thought that I would be able to extend their life by spiking them. I also have a pair of Mafate WP that I’ve turned into spiked running shoes ARTICLE HERE.

Spiked Running Shoes in the snow without gaiters
Spiked Running Shoes in the snow without gaiters

I do a lot of trail running outside in the Winter. Up here in Summit County Colorado that’s sometimes about 6 months, give or take a little. It’s great training for moving fast on glaciers and it helps you build up resistance to the cold. The coldest I’ve been out now is -10/-24 Real Feel. It was cold. Yeah.

I began the spiked running shoes project just the same as with the Mafate. I brushed off the soles and drilled little holes for the screws – #6 x 3/8″. The rubber on the Stinson is pretty thin so you don’t really need longer screws, though it won’t hurt anything in the thick rubber midsoles. I used a power driver to put the screws in and then hand-tightened them a turn at the end. If you compare these photos with the Mafate WP, you’ll see that I have a lot more screws in the mid-foot area in the arch. I found over time that I spend a lot more time there than on my heels on flat surfaces, so I put more screws there. Screws on the heels are essential to downhill running so don’t skimp there. I put a screw more forward for pushing off with the toe.

Spiked Running Shoes: Stinson EVO Gallery

Since I created these spiked running shoes for winter training use, I’ve put about another 100 miles on them on varied surfaces. I’ve used them on dirt roads that are commonly used for snowmobiles and snowcats at a local ski resort. I’ve used them on single-track trails on mountain ascents. I’ve used them for running on ice-slicked and snow-packed roads and paved recreation paths. They work pretty good overall. It’s especially good if you consider that the screws all together cost about $1.00 US. Compare that to a set of Kahtoola Microspikes at $60 or more. I think it’s one of those 80/20 things (Pareto’s Principle) – the screws work on about 80% of what the spikes would.

Spiked running shoes next to their tracks - note obvious screw head imprints
Spiked running shoes next to their tracks – note obvious screw head imprints

Spiked Running Shoes Disclaimer

I had contacted Hoka One One about the midsole to find out if there were any plates or gas bladders to worry about when drilling or screwing. They said there was nothing to worry about. I saw some air channels in a cut-away sole at the OR Show in January 2014, but nothing significant. Your shoe might have some type of plastic plate in the midsole layers. Your shoe might have air or gas bladders. Your shoe might have a very thin midsole. If you don’t know for sure, then please don’t attempt to convert it into a spiked running shoe.

When wearing them, be very careful walking on tile floors. They might actually feel slippery on tile. They might also tear up your carpet or scratch your tile. Walking on metal grid stairways is a bit sketchy (BTDT). On boiler-plate hard blue ice you will still skate. I slid over 20′ down a steep grade where a creek flowed over the road and froze. I was flailing and pedaling with my feet trying to find something they would catch on for traction. I finally managed to steer to the side and stop in ankle deep hard snow.

Remember, I know nothing about you or your shoes so be careful and don’t get hurt while making them or running in them.

If you have spiked running shoes, either ones you’ve made yourself, or that you bought ready to run, let me know on my Facebook Page HERE and share pics of your soles. I’d love to see what you have.

How to Weigh Out a Food Portion

In my most recent book The 100 Calorie Diet Plan (available in Print on Amazon and Createspace, and for Kindle and for Nook ebooks) I explain a food portioning scheme based in part on accurately weighing out specific food portions of 100 calories each. I’ve had a few people ask about the details on how to do this, so as a supplement to the book, here is a brief article showing an example.

Nutrition Facts Label for Salted Almonds
Nutrition Facts Label for Salted Almonds

A food portion of almonds

In this example food item, Salted Almonds, the Nutrition Facts Label tells us that 28 grams of almonds is 170 calories. Since we’re looking to have a 100 calorie portion of this food item, we’ll do some simple math to give us the weight of a 100 calorie portion. To find a per-calorie weight, we divide 170 by 28, and then divide that into 100 to find the weight of our food portion.

Divide 100 calories by the  calories per weight of your food item
Divide 100 calories by the calories per weight of your food item

For simplicity in our calculations, that’s 100 / ( 170 / 28 ) which gives us a little over 16 grams, which we round down to 16. Next we set the scale to zero with a little food container on it. Because this is a snack in the middle of the day for me, I’m going to just use a little plastic bowl. For many people this works good because then they can just dump it from the little bowl to their storage container or baggie and just keep weighing with the same bowl. For my scale, I set the bowl on it then turn it on and it automatically zeroes the scale.

Set the scale to zero with your weighing container on it
Set the scale to zero with your weighing container on it

Next carefully dump the almonds or other food item into the bowl until you get the weight you calculated from the Nutrition Facts Label, in this case 16 grams. I prefer grams because it’s fairly precise and most labels or charts will give a food portion in grams.

