A month ago I got back from my Peru expedition and since then I’ve had time to reflect on the trip and the training program I used to prepare Jim, Stephen (two Peak Condition athletes) and myself.

High camp (17,000 ft) on Artesonraju.

The trip as a whole was amazing and I’d sign-up do it again in a heartbeat. Time outdoors with friends will always be at the top of my preferred activities list. Doing it in Peru with stunning mountain views was just an incredible bonus.

Peru gave me a very specific training goal, the physical capacity to climb 4000 vertical feet with a 30lb pack at 16,000 – 20,000 feet of elevation. The specificity of my goal made it easy to prioritize my training.

Prioritization is key for success of any kind, not just training. I think most of us would rather binge watch Netflix than batch cook for the week. However, eating healthy is much easier when you prioritize cooking over streaming Narcos. Setting priorities are essential for getting your most important tasks/activities done because time keeps on slippin slippin slippin into the future….

Yes, that was a Steve Miller Band reference.

My training was spot on in preparing me to climb multiple mountains at elevation but would have been atrocious in preparing me for a powerlifting meet. Having a well-defined goal makes prioritization and consequently success possible.

When it comes to high levels of fitness, sacrifices are always part of the process. I am not just talking about the personal sacrifice of your time, but the choice to develop one quality at the expense of another. Take a cyclist and powerlifter, for example. A cyclist is sacrificing upper body strength for extremely high levels of muscular endurance. A powerlifter is sacrificing cardiovascular fitness for muscular strength.

I am not saying you can’t be fit in many qualities of fitness at once. The problem is time. If you want to develop competing systems you need adequate training and recovery time. 

For example, over the 8 months of Peru prep, I averaged 7.4 hours of training each week. That doesn’t include the hours of driving to hiking/running locations. At this point in my life, I wasn’t willing to give more time for training and I am sure my wife and daughter shared the feeling.

Due to my time constraints, the last 2 months of my Peru prep strength training program was very lopsided. My total Step-up and Split Squat volume was 4,603 reps and my total Chest Pressing volume was zero.

Needless to say, my chest pressing ability is abysmal and will be for some time. I sacrificed upper body pushing for upper body pulling and leg strength and endurance. I viewed this trade-off of fitness as acceptable because it prepared me for Peru and my defined goal.

Plus I did my first 1xArm Pull-up and had legs that felt incredible on the mountains.

My success in the mountains was possible because I sacrificed other fitness qualities or movements and prioritized my training around what would be most beneficial for my goal, summiting Artesonraju.

Successful training is built around a well-defined goal, giving you the ability to prioritize. If you change your goal every other month your fitness will not progress.

As Dan John says “the goal is to keep the goal, the goal.” But before you can keep a goal you need to set one.

If you have a specific training goal have you prioritized your training to maximize your chance of success?

Set your goal and then do everything you can to prioritize it, because ambitious goals require sacrifice.