FitClimb

12 Week Mountaineering Fitness Plan Intermediate


This (Free) 12 week training plan is designed to get a person in shape for a mountaineering summit attempt of standard routes on Mt. Rainier, Mt. Shasta, Mt. Whitney, Longs Peak, Mt. Adams, Mont Blanc, or advanced multi day backpacking trips with elevation gain. The basic goal of the plan is to get you in good enough shape to handle 2 days of 5000ft elevation gain each with a pack. If your climb is more strenuous you’ll have to adjust accordingly. You can also adjust the number of weeks based on your climb and current fitness level. A friend worked up to week 8 and was able to climb Kilimanjaro with no issues. Realize being in good shape does not guarantee you won’t suffer from the effects of altitude.

1. It really helps to have a heart rate monitor and follow the suggested MHR. If you don’t have a heart rate monitor you can substitute perceived level of exertion from the Borg scale, start off low and work up slowly.

2. This is just a roadmap, not everyone is the same or has the same needs, tailor it to your needs. The important thing is to get out and try and work out weekly.

3. Read the article on training tips and creating your own plan, this also explains Maximum Heart Rate and the Borg scale.

Check out the fitness video for some basic exercises Hiking Fitness

4. When climbing, hiking, or trail running we recommend you stay safe by downloading the Cairn App.  Cairn allows you to share your trip plans with friends and family in less than a minute.  Safety contacts then can track you if overdue and you get to see where in the wilderness to find cell coverage.  Note:  We are a bit biased as Cairn was created by some FitClimb members.

Jump to:

Week 1,week 2, week 3, week 4, week 5, week 6, week 7, week 8, week 9, week 10, week 11, week 12

Note: This article assumes a base level of fitness and based on opinions and experience of the author. You should consult a physician before starting an exercise program.


Week 1:

  • Focus for this week is on building strength, balance, and a base. This will help prevent injury later.
  • For strength training work on your techniques and motion.
  • Ensure a good warm up and cool down to prevent injury.

Week 1

Warm Up

Aerobic

Strength

Notes

Monday

10 min stretch and warm up

30 min Cardio @ 60% Avg MHR Run, Bike, Swim, or other.

1 Set of 10 reps of the following:

Step ups front

Step ups side

Step downs

Push Ups

Crunches

Plank

Mountain climbers

Tuesday

Rest Day

Wednesday

10 min stretch and warm up

20 min Cardio @ 70% MHR

3 sets of following:

Squats (15)

Step ups front (40)

Step ups side Left and right (40)

Step downs (40)

Push Ups (10)

Crunches (50)

Plank (60 seconds)

Mountain climbers (50)

Thursday

10 min stretch and warm up

40 min Stairs @ 70% MHR

20 min walking

Friday

10 min stretch and warm up

30 min Cardio @ 70%

3 sets of following:

Squats (15)

Step ups front (40)

Step ups side Left and right (40)

Step downs (40)

Push Ups (10)

Crunches (50)

Plank (60 seconds)

Mountain climbers (50)

Saturday

10 min stretch and warm up

2-3 hr walk or hike with 15-20 lb pack

Sunday

Rest Day:

Review knots and/or equipment

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Week 2:

  • Continue building strength, balance, and a strong base. .
  • Increase the number of reps for strength training.
  • Increase the intensity of aerobic activity.

Week 2

Warm Up

Aerobic

Strength

Notes

Monday

10 min stretch and warm up

30 min Cardio @ 70% Avg MHR Run, Bike, Swim

20 min walk

Tuesday

10 min stretch and warm up

20 min cardio @ 70% Avg MHR

45 minutes of weight training or yoga

Balance exercises

Wednesday

10 min stretch and warm up

40 min stairs @ 70% Avg MHR

3 sets of following:

Squats (15)

Step ups front (40)

Step ups side Left and right (40)

Step downs (40)

Push Ups (10)

Crunches (50)

Plank (60 seconds)

Mountain climbers (50)

Thursday

10 min stretch and warm up

30 min Cardio @ 75% MHR

Balance exercises

Friday

10 min stretch and warm up

30 Min cardio @ 60-75% Avg MHR

4 sets of following:

Squats (15)

Step ups front (40)

Step ups side Left and right (40)

Step downs (40)

Push Ups (10)

Crunches (50)

Plank (60 seconds)

Mountain climbers (50)

Saturday

10 min stretch and warm up

3 mile run or

15 mile bike or

1000 meter swim

Sunday

Rest

Review knots and/or equipment

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Week 3:

Continue shift from strength training to emphasis on aerobic.

  • Increase the % of MHR and duration of aerobic activity.
  • Increase the amount of time spent outdoors hiking and backpacking.

