NOLS: Ditch the Gym With the 30-Minute Denali Workout

NOLS is training the Expedition Denali team for their 2013 attempt to summit Denali. With the help of Climb Strong, we’ve set up a rigorous fitness regimen that will whip the team into shape. They’ve already established a base level of fitness and have started building it up with a simple 30-minute metabolic workout.

Follow the team with this simple workout that you can do on your back porch.

Before you start, make sure you know how to do these exercises. If you don’t know how to do these exercises, check out the videos available at

Start by warming up for ten minutes. Jog, stretch, increase your mobility by doing some lunges and shoulder stretches (spin your arms like windmills). Whatever it takes.

Now do the following exercises (1 minute each with 1 minute rest between rounds). The goal is to maintain form and be able to complete each exercise. If you’re breathing so hard you can’t continue, take five deep breaths and keep moving. If you can’t do any of these exercises due to injuries or other limitations on your mobility, modify the exercise accordingly.

Round #1
• Run in Place
• Prisoner Squats
• Off-Set Pushups (switch every 5 reps)
• Total Body Extension
• Reverse Lunges
[1 minute rest]

Round #2
• Vertical Jumps
• Incline Pushup (or knee push-up)
• Prisoner Squat
• Mountain Climber
• Prisoner Lunge
[1 minute rest]

Round #3
• Burpee
• Prisoner Lunge
• Side to Side Jump
• Spiderman Climb
• Prisoner Squat
[1 minute rest]

Round #4
• Jumping Jacks
• Run in Place
• Total Body Extension
• Close-Grip Pushups
• Side to Side Jumps
[1 minute rest]

Round #5
• Total Body Extensions
• Pushup
• Prisoner Lunge
• Mountain Climber
• Jumping Jacks

Need some inspiration? Watch team member Morgan Dixon’s high school students doing the workout!


  1. Emily woollard
    United Kingdom
    June 1, 2012, 2:27 pm

    You want to try this….

  2. Benjamin
    June 4, 2012, 4:25 am

    Great. The kind of workout I would like. I had mechanical workout.

    btw: never knew all these workouts have names 🙂

  3. Swifty
    Loganton, PA
    June 4, 2012, 12:30 pm

    How often should we be doing this workout? A couple times a week? Just curious, I am following along to get ready for a trip as a medical volunteer with First Descents rock climbing. Thanks

  4. Aparna
    June 4, 2012, 12:36 pm

    @Swifty, this is a great metabolic workout to do when you don’t have more than half an hour to spend. Ideally, you would intersperse this with sport-specific training. The Denali Team is being urged to work out 3-5 days a week, but the 30-minute metabolic is only one component. Stay tuned for a blog about the next phase!

  5. James Edward Mills
    Madison, WI
    June 4, 2012, 12:48 pm

    I want to believe I’m a bit fitter today since that video was shot. I look like hell then but I feel fabulous now. Way to go team!

  6. Mitch
    United States
    January 28, 2013, 2:12 pm

    Interval training is definitely a great way to building strength and creating a leaner body. My buddy Craig Ballantyne put together a routine pretty similar to this a while back…it’s good stuff.

  7. […] to find another alternative to the gym? Here’s a workout posted by National Geographic’s Beyond the Edge blog.NOLS: Ditch the Gym With the 30-Minute Denali […]