• Coaching Climbing - How To Train Juniors with Care and Caution
  • Grip Trainers - Gimmicks, or Worth the Money?
  • Hangboarding for Endurance: Not Just for Power
  • Simulation Training: How to Do a Move You Can't Do
  • Planning a Year's Climbing
  • Portable Training Rigs - How to Stay Fit on the Go
  • How to Keep Your Job and Family and Still Climb at Your Limit
  • Suspension Training for Rock Climbing
  • Eat Fat, Climb Harder - The Ketogenic Diet
  • Witness the Mental Fitness: Set Thought Aside to Improve Performance
  • Mental Training Made Simple
  • Counterintuitive Climbing Tips to Change Your Game - Part 2
  • Endurance Training Tips for Winter
  • Five Counterintuitive Climbing Tips to Change Your Game - Part 1
  • Staying Power - How to Last All Day at the Crag
  • 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 - Three Strategies to Prevent the Pump
  • 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
  • Staying Strong to Perform Your Best All Season
  • How to Lose Weight for Climbing
  • Building a Better Climber: Final Phase - Peaking
  • Building a Better Climber: Phase 7 - Power Endurance Training
  • Building a Better Climber: Phase 6 - Endurance II
  • 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
  • Get Better When You Are Scared and Pumped
  • Never Get Pumped Again
  • Free Climbing Tips: Why Get Stronger When You Can Get Better?
  • Crank Like a Russian - 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
  • How to Improve Slab Technique
  • How to Unlock a Crux
  • How to Use a Hangboard
  • 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
    Margo Hayes Sends La Rambla (9a+/5.15a)
    Margo Hayes Sends La Rambla (9a+/5.15a)

    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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