Mike and Matt Moniz will spend the next two months undertaking the most ambitious Himalayan expedition of 2014: First they will summit three 8,000-meter peaks – Cho Oyu, Everest, and Lhotse – then ski down, bagging the first-ever ski descent of the Lhotse Couloir.
While the father-and-son team has spent years preparing for the expedition, climbing notable peaks like Denali (20,237 feet) and Aconcagua (22,841 feet), and ski mountaineering at 12,000 feet in Colorado where they live, their training kicked into high gear last June. A couple days before they left for the Himalayas, Mike and Matt shared their regime with Men’s Journal.
In the summer and fall, the Moniz's built their cardio base by mountain biking. Come winter, they drive 1.5 hours from their home in Boulder, Colo. to Berthoud Pass, a popular backcountry skiing area. They spend three to five hours on the mountain, skinning up to 12,000 feet, traversing at high altitude, and skiing back down.
“The hours we put in at Berthoud Pass are what pay off the most,” says Matt, the younger half of the duo. Because Matt is in high school, the Moniz's are restricted to weekends on the mountain, and fill in the rest with sessions on an elliptical machine.
Mike considers it critical to vary their intensity, whether on the mountain or the elliptical. “At the most fundamental level, what we’re trying to impact is mitochondrial biogenesis; we’re trying to increase our ability to process oxygen and do it more efficiently,” says Mike. “Long endurance training has proven to do that, as well as high intensity interval training. We attack it from both angles.”
Matt and Mike also weight train four days a week, with the intention of bulking up. While it seems counter-intuitive to want to add mass to climb up mountains, Matt explains that the rules change at extreme altitude: “You go into a catabolic state, and it’s too hard for your body to burn fat as energy, so it burns muscle instead.” Gaining five pounds of muscle mass is a preventative measure for both of them to stay energized for the duration of their time in the Himalayas.
While the Moniz’s have Hammer Strength equipment at home for bench-press, rows, and squats, they are both advocates of using kettlebells. “They do everything,” says Mike. “It’s like cardio and weight training all at once, with the added benefit of core stabilization.”
Mike and Matt’s Kettlebell Circuit:
2 minutes goblet squats, 1 minute rest
2 minutes kettlebell swings, 1 minute rest
2 minutes push-ups while balancing on the kettlebells, 1 minute rest