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The Training Bible: A Complete Full Year Program. Phase 1: Conditioning

Welcome to CLIMBING's 12-month training plan. This eight-phase series will present specific workouts based on the principles of periodization, a proven approach to training that results in peak performance. Each six-week segment will build upon the previous with the end result being a better, stronger climbing machine—you. Now, get started!


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Welcome to Climbing’s yearlong training plan. This complete eight-phase training series will coach you through specific workouts based on  periodization, a proven approach to training that results in peak climbing performance on the rock and in the gym. Each six-week segment will build upon the previous with the end result being a better, stronger climbing machine—you.

Most training articles give you the theory but then leave the hard part—i.e. actually laying out and following a structured, day-to-day plan—up to you. Not this time. Our plan, which works for climbers of all levels, gives you a drill-by-drill outline of every session. It begins with a six-week Conditioning block, which is followed by Low-Intensity Endurance, Strength Training, Power Endurance, Strength/Power, Endurance, Power Endurance, and Peaking.

One note: throughout this year of training, you should try to climb outside as much as possible. For best results, tie your crag sessions in with the program. For example, during the Power Endurance phase, do boulder intervals and hard onsights or redpoints. On Strength days, simply boulder or work a hard project. If you go away on a major climbing trip (for longer than five days), you should take at least three full rest days before and after the trip before resuming training.

CLIMBING TRAINING PLAN PHASE ONE: GENERAL CONDITIONING (6 weeks)

Before you can safely tackle the high training loads recommended in later stages of this plan, you must first develop a good base of fitness. Skip this step and you will risk burning out later in the program. The first few weeks of conditioning target general fitness, and the amount of climbing gradually increases as the phase progresses. These four main work-outs target different areas of fitness. It’s up to you to choose what days during the week you perform these exercises.

Weekly Microcycle Calendar:

Weeks 1 & 2

    1. Aerobic / anaerobic conditioning & flexibility: [ x 4 per week ]

    2. Low-intensity endurance:[ x 1 per week ]

    3. Bouldering – volume / easy problems: [ x 1 per week ]

    4. Antagonists & core: [ x 3 per week ]

Weeks 3 & 4

    1. Aerobic / anaerobic conditioning & flexibility: [ x 4 per week ]

    2. Low-intensity endurance: [ x 2 per week ]

    3. Bouldering – volume / easy problems: [ x 1 per week ]

    4. Antagonists & core: [ x 3 per week ]

Weeks 5 & 6

    1. Aerobic / anaerobic conditioning & flexibility: [ x 3 per week ]

    2. Low-intensity endurance: [ x 3 per week ]

    3. Bouldering – volume / easy problems: [ x 1 per week ]

    4. Antagonists & core: [ x 3 per week ]

SESSION-PLAN DETAILS

1. Aerobic / Anaerobic Conditioning & Flexibility

a) Run [ 30 minutes ]

Running is preferable to cycling in order to avoid bulking up the leg muscles. Go at a slow steady pace to warm-up for the first 5 minutes. Then do 5 intervals of 1 minute on at 90 to 95 percent effort followed by 1 minute slow jog to recover. Then run at a steady pace to finish. Each session make the intervals 10 seconds longer, until eventually you are doing 2 minutes on / 1 minute off x 5, then 5 minutes to warm down.

b) Burpee [ 10 minutes ] x 8 (on 1st session). 1 minute rest. Repeat x 4.

Do 1 more rep per set each session (i.e., by session 10 you’ll be doing 18 reps per set).

c) Flexibility [ 15 minutes ]

Hold stretches for 20 seconds, release for 10 seconds, then repeat again for 20 seconds.

1. Hamstrings

2. Thigh / quadriceps

3. Calf

4. Groin

5. Lats

6. Shoulders

7. Chest

8. Forearms (flexors & extensors)

2. Low-Intensity Endurance

You have two options: one for the bouldering wall and one for the lead wall. Don’t do both in one session! Warm up first.

a) Routes: 4 x 4s

Select four different routes of the same grade that you can climb consecutively. The grades should be at least two notches below your onsight grade for beginner/intermediates and four below for advanced/elite. Lower off and move to the next route as quickly as possible. Do this four times with rests equal to climbing time. Pick wall angles based on abilities:

Beginner / Low Intermediate: Vertical

Intermediate: 5- to 10-degrees overhanging

Advanced: 10- to 20-degrees overhanging

Elite: 20- to 30-degrees overhanging

b) Bouldering Wall: Random climbing [ 10 minutes on, 10 minutes off x 4 ]

If you don’t have a belayer, find an easy and quiet area of the bouldering wall. Warm up first then climb around, selecting holds at random for 10 minutes. Go up, down and diagonally as well as traversing. Try linking color-coded problems, provided they are easy enough. Aim for a moderate and continuous level of pump. If you get too pumped, then find a resting position and work at recovering before continuing.

Remember that injuries can still strike at any time, so it’s vital to warm up and cool down, as well as to listen to your body and adjust the workload if you’re not recovering.

You don’t need to be a slave to the plan. It’s fine to swap sessions around and substitute training indoors with climbing outside at any opportunity.

3. Bouldering [ Volume / Easy Problems ]

Climb problems in ascending/descending grade order. Rest 1 minute between problems at first two levels. Rest 2 minutes between harder grades. Aim to do one more problem at each grade with each session.

[ Beginner / Low intermediate ] 5 x V0;  5 x V1;  5 x V2;  5
x V1;  5 x VO

[ Intermediate ] 4 x V0; 4 x V1; 4 x V2;  4 x V3; 4 x V4; 4 x V3 ;4 x V2;
4 x V1

[ Advanced ] 4 x V1; 4 x V2; 4 x V3; 4 x V4;  4 x V5; 4 x V4; 4 x V3; 4
x V2

[ Elite ] 3 x V2; 3 x V3; 3 x V4; 3 x V5; 3 x V6; 3 x V7; 3 x V6; 3 x V5;
3 x V4; 3 x V3; 3 x V2

4. Antagonists & Core

a) Antagonists

Do 3 sets of 20 reps of the following exercises with 2 minutes of rest between sets. Don’t go to failure (or, optional, go to failure on last set).

1. Push-ups (kneeling if required)

2. Reverse wrist curls [Use a weight that you can handle comfortably for 3 sets of 20 reps.] 

3. Finger extensions (with rubber band)

b) Core

1. Extreme plank [ 10 reps x 3 sets with 2 minutes rest ]

Do an extra rep each session.

2. Iron cross [ 10 reps x 3 sets with 2 minutes rest ] – A plank but spread arms/legs wide

Do an extra rep each session.

3. Leg paddles [ 50 reps x 3 with 2 minutes. rest ]

Lie on your back in a half sit-up position. Hands on temples, crunch-up to mid-way. Stretch legs out straight in front, hold feet just above the ground and paddle up and down.

Do 5 additional reps each session.

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.