Preparing Former Army Ranger Nicholas Ige to Summit Mt. Denali- One Month Out

Preparing Former Army Ranger Nicholas Ige to Summit Mt. Denali- One Month Out

Tropical Storm Infused Energy Bars Recipe Reading Preparing Former Army Ranger Nicholas Ige to Summit Mt. Denali- One Month Out 7 minutes Next High Intensity Continuous Training

Nicholas Ige is a Harvard student who brings awareness to veteran mental health and education by climbing the world’s 7 tallest mountains...He asked for my help to prepare-  One month out from his climb.

Original Post here.


This article will explain the final phase Nick completed before taking the flight up to Alaska and climbing the tallest mountain in North America- Mt. Denali.


Thankfully, Nick had the patience and maturity to give his body a break after running a 50 miler in Puerto Rico. This allowed him to tackle a much more intense training block which ultimately led to him crushing his climb.


Overall Schedule:

Nick’s conditioning in this phase is not only higher volume, but also includes some sessions with much higher intensity. This is why I again used a “high/low” model like last phase. If we stacked too many high intensity days in a row, by the end of the month Nick would have probably been overreaching a bit more than I would have wanted prior to him starting the climb. In my mind it is OK to push Nick a bit into overreaching, as with events like this there is usually at least a few days of travel where he won’t be training. These travel days can typically let any residual fatigue subside prior to him lacing up his mountaineering boots.

Notice the focus and modalities chosen for the month- although we work in a threshold/lactic/alactic conditioning the VAST majority of his training is still aerobic focused. We just spend more time near his anaerobic threshold. If you reference the Performance Pyramid I use for programming both here and at We Go Home LLC, you’ll see why this is and how each phase builds off one another.


HRI and Strength 1:

We start Nick off on this day with High Resistance Intervals (HRI), and throughout the month he will work up to 10-12 reps in this session. Nick loves running so I told him if he feels healthy he can do some sprints...100m repeats.

For strength- last phase we hit Nick with more volume and slightly lighter loads. This phase we gradually bring the volume down and up the weight. These are still conservative numbers for Nick, but each rep should always be completed with the intent to move the bar as fast as possible. Again, I still block Nick’s sessions into complexes or “slow super-sets” as Nick is a busy dude and this will save him some time. This also creates a self-limiting component that forces him to get some rest between each movement. We still used partial lifts where we needed to ensure Nick’s aches and pains were healed for his adventure. Over the course of the month he’ll work down to some doubles for his deadlifts/presses. No crazy straining on these lifts...think heavy, but powerful reps.


Day 2 Recovery

With sprinting and some heavy lifts on day 1 I wanted Nick to do active recovery on day 2. This will prepare him to attack the last 4 days of the training week.


Day 3- Threshold/Lactic/Alactic:

In phase 1 we spent an entire month building Nick’s aerobic foundation so he can take advantage of higher intensity methods like these. This is something many people struggle to realize... higher intensity methods will be more effective if you build a foundation first before jumping right into them. Here we start to push Nick into his favorite training method...anything that makes him nauseous. In Nick’s case, this is where we work in threshold/Lactic/alactic complexes.

I explain this session with some hindsight:

In the beginning of the phase these are closer to a type of threshold training because of the heart rate Nick will typically hover around during the complex, but as we start to bring down the rest periods through the month, you could make the case it is more “Lactic” type training. None of this neatly fits into a column. An astute reader could even claim it starts as Alactic Power, and then becomes Alactic/Lactic Capacity training as fatigue sets in. Either way...this was a conditioning focused session with a higher intensity than last month.

Nick completes each movement for 5 sets of 12 reps, starting with 45 seconds of rest in week 1 and by week 3 only 15 seconds. Week 4 is a deload where he repeats week 1 or 2 sets/reps.

Block B can be done after the complex, or even as part of the warm up.


Day 4- HICT Step Up + Bike

We again use a method made popular by coach Joel Jamieson, called High Intensity Continuous Training (HICT). This phase we up the volume, and I told him to wear a ruck and hold a pair of light dumbbells:

Week 1: 1 x 15 minutes

Week 2: 1 x 17 minutes

Week 3: 2 x 10 minutes

Week 4: 1 x 20 minutes

It takes a special kind of crazy to just keep stepping away for these timed sets. Nick is that kind of crazy. We end the session with more zone 2 work on the bike to keep building/maintaining his aerobic capacity. We also build this up over the course of the month, starting with 30 minutes and ending with 75 minutes.


Day 5- Strength 3- Ladders

I wanted to show Nick that despite the first phase not having him lift very heavy, he not only maintained his strength he probably got stronger. This is where I love to work in ladders or cluster sets.

Here we use a conservative 85% of Nick’s maxes. He’ll complete a single, rest about 30 seconds to a minute, complete a double, rest about 30 seconds to a minute, then a triple. I told him he could go back and forth between his main movements or do them a straight cluster set. Usually I tell people to go for a new 3RM in week 3 or 4, but Nick’s priority was standing at the top of Mount Denali and posing for hero shots. We can always go for new rep maxes later.


Day 6- Ruck

No different than the last phase. He was still explicitly told not to run under load. We really up the volume this month, and by week 4 he is going 2 hours or longer and completing more threshold intervals. It is worth repeating these intervals were done with Nick walking as fast as possible under load and/or uphill.


This wraps up phase 2. If you didn’t see it, phase 1 article can be found here. Please, if you have any questions comment below. Next article we will go into Nick’s performance on the mountain.

Do you like this set up? Our daily programming with these concepts can be found on the TrainHeroic App!

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