Last night I began to read Chris Carmichael's Food for Fitness. He is an Olympic Cycling coach, as well as Lance Armstrong's trainer (he'll remind you plenty just in case you forget), and was a member of the first American Cycling team to participate in the Tour de France. I am always looking for new ways to improve my nutrition, and Carmichael's approach is really easy to understand and straightforward. Basically instead of eliminating whole food groups (no fat, no carb, etc.) Carmichael delves into how we need whole foods from all food groups, and when to eat them in relation to where you are at in your training. His concept stems from a way of organizing strength and cardiovascular training called Periodization.
Essentially Periodization is conciously creating a training program that cycles through varrying levels of intensity and duration, that culminate in a peak performace cycle to get you ready for a specific event--be it a 10K race or climbing a mountain. Triathletes, distance runners, and body builders all know the benefits of periodization. But it can be an excellent way to organize your training for climbing as well. By constantly varrying your workouts, you leave your body guessing, and it can never adapt to the exercise, meaning no more plateaus. Here is a great link to an article from the folks at Peak Performance that I think does a great job of explaining periodization in layman's terms, and will give you some food for thought when designing your own training regimine. It also touches on a lot of terms you see a lot in texts about training for mountaineering. So its a must-read for those wanting a quick crash course on the elements of training and all the lingo that goes with it.
Periodization Training Techniques from peakperformance.com
Periodization has also been shown in studies to be much more effective at increasing strength and power than traditional circut training. I found this highly referenced article that goes into the detail of the benifits of periodization over circut training. You can follow this link:
Circuit vs. Periodized Training
The periodiztion method seems especially relevant to climbing because of the importance of establishing mini-goals while on your way to a larger over-arcing goal of climbing a mountain. People ask me all the time how to tell if they are on track. Creating measurable goals that serve as benchmarks during your training is the only way to track progress. What's your mile time? Body measurements? Distance you are able to hike before stopping? Pack weight that feels good? All these are things that you can measure your progress against. Setting smaller goals also makes it easier to stick to a training plan. It's a lot easier to imagine three weeks from now, than three months, so focus on what you hope to accomplish in smaller chunks of time. It will help you stay motivated and hedge off any inclination you might have to procrastinate.
Even if you aren't interested in geeking out and creating a major periodization training schedule for yourself, always find ways to varry your workouts. By varrying either the intensity, duration, or frequency of your workouts you will see faster results than if simply sticking to a static routine.