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The Training Bible, Your Yearlong Guide To Climbing Success. Part 6: Endurance

For the sixth phase we’re returning to low-intensity endurance to top up our fitness levels for longer routes.


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The Building a Better Climber training-plan series has included, in case you missed them or need to skip back for a refresher, the following phases:

Phase one: general conditioning

Phase two: low-intensity endurance

Phase three: strength training

Phase four: power endurance

Phase five: strength/power

PHASE SIX: LOW-INTENSITY ENDURANCE TRAINING (6 weeks)

For the sixth phase we’re returning to low-intensity endurance to top up our fitness levels for longer routes. This phase will also give the body a chance to recover from the stresses of the previous strength/power and power-endurance phases. If you’re joining in for the first time, low-intensity endurance represents a great starting point for any training program, so there’s no need for any preparatory work.

Important: If you followed the training phase given last issue, then be sure to take a recovery week before commencing this phase. This modified week could involve one or two very easy climbing sessions (e.g.: warm up, then 2 or 3 routes, well below your limit).

OVERVIEW

NUMBER OF SESSIONS PER WEEK
    Beginner     Intermediate     Advanced/Elite
1. Low intensity endurance 2 3 3
2. Bouldering (intensity) 1 1 2
3. Conditioning and flexibility 1 1 1
4. Antagonists and core 1 1 2

 

SESSION-PLAN DETAILS

1. Low-Intensity Endurance

Three different structure options are given below. Do not attempt more than one in a single session. A good approach is to alternate between them.

a) Routes / Option  1: 4x4s: Warm up first: Pulse raiser, mobility exercises and easy climbing movement: 15 minutes. Select four different routes of the same grade that you can climb consecutively, “4-in-a-row.” See guidelines below for optimum wall angle. The grade will be at least three below your onsight grade for beginner/intermediates and, for advanced/elite, four below. Lower off and move to the next route as quickly (and safely) as possible. Do this four times with rests equal to climbing time. Increase the difficulty of the sessions slightly over time by making the first route a grade harder, then the second route and so on until all four routes are harder.

b) Routes / option 2: Up-down-ups: The aim is to climb up a route, then back down an easier route, then climb back up the first route. For beginner and intermediates, the grade of the up-climb will be at least two below your onsight grade and the down-climb will be three below. For advanced/elite, the grade of the up-climb will be at least three below your onsight grade and the down-climb will be four or five below. Do this a total of five times, with rest times equal to climbing time. Make the sessions slightly harder over time by increasing the first up-climb one grade, then the second up-climb, and finally the down-climb.

c) bouldering / option 3: Random climbing

Find an easy and quiet area of the bouldering wall. Warm-up first then climb around, selecting holds at random for five minutes. Go up, down and diagonally as well as traversing. Try linking color-coded problems together, provided they are easy enough. Aim for a moderate and continuous level of pump. If you over-cook it and get too flamed then find a resting position and work at recovering before continuing. If you have a training partner, you can take turns pointing each other around the wall using a stick, following the intervals given below.

> 5 mins on / 5 mins off

> 10 mins on / 10 mins off

> 15 mins on / 15 mins off

> 10 mins on / 10 mins off

> 5 mins on

Finish all low-intensity endurance sessions with sets of pull ups on a bar and straight-leg raises to failure. Beginners: 2 sets; intermediates: 3 sets; elites: 4 sets.

Advanced tip: Intermediates and elites should do four sets of deadhangs as part of the warmup (half-crimp grip, to failure, max hang time 10 seconds). After three or four easy traverses or warm-up routes, do three or four boulder problems to recruit strength, then perform the deadhangs before commencing the low-intensity endurance session. The dead hangs will maintain finger strength during the phase.

Warm down with easy movement and stretches. Eat a protein- and carb-based snack within 30 minutes of training.

2. Boulder Sessions (Intensity)

Time: 2½ hours

Warm up: Pulse raiser, mobility exercises and easy climbing movement: 15 minutes

Progression of boulder problems: 45 minutes

Project bouldering: 2 hours

Intermediates/Elites: Try three different projects that you expect will take a minimum of two or three sessions to complete. Each individual move should take between two and five tries on the first attempt. All three problems should be overhanging but each should emphasize a different style and/or angle; e.g., slopey/pinchy holds, crimpy/positive holds, gentle overhang/severe overhang. Spend 30 minutes on each project and take a 15-minute break between each one.

Beginners: Try five boulder problems that you expect to complete three or four tries. Don’t spend any longer than 15 minutes on a given problem before moving on. Rest 15 minutes after every 30 minutes of climbing.

Intermediates/Elites: Try three or four different projects over the course of two hours. All problems should be overhanging but each should emphasize a different style of hold and/or angle. Take a 15-minute break between each problem. Intermediates and elites should finish with offset pull-ups or weighted pull-ups and front levers (see previous phase for more info) but not finger exercises. Beginners should not do this.

Warm down: with easy movement and stretches. Eat a protein- and carb-based snack within 30 minutes of training.

3. Conditioning and Flexibility

a) Run (20 – 30 minutes) – include three or four intervals.

b) Conditioning Circuit (10 minutes) – Burpees or rope skipping, e.g.; one minute on /1 minute off x 5.

c) Flexibility (15 minutes) – hold stretches for 20 seconds, twice each.

For more information about these exercises, see Phase One: Conditioning

4. Antagonists and Core

Antagonists: Do three sets of 20 reps of the following exercises, with two minutes rest between sets. Only go to failure
on last set.

a) Push-ups (kneeling if required).

b) Reverse wrist curls.

c) Finger extensions (with rubber band).

Core

a) Extreme Plank – 10 reps x three sets with two-minute rest.

b) Iron cross – 10 reps x three sets with two-minute rest. Do an extra rep each session.

c) Leg paddles–50 reps x three with two minutes rest. Do an extra five reps each session.

For more information, see Phase one: Conditioning

 

YOUR INDEX FOR THE COMPLETE YEAR-LONG TRAINING SERIES BY COACH NEIL GRESHAM

Phase One: General Conditioning

Phase Two: Low-Intensity Endurance

Phase Three: Strength Training

Phase Four: Power Endurance

Phase Five: Strength/Power

Phase Six: Endurance

Phase Seven: Power Endurance

Phase Eight: Peaking


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Neil Gresham has been training climbers since 1993. Check out his training website climbingmasterclass.com.