Week 3

Warm Up

Aerobic

Strength

Notes

Monday

10 min stretch and warm up

50 min Cardio @ 75% Avg MHR Run, Bike, Swim

10 min walk

Tuesday

10 min stretch and warm up

75 min stairs @ 75% Avg MHR

Wednesday

10 min stretch and warm up

4 sets of following:

Squats (15)

Step ups front (40)

Step ups side Left and right (40)

Step downs (40)

Push Ups (10)

Crunches (50)

Plank (60 seconds)

Mountain climbers (40)

Thursday

10 min stretch and warm up

1 hr 15 min of stairs with 15-20 lb pack. Aim for 1800 steps up and 1800 steps down.

Balance exercises

Friday

Rest Day

Saturday

10 min stretch and warm up

Walk/Run 50% alternating for 1.5 hrs

or

Hike 3-5hrs with 15-20lb Pack

or

Snowshoe 1.5-2hrs

Sunday

Rest Day: Read up on trip, equipment, and skills

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Week 4:

  • Emphasis on interval training and endurance.
  • Increase the % of MHR and duration of aerobic activity.
  • Increase the amount of time spent outdoors hiking and backpacking.

Week 4

Warm Up

Aerobic

Strength

Notes

Monday

10 min stretch and warm up

1 hr 30 min Cardio @ 65% Avg MHR Run, Bike, Swim

Tuesday

Rest Day

Wednesday

10 min stretch and warm up

4 mile run alternating between 70 MHR and 80 MHR every mile. Aim for 10 minute miles or faster.

Thursday

10 min stretch and warm up

1 hr Cardio @ 75% Avg MHR Run, Bike, Swim

Friday

20 min stairs @ 80% Avg MHR

Saturday

10 min stretch and warm up

5 hr hike with 15-25 lb pack. 3000-4000 ft of elevation gain.

Sunday

15 min stretching in the morning

Balance exercises

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Week 5:

  • Emphasis on interval training and endurance.
  • Increase the % of MHR and duration of aerobic activity.
  • Increase the amount of time spent outdoors hiking and backpacking with a pack.

Week 5

Warm Up

Aerobic

Strength

Notes

Monday

10 min stretch and warm up

1 hr Cardio @ 85% Avg MHR Run, Bike, Swim

Tuesday

Weight training your pick.

Wednesday

10 min stretch and warm up

45 min cardio @ 85% MHR run, Bike, Swim

4 sets of following:

Squats (20)

Step ups front (50)

Step ups side Left and right (50)

Step downs (50)

Push Ups (10)

Pull ups (5-10)

Crunches (70)

Plank (60 seconds)

Mountain climbers (50)

Strength training can be substituted with 45 min of Yoga

Thursday

10 min stretch and warm up

1 hr 15 min Cardio @ 75% MHR Run, Bike, Swim

Friday

30 min stairs @ 85% Avg MHR

Saturday

10 min stretch and warm up

5 hr hike with 15-35 lb pack. 2000 ft of elevation gain.

If no access to hiking substitute:

1 hr 30 min of stairs with 15-25 lb pack. Aim for 1500 steps up and down. Take frequent but short breaks and drink plenty of water.

Sunday

5 hr hike with 15-35 lb pack. 2000 ft of elevation gain

If no access to hiking substitute:

1 hr 30 min of stairs with 15-25 lb pack. Aim for 1500 steps up and down. Take frequent but short breaks and drink plenty of water.

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Week 6:

  • Increase the duration of aerobic activity.
  • Increase the amount of elevation gain hiking and backpacking with a pack.

.

Week 6

Warm Up

Aerobic

Strength

Notes

Monday

Rest from weekend

Tuesday

10 min stretch and warm up

50 min stairs @ 70% Avg MHR

Wednesday

10 min stretch and warm up

1 hr 15 min Cardio @ 75% MHR Run, Bike, Swim

Thursday

10 min stretch and warm up

90 min walk

Balance exercises

Friday

Rest

Saturday

4-6 mile hike with 35-45 lb pack. Aim for 3500-4500 feet of elevation gain.

Sunday

Rest- Practice knots

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Week 7:

  • Add Yoga and Weight training
  • Increase the number of sets and amount of reps on strength training.
  • Hike multiple days in a row with a heavy pack.

Week 7

Warm Up

Aerobic

Strength

Notes

Monday

Yoga or Weight training

Tuesday

10 min stretch and warm up

60 min stairs @ 70% Avg MHR

Balance exercises

Wednesday

10 min stretch and warm up

4 sets of following:

Squats (30)

Step ups front (100)

Step ups side Left and right (100)

Step downs (100)

Push Ups (25)

Pull ups (as many as you can do)

Crunches (100)

Plank (60 seconds hold)

Mountain climbers (70)

Thursday

10 min stretch and warm up

90 min walk

Friday

Rest

Saturday

Hike and camp at least 2 mile hike with full pack. Preferably 3-4 miles.

