|The double sided horse-shoe shaped canyon holds thousands of pitches and starts a 5 min walk from our apartment.|
I have been training for climbing in varying consistency for about the last 8 years, (but more so for the last five years coinciding with my wife's first pregnancy and then the birth of my oldest daughter Ayla Jo). I feel like it took these five years for me to even learn how start to training effectively and efficiently. (Note: training for five years does not mean I got stronger! I began training in that crazy time in a new parent's life where they get real weak, discouraged from climbing, and some quit the sport. Performance climbing is a demanding sport even more so as you get older and as even more so once you have kids. Until about the last year I simply was able to maintain my climbing performance through the thick and thin times of parenthood. Often I was banging my head against the hangboard for weeks at a time only to get thwarted in any type of performance phase by sick kids, limited time, limited sleep, weather, poor programming, not enough time on the rock, etc. At times it was really discouraging! But I kept my head up (and down on the training grindstone) knowing that simply trying to maintain at any level was important and that life would get easier and I would eventually make some gains. Finally, that time is starting to come.).
|Sparkly shoe repeater sets.|
The biggest game changer for me in my training for climbing was building my own home gym last December (the L-Town Climbing Dojo) complete with Moonboard, Vertical warm-up/ARCing wall, Campus board, Hangboards, Gymnastic Rings, and Rock Rings. The ability to get a work-out in at home, while my girls are napping, after they've gone to sleep, before they get up or I go to work, after work, or simply with them has been paramount for me to continue to progress in climbing with my full time job, family life, and non-profit volunteering. It's dusty, dirty, cramped (eveyone blasts their head into the campus board at some point), floods during big rain and snowmelt, leaks, gets hot, gets cold... I fucking love it!
|Matty Van Biene introducing my girls to the darkside|
|The Main Event: modified Moonboard with supplementary jugs|
|ARC Wall on the L with screw on jibs/holds|
|Do u even Campus bro?|
|Hangboard zone with pulley eyebolts, gymnastic rings, rock rings (for weighted pull-ups).|
|Kid Wall (we build crushers here)|
|Mark Anderson taking down his hardest redpoint to date: Shadowboxing, 14d. These guys are super inspiring bone-crushing dads with full time jobs.|
I recommend reading their book, following their programs and checking out their website.
This fall I am following a Conjugate Periodized Energy Systems training program based off of UK sport-climber Alex Barrows online training PDF "Training for Sport Climbing." Alex is a prodigy of Brit Tom Randall, who I feel is perhaps at the forefront of climbing training when it comes to data analysis, strength/weakness deficiency evaluation, and energy system conjugate periodization. Already I've had great results with this program and I gotta say, I think these Brits are really on to something.
What I like about it compared to the Anderson's Brother's*:
- More movement, less hangboarding. I am clearly still working on my 10,000 hours of practice for the sport and putting hard movement aside for 4-8 weeks at a time during the ARCing and Hangboarding phases just doesn't seem efficient or appropriate for an intermediate climber.
- I did not like that I would get strong on the hangboard or powerful during my bouldering phases and then put these aside for weeks to months revisiting them only during the next cycle. These power and strength gains are hard-earned and should at least be maintained at all times. Likewise, endurance gains made during the power endurance and performance phases are also not maintained for weeks to months until the next cycle. The conjugate periodized program focus's on one to two climbing facets but at the same time maintains others.
- It focus's on strength and power throughout all facets of the program which I agree is the most important trainable skill/trait for rock climbing.
- The conjugate style or periodization differs from the Anderson Brothers in the ability to maintain a somehwhat high level of performance for longer or more frequent periods of time during the cycle of throughout the year (though perhaps at the costs of a less highly peaked performance period). The higher the peak the greater the valley.
- Enduro 40m limestone pitches are about as far out of my granite crimping forte as it gets. I know I will need "fitness" like never before and I think these guy's approach it in a very systematic and trainable manner (not that the Anderson' brothers didn't). The Anderson Brothers main form of high-end endurance training is the linked bouldering circuit which is super effective and very sport specific. This new program includes that exercise but also adds in a few others for variety and undulation in training (which I think is important).
I recommend that everyone interested in this stuff read Alex's full PDF that is linked below. For me to adapt to this new training system I needed to condense the information in the PDF to something I could more easily digest and reference while training. So I basically reduced the information to a more concise form (and added in information on strength training and new protocols for training Aerobic Capacity that I've gleaned from various resources, and also changed up the programming a bit for my levels of volume). I have a number of friends who wanted this information so I figured I'd simply share it in a blog post for the world to see. Sorry for the plagarization Alex and Tom (message me if you want me to take this blog post down)!
