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So, you want to "climb every mountain... ford every ice field"? You could simply strap on your crampons and head for the hills. But you're nuts if you do without first getting ready. If innovation is 99% perspiration, successful climbing is at least 99% preparation. As Soles says, "There is a world of difference between training harder and training smarter."
Robert F. Wells, Expedition News
Let me start off by saying unequivocally that Climbing: Training for Peak Perfomance is the best book I've seen in regards to fitness for climbers. The book covers everything you could ever want to know about training for climbing, including diet, aerobic workout, resistance training, flexibility and so much more, and the chapters are filled with so much good information, that you'll constantly be finding new things to add to your preparation for the mountains.
Kraig Becker, The Adventure Blog
|Climbers are not generally known for the rigor of their training methods. One might be forgiven, then, for suspecting that a training manual specifically for climbers might be somewhat less than rigorous itself.
In the case of Clyde Soles' revised Climbing: Training for Peak Performance, that assumption could not be further from the truth.
Climbing: Training for Peak Performance is both serious and comprehensive, rivaling the depth of information in my massive medical reference, Athletic Training and Sports Medicine while simultaneously managing to be quite a bit more current.
But Soles, former senior editor at Rock & Ice magazine, is not interested merely in deluging the reader with information that will never be put to use.
Climbing focuses not only on improving the bodies of hard-charging, fast-recovering young athletes, but of athletes of all ages and at all points in their careers. Soles directs considerable attention toward addressing the needs of alpinists and climbers who do not enjoy the benefits of a professional training staff and unlimited training hoursthat is to say, you and me.
The author also emphasizes the critical point that your training regimen should prevent injury, rather than lead to it. In this regard, Soles critiques several of the currently-in-vogue gyms or fitness programs that employ what might be called an extreme boot-camp approach to fitness: take a large sample of hyper-motivated 19-year-old athletes, ruthlessly overtrain them, and then claim success when one or two of them survives and temporarily achieves elite performance.
The vast majority of athletes subject to such 'programs' break down, of course, leaving them worse then when they started.
That is not to suggest that Climbing offers an easy path to fitness. Rather, Soles' approach might be said to be based on informed pragmatism. Does it require hard work and discipline? Absolutelybut only in so far as it can be integrated into our already too-busy schedules, be it strength training, cardio work, or a nutrition strategy. And only if it is supported by evidence.
New information is constantly emerging from research laboratories. Soles help us navigate this often confusing barrage of information.
I especially like the effort Soles has put into making his information current. The revised second edition (2008) often surprises with the freshness of its data, such as the latest on the COX-2 inhibitor drugs (ie, Vioxx, Celebrex), which were recently thought to be ideal replacements for NSAID's like ibuprofen.
Also noteworthy is the book's section on injury rehabilitation. which proves remarkably comprehensive. The sad fact is that many of us will suffer injury either at the hands of our sport or elsewhere in life. Climbing includes current information and strategies for dealing with everything from minor aches and pains to major injury.
While the information in Climbing is directly applicable for a wide range of sports, it is tailored for the needs of the alpinist, featuring sport-specific sections on training for rock climbing and high altitude endeavors.
If you are seeking a text that will gently encourage you to persist in halfhearted or half-baked training methods, this is not it. However, if you want a comprehensive, serious, and practical guide to nutrition and fitness from a climber's point of view, Climbing: Training for Peak Performance will not disappoint.
Andrew Lewicky, SierraDescents.com
|Getting fit for ski touring
A review of Climbing: Training for Peak Performance by Clyde Soles ISBN-13: 978-1594850981. 2nd edition, published October 2008 by Mountaineers Books
It is the same every year. Despite cycling to work, an occasional run and hill walking every ski season starts with those agonizing first few trips in which I’m left in the tracks of younger and fitter ski buddies. “Getting the rough off” is what we used to call it when I cycle raced. The only problem, every year there seems to be more rough to get off.
Being unfit when ski touring is unpleasant and can be downright dangerous if you push things too far. To descend you need to have some spare capacity. A tired skier is more likely to suffer injuries and fatigue can be a contributory factor to accidents such as falls and avalanches.
There must be a better way to start the season and Climbing: Training for Peak Performance a recently published 300 page book by Clyde Soles, seems to offer a solution. Although aimed at climbers the information is largely applicable to ski touring with its strenuous ascents and scrambles as well as other endurance sports.
The book is amazingly detailed and comprehensive. There is extensive information and research on nutrition covering a range of dietary styles. The section on mental focus could be useful to ski mountaineering competitors or skiers making steep or technical descents, or just people who are psyched out by their ski partners. Clyde then gets into the nitty-gritty of getting fit explaining the pros and cons of different branches of cross training (we have to do something in the autumn). He even covers Nordic walking, something that I’m seeing a lot more of in Europe.
As you would expect there is discussion of resistance training in the gym that will interest serious competitors aiming for a Pierra Menta/Patrouille des Glaciers or if you have some particular weaknesses in muscle groups. I also learned what some of the weird gym equipment actually does. The information on altitude is useful for expedition climbers as well as anyone heading to the Alps or Pyrenees where some tours take you to a lung busting 2500+ meters. Flexibility and balance are two crucial areas for ski touring, as is recovery, especially for skiers attempting multi-day tours and these are well treated.
