To help me train for the Breck Epic this summer, I have been working with The North Face Mountain Athletics program to build my overall strength and endurance. For those of you who may not be familiar with Mountain Athletics, The North Face teamed up with Rob Shaul of Jackson’s Mountain Athlete to create these free training programs to help you prepare for your next adventure. The program features a variety of activity-specific workout plans, including all the gear you need to train.
Mountain Athletics offers sport specific training routines, such as running, ski mountaineering, and climbing for summer, or just general fitness. Since mountain biking is not exactly a sport option, I went with general fitness, as strength training is very much a part of my overall training routine in addition to just logging miles on the bike.
General fitness is a 6 week, 4 days a week, gym-based training plan aimed at increasing your base fitness. The app lays out your workout routine each day, with instructions and demonstration videos to help you understand the proper form for each exercise. You can see one of my favorite exercises below–Mr Spectacular.
You begin by building strong legs, lungs, and core, and in turn increase your strength and overall work capacity. The program gets progressively harder over the 6 weeks. I found the workouts very similar to my ice climbing training program that I follow each fall–it too comes from Mountain Athlete in Jackson.
You don’t need much equipment for the general fitness workouts beyond what you can find at any commercial gym. I created a makeshift gym at home using some dumbbells, boxes, and things like bird seed in place of sandbags.
For those of you lucky enough to live in one of these cities–Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, New York, or Washington D.C.–head out on Tuesday and Thursday to train outside with other people boot camp style–it’s way more fun than slogging it out yourself in the gym or at home.
Ultra Kilowatt Trainer ($120): You want low profile footwear for stability when strength training, so these minimalist yet supportive shoes fit the bill. The moisture wicking FlashDry upper is reinforced in high-wear zones so you won’t get tears after a session of climbing ropes. The Vibram rubber outsole is extra grippy on concrete gym floors and the trainers double as running shoes for those cross-training workouts or warm ups.
Dynamix Hoodie ($99): Not only is the Dynamix an incredibly comfortable fleece hoody, but weather- and abrasion-resistant softshell reinforcements on the shoulders mean your equipment won’t tear holes in your gear. The length comes down over your hips so pairs well with the Dynamix Leggings ($80).
Better Than Naked Singlet ($45): For hot and sweaty workouts, this ultralight tank uses a mesh back panel for maximum breathability.