Photo: The author approaching the base of the Eiger North Face, Grindelwald, Switzerland, by Hansueli Glossner, 2006

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” – Lao Tzu.

Each athlete and every sport is unique, subject to different physical, psychological, and environmental demands. I train to be a competitive cyclist and for outdoor sports: rock & ice climbing, backcountry skiing, and paragliding. My workouts are designed for a 60 plus year old athlete living in Minnesota, USA. At 64, I have to be careful lifting heavy weight, it takes me longer to recover, my progressions are slow, and I have to be disciplined with my diet.

The first phase of my training is Base Building. In this phase, strength training adapts muscles, tendons, and your skeleton for increasing loads. Aerobic/anaerobic endurance training improves aerobic capacity or VO2 max. Combining the two in progressive workouts builds muscular endurance, the key to safely achieving my athletic goals, particularly those that involve risk. The Base Building phase lasts two weeks, with one week of recovery training, before progressing to the Strength phase in week four.

I use mostly free weights for strength training because they require balance and core activation. I use a spin cycle and a step mill, both with a power meter, for aerobic/anaerobic training. For sport specificity, I climb in a rock climbing gym, hike or ski my local ski area. If you don’t know how to use free weights, get a personal trainer or take a class. You can get hurt. As the lift operator on the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort tram says, “If you don’t know, don’t go!”

In the Base Building phase, you are literally tearing apart your muscles so they can repair and adapt into stronger muscles. Muscles need amino acids from protein to rebuild. Your body does not store protein, so what you eat is what you get. At 175 pounds, I target 120 grams of protein per day with greater amounts, up to 180 grams, on heavy workout days. I also restrict my carb intake to reduce body fat and train my body to preferentially burn fat. Finally, because I am physically stressing my body, I take vitamin and mineral supplements.

Click the link below for my actual training program for Week One

Week One_Building a Base

I would be happy to answer questions or receive comments at


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