Five Climbing Energy Systems
Increasing Capacity of a energy system:
Expanding the size of the tank and the size of the input pipe.
Increasing Power of an energy system:
Increasing the size of the output pipe.
We need to build a big tank and to be able to keep filling it quickly as we draw from it, but we also need a good output to actually do high levels of work whilst you’re climbing. Without the capacity you’ll quickly drain your tank, but without the power you won’t be able to put out the maximum possible energy and make good use of the capacity you’ve got.
· Limit Bouldering (Moonboarding, Bouldering Outside)
· Campusing (Ladders, Bumps, Max Moves, and Double Clutches)
· Hangboarding (Max Hangs and Repeaters)
Core (More on that in a future blogpost)
Core (More on that in a future blogpost)
This is your capacity to do work with your aerobic energy system. Increasing
your aerobic capacity will increase the level at which you can climb before you start to get pumped, and allow you to both recover quicker at good rests and get more out of marginal rests.
Importance: long stamina pitches, onsighting, recovery between sessions.
· Low Intensity, High Volume.
· Bottom end: ARCing.
· Top end: 1 min on 1 min off
· Work Period: 9 to 40 min.
· Rest Period: 0 to 10 min.
***Do not reach terminal pump!
· ARC: ideally done on routes but can be done on traversing bouldering walls. 20-40 min on the wall. 10 min warm down
· General Climbing (x-on,x-off): 10-on/10-off x4.
· Speed Top Roping: 10-on/10-off, no chalking, no shaking, lower off as quick as possible and restart.
· Route 4x4’s: Lead a route, lower off, pull rope, lead three more times.
· Foot-on-Campusing: 10mins shaking as needed.
Minutes on, minutes off: 3 mins on, 1 min off x 3-4. 1min on, 1 min off x 10+.
Anaerobic capacity refers to your capacity to do work with your anaerobic lactic energy system, i.e. you can climb harder for longer on the hard sustained sections of your routes. Training this energy system helps you to be strong on a whole 10-15 move sequence on your route, rather than just the individual moves of the sequence.
Aim is to get hideously powered out, rather then pumped.
Importance: hard sections between ok rests, sting-in-the-tail finishes, power-sapping starting cruxes.
*** Increasing your anaerobic capacity thus increases your ability to produce lactate, meaning that it is essential to do sufficient aerobic capacity work whilst working on this energy system (and aerobic power work afterwards), or your body won’t be able to cope with this new ability and you’ll quickly find yourself very, very pumped. This is a rare example of ‘more is not always better’ – a high anaerobic capacity with the aerobic components underdeveloped will lead to really bad performance on routes.
· Work Period: 12-15 moves, 30-40s, 8-12 reps.
· Rest Period: Long (2-4x work period)
Exercises: ***This energy system responds best to increasing the difficulty or length of the circuit vs reducing the rest times used.
· Long Boulders (The Standard): 12-15 move boulder problems.
o 30-50s climb time with rest time of 2-4x climb time.
o Longer rest = harder circuits. 12-move circuit with rests of 4x climb time more cross over to strength work, 15-move circuit with rest times of 2x climb time more cross over towards An Pow/Aero Pow.
o 8-10 reps, or split into sets of 3-5 reps if you want more volume or to use a harder circuit (3 sets of 4 reps with 10-20min rests between sets).
o Aim to have an intensity and rest time which leads to failure on around 25% of the reps preformed.
· Campus Board: Ladder up and down to create circuit of 15-20 moves.
o Can progressively increase difficulty by adding single harder move or smaller rung each sesh.
· Handboard Repeaters: various protocols out there, i've been using: 6s on 3s off x6, fail on 6th rep.
The endurance end of ‘power endurance’ training; arm shattering pumped out of your mind. Maximizing the proportion of your aerobic capacity which you can output during a route, i.e. once you’ve developed your ability to produce energy with the aerobic system, now we need to ensure we can exploit that to its full extent, for a time period long enough to get us to the chains.
Importance: Sport routes near your limit.
· Climbing should be sustained and homogenous vs cruxy and technical.
· Responds best to reducing rest times except in climbing circuits where it’s more important to vary the circuit.
· Work Period: 30 moves, 45-120s, blocks of 8 reps/multiple blocks 4 reps.
· Rest Period: Short (equal to work period)
· Circuits: 30 moves and should not include any shake outs.
o Rest time 1-2x climb time.
o Can vary rep volume for different effects.
§ 8 rep circuit failing rep 7 or 8 = high intensity
§ 6 sets of 4 reps w/10-20 min rest between sets = high volume.