Sunday

2 mile day hike from camp with day pack. Return to camp and hike out with full pack. If doing a loop substitute full pack for day pack.

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Week 8:

  • Easy week to guard against burnout.
  • Introduction on walking longer distance and duration.

Week 8

Warm Up

Aerobic

Strength

Notes

Monday

Rest from weekend

Tuesday

10 min stretch and warm up

60 min Cardio @ 85% Avg MHR

Wednesday

10 min stretch and warm up

4 sets of following:

Squats (30)

Step ups front (100)

Step ups side Left and right (100)

Step downs (100)

Push Ups (25)

Pull ups (as many as you can do)

Crunches (100)

Plank (60 seconds hold)

Mountain climbers (70)

Balance exercises

Thursday

10 min stretch and warm up

2-2.5 hour walk

Friday

60 min Cardio @ 85% Avg MHR

Saturday

Rest

Sunday

Rest

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Week 9:

  • Building endurance and intensity of Aerobic activity

Week 9

Warm Up

Aerobic

Strength

Notes

Monday

60-80 min Cardio @ 85% Avg MHR

Tuesday

10 min stretch and warm up

20 min Cardio @ 85% Avg MHR

3 sets of following:

Squats (30)

Step ups front (100)

Step ups side Left and right (100)

Step downs (100)

Push Ups (25)

Pull ups (as many as you can do)

Crunches (100)

Plank (60 seconds hold)

Mountain climbers (70)

Feel free to switch up the order of cardio and strength training. One day doing Cardio first and the next time doing strength first.

Wednesday

10 min stretch and warm up

Rest

Thursday

10 min stretch and warm up

30 min aerobic activity at 85% MHR.

Friday

6-8 mile run aim for a 10 minute pace.

Saturday

Rest

Sunday

45 min cardio at 85% of MHR.

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Week 10:

  • Test week to see if you can manage a 5000ft elevation gain 2 days in a row. Similar to climbing 1 day on Mt. Rainier.

Week 10

Warm Up

Aerobic

Strength

Notes

Monday

Rest

Tuesday

10 min stretch and warm up

60 min stairs @ 75% Avg MHR

Wednesday

10 min stretch and warm up

1 hr 45 min Cardio @ 70% MHR Run, Bike, Swim

Thursday

10 min stretch and warm up

2- 2.5 hr brisk walk.

Friday

Rest

Saturday

Hike with about 5000 feet of elevation gain, carrying a 55-60 lb pack.

Wight pack with water or small rocks for weight.

Sunday

Hike with about 5000 feet of elevation gain. 20 lb pack.

Repeat the same hike as yesterday if your area doesn’t have enough mountains or trails. Urban users can climb stairs as a substitute for trail

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Week 11:

  • Rest from climb/hike from last weekend.
  • Continue to gain endurance and aerobic intensity.
  • Taper off during end of week to maintain fitness.
  • Shop for gear, practice knots and skills.

Week 11

Warm Up

Aerobic

Strength

Notes

Monday

30 min walk

Rest from weekend

Tuesday

20 min stretch and warm up

Rest

Wednesday

10 min stretch and warm up

45 min Cardio @ 75% MHR Run, Bike, Swim

3 sets of following:

Squats (30)

Step ups front (100)

Step ups side Left and right (100)

Step downs (100)

Push Ups (25)

Pull ups (as many as you can do)

Crunches (100)

Plank (60 seconds hold)

Mountain climbers (70)

Thursday

10 min stretch and warm up

60 min cardio at 75-85% of MHR run, bike, swim, etc…

Friday

60 min cardio at 75-85% of MHR run, bike, swim, etc…

Saturday

90 minute walk

Sunday

Rest

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Week 12:

  • Reduce intensity to prevent injury.
  • Rest at least 2 days before climb.

Week 12

Warm Up

Aerobic

Strength

Notes

Monday

90 min cardio at 70-75% MHR run, bike, swim, etc…

Tuesday

10 min stretch and warm up

45 min stairs @ 75% Avg MHR

Wednesday

20 min stretch and warm up

30 minute walk

Rest, Stay well hydrated, Practice putting on gear, packing, etc…

Thursday

20 min stretch and warm up

30 minute walk

Rest, Stay well hydrated, Practice putting on gear, packing, etc…

Weekend of Climb! Climb High, Climb Safe!

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Free Training plans:
Hiking and Backpacking
6 week beginner plan


General Mountaineering:
Intermediate Plan 12 weeks

Mt. Rainier 12 week plan:

Mount Rainier Training Plan

New! 

8 Month Mountaineering Training & Fitness Plan

Meal Plans:
Backpacking and Climbing Meal Plans

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