• 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
  • 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
  • The Training Effect - Steve House and Scott Johnston
  • Training for Climbing: Injured? Train Your Core!
  • 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
  • Gutbusters - Core Exercises for Rock Climbing
  • Rest ... or Else
  • The Intuitive Approach to Training
  • 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
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    Crank Like a Russian - How to Power Train for Climbing


    I'm looking for a new method for structuring my power-training sets on the hangboard. I've used the pyramid structure many times, but surely some different combinations are equally effective?

    James Harrison | Flagstaff, Arizona

    Strength athletes commonly adapt very quickly to the classic formula of pyramid training—this is where you do sets of, say, 8, 6, 4, 2, 4, 6, 8—and many find that they have to change to avoid hitting a plateau. There are plenty of other methods out there, and I've picked one for you that is hot off the press, as well as a little controversial. It is adapted from a Russian power-training coach, Pavel Tsatsouline's, technique called greasing the groove. Tread carefully, as this program is geared toward elites (a few top-level competition climbers such as Leah Crane, British bouldering champion, have had exceptional results with it). The extent to which it can be down-geared and adapted safely for intermediates is not yet proven. Go carefully and monitor your body for signs of injury.

    First, pick an exercise in which you want to get really strong (for example, a pull-up on a finger edge) and then add weight so you can do only one set of three reps, to failure, three times a day: in the morning, at lunch, and in the evening. Elites should do this for a block of five or six days in a row before taking a rest day and then repeating this cycle. Intermediates might extrapolate that they should train for two or three days in a row, probably only twice a day instead of three times. The important part is always to keep making the exercise harder, so that you can only just complete the three reps. 

    The only time you should stop increasing the weight is if you fail to do two reps, in which case go back to the previous weight. If you are training with two arms on a fingerboard, then you can use a weight belt. If you're training with one arm, you can use a pulley and counter-balance with weight. With this method, simply remove a small amount of weight from the counterbalance (for example, half a kilogram) every time you make a target. The idea is that it gets harder and harder to make the three-rep target as you reach the later stages of the program, but you always make it in the end, and find yourself getting loads stronger if you stick with it.

    This methodology contradicts conventional theories on strength training. The big questions are how can one get sufficient recovery when you train so frequently and how can one maximum set be enough to trigger the strength gains? We've always thought that the best way is to do several sets.

    Tsatsouline maintains that the reason we find walking so easy is because we do it all the time, and that we should treat strength training the same way. If you can teach your body to adapt to a higher level of frequency, you get more gains than by training sporadically. He also maintains that any more than one set is over-kill for this method, provided you give it your all. Doing just one set each time rather than three should reduce the risk of injury, provided, of course, you always warm up thoroughly before each maximum set.

    You asked for something different, so you got it! Good luck, train safe and don't forget that this type of training is all well and good provided you have the climbing skills to go with it! Power alone is never sufficient to get you up a hard route or boulder problem.


    This article was published in Rock and Ice issue 190 (December 2010). 

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