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Building a Better Climber: Phase 4 – Power Endurance

Welcome to the Rock and Ice year-long training plan. If you stuck with the first three phases in this ongoing series, you should be feeling fit and ready to start power-endurance training. Don’t worry if you’ve only just joined in; simply start with two weeks of low-intensity endurance, then commence with the phase outlined below.

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Welcome to the Rock and Ice year-long training plan. If you stuck with the first three phases in this ongoing series, you should
be feeling fit and ready to start power-endurance training. Don’t worry if you’ve only just joined in; simply start with two weeks of low-intensity endurance, then commence with the phase outlined below.

POWER ENDURANCE

Next up we’ll focus on power endurance to get you ready for your late-summer projects. Aim to climb outside as much as possible, and tie your crag sessions
in with the program. For example, for power-endurance sessions, do hard onsights or redpoints, and for strength simply boulder or work a hard project.
If you go away on a major climbing trip (for longer than five days), take at least three full rest days beforehand and three days afterward before
resuming training.

OVERVIEW

Power endurance is the type of fitness required for sustained sequences of between 15 and 40 moves and will be the main focus of the phase, although I’ve
included a small amount of strength work to prevent performance losses. Take four full rest days after finishing the previous phase and then commence.
At the end of the phase, take another four rest days and see No. 213 for the next phase. People with limited access to a climbing gym should simply
substitute bouldering sessions with home hangboard sessions.

Weekly Microcycles

Select the appropriate weekly plan for your level. If you must train on two consecutive days, do a bouldering or hangboard session on day one and power
endurance on day two. It’s up to you how to fit the sessions into your weekly schedule.

SESSION-PLAN DETAILS:

 

NUMBER OF SESSIONS PER WEEK

     Intermediate            Advanced/Elite  
1. Power Endurance  2 3
2. Bouldering 1 1
3. Conditioning & Flexibility  1 1
4. Antagonists & Core 1 2

POWER ENDURANCE

Here are four different structure options, two for the lead wall and two for the bouldering wall. Do not attempt more than one option per session. The best approach is to alternate between options.

 

Routes

Option 1: 6 x 2s Warm up first. Select two different routes of the same grade that you can climb consecutively. (See guidelines below for optimum wall angle). The grade should be approximately two or three below your current  maximum onsight grade. Lower off, pull the rope and do the next route as quickly as possible.

Do this six times with rests equal to climbing time.

Aim to complete the first four sets and to fail on the fifth or sixth. Try to use a selection of different routes rather than sticking to one or two. Climb them in different combinations or in a different order for variety. Increase the difficulty each session—first by making the first route a grade harder, and then by making the second route harder. 

 

Option 2: 8 x 1s Follow the guidelines for option 1, but climb slightly harder routes eight in
a row. The grade should be approximately one or two below your current maximum onsight grade. Rests are equal to climbing time. Aim to reach failure
on the seventh or eighth climb.

Bouldering wall

Option 1: 4 x 6s Select four different boulder problems of approximately the same grade that
you can climb consecutively. The grade should be approximately one below the level that you can flash. Move between problems as quickly as possible.

Rest for eight minutes and attempt the series six times.

Aim to complete the first four sets and to fail on the fifth or sixth set. If you start training and realize that the problems are too hard or too easy,
then adjust accordingly. Make the sessions slightly harder by gradually adding harder problems.

Option 2: 30 moves x 6 To warm up, work out a sustained 30-move circuit on a bouldering wall. Ideally this circuit should include upward, downward and diagonal climbing as well as traversing. Always finish by climbing up for the last few moves. One option is to link together some of the set, color-coded boulder problems by climbing up one and down the next and so on. (Down climbs will need to be easier than ups.) Avoid hard single cruxes or good rest positions. Go for six repeats with eight minutes rest. If you fail on the fifth or sixth, you’ve judged it perfectly. If you start training and realize that the problems are too hard or too easy, adjust. You can train on the same circuit the next session, but after that, scrap it and set a new and slightly harder one. 

 

STRENGTH / POWER 

Use the same boulder and hangboard sessions from the previous training phase [No. 211]. To summarize: For bouldering, advanced/elite-level climbers should work hard projects and beginner/intermediates should go for problems they can do within three or four tries.  Projects should be overhanging, but don’t forget to do slabs and vertical problems during your warm-up. Vary the holds and style of projects and work your weaknesses.

Hangboard 

Rest two to three minutes between all exercises. Calibrate exercises using a weight belt or selecting smaller holds, or switching from two arms to one arm.

1. Dead Hangs (one or both arms, subject to ability)

Hang to failure three times in a row, with a two-second rest  between each hang. Aim to reach failure before 10 seconds on the first hang. Intermediates do three sets per grip and advanced/elite do four sets.

Grips: 1) Half crimp. 2) Hang/open-hand. 3) Full crimp (two sets only).

2.  Campus Ladders (advanced/elite only) 

Use medium/first-joint campus rungs with half-crimp grips.Submaximal set (e.g. rung spacing you can just complete at your limit) x one set. Maximal set x three attempts.  

3. Fingertip Pull-Ups (or campus offset pull-ups)

  With half-crimp grips on a campus rung or first-joint, flat-finger holds. All sets to failure, using a
pyramid structure: Set 1) Six to eight reps. Set 2) Three to four reps. Set 3) One to two reps. Repeat in reverse.

4. 90-degree lock-offs (on bar or hangboard jugs)

Four sets, aiming to reach failure before eight seconds.

5. Pull-ups (on bar or jugs)

Four sets of approximately six to eight reps to failure

6. Straight-leg raises (intermediate) or front lever (elite)

Straight leg raises: Four sets to failure.Front lever: Four attempts, hold for four to six seconds.

 

Conditioning & Flexibility

a) Run [30 minutes]

Run instead of bike to avoid bulky legs. Go at a slow, steady pace to warm up for the first five minutes. Then do five intervals of one minute on at 90 to 95 percent effort, followed by jogging for one minute to recover.  Then run at a steady pace to finish. Make the intervals 10 seconds longer each session, until eventually you are doing two minutes on/one minute off x five, then five minutes to warm down.

b) Burpee [10 minutes] x eight (on first
session).

One minute rest. Repeat x four. Do one more rep per set each session (i.e. by session 10 you’ll be doing 18 reps per set).

c) Flexibility [15 minutes]

Hold stretches for 20 seconds, release for 10 seconds, then repeat again for 20 seconds.

1. Hamstrings

2. Thigh/quadriceps 

3. Calf

4. Groin

5. Lats

6. Shoulders

7. Chest 

8. Forearms (flexors & extensors)

 

Antagonists & Core

This session remains the same. 

Go to Building a Better Climber: Phase 5 – Strength and Power II

Revisit Building a Better Climber: Phase 3 – Strength Training 

 

This article was published in Rock and Ice issue 212