• Coming Back From Injury
  • Get Trip-Fit Fast
  • Systems Wall and Symmetrical Training
  • 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
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  • 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
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  • Managing the Fear of Falling
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  • Training on the Go
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  • Nutrition: Eating Your Way to Better Climbing
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  • 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
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  • Building a Better Climber: Phase 3 - Strength Training
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  • Building a Better Climber: Phase 1 - Conditioning Phase
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    Building a Better Climber: Phase 6 - Endurance II


    Adam Ondra on <em>Move</em> (5.15b/c), his recent route in the Hanshelleren
    Cave, Norway. Photo by Claudio Ziegler.

    The Building a Better Climber training-plan series has included the following phases:

    Phase 1: Conditioning
    Phase 2: Low-Intensity Endurance
    Phase 3: Strength Training
    Phase 4: Power Endurance
    Phase 5: Strength/Power



    For the sixth phase we’re returning to low-intensity endurance to top up our fitness levels for longer routes. This phase will also give the body a chance to recover from the stresses of the previous strength/power and power-endurance phases. If you’re joining in for the first time, low-intensity endurance represents a great starting point for any training program, so there’s no need for any preparatory work.

    Important: If you followed the training phase given last issue, then be sure to take a recovery week before commencing this phase. This modified week could involve one or two very easy climbing sessions (e.g.: warm up, then 2 or 3 routes, well below your limit).


    Number of Sessions per Week
          Beginner         Intermediate         Advanced/Elite    
    1. Low intensity endurance 2 3 3
    2. Bouldering (intensity) 1 1 2
    3. Conditioning and flexibility 1 1 1
    4. Antagonists and core 1 1 2




    Two different structure options are given below. Do not attempt more than one in a single session. A good approach is to alternate between them.

    [ Routes ]

    OPTION 1: 4x4s: Warm up first: Pulse raiser, mobility exercises and easy climbing movement: 15 minutes. Select four different routes of the same grade that you can climb consecutively, “4-in-a-row.” See guidelines below for optimum wall angle. The grade will be at least three below your onsight grade for beginner/intermediates and, for advanced/elite, four below. Lower off and move to the next route as quickly (and safely) as possible. Do this four times with rests equal to climbing time. Increase the difficulty of the sessions slightly over time by making the first route a grade harder, then the second route and so on until all four routes are harder. 

    OPTION 2: Up-down-ups: The aim is to climb up a route, then back down an easier route, then climb back up the first route. For beginner and intermediates, the grade of the up-climb will be at least two below your onsight grade and the down-climb will be three below. For advanced/elite, the grade of the up-climb will be at least three below your onsight grade and the down-climb will be four or five below. Do this a total of five times, with rest times equal to climbing time. Make the sessions slightly harder over time by increasing the first up-climb one grade, then the second up-climb, and finally the down-climb.

    [ Bouldering ]

    OPTION 1: Random climbing

    > 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

    Find an easy and quiet area of the bouldering wall. Warm-up first then climb around, selecting holds at random for five 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 over-cook it and get too flamed then find a resting position and work at recovering before continuing. If you have a training partner, you can take turns pointing each other around the wall using a stick, following the intervals given above.

    Finish all low-intensity endurance sessions with sets of pull ups on a bar and straight-leg raises to failure. Beginners: 2 sets; intermediates: 3 sets; elites: 4 sets.

    Advanced tip: Intermediates and elites should do four sets of deadhangs as part of the warmup (half-crimp grip, to failure, max hang time 10 seconds). After three or four easy traverses or warm-up routes, do three or four boulder problems to recruit strength, then perform the deadhangs before commencing the low-intensity endurance session. The dead hangs will maintain finger strength during the phase.

    Warm down with easy movement and stretches. Eat a protein- and carb-based snack within 30 minutes of training.


    BOULDER SESSIONS [INTENSITY] -  Time: 2½ hours

    This session is the same as in the previous training phase: Part 5 - Strength and Power Phase II

    Warm-up: Pulse raiser, mobility exercises and easy climbing, then progression of boulder problems: 45 minutes.

    [ Intermediates and Elites ] Try three or four different projects over the course of two hours. All problems should be overhanging but each should emphasize a different style of hold and/or angle. Take a 15-minute break between each problem.

    [ Beginners ] Try five boulder problems that you expect to complete three or four tries. Don’t spend any longer than 15 minutes on a given problem before moving on. Rest 15 minutes after every 30 minutes of climbing.

    Intermediates and elites should finish with offset pull-ups or weighted pull-ups and front levers (see previous phase for more info) but not finger exercises. Beginners should not do this. Warm down.



    See Phase 1: Conditioning (Rock and Ice issue 208) for more information

    1) Run (20 - 30 minutes) – include three or four intervals.

    2) Conditioning Circuit (10 minutes) – Burpees or rope skipping, e.g.; one minute on /1 minute off x 5.

    3) Flexibility (15 minutes) – hold stretches for 20 seconds, twice each.



    See Phase 1: Conditioning (Rock and Ice issue 208) for more information.

    [ Antagonists ] Do three sets of 20 reps of the following exercises, with two minutes rest between sets. Only go to failure on last set.

    1) Push-ups (kneeling if required).

    2) Reverse wrist curls.

    3) Finger extensions (with rubber band).

    [ Core ]

    1) Extreme Plank – 10 reps x three sets with two-minute rest.

    2) Iron cross – 10 reps x three sets with two-minute rest. Do an extra rep each session.

    3) Leg paddles–50 reps x three with two minutes rest. Do an extra five reps each session.



    Go to Building a Better Climber: Part 7 - Power Endurance Training
    Revisit Building a Better Climber: Part 5 - Strength and Power Phase II

    This article was published in Rock and Ice issue 214

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