Staying strong, supple and fit while on the road traveling is a challenge for everyone, from pro athletes to fitness enthusiasts. While spending time in Colorado with aspirant mountain guide Sydney Paez Duncan, I took a particular interest in the workout schedule of this mountaineer in training. Sydney starts her expedition to climb Denali’s West Buttress Classic Route (20,308ft) on June 15th (only 5 weeks away).


In addition to weighted hill climbs (60lbs on her back), interval training and speed climbs, Sydney does this strength training exercise and variations of, 3x a week to aid with mobility, balancing key muscle groups, core strength and support carry heavy packs.


This work out was designed by Sydney’s mentor and celebrated mountaineer Melissa Arnot (the most successful American woman on Mount Everest, with 5 summits).


Do the below sequence 4x. The 1st with just your body weight and the remaining 3x times, with 2.5x llbs in each hand (we used cans of beans!).


The most important thing to remember when starting any new training regime is to LISTEN TO YOUR BODY!  If any of these exercises hurt, stop immediately.  If there is an easier adaptation try that one out. But never continue with an exercise if you are in pain.


#1 15x Lat Pulls

This exercise can be done laying down or against a wall.  To start, make sure that you lower back is flat against the floor or wall by engaging your core.  Then hold your arms out at 90 degree angles. Making sure that your hands, forearms and elbows stay on the floor/wall you want to move your arms upwards.  Stop when you feel your lower back starting to come away from the floor/wall.  This exercise will feel very easy if done wrong and surprisingly difficult if done correctly.





#2 30″ Plank

This is a standard plank.  If you played high school sports you have probably done your fair share of suffering through this exercise.  A couple of things to remember… First, you want to make sure that your neck is in line with your spine to take unneeded pressure away from that area.  Second, you want to tilt your hips forward towards your belly button to really engage your core.  Last, in order to take the tension out of you shoulders you can rock very lightly on your toes so the effort is focused in your ab muscles.


Plank workout



15x Side Curls

This is pretty much a classic curl, but the outward rotation is the key. To start, make sure that your stance is hip-width apart with a light bend in your knees.  Engage your core, roll your shoulders back, hug your elbows into your waist and externally rotate your hands.  Raise your hands to a 30 degree angle then come down to about 12o degrees.  Never fully relax your muscles.


side curl workout



10x Plank with Leg Lifts (on each side)

Same tips as your standard plank. In addition, when you are raising your leg focus on keeping your hips even and raising a straight leg directly vertically. Try not to splay the leg out to the side which is very easy to do. When starting try using a mirror, or ask a friend how your form is. Make sure you are doing this slowly and in a controlled manner.



15x Tricep Dips (bent knees)

You can do this exercise easily on steps or a sturdy coffee table. To start place the heal of your palm on the stair shoulder width apart. Place your heals on the ground with a 90 degree angle in bent knees. This movement is very slight, deep tricep dips can hurt your shoulders and a small bend will still yield a difficult work out. When doing this movement focus on your elbows going directly behind you, not splaying to the side. Again you should only bend 3 inches and then as you push your arms back up to straight make sure to squeeze your triceps.


tricep dips workout



30″ Side Plank (1st side)

Again you want to have a straight spine all the way through your head to avoid neck injuries. Focus on rolling your high hip forward and your upper shoulder back so they are in line. Also make sure your fingers are facing forward and are in line. If this is too much pressure on you wrist you can make a fist or lower down to your fore arm. Have your other arm in the air for balance and to keep your shoulder back.


side plank workout



15x V-lifts

Start with your feet hip width apart, slight bend in your knees and engage your core. Roll your shoulders back and with straight arms lift in a V shape until your hands are level with your shoulders. Make sure you do this exercise slowly so you are not swinging your limbs around erratically.


45 minute workout



30″ Side Plank (2nd side) – image shows stronger variation with raised leg

If side plank feels too easy for you, well first, way to be amazing! Second you can try this variation that super strong Alexa is demonstrating.  Try slowly to raise your upper leg and see how long you can sustain. Form is very important if you’re raising your leg but your hips and shoulders are not in line you will be doing more harm then good. Start slowly with this one and progress as you get stronger.

side plank workout



15x Tricep Kicks

Start with the same foot and knee position. Lean forward slightly engaging your core. Roll your shoulders back and extend your arm. At the top of the extension flex your tricep muscle, and then just like the dips make a very slight movement with your hands, only about 15 degrees. You don’t want to be swinging your hands around, remember slow concentrated movements.


tricep dip workout



10x Up/Down Plank

This is my most and least favourite move. You want to start with a strong plank on your hands and lower yourself down one arm at a time to your forearms. Then lift back up to hands, and thats one round. You want to do 5 on each side. Try and keep your spine in line and your hips flat. The more control you have in this exercise the better.


up down plank workout



For more fitness ideas, check out the following articles:

Surf fitness and exercises with pro surfer Paige Hareb (video)

Ronda Rousey training and workout inspiration (video)

Olympian Hannah Teter’s Pre-season Snowboard Workout


Hiya, I'm Alexa. Always on some sort of adventure! I'm excited to share my stories & introduce you to other rad women, also living the dream. I'm here to inspire you to do the same :-)


      • I just don’t understand what the movement is asking me to do. I get the flat back and arms 90 degrees as pictured, but then what?

        • So once you have a flat back against the wall/floor you move your hands “up” away from your ears slowly. Make sure your wrists and elbows maintain contact with the wall/floor. When you start to feel your lower back lift off the wall/floor ever so slightly you want to bring your arms back down to the 90 degree angle. Then repeat 15 reps. Does this help?

          • I suppose, it just feels really awkward. Thank you so much for your help. I really need to get in better shape. This post should be a great place to start.


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