· On-the-Minute: 6-8 move boulder problem starting on each minute. Equals 20 seconds climbing and 40 seconds rest.
o 8 reps per set. # of sets depends on the volume you want from the session and the intensity of the problem used.
· 4x4’s: Climb 4 boulder problems in a row with no rest.
o 1-3 min rest between sets. 4 sets.
o This can also be done with more reps (4 bldrs x8) or can be done as multiple blocks of 4x4 to create a high volume session.
· Foot-on-Campusing: Try picking a sequence which takes around 1 minute to complete.
o Rest time of 1-2x the work time initially, aiming to reduce it slightly between sessions.
o 8 rep set, failing on the last couple reps.
o Perfect way to finish after doing some other aero pow work.
The power end of ‘power endurance’: that instant when power fades where suddenly you can’t pull any more. Maximising the percentage of your anaerobic capacity which you can use over the course of a route or sequence.
Importance: very short, intense routes or long boulder problem traverses.
· Can be done at the end of a short bouldering sesh before aerobic power or aero cap.
· You’re aiming to be working at max intensity and getting totally powered out rather than pumped.
· Work Period: 5-7 moves, 4 reps/set.
· Rest Period: Very Short, less then or = to work. 10min rests between sets.
· Boulders with Short Rests: 5-7 move bouder problems x4, with a very short rest time less than or equal to climb time in between bldrs.
o 10 minutes in-between sets, 4 sets minimum.
o Reduce rest between reps until you can do the 4 boulders with no rests.
· Circuits : ~25 moves, broken into 3 or 4 sections to act as the boulders in the exercises above, with the end goal then being to redpoint the circuit fully. Or simply redpointing a circuit at your limit in the 20-30 move range.
o If you fall, pull back on and try to complete the circuit.
o Gradually add moves to the circuit or increase the difficulty of the moves in order to make the exercises harder
Base Training Period: During this phase the focus is on strength work and the capacities: An Cap and Aero Cap.An Pow or Aero Pow work is for maintenance only.
Peak Training Period: Focus shifts towards the powers: An Pow and Aero Pow. Strength work is maintained, and modified to have increased emphasis on explosive power and hard, high quality efforts to ensure recruitment is high. Towards the end of this phase, as the trip/goal approaches, it’s worthwhile spending some time combining the energy systems by replicating more closely the
structure of your objectives.
Lower volume, higher intensity. Quality efforts.
Taper: Two weeks reaching 50% reduced volume but high/harder intensity. Drop all An Cap, Aero Cap, ARC training. All training should be strength/power, An Power, Aero Power. Circuits training multiple systems replicating your objectives.
Training Order in a Session: Bouldering-> An Cap/An Power -> Aero Pow -> Aero Cap -> ARC
· Training/climbing 3-5 days/week: 3 days of hard energy work (An Cap, An Pow, Aero Pow).
· When focusing on An Cap: 2 sessions a week are enough and must be matched with enough corresponding Aero Cap.
· Aerobic Power: 2 days a week is enough.
· Focus: Strength, Anerobic Capacity
· Moderate: Aerobic Capacity
· Maintain: Aeroboic Power, Anaerobic Power
· Weekly Training Goals:
· 4x strength
· 2x An Cap
· 0.5x Aero Pow/An Pow
· Aero Cap/ARC end of some sessions
· Focus: Strength, Anerobic Capacity, Aerobic Capacity.
· Maintain: Aerobic Power, Anaerbic Power.
· Weekly Training Goals:
· 4x strength
· 2x An Cap
· 2x Aero Cap
· 0.5x Aero Pow/An Pow
· Focus: Strength, Aerobic Power
· Moderate: Anaerobic Capacity, Anaerobic Power, Aerobic Capacity.
· Maintain: Aerobic Capcity/ARC
· 3x strength
· 1x An Cap
· 1.5 x Aero Pow
· 0.5x An Pow
· Aero Cap/ARC low volume end of sessions.
· Focus: Strength, Aerobic Power
· Moderate: Anaerobic Power
Maintain: Aerobic Capacity/ARC
· 3x strength, explosive bouldering and campusing
· 2x Aero Pow
· 1x An Pow
· Aero Cap dropped or done very little, ARC only as warm-down
- Alex Barrows "Training for Sport Climbing PDF
- Alex Barrows Blog
- Alex Barrows Training Beta Podcast
- Lattice Training - Tom Randall's Website
- Tom Randall Blog
- Tom Randall Training Beta Podcast
- Rock Climbers Training Manual - Anderson Brothers
- Anderson Brothers Training Beta Podcast
- Anderson Brothers Training Beta Revisited
And in case any of yourare too lazy to motivate to train, i'm gonna let CT get on ya: