• Attack and Defend - Tips for Effective Resting
  • Change Up - Plug the Gaps In Your Strength Training This Winter
  • Training While Injured
  • The Hard Way, Easier: How to Cope with Redpoint Nerves
  • Climbing Literacy - Get Better Instantly by Reading Routes
  • The Numbers Game - How to Use Your Age to Your Advantage
  • Injury-Free Bouldering: 15 Tips to Keep You Healthy and Strong
  • Injury-Free Boarding: 14 Training Tips to Save Your Fingers
  • The Truth About Caffeine and Climbing
  • Pushing Past Your Training Plateau
  • Five Strategies to Sharpen Concentration and Climb Better
  • Five Ways to Get Better Without Training
  • Beat the Burnout: Only Ondra Should Train Like Ondra
  • Effective Gym Training Strategies (for Route Climbing)
  • Should You Add Weight or Use Smaller Holds on a Hangboard
  • Map Out a Plan with the Radar System
  • Managing the Fear of Falling
  • Projecting 101 – 6 Tips For Sending
  • Slowing the Pump Clock
  • Training on the Go
  • How to Train for Compression
  • Nutrition: Eating Your Way to Better Climbing
  • How to Dyno
  • General Conditioning for Climbers
  • Transitioning from Gym to Crag
  • How to Keep Your Job and Family and Still Climb at Your Limit
  • Staying Strong to Perform Your Best All Season
  • How to Lose Weight for Climbing
  • Building a Better Climber: Phase 7 - Power Endurance Training
  • Building a Better Climber: Phase 6 - Endurance Phase II
  • Building a Better Climber: Final Phase - Peaking
  • Building a Better Climber: Phase 5 - Strength and Power II
  • Building a Better Climber: Phase 4 - Power Endurance
  • Building a Better Climber: Phase 3 - Strength Training
  • Building a Better Climber: Phase 2 - Low-Intensity Endurance
  • Building a Better Climber: Phase 1 - Conditioning Phase
  • Gain Confidence by Learning Not to Fear Falling
  • The Unnatural Way to Climb
  • Get Better When You Are Scared and Pumped
  • Never Get Pumped Again
  • How to Power Train for Climbing
  • How to Mentally Train
  • Boost Power With Eccentric Training
  • Tips for Better Onsighting
  • Should You Lose Weight or Get Stronger?
  • Is Protein Important?
  • Getting Strong After a Layoff
  • Does Running or Biking Improve Your Climbing?
  • Training While Hungry
  • How To Use Microcycles
  • Improving Slab Technique
  • How to Unlock a Crux
  • Using Your Hangboard the Right Way
  • Using a Weight Belt For Training
  • Training During Pregnancy
  • Maximizing a Small Home Wall
  • How to Stay Psyched
  • How to Prevent Bonking
  • Best Ratio of Resting to Bouldering
  • The Importance of Finger Strength
  • Regaining Confidence After a Fall
  • Overcome Anxiety and Send!
  • Maximum Training in Minimum Time
  • Dynamic vs. Static Stretching
  • Do Forearm Trainers Work?
  • Ultimate Strength
  • The Secrets of Warming Up
  • Periodized Training For the Year-round Approach
  • Resting the Perfect Amount
  • How To Recover On Route
  • Does Creatine Work?
  • Recovery Supplement Truths
  • Euro Training Secrets
  • Can Old Guys Get Stronger?
  • Training With an Injury
  • How to Beat Fear
  • How Often Should You Rest?
  • Warming Up Without Warm-Ups
  • How to Develop Sloper Strength
  • Beating the Lactic Acid Pump
  • Video Spotlight
    The Full-Length Video of Alex Honnold Free-Soloing El Sendero Luminoso
    The Full-Length Video of Alex Honnold Free-Soloing El Sendero Luminoso

    Rock Climbing Training: Periodized Training For the Year-round Approach


    Most long-term training programs attempt to coordinate physical, mental and skill cycles to produce a period of peak performance. However, we non-competitors require a prolonged and constant elevation in performance, and a periodized system of training seems to miss the boat. Is there an effective strategy to produce a sustained increase in performance that avoids the ups and downs of periodized training?

    —Richard M. Wright | Lakewood, CO

    Indeed, why would anyone go for a system of peaks and troughs if an alternative system without the troughs existed? Well, the answer is that there is no superior strategy. We all face a simple choice between aiming for peak performance at certain specific times within the year or accepting a lower but more consistent level of performance at all times. Training hard all the time leads first to a performance plateau and then injury. I agree with you that much of the literature conveys the message that periodized training is about following lengthy macrocycles to peak for your one big moment, which simply does not represent reality for most climbers. Periodization, however, doesn’t only work this way. So how can periodized training suit the year-round approach?

    Forget the idea of training for a peak months ahead, and instead push yourself forward in smaller cycles, as opposed to a giant tsunami. A great approach is to do a light week, followed by a medium week, a hard week and then a very hard week, rest a week, then peak for a week. The definition of a light week could either be fewer sessions, shorter sessions, easier sessions, or a combination, whereas a harder week involves training at a higher volume and/or intensity and/or frequency. This approach incorporates all the fundamental principles of periodization, namely to start with a recovery period, to build up progressively so that your training gathers momentum and reaches a climax, and then, crucially, to rest/recover again before you injure yourself. With this six-week approach you could, theoretically, reach as many as nine mini-peaks within a year. Bear in mind that it is physiologically impossible to be on top form or to make maximum gains every week, and this ought to sound like a pretty good program for a journeyman climber. You could also do two light weeks, a medium two weeks, a hard two weeks and finally a very hard two weeks, then rest and peak and hence make your “waves” last 12 weeks instead of six. In comparison to the previous example, this would allow you to reach a slightly higher level (temporarily, of course) and keep you at that level for slightly longer, but clearly you would reach this level less frequently. Note that you would experience this elevated level immediately after the recovery week/s, so try to climb well on the crag at this point before resuming the next wave of training.

    The next detail is to schedule your climbing trips and to allocate themes to training waves that correspond with the desired type of climbing. In other words, a month or two prior to a bouldering trip, you would do two or three strength sessions and one endurance session within a given week. Alternatively, running up to a sport-climbing trip, you would do two or three endurance sessions to one strength session. To me, this concept of “prioritized phasing,” rather than the notion of long-term peaking, is the most useful component of periodized training for the majority of climbers.

    Clearly, if you don’t know when you are going to be going bouldering or doing routes outside, simply alternate between a strength-prioritized cycle and an endurance-prioritized cycle. This way the body will be subjected to correctly organized and themed training stimuli, and change should kick in before you stagnate.

    Another refinement is to run slightly longer waves to address your weaknesses. For example, those with poor endurance could run two-month endurance phases and one-month strength phases in continuous succession. Again, these phases can be repeated indefinitely provided you use the wave concept and that they always commence after a period of recovery. The million-dollar question is whether this approach will produce better gains in the long term than the better-documented approach of going for a big peak only once or twice within a year. There are few convincing test results here so please keep a training diary and let me know how you get on by logging onto my forum at rockandice.com.

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