Shop Eddie Bauer: Men Women Kids Outerwear Gear Sale
Melissa Arnot Shares Training Secrets for Himalayan Peaks
Posted on March 15, 2012

First Ascent guide and newly announced South Col team member Melissa Arnot is famous in climbing circles for the intensity of her training regimen. Her hard work has led to three successful summits of Mt. Everest, the most of any Western woman. With the Everest season just around the corner and her focus trained on a fourth summit, Arnot shares valuable insight into how she builds strength for big peaks without burning out or losing focus on the objective. This is her advice on how to structure your own spring training. -EB Editor

Words by Melissa Arnot

When I type the word ‘training’ into the search of my email, almost 1,000 messages appear. Questions from clients and friends. Endless exchanges between my trainers and me.

Skimming through all the information, I have arrived at two realities. The first is that I am just an average athlete with average capabilities, which is important to understand so you can take what I say seriously. I am not physically elite in any way. Any of my past climbing partners can tell you that I am only average when it comes to speed and strength. My ability to catch a ball is embarrassing. But I do have reasonably good balance and great endurance; those are my strengths. The second reality is that climbing and mountaineering are a huge part of my life, so training is as much a part of my day as checking Facebook is part of yours. It is what I do, a deep part of who I am.

I know, I know, you want the goods. What exactly is it that I do for training? What would I recommend for beginning mountaineers? Well, before I tell you, remember my basic realities – if you also struggle to catch a ball, know that I am not responsible if you fall off the step mill at the gym!

With that out of the way, my advice is simple: complete fitness is important. That means good cardiovascular endurance paired with strength training and flexibility. Training by doing the activities that closely mimic what you are training for is the best way to get in shape, physically and mentally. Any cyclist who has ever taken a running day, and ended up a wreck of sore muscles the next day knows this.

So first things first: identify your goals, and try and understand from others (guides, friends, that Facebook thing) what challenges they present. If everyone says it’s being exhausted and cold at night, then you are going to need to try and get your brain and body prepared for that.

When I go on Himalayan expeditions, it’s like a giant reset button for my training. I go in as strong as I can, push myself on the trip, and slowly the altitude takes everything from me so that I return home a skinny heap of well-oxygenated tissue. Wash, rinse, repeat.

When I repeat, I start again as though I never trained at all and I can really see the difference in what I do. I have tried many, many programs and here is what I can say is true:

1. Pick an activity that you like. If you hate running and you choose to run for cardio training, you will hate training and likely not do it.

2. Select a timeframe for training that is reasonable and manageable. I typically train very hard for the 8 weeks preceding a climb. But remember, the fitness is a deep part of my life. If you plan six months of training, make sure you can handle that without burning out.

3. Variety! Have a plan to change things up frequently. On paper biking looked so good to you, but if in practice you hate it, don’t worry because next week you switch to running.

4. Lastly, be very flexible, and I don’t mean yoga. Be prepared to tweak the variables in your program to make it work for a changing schedule, motivation or environment.

I train for four to five days a week. I live in an area where I can strap on crampons in the winter and walk uphill, so that is my go-­‐to activity (since it IS the activity I am training for). Three days a week I will get up before the sun does, grab my pack (the Alchemist 30 with a 50 pound weight vest stuffed inside) and spend an hour or so going uphill. I think it is very important for me to train with the weight walking downhill also. I know a lot of people save their knees by carrying water and dumping it for the walk downhill, but I have never been on a summit where I got to dump all my gear for the walk down.

However, I travel frequently and don’t always have that big ski hill to walk up. I’m not shy about finding trails, even if it takes snowshoes and spending that hour with a pack on.

In addition to that, I will train in the gym at least four days a week. I like to push the intensity on machines where the numbers help me measure my progress. I switch between sprinting, step-mill workouts, and getting comfortable and sweaty on the spin bike. Very high intensity intervals are my preference. I mix in four days a week of weight training, with a strong focus on my shoulders, back and central core.