100 calories of salted almonds is not a lot of almonds
100 calories of salted almonds is not a lot of almonds

Surprisingly, that’s not a lot of almonds. Nuts are a fairly calorie dense food item, with only a few almonds equaling 100 calories. In my opinion, it’s one of those things that are best used in the form of thinly sliced almonds as part of a 300 calorie salad, with a 100 calorie portion of lettuce and a 100 calorie portion of dried grated Parmesan and a spritz of a low calorie soy sauce or Bragg Liquid Aminos

body composition improvement evident in fat loss
Upper back development at 12% bodyfat after losing 60 pounds

I hope that helps you to understand a little better how to calculate and weigh out a 100 calorie portion of a food item. For my Accountability Partner clients we go into much greater detail for selecting a comprehensive plan with goals and achievements built in.

Training Log Example – Weekly Blog Log

The below is an example of a training log taken from a Blogger Blog I share with my wife to track our daily workouts, eating, and goals. I use a little shorthand, since I’ve been doing this for years. Each day immediately after each exercise I write what I do on a small whiteboard I got from Target for $1 in those little bargain aisles just inside the door.

Training Log on Whiteboard
Write Your Workout Immediately on a Whiteboard

I can usually get 2-3 days to a board if I’m doing weights, or 5 to a board if I’m doing just cardio.

Right now I’m in full-on training mode for Elbrus Race 2012 (still not locked in, so not totally committed unfortunately – the visa and flight issues at the end of August are causing me moderate stress as I strive to overcome those obstacles). Hence I am not doing heavy weights, but am going for high volume of light weight to flush blood through my muscles and build endurance and vascularity. (some research has shown an increase in acclimatization with greater vascularity)

I really suggest you log your training for best results. I use a blog that I’ve marked as “Private” and given access (by logging in) to myself and my wife. There are a slew of social sites now where you can do the same thing and share it with all your friends, but I’ve been doing this longer than there even were such things, and I really don’t want to share my every day sweating, despite some of more frequent post topics.

One of my favorite aspects of the online blog version of tracking my workouts is that I can give them labels or tags, so I can find groups of exercises with common themes like “going for maximum vertical per hour” or “squat day” etc. and compare where I am now with where I was a year or two ago.

Angie Lat Pulldown
Angie on the Lat Tower of the Power Rack

Key to log below:
I: Inversion Table
ITM: Incline Treadmill
SLDL: Straight Leg Deadlifts
FS: Nordic Track Freestrider
RC: Roman Chair
DB: Dumbbell
M-: Combo Machine
GHR: Glute Ham Raise
xxxx’/yyyy’ left is from machine display, right is from calculator

Monday July 9

181.6 lb

I: 2:00
FS: L8 – 12:00 – 2000′
Box Stepping/GHR-Poles 25 ea
Stairmaster: 90:00 – 75 spm – 4500′

Daily Total Vertical: 6500′

Tuesday July 10

180.2 lb

I: 3:00
Incline Treadmill: [1800′ – ~mph – hands-free]
1.19 mi – 47:24 – 30% – (1.506 ave.) – [39:50 pace] – 1884.96′ – (2386/39.77 vert per hour/minute)

Superset: 2x {
Standing Wide Row: 25 @ L3
Box Squat: 10 @ 65 lb Safetybar
DB Shoulders: 25 @ 10 lb ea.
DB Fly: 25 @ 10 lb ea.
}

Hyper/RC: 25 ea
Side Plank: 30 seconds ea.

Incline Treadmill: [2000′ – 1.6 mph – hands-on]
1.32 mi – 49:27 – 30% – (1.602 ave.) – [37:28 pace] – 2090.88′ – (2537/42.28 vert per hour/minute)

Daily Total Vertical: 3800’/3974′

Wednesday July 11

182.0 lb

I: 3:00
FS: L8 – 12:00 – 2000′
ITM:  [2012′ – 1.6/7 mph – way hands-on]
1.33 mi – 47:00 – 30% – (1.698 ave.) – [35:20 pace] – 2106.72′ – (2689/44.82 vert per hour/minute)

Stairmaster: 36:00 – 80 spm – 1920′

Daily Total Vertical: 4012’/4106′

Thursday July 12

181.4 lb

I: 2:30
ITM: [2000′ – 1.6 mph – still too much hands-on]
1.32 mi – 44:48 – 30% – (1.768 ave.) – [33:56 pace] – 2090.88′ – (2800/46.67 vert per hour/minute)

Superset: 2 x {
Box Squat: 15 @ 65 lb
SLDL: 15 @ 145 lb
Seated Calf: 15 @ 85 lb
}

Stairmaster: 48:00 – 80 spm – 2560′
I: 3:00

Daily Total Vertical: 4560’/4650′

Friday July 13

183.4 (rice and popcorn and veggies and soup)

I: 2:30
FS: L6 – 12:25 – 2000′
12″ Box: side/rear/front stepping 25 ea; Pole Squat: 25 ea;
GHR – poles: 25  — way out!

