Training Tuesdays: Baselines


We’ve been spouting off for the last month about how we’re going to start a training program based on Steve House’s alpine training guide. It’s finally time to put our money where our sweaty mouths are and get to work.

House recommends a fitness test to start things off as a measuring stick for your current fitness level. The test isn’t climbing specific but more an indicator of general fitness. As two people who think of themselves as pretty fit, we expected to perform relatively well in the test. We thought wrong.

Here are the tests and our results:


Some explanations:

The box step is making the equivalent of 1000′ of elevation gain on whatever box you have available. Ours was 14″ so we had to make 875 or so steps. My time shows the point where I hit 700 steps and got worried I’d be kicked out of the gym for being too slow and quit. This isn’t a true test result but will be a decent benchmark for me nonetheless. But the fun doesn’t end there; you complete the test wearing your climbing boot and with 20% of your body weight on your back. This test was HARD. James felt that his recent experience with a 6 week program from The North Face prepared him very well for the test. I, on the other hand, did not prepare for anything and ate shit for 56 minutes. It didn’t help that we were doing the test in our friend’s awesome new Crossfit gym (box?), CrossFit Ironstone in Halifax, where everyone looked like this.

The rest is self explanatory. I wasn’t surprised by my results (or that James kicked my butt) apart from the pull-ups. I’m not sure if doing them near the end after stressing my shoulders so much negatively impacted my score.

The book gives ratings for each range of scores. I won’t give them away here so that you’ll go out and buy the book, but suffice to say that the only exercises that either of us did better than ‘poor’ on was dips (both) and pull-ups (James). House must be an animal because we walked away tired and with a renewed appreciation for what being fit means.

We’d love for others to try this workout out as well and post your results. We’ll likely be doing the test every month or so to track progress.

– Matt

6 thoughts on “Training Tuesdays: Baselines

  1. Pingback: Gearing up
  2. I did the Alpine Combine today, and here are my results:

    (1) Box step :: 48:17
    (2) Dips :: 40
    (3) Sit-ups :: 20
    (4) Pull-ups :: 12
    (5) Box jumps :: 26
    (6) Push-ups :: 30

    Like you guys, I thought I was fit, but clearly House and Johnston are on another planet when it comes to fitness. Talk about sobering!

  3. Matt hi!

    the test looks amazing!..

    I d like to give it a go but I havent quite gotten the specifics of it.
    so you finish with the box steps and then without pausing you do the rest of the excercises of the test or is there a break in between (like say 30sec)?

    Thanx in advance!
    Keep it up!

    Pavlos (Paul)

    1. Hi Pavlos,

      Yep, pretty much one right after the other. I think we took a few seconds to take our packs off and catch our breath, maybe have a drink of water. But overall you are correct, you just do one after the other. We also alternated the pullups/dips/etc so one could count while the other worked.

      Good luck!

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