One of the more popular posts on this blog is my review of beginning weight-lifting programs. While I haven’t posted much on my exercise habits in the past few years, I have kept on developing them. Hopefully, readers find this updated information useful.
I stopped power-lifting after I started feeling over-use injuries in my knees. Because I really want to be an old man who can walk all by myself, I decided to change my lifting habits. Another reason, is that I’ve enjoyed hiking and climbing mountains for longer than I have been lifting weights, and I found that power-lifting wasn’t the best way to get fit for mountaineering and climbing.
So, what have I done since I’ve stopped power-lifting? My goals have been to improve my climbing-specific strength, get in cardio-vascular shape to do long hikes and climbs, and maintain my joint health and mobility so I can continue moving through the mountains. To achieve these goals, I’ve taken up kettlebell lifting for strength-endurance; I do various body-weight lifts for raw strength development, and I do long easy distance runs and hikes to improve my cardiovascular endurance.
In my mid-thirties, I may be more fit than I’ve ever been before. My resting heart-rate is usually below 45 beats per minute. I can do a 14-mile hike in less than 5 hours. I can do many one-legged squats with my body-weight and more. I can do many weighted pull-ups and dips, and I placed first and second in a state kettlebell competition. All of this, while working a full-time job.
I built these results on the foundation of Steve House and Scott Johnston’s book, Training for the New Alpinism. It does a great job of describing how to get in good shape, avoid injuries, and achieve fitness goals as they relate to things you wan to do, like climbing a mountain, doing a race, etc.
To learn kettlebell lifting, the Internet is full of resources. Valery Federenko’s videos are great, and Pavel Tatsouline’s books are also helpful, but Pavel’s writing seems to be a little “testosterone poisoned” to me. My interest is learning to lift safely and well, and I don’t need machismo to do that. Federenko’s style is more focused on the lifts, and less on the attitude, which suits me better.
I don’t mean to imply that I couldn’t have done these things if I were still power-lifting. It could certainly be the raw strength portion of the larger fitness program, but I also think that one-legged standing and hanging lifts are more activity-specific to hiking and climbing. Lifts like bench press and back squats don’t train the activity specific muscles as well as other lifts can.