Physical Fitness Training

When looking at training the Ice team, all 7 components of fitness (flexibility, endurance, skill, stamina, strength, speed and power) need to be addressed – not paying sufficient attention to even one of these components could lead to areas of weakness, imbalance and leave the team prone to injury.

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Physical Fitness Training gallery, photos of team and expedition.

Where possible the specific techniques/exercises need to mimic movements and tasks carried out on the ice. This not only ensures that the muscles and joints get used to the range of movement but it also aids mental preparation. Functional exercises will naturally start to develop coping mechanisms to overcome the tedious nature of the expedition.

Polar-specific exercises such as towing and hauling tyres over uneven ground, coupled with more conventional endurance training methods should ensure the team are in optimum mental and physical condition for departure in early February.

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Jon Stratford, a former Physical Training Instructor at the Royal Marines Commando Training Centre, Lympstone, is working as the personal trainer to Pen, Ann and Martin. With experience of Arctic Warfare training, Jon understands the conditions that the team will encounter, and personalises their regimes accordingly with specific-to-task exercises. The tough yet progressive nature of these sessions aims to incrementally develop the stamina and power required for a physical undertaking of this magnitude. Optimal performance requires a balance between cardiovascular endurance to drag sledges for over 100 days and core strength to haul the same sledges over jagged pressure ridges and broken terrain.

Complimenting his individually-tailored daily training programmes, Jon also monitors the team members’ progress during a variety of two-hour physical work-outs on a weekly basis. To minimise the potential for muscular injury, he stresses the necessity of a good warm-up and cool-down, as well as advocating the importance of timely calorie intake after training to replace expended energy, aid recovery and promote continued physiological development.

As Martin lives and works in London away from the rest of the Devon-based team, he cannot always attend Jon’s sessions. Therefore to provide the continuity and motivation that a personal trainer affords, Martin also uses the services of Dr Jenny Hewitt, who specialises in exercise physiology.

Physiological Assessments

Changes in the team’s fitness are monitored through a series of physiological assessments conducted by Dr Daryl Wilkerson of the School of Sport & Health Sciences at the University of Exeter.

Under controlled laboratory conditions, a series of tests are conducted to measure a range of physical attributes, including lactate threshold and VO2 max.

So far, the team have each undergone an initial assessment. They will also be re-tested to check for progress in Dec 08 and just prior to departure in Feb 09.

Likewise, the physiological impact of the expedition will be determined with a further laboratory visit immediately upon their return to the UK, with a later follow-up session to determine the body’s ability to recover from such a prolonged period of physical activity in such an extreme environment.

"Preparation" Blog Posts
Training for the Catlin Arctic Survey
Posted by Jon Stratford
As personal trainer to the ice team what was my main focus? Their physical preparation? Partly, and I’m sure that at times over recent weeks that they would rather be on their knees (literally!)...more
Thursday, 09th April 2009
Spring in our step
Posted by Pen Hadow
It’s hard to believe I’m feeling so much better because temperatures here have risen to -24 degrees C! By any standard that’s not exactly warm, but it feels like a new world compared to the -40!...more
Tuesday, 24th March 2009
No Go
Posted by Ian Wesley
Up at the crack of an Arctic dawn today. Today is the day that I'm going to see the ice team – or so I thought....more
Monday, 16th March 2009
Utterly bombproof
Posted by Pen Hadow
I once described Martin during a press conference as “utterly bombproof in a polar environment”, a remark that I stand by to this day. Not only does he capture the very essence of the moment in his images, be it action, emotion or event, he does so in the most inhospitable of conditions. Where others fade and head to warmer climates, Martin comes to the fore, delivering awe-inspiring images despite the bitter cold and cutting winds....more
Saturday, 14th March 2009
Posted by Simon Harris-Ward
At around 2200 local time, as Pen, Ann and Martin lay in their tent, they felt the ice vibrating dramatically underneath them and heard the all too familiar screeching sound of grating ice floes......more
Tuesday, 03rd March 2009

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