• 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
  • Video Spotlight
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    Never Get Pumped Again


    If flaming forearms often rob you of the chain, then hit the gym and increase your endurance with a concentrated does of low-intensity endurance training before your next road trip. Photo: Bernhard Fiedler.If your forearms inflate like balloons and your fingers always seem to uncurl just before the anchors, then this two-part series on endurance training is just what you’re looking for. In Winter Workouts - Get Fit with Interval Training I showed how to use an interval program to train for power endurance. In this article, we’ll take a look at how to train low-intensity endurance for longer routes. This crucial yet easily ignored area of training provides the key to recovering on the fly.

    Low-intensity endurance refers to climbing sequences that are longer than 60 or 70 hand moves, which may take longer than six or seven minutes to execute.

    Jargon Buster
    Climbers sometimes use the term “stamina” to refer to low-intensity endurance. In other sports it is common to hear endurance classified as aerobic or anaerobic but in climbing this is confusing. For example, a given climb may have a short, intense, sustained section, requiring anaerobic endurance, followed by a longer, easier section that calls for aerobic endurance. It is common for both aerobic and anaerobic energy systems to be tested on the same climb, as lactic-acid levels rise and fall, and it’s difficult to separate them completely when it comes to training low-intensity endurance.

    Out With the Old Routine
    A common mistake is to ignore low-intensity endurance training altogether. Few gyms have routes that even come close to the required height, so we take the easy option and simply order what’s on the menu. The usual approach of doing hard single routes (for high-intensity endurance) requires less discipline and less pain tolerance, as you won’t be spending as much time under the influence of fatigue. It is a classic error to try to climb the hardest possible grades every time you train. A commitment to training low-intensity endurance will require that you resist this temptation. Yet even for those who can do double or triple laps on easier routes, or occasionally climb down and then back up again, there is still plenty of room for applying a little more structure.

    The New Routine
    Low-intensity endurance-training sessions can be done on a lead wall or an easy section of a bouldering wall.

    > Lead wall
    The lead-wall option is good provided you have a like-minded partner and you don’t hog popular lines when the gym is busy. Either lead up, lower back down, pull the rope as quickly as possible, and lead again; or lead up, climb down, and then climb back up again. Down climbs will need to be considerably easier than up climbs.

    > Bouldering wall
    The bouldering wall is great for climbing alone. It usually works best to make up sequences at random, or to link easier color-coded boulder problems or circuits.

    When to Train
    Elites may wish to train endurance up to five times a week, with perhaps one power session in addition. Intermediates may do three or four endurance sessions (plus one power session) and beginners should do two or three endurance sessions (plus an easy boulder session). It is universally accepted that low-intensity endurance provides the best and safest type of training to start a training program. You can then move on to prioritize high-intensity endurance training. Another tactic is to do a phase of concentrated low-intensity endurance immediately prior to an onsighting or trad trip.

    Specificity Variables
    Don’t always train the same number of moves at the same angle. Alternate between some of the variables given below.

    > Number of moves
    Mid-intensity endurance: e.g.: 60–80 moves
    Low-intensity endurance: e.g.: 80–150 moves

    > Wall angle
    Practice “jug endurance” on steeper walls and “fingery endurance” on lower-angle walls.

    > Sustained or fluctuating
    A sequence of climbing requiring low-intensity endurance may either be sustained, with the moves all at a similar level, or fluctuating, with harder sections interspersed with good rests. The former style requires a steady pace, perhaps taking the occasional quick flick of the forearm to attempt to recover, whereas the latter is about sprinting the hard sections and milking the rests. Both styles are important to practice.

    Training Structure

    > Setting the training grade
    Below is a guideline for an intermediate-level climber.

    Triple set: 2 or 3 grades under onsight limit for a single route.

    Quadruple set: 3 or 4 grades under onsight max.

    Up>down>up: 1st up-climb (2 or 3 grades less than onsight max). Down-climb (4 or 5 grades less than onsight max). 2nd up-climb (2 or 3 grades less than onsight max).

    Remember that the cumulative grade of three or four easy-ish routes racked up back-to-back should actually be pretty close to your limit grade. For example, four laps of a short gym-length 5.11a, back-to-back, is actually equivalent in effort to a long 5.11d or 5.12a on rock.

    Number of Repeats
    Aim to complete between four and six work intervals for low-intensity endurance. To some extent this number will depend on how hard you pitch the training grade, but if you do substantially less or more, then clearly the routes or circuits are either too hard or too easy. Always complete the work, but by the seat of your pants. The first one or two overall sets should feel fairly comfortable, the next two should be tough, and the last two—a desperate fight. It is also worth noting that low-intensity sessions can work very well for active rest, or injury rehab, provided you drop the grade considerably lower and do one or two less sets overall.

    Rest Times
    Time-and-a-half is a good guideline. For example, if you’ve been climbing for 10 minutes, rest for 15.

    Structure Variations
    Try the following combinations to add variety to your training. No single structure is superior to the other, so try one that is new to you.

    > Interval structure
    This is similar to the structure given in No. 192 for high-intensity endurance, where intensity, length of climbing and rest times all remain fixed and constant. E.g.: 10 mins on (or 100 moves) x 5 with 15 mins rest between sets.

    > Intensity pyramid structure
    Length of climbing and rest times remain fixed, but the grade / intensity pyramids up and then back down again: E.g.: 100 moves with 15 mins rest between sets at 80% > 90% > 100% > 90% > 80% of max onsight grade.

    > Duration pyramid structure
    With this option, the intensity / grade remains the same for each set, but the duration of climbing varies in a pyramid structure. E.g.: Fixed grade of 90% of onsight max for all sets: 7 mins on, 10 mins off, 10 mins on, 15 mins off, 15 mins on, 20 mins off, 10-on-15-off, 7-on.

    The Technique Element
    Relax, breathe steadily and shake out.


    Check out Part 1: Winter Workouts - Get Fit with Interval Training


    This article was published in Rock and Ice issue 193.

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