Following this routine, or some variation of it, year after year, I have watched my fitness and endurance increase over time. And it’s fun to push myself and see what I can do and how that changes.

So, my simple advice to someone looking to train for a mountaineering trip is this: find balance. Increase your endurance. Suffer a little and realize that the suffering will end and the reward will be big. You don’t have to be a physically elite athlete. You don’t have to train for 4 hours a day. Immerse yourself in the journey and see what you can learn about your body and mind.

Enjoy it. This is the good stuff.

Author: - Thursday, March 15th, 2012

  1. J.Peterson

    Well said, Melissa!

  2. Greg Morton

    I think it is important that as accomplished a climber as you are, you have made a special note to say that you are not necessarily gifted. Instead, it is obvious that you are committed to realizing your goals, and that is the most important thing. Training sucks, but it is an essential (and majority) part of the work needed in order to climb mountains safely. My favorite quote, from Laird Hamilton, says “If you’re not prepared, don’t be surprised if you fail”. Thank you for putting into perspective that an “average athlete” such as yourself can accomplish amazing feats by being prepared. But still, let’s face it…you are extraordinary! Good luck on the South Col climb!!! Cheers…

  3. FemaleSkiBum

    Great Article – I will be thinking of you when my alarm goes off before the sun :) Great Outdoor Women make for Great Role Models. Thank You!

  4. Wilfred

    Well said Melissa, nice hints! Great photos. I am looking forward to my new pages on Everest! Thank you for great support!

  5. S.Gately

    Allow me to qoute Dave Hahn here.

    “You have to be strong, you have to be in shape, you have to be willing to be uncomfortable. And as I say, that doesn’t give you extra credit in this world, that is just the entry fee.”

  6. S. Neenan

    Thanks for the inspiration! As someone trying to increase my workouts from the bare minimum I do now (bike to the grocery store, daily walks) it was great to read about your regular and varied workouts. I’m looking forward to your posts from Everest! Best of luck from Minnesota!

  7. Dan Parker

    I was fortunate enough to climb with Melissa last summer. She was a machine! Whatever training she is doing works!
    Dan P.

  8. E. Bittner

    I too was lucky to climb Rainier with Melissa ,Ed V. and Peter W. last summer(w/Dan P above)and she was truly an inspiration. Her friendly attitude combined with her beyond my comprehension conditioning and focus makes her special( whether she thinks so or not!).Good luck on Everest.


  9. Shonda

    I promise you that this is the most challenging (yet
    rewarding) path you can take at this time. Just pick the place and tie and I’ll be there.

    And attractiveness can be conveyed in many different ways and can mean many
    different things. So, iff you are interested in finding you a hot Muslim girl, you
    don’t have to travel through streets searcdhing for them. People
    can’t say that you have abssolutely nothing!
    The hardest part is the emotional barriers that prevent you from taking the
    first step towards her. Western men shoulld learn ass much Russian (or even Ukrainian) as
    possible. Dating girls is like building any other connection. We’ve alll been there.
    Never write as though you’re a 12 year old girl sending a text to heer friend!

    This is deep level lack of neediness, which cannot be faked.

    You could be the most social guy in your whole arra — andd
    still, the numbwr of hot women you might meet this way
    would totally fade in comparison. Follow our instructions and warning tips, based on many
    years of online dating experience and be sure that success will find you verry soon. Don’t
    make it ezsy for her, not to mention obvious! Company parties always provide a good opportunity and venue where to meet girls and new people.
    Disregardance This is very powerful and requires
    a delusional sense of belief and faith that only a few men naturally possess.
    Notice things that others don’t. In a positive way. Thee prettier
    a gil is the more nervous a guy gets when it comes to approacing her
    or asking her for a date. The thrill of the chase… There are many beautiful Indian girls that can be found in this website.
    Stay away from those people.

    This dress suits perfectly right into a beaach wedding.
    Well, I tink Mr. You are not the only one askingthose questions.
    Even though wwe love our girlfriends, we can’t help but find ourselves “mentally shopping around”.
    The problem is tbat girls (the hotter ones, usually) tend to test men onn a consistent basis – and often if mmen fail onn those tests, they will not get laid.

    All of these core problems come down to one simple truth: Most of us
    are living inn the first 3 Chakras, and have not yet learned how too elevate our consciousness into the 4th dimension (Heart Chakra).
    You are soo old, evrn your memory is in blqck and white.

    Guy: Do you believe in love at first sight orr do
    you wannt mee to walk by again? Insults and Putdowns We
    think oof you when we are lonely. I suggest you leave itt on. I thought, “What am I supposed to do?

    People think, Sexy, big breasts, curvy body, no cellulite. Be original Once you have shown that you will not shower with the usual compliments like how hot she is, she will automatically relax in your company and like the fact that you are not out to impress her. You are so dishonest that I can’t even be sure that what you tell me are lies! And isn’t that the most common way for people to get a girlfriend? Indian women also look remarkably ravishing in the website and men from Indian specially look at the hot pictures, after which they might get enough attention to rate that picture of that hot Indian girl. Islam as a religion doesn’t allow men and women unless you are married to interact freely. And this is the best part of getting help from these trained professionals. Why don’t you open your own bakery? You’re a pain in the neck. This is what almost every guy does.

    In the book, you’ll also find games that you can play with her when you’re writing e-mails with a girl — games that will teach you things about her that she hasn’t even shared with her best friends. Basically, you “read” her and tell her something about herself — ass if you’ve got psychic powers and understand her on a deeper level. Are your parents siblings? Guy: I want to give myself to you. You are a seriously good cook. Most important, you will learn how too escalate and transition from talking online to getting her phone number, talking on tthe phone and meeting her ffor the first time inn real life. Another awesome peculiarity tuat comes with Ukrainian girls is the fact that they’re homemakers. Then you’re going to use them to build attraction. Look, don’t go to a minnd reader; go to a palm reader; I know you’ve got a palm. It’s not an easy questoon too answer quickly — I couuld fill a few books fuhll of this knowledge, because Las Vegas contains tons off different scenes where you ccan pick up girls and close deals.

    Take a good look at thhe people around you. In fact give the other girls around as much attention. Are you coming across as creepy about college girls? It’s because he’s popular and he’s the party. I’ve been looking at you all night, wondering if you would agree to dance with me. She most probably is feed up with the compliments anyway. But then, what’s my own humble opinion against thousands of others? Guy: I know how to please a woman. Which kind of guuy will get yoou thinking “Hm…

    This will puzzle her and she will start to notice you more.
    Girl: Yeah, that’s why I don’t go there anymore.

    That’s not sexy. Be Your Best Self You’ve got to be your best self every minute.
    Gorgeous georgette is really a sheer, lovely, lightweight
    fabric that’s making a buzz come July 1st season. Lindsay LohanShe might not have the same hot girl next door
    image anymore, but its always nice to see a girl who knows how
    to party like a rockstar. There are also features for men where they can explore hot Indian women from any age desired by the men. You’ve possibly had some achievement with
    the ladies on your college pick up artist
    journey, but if you have “gamed” a lot on your university campus, you havve probably been victim of the side effects that
    come from the seduction community: Are you loksing potential daes with girls at school fast simply because your sleazy player reputation has girls on guard?
    You like her and should make a lay for her. As an outsider, what
    do you think of the human race? Going on a date a breathtaking girl is actually a like just about every guy.
    A telemarketer?

    For a chubby girl, it’s absolutely possible tto have a
    hot guy fall for you. For chubby girls, the smart thing tto do is to
    give a guy enough time and opportunity to discover
    their inner beauty. I heard you went to a freak show and got in free!

Write A Comment

Sorry, no posts matched your criteria.