• Building a Better Climber: Part 5
  • The Training Effect: Methods by Steve House
  • Building a Better Climber: Part 4
  • Building a Better Climber: Part 3
  • Building a Better Climber: Part 2
  • Building a Better Climber: Part 1
  • Catch of the Day
  • The Unnatural Way to Climb
  • Too Hard for a Caveman
  • Never Get Pumped Again
  • Should You Add Weight or Use Smaller Holds on a Hangboard
  • Injured? Train Your Core!
  • Cheap Tricks
  • How to Mentally Train
  • How to Power Train for Climbing
  • Boost Power With Eccentric Training
  • Tips for Better Onsighting
  • Should You Lose Weight or Get Stronger?
  • Does Running or Biking Improve Your Climbing?
  • Is Protein Important?
  • Getting Strong After a Layoff
  • Training While Hungry
  • HowTo Use Microcycles
  • Improving Slab Technique
  • How to Unlock a Crux
  • Best Ratio of Resting to Bouldering
  • Training During Pregnancy
  • Using Your Hangboard the Right Way
  • Maximizing a Small Home Wall
  • How to Stay Psyched
  • How to Prevent Bonking
  • Using a Weight Belt For Training
  • Regaining Confidence After a Fall
  • Dynamic vs. Static Stretching
  • Overcome Anxiety and Send!
  • The Importance of Finger Strength
  • Do Forearm Trainers Work?
  • Maximum Training in Minimum Time
  • Dialing in Crampon Technique
  • Ultimate Strength
  • Periodized Training For the Year-round Approach
  • The Secrets of Warming Up
  • Beat the Ice-Climbing Pump
  • Resting the Perfect Amount
  • How To Recover On Route
  • Does Creatine Work?
  • Can Old Guys Get Stronger?
  • Recovery Supplement Truths
  • Euro Training Secrets
  • How to Beat Fear
  • How Often Should You Rest?
  • Training With an Injury
  • Avoiding the Gear-Placement Pump
  • How to Develop Sloper Strength
  • Warming Up Without Warm-Ups
  • Beating the Lactic Acid Pump
  • Video Spotlight
    Maxin Rope Review
    Maxin Rope Review

    Building a Better Climber: Part 2


    Lydia McDonald getting some mileage out of <em>Mr. Fantasy</em> (5.11c), New River Gorge, West Virginia. Photo by Chris NobleWelcome to the Rock and Ice year-long training plan. If you followed part one, outlined in No. 208, then you’ll be feeling fit and ready to move on to the next phase. You have laid down a base of general strength and fitness, and the next stage will move on to sport-specific endurance.


    [ 6 weeks ]

    For climbers this means focusing on high-volume, low-intensity training. In this phase you’ll start racking up routes in multiple sets and going for the burn. You must also keep up your bouldering sessions, at least one a week, but prioritize mileage rather than working projects. 

    For best results, add a personalized touch by adapting the plan to your goals or weaknesses; for example, by focusing more on specific types of holds or angles, but the overall effect will still be powerful even if you do exactly what’s set out here. 

    Be sure to warm-up and cool down, as well as to listen to your body and adjust the workload if you are not recovering.

    Weekly Microcycles 

    Select the appropriate weekly plan for your level. If you are required to train on two consecutive days, boulder on day 1 and do endurance on day 2.  It’s up to you how to fit the sessions into your weekly schedule. The numbers below indicate days per week.




    1. Low-intensity endurance




    2. Bouldering - volume




    3. Conditioning and flexibility     




    4. Antagonists and core  





    1. Low-intensity Endurance

    Two different structure options are given both for the lead wall and the bouldering wall. Do not attempt more than one in each session, and the best approach is to alternate between the two.

    a) Routes / Option 1 

    [ 5x3s ]

    Warm-up first. Select 3 different routes of the same grade that you can climb consecutively, “3 in a row.” See guidelines below for optimum wall angle.
    Note that the grade will be at least 2 or 3 below your onsight grade for beginner/intermediates and 4 below onsight grade for advanced/elite.
    Lower off and make the transition to the next route as quickly (and safely) as possible.
    Climbing 3 routes in a row equals one set. Do 5 sets with rests equal to climbing time.
    Aim to make subsequent sessions slightly harder by bumping up the grade of the three routes by one letter.

    b) Routes / Option 2

    [ Up-down-ups ]

    The aim is to climb up a route, then back down a route (usually approximately 2 grades easier), and then back up the first route. For beginners and intermediates, the grade of the up-climb should be at least 2 below your onsight grade and the down-climb will be 3 below. For advanced/elite, the grade of the up-climb will be at least 3 below your onsight grade and the down-climb will be 5 below. Do this a total of 5 times, with rest times equal to climbing time. Aim to make subsequent sessions slightly harder using the following target sequence: 1. Make the up-climb a letter grade harder, 2. Make the down-climb a letter grade harder.

    c) Low-intensity endurance on the bouldering wall 

    [ Random climbing ]

    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 together, provided they are easy enough. Aim for a moderate and continuous level of pump. If you get too pumped, find a resting position and work at recovering before continuing. If you have a training partner, take turns pointing each other around the wall using a stick.

    [ 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 ]

    >Optimum wall angle for low-intensity endurance training

    [ Beginner / Low intermediate ] 


    [ Intermediate ] 

    5 - 10 degrees overhanging

    [ Advanced ] 

    10 - 20 degrees overhanging

    [ Elite ] 20 - 30 degrees overhanging

    >Finish all endurance sessions with sets of pull-ups and straight-leg raises to failure. 

    [ Beginners ] 2 sets

    [ Intermediates ] 3 sets

    [ Elites ] 5 sets 


    2. Bouldering - Volume

    Climb the problems in pyramid formation. The hardest problem, at the top of the pyramid, should take 3 or 4 tries. Rest 1 minute between problems at the first two grade levels. Rest 2 mins between problems at the third and fourth levels. Rest 3 to 4 mins between problems at the highest grade level.  Aim to do 1 more problem at the highest or second-highest grade level with each session.

    [ Beginner / Low intermediate ]

    V0 x 4; V1 x 3;  V2 x 3; V3 x 1; V2 x 3; V1 x 3 

    [ Intermediate ]

    V0 x 4; V1 x 3; V2 x 2; V3 x 2; V4 x 2; V5 x 1; V4 x 2; V3 x 2

    [ Advanced ]

    V1 x 4; V2 x 3; V3 x 2; V4 x 2; V5 x 2; V6 x 1; V5 x 2; V4 x 2; V3 x 2; V2 x 2

    [ Elite ] 

    V2 x 3; V3 x 3; V4 x 2; V5 x 2; V6 x 2; V7 x 2;  V8 x 1; V7 x 2; V6 x 2; V5 x 2; V4 x 2; V3 x 2

    3. Conditioning & flexibility

    This session remains the same. See No. 208 or go to Training on rockandice.com for the article and videos of conditioning exercises and stretches.

    a) Run (30 mins)—include 3 or 4 intervals.

    b) Conditioning circuit (10 mins)—Burpees or rope skipping e.g. [ 1 min on /1 min off ] x 5

    c) Flexibility (15 mins)—hold stretches for 20 secs, twice each.

    4. Antagonists & Core

    This session remains the same. See No. 208 or go to Training on rockandice.com for the article and videos of antagonists and core exercises.

    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

    (As extreme plank but spread arms/legs wide).

    10 reps x 3 sets with 2 minutes rest.

    Do an extra rep each session.

    3. Leg paddles

    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.

    50 reps x 3 with 2 mins. rest.

    Do 5 additional reps each session.

    [ ABOUT THE author ]

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

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