Climbing: Training for Peak Performance is well researched and easy to read. It is a good all-round training manual which assembles a lot of information into a not too long tome. You could develop a specific exercise regime or tune your existing programme. Given that it is aimed at climbers, so some information will be irrelevant for ski touring, it is definitely a book to get if you want to do some of the big day or multi-day tours.
David George, PisteHors.com
|Big peak, here I come
New book release is your ticket to the top
The Mountaineers Books, based in Seattle, has released an updated edition of Climbing: Training for Peak Performance. (272 pp., $18.95.) It is available at select bookstores or through www.mountaineersbooks.org.
For many purist climbers, the evolution of mountaineering from a fringe pursuit of the wholly devoted to vacation fodder for amateur weekend warriors is a bitter pill to swallow.
The edgethat element of doing something few others dare to trywas lost. And, to add to the anguish, true mountaineers had to venture farther and farther from home to find solace in the rocks and snow.
Like it or not, high-altitude mountaineering has become big business. The fact is, however, that pushing one's way to the roof of the world is still no easy task. Clear evidence of that came last month when "Today" show correspondent Ann Curry was forced to abort an attempt at the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, all because some of her team members came down with altitude sickness.
Enter the second edition of Climbing: Training for Peak Performance, a new release from The Mountaineers Books. Written by Colorado-based climber and writer Clyde Soles, a veteran of Himalayan high peaks, the book is part of The Mountaineers' "Outdoor Expert Series."
For anyone aspiring to climb high mountains, Training for Peak Performance could provide the added edge that gets you safely to the summit. Packed into its 272 pages are details on exercises to improve performance, nutrition and supplements, injury prevention and training programs suited for various climbers' goals.
Want to find out about whether the latest health craze is based on fact or myth? Wondering what food is the best body fuel to stock at high camp? Looking for ways to fit a training regimen into your busy work schedule? It's all here.
In the new second edition, Soles incorporates many of the findings of the latest research on everything from carbohydrates and fat to working out in ways that will keep you in the mountains and out of the doctor's office.
Though the amount of information in the book might seem daunting to some, it is written in a clear, simple style that allows quick, easy absorption. Mountaineer Jon Krakauer, author of best-sellers "Into Thin Air" and "Into the Wild," praised the book as a valuable training tool for climbers of all levels. Indeed, it is.
Training for Peak Performance won't go to the gym for you, and it won't make the air in the high Rockies or the Himalayas any thicker. But for those who don't mind sweating a little and minding their diet, it might just make those last steps to the top less arduous.
Gregory Foley, Idaho Mountain Express
|ARE YOU FIT TO CLIMB?
Any serious mountaineer will appreciate this updated Bible of climbing-specific training
Last month, the 2nd Edition of Climbing: Training for Peak Performance (The Mountaineers Books) by Boulder, Colorado resident, climber, photographer, writer, and all-around good guy, Clyde Soles, went on sale. A copy arrived on my desk, and I decided to see what, exactly, warranted an update from Soles’ first edition which came out, geez, a little over five years ago. I mean, it’s climbing--whether it’s up rock or an ice field, the sport’s physiological requirements haven’t changed much in decades, right?
One quick glance through its pages though, and I realized I was wrong. Among the more intriguing additions to this update is a thorough chapter on “Improving Altitude Performance.” In it Soles goes into detail about what happens to the body at higher altitudes (starting at 8,000 to 10,000 feet) and doles out some interesting recommendations:
Stay hydrated as “severe dehydration can shut down your summit bid faster than any snowstorm.”
Stick to a high carb diet since “one study has shown that a diet of more than 70 percent carbohydrates decreased altitude mountain sickness by 30 percent after a fast ascent to 14,000 feet.”
And my favorite: “Young, healthy men are most likely to experience difficulties at altitude due to testosterone-induced stupidity; because they are very fit and think they’re invincible, they push too hard too fast. Best advice: start slow and taper.”
At the end of the chapter Soles delves into the efficacy of various supplements and drugs such as acetazolamide (Diamox) for altitude induced sickness and even modafinil (Provigil) a new, supposedly safe alternative to amphetamines for 20-hour summit pushes.
When it came to the exercises I also noticed a big change. There were noticeably more core and functional strength exercises and fewer classic weight-training ones. He’s now included kettlebells, resistance tubing, even gymnastics rings into the mix. But Soles’ fundamental message has remained unchanged: you can’t become a stronger climber by simply climbing. You have to push your body in the gym beyond its ability to handle your bodyweight, and even the weight of your body plus a heavy pack. It's a fundamental approach that every athlete takes to train for their sport, and Soles does a smart job showing us that climbers and mountaineers should consider themselves true athletes, not just recreational enthusiasts.
Whether you’ve got Rainier or Whitney on your life list, or a thru-hike planned for next spring, you’d do well to check out Soles’ book and take a crack at his program.
Grant Davis, Backpacker Magazine
|I have had Climbing: Training for Peak Performance for a couple of weeks but have only now got round to reading it and must say that I am impressed.
Nowadays so much of our knowledge comes from the "interwebs" and if you are interested in training and physical fitness there is a lot of information out there diet, routines, motivational videos. However, the world of the internet is a varied and inconsistent domain. Some information is good, some great and some very poor indeed. Additionally, on a website there is rarely the scope to enter into detail and provide the sort of context and background that is necessary if you are to build up deep knowledge. Blogs are fine for soundbites or discussion, but not for real eduction. There is still a role for books. They can develop arguments, explain complex concepts…..and you can read them in the bath! Books are good and this is a good book.
Clyde Soles has put together a detailed manual that states its aim clearly in the introduction: Training should be Fun! And the preface explains the motivation of the book:
Most climbing training books and articles focus on young advanced sport climbers with indestructible bodies and a lot of free time. That information is often ill-suited to middle-aged climbers with limited time, pre-existing injuries and other interests. This book is intended primarily for this latter group. Other outdoor recreationalists who play in the mountains, be they hikers, skiers, or cyclists, will also find the instructional material here useful because their sports share much in common with climbing.
Speaking as a middle-aged (is 40 middle-aged?) outdoor recreationalist (check out my other blogs for some of my hill activities and training) with some old injuries, this appeals to me!
There is a lot to this book and the material is presented rationally and in an accessible style. It is not dumbed down but written for intelligent adults. That is refreshing when many books are either polished by journalists with no feel for the subject or occasionally scientific tomes with little application for everyday life.
Soles looks at nutrition, mental issues, aerobic conditioning, coping with altitude, resistance training, joint mobility/flexibility/balance, recovery/rehab and program design.
The sections that I found particularly impressive (often revealing Soles’ knowledge of very recent research) included:
Nutrition especially the section warning of dubious supplements which have little value. Soles also mentions the viability of intermittent fasting ( this blog has pointed to lots of research on this subject) and seems in favour of an Eat Stop Eat style fast i.e., going without food for 16-24 hours once or twice a week for weight loss.
Aerobic Conditioning - the discussion of intervals is useful and while recognising their role Soles also notes that there are benefits to longer endurance training, as I've noticed Rob Shaul say.
Body Tuning the treatment of joint mobility, stretching and balance work is really thorough and up to date taking account of recent research e.g. stretching before exercise is discouraged. This blog has previously discussed the utility of balance training and there are some good ideas for improving balance in the book.
Recovery: Rest and Rehab has some great ideas for treating and rehabilitating injuries.
Should I buy this?
Yes. If you are a climber, hiker, hill walker, skier, mountain biker or anyone that enjoys activity in the outdoors there will be something in this book that you will benefit from. Even if you are simply interested in general fitness there is much here that will help you improve your performance.
This is a very good book!
Chris Highcock, Conditioning Research
Clyde Soles has written a number of excellent climbing books including another Mountaineers Outdoor Expert series title, Expedition Planning. The 2008 second edition of Climbing: Training for Peak Performance updates his 2002 effort with "30% more content." Sounds like a breakfast cereal ad, but have no fear, this is much more substantial.
Climbing: Training for Peak Performance bills itself as "a book for climbers with limited time, pre-existing injuries, or - you know - a life." The book covers a dizzying array of topics: nutrition, physical conditioning, mental preparation, flexibility, recovery and even specific routines for specific pursuits. A particularly helpful chapter is Climbing at Altitude, which includes quick hits on various supplements and drugs, worthwhile and not.
Evidently Clyde has nothing better to do than read through tons of reports and studies and synthesize them for our benefit. He does a good job of sticking with advice that is scientifically grounded and rarely if ever ventures onto evidence-scarce ground. He takes pains to point out common myths and misconceptions in sections with titles like "Diet Chicanery," "Dubious Supplements," and "Resistance Training Myths." There are even anatomical charts. Overall, Climbing: Training for Peak Performance is a valuable synthesis of state-of-the-art advice across all the important areas of athletic training related to climbing and other outdoor pursuits.
Ken Osterkamp, Gear Flogger
|Whatever your talent, experience, and ambition, if you climb, you would do well to read Clyde Soles' training manual. This book will allow you to pull down harder, last longer, and have more fun while you're at it.
Solid research and an easy read. Clyde's recipe for climbing fitness is a refreshing combination of movement, streangth training, psychological capacity, and appropriate nutrition. But there are no instant miracles; none of his words will mean anything if you won't do the work. Do you have the will?
I've been poring over your book... reminded each time how much work you put into it and how little most readers will appreciate the effort. Just know that I do.
|This book is for climbers of all ages, abilities, and interests who wish to improve their performance. Whether you are a weekend warrior who enjoys moderate routes and wants to climb harder classics, a mountaineer interested in moving faster at altitude, an ice climber who wants to move more efficiently over frozen terrain, or a big wall climber who want to increase your stamina, you will find what is needed to reach the next level.|
Chapter 1 Performance Fundamentals
Chapter 2 Nutrition Foundation