ITM: [1000′ – 1.6 mph]
.67 mi – 24:54 – 30% – (1.614 ave.) – [37:10 pace] – 1061.28′ – (2557/42.62 vert per hour/minute)

Superset: 2 x {
M-LPD: 25 @ L5
M-Row: 25 @ L5
DB-Fly: 25 @ 10 lb ea
DB-Shoulder: 25 @ 10 lb ea
Buttup: 25
Partial Pushup: 25 !!
Swing DB-Bicep: 25 @ 10 ea.
}

Daily Total Vertical: 3000’/3061′

Saturday July 14

183.2

I: 2:30

ITM: [3374′ – 1.7/2.0]
2.225 mi – 72:00 – 30% – (1.854 ave.) – [32:22 pace] – 3524.4′ – (2937/48.95 vert per hour/minute)
Stairmaster: 48:00 – 100 spm – 3200′

Daily Total Vertical: 6574’/6724′

Weekly Total Vertical: 28,446′ / 29,015′

Basement Training Room Updated

Finished the floor for my basement training room. This is the room where my weight equipment gets used. I bought a few boxes of the plastic garage flooring at Costco (they have it every summer) and staggered the black and white tiles in a checkerboard pattern. It’s pretty fast and simple to do. I had to cut the tiles around the edges on two walls. The space I left is for the framing for insulated walls with electric outlets – that should be later in the year, maybe summer.

I started at the most difficult place – an “L” and worked my way outward to the right and back (facing the L) then the left and front. I had just the right gap to the right and back, but to the front and right I had to cut tiles. To the front it was just the little extended locking teeth that had to come off, but to the left I had to split the tiles almost in half (5-3/4″ of 12″ tiles). I used a small crosscut saw for cutting after marking a line with pencil, and I used a 2 lb rubber mallet to knock the tiles in place.

[picasa gallery]

I took a few pictures of how I arranged the equipment for the best most efficient use based on a few years of experience with it. I’ll put up more pics and maybe some vid as I go along. I’m working on a companion volume to my ebook Planning Your Home Cardio Theater, sadly, no longer available for Amazon Kindle.

Remember, the single most important success factor in my transformation has been training at home. It could work for you.

Too Scary for the Beginners

Attitude can be a really big deal when you’re trying to make changes and set goals. Sometimes it’s one of the only things you can actually change in your world.

You cannot tailor make the situations in life, but you can tailor make the attitudes to fit those situations — Zig Ziglar

You can approach life with a positive or negative outlook. A lot of people who are just beginning their road to better health and fitness have become burdened down by the negatives in their lives. Negative emotions, self-image, job, housing, health. Sometimes you can fix these things, sometimes not, but the one thing you can always fix is how you see these things and oftentimes how you react.

Fat Pants fit January 2010
Fat Pants - 20 lb ago I had a muffin-top in these

When a person first begins, they start like a baby learning to walk. You have to do all the steps in the right order or it generally won’t have the best of results (in spite of the few oddball exceptions). Roll over, sit, scoot, pull, crawl, hobble, walk, run. Just like that. Most parents intuitively know this, and don’t go yelling “NO! Stay Down Where It’s Safe!”. Unfortunately, most outsiders aren’t all that supportive and utter blatantly negative statements.

Don’t run, it’s bad for you.
Here, eat, you look tired.
Why are you exercising all the time?
One won’t hurt you.
Take a few days off – you earned it.

Sometimes though, even very strong fit trained people will say something inadvertently negative, with far-reaching impact, and it never once occurs to us. How about a discussion like this:

Trainer: You should eat more cruciferous vegetables, which have many cancer fighting properties as well.
Client: Like what do you mean?
Trainer: Things like kale, broccoli, brussels sprouts..
Buff Friend>: Oooooh yucko! Brussels sprouts taste like nasty dishwater!
Client: Oh, never mind then.

For one thing, that’s only an opinion, probably based on a childhood experience. Many kids don’t like the stronger taste of cruciferous vegetables, but grow to like them as they age and their tastes mature. You have no idea what someone else will like or dislike. Also, the relative taste of the food in question has no bearing on the fact that you should eat more of it 😉

Perhaps now this client will quit the whole program, assuming it will demand that they force down detestable food that no normal person could. This is a wild example only of how a brief negative utterance could seriously impact the future of someone who really did want to make a change.



When you’re a beginner, you’re more sensitive to the world around you, the world you’re afraid you’re leaving behind, the world you’re still tied to in so many ways. You’re afraid of the future, and what it means, and you’ll jump at any excuse to bail on your “goal”. Look at all the New Year Resolutions falling by the wayside – gym attendance peaks in January and is back to normal by March.

I like the approach of Shawn Phillips in his excellent book Strength for Life: The Fitness Plan for the Rest of Your Life wherein he lays out one possible approach to the fitness journey for a total beginner.

When an activity ceases to be something you do and becomes a way of life, you begin to experience the pinnacle of freedom: Mastery … Your body is strong and vital not because you train; rather, you train to celebrate your strength and vitality. Training is a natural movement for you.

I made the commitment some time ago to be less negative, to attempt not inadvertently halting a person’s progress – whenever I could. It has changed the way I Facebook, Tweet and blog. I avoid sensitive topics when possible, to avoid being responsible for someone quitting over something that has nothing to do with their training.

Help me be positive, and help your brothers and sisters be positive, and commit to be positive yourself. Enjoy the ride to mastery and give a hand when you can. Thanks