Mattie Schaefor mountain guide
Mattie Schaefor, mountain guide

Mountain Fitness Tips: Train for Your Sport

You may not be a pro skier or climber, but at least you can train like one. Mountain sports coach Rob Shaul and his students share how they prepare for the peaks.

Mattie Schaefor mountain guide
Kim Havell

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The closer you get to the season, the more sport-specific your training needs to be. Skiers need eccentric leg strength. Climbers need finger and forearm strength. Focus on general fitness early in the offseason to build base strength and durability, but zero in on your sport in the six to eight weeks leading up to the season. —Coach Shaul

ATHLETE: Mattie Schaefor, mountain guide

MA TRAINING: 4.5 years

SUCCESS STORY: Guide for Exum Mountain Guides; guide for Exum, Chicks With Picks, and Chicks Rock; movie stuntwoman. Has made ascents of big walls in Yosemite and Zion National Parks and across Europe.

Traditional wisdom in the climbing community is that more time climbing equals better climbing. But while there's no shortcut to building technique and good judgment, this is an inefficient way to improve. As a parent, full-time teacher, guide, and grad student, I have very limited time.

MA's sport-specific training cycles build stamina, endurance, and power, and therefore confidence. While time-effective, it's hard training, and has helped me lower my injury rate down to zero. It's sometimes hard to appreciate this in the moment, but outside, reaching for another improbable hold on steep rock, I consistently feel grateful for the programming.