T Nation

training for a climber

I am feeling a bit lost and confused right now about how to structure my training in addition to pure climbing. After reading T-mag and this forum for the past six months or so, I have found training and diet concepts that actually seem to be effective. It seemed natural that I would post my question here. I am 18 and have been climbing for about two years now. My focus in climbing is mostly hard short climbs much less than 50 feet (and a lot of bouldering). My goal is climb harder problems and climbs. I climb three days a week(Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday) for about three hours at a time. I usually climb very technical problems on rocks bondoed to a bridge pier, but I am sometimes able to go to the climbing areas around Oklahoma as well. I have been doing 400m sprints or HIIT three days a week when I am not climbing. I usually pair this with antagonist muscle training (reverse wrist curls, O.H. Press, Dumbell Press, towel pushups, etc) or core strengthening (Good mornings, reverse hypers, saxon side bends, etc). I have, and understand periodizing my climbing (endurance, strength, power, anaerobic endurance), but I am not sure how to fit in other aspects of training besides climbing. I am not sure when and what kind of antagonist, balence, agonist, flexibility training would be optimal for my goals in climbing (sending harder climbs and boulder problems). I believe technique training and real climbing should be the core of my training program, I was just wondering if any one has anything to recommend about sorting out the other parts of my training. By the way, I am 5’10", 150 lbs, and about 9% bodyfat. I feel like my diet is pretty dialed in right now (maintenence calories following JB’s principals). Sorry for the long post, but I wanted to list all of the relevent information I can think of. Thanks for reading this!

Check out Coach Davies training. I think Renegade training style will help you out more then anythingelse.

In Health,

Silas C.

Two things:

  1. Have you checked out Christian Thibaudeau’s chinup article? I’m assuming you have.

  2. What, exactly, was your question again? Were you just looking for general comments? If so, let me know… I have some ideas.

 Always remember, a sharp knife, turniquet, anatomy book, and some alcohol always help!

 I know I know, that is pretty mean... I just couldnt resist (walks away in shame)

Aither, I have found that just traversing around the climbing gym for extended lenghts of time (45 min.)to be very good for stamina and seems to help keep the forearms from getting too pumped. You probably already know how to keep arms straight and allow legs to do the work. What kind of ratings do you work? (the climbers version of "Whats your max bench?) I’m OK, 12a indoors and only lead 11a outdoors. Have done some climbing at Smith and Joshua tree but mostly stuff in the pacific n/w. Good luck with your climbing.

Thanks for the replies! I tried posting, and it didn’t work. This will be a longish post, so bear with me. Anyways, the purpose of this post is to see if anyone could give me some new ideas. All of the guides for climb training basically say climb a lot, do some pull ups, and avoid any kind of loading on the legs (including mountain biking!). I consider myself a boulderer/sport climber, and I think I can design a training program better suited to this goal than what previous climbing programs have provided. I think climbing should be the core this program, but training and climbing are not the same activities. Both have different goals. To answer Ike’s question, I am wondering if anyone could give me any input on devising a training program to enhance climbing ability. I am trying to develop a system to accent my climbing. I like the sound of renagade training, and may seriously look into it. What I am looking for is a way to prevent injuries, increase relative strength in a way applicable to climbing, and increase the level of my fine motor skills in relation to climbing. What I am confused about is should I strength train after climbing, the morning before? What kind of balence training have people done? Are olympic lifts worth doing in a specific context? I think my weak points will always be with my forearms, but there is a fine line between training and tendonitis. Right now I am just bouncing ideas around, and trying to come up with new ideas allow me to climb as well as possible. I recognize that most people here are not climbers, but this forum seems to posses a ton of intellegence regarding training, physiology, etc. Most climbers seem know next to nothing about training and nutrition, so I am going to think climb training from the ground up. I know what has been done in the past (pullups and a lot of climbing). I think there could be a way to synthesize better ideas (like some from t-mag) with climbing. If BBers, Power Lifters, track atheletes, basketball, and foot ball players have benefited from training info from T-mag, there could be something here for climbers as well.

Ike: I read the article, and it was not a huge help, but then again, I’ve tried every grip/pullup workout imaginable. So I know what works best for me pull up wise. Let me know if you want any pull up ideas (frenchies or touches for example).

mnkybut: I do most of climbing at the “bridge” where everything is technical and hard. I would say I am climbing at least 5.11 there, and I am working the equivelent of 5.13’s. I have easily led 5.10 outside, and I could probably lead 5.11’s. It is just a matter of spending more time outside. I would love to regularly be leading 5.13 or pulling V9 some day, and I have only been climbing for a couple of years. How often/seriously do you climb?

I would talk to Mike Mahler about kettlebell training.
Reguarding balance, having a great ab section is the key. One legged squats are wonderful for balance.

There are an excellent set of climning books out. One especially good one on coaching climbing. I found them at Border’s in the Sports section.
Best of Luck.

Olympic lifting won’t be of much use to you.

Improve finger and grip strength [pinch,crush]. Maintain or improve body range of motion.

Ok, I have done a lot of research, and I have got things more nailed down, but I still have a few questions. Here is what I have nailed down: Climb for 2-4 hours three times per week. Stretch and work on flexibility at least 15 minutes per day. Do HIIT, sprints or steady state cardio three days per week on the afternoon following a climbing week, and perform 10-12 sets of ab/oblique/lower back exercises which would rotate.

Here is what it would look like:
Monday-aerobic work/torso
Wednesday-aerobic work/torso

Note: stretching would be included each day.

I plan to periodize my climbing in terms of 4 weeks of strength training (moderate volume), three weeks of high volume strength training/anaerobic endurance training (higher volume). I am thinking of something along the guidelines of having sets less than 5 reps, and short rest periods. This would be followed by 2 weeks of power training (low volume). Then, I will take 1 week of active rest. This could be the bouldering version of the 10 week, 4-3-2-1 cycle.

Since I tend to climb and do aerobic work in the evenings, I am thinking about doing all of my strength training in the mornings. My question is when would be optimal to perform strength training to complement my climbing. I plan to pair agonist/antagonist movements, and keep the volume relatively low. I want to perform strength training 2-3 times a week, and I seem to have three options. A) right after climbing, B) the morning before climbing, and C)The morning after climbing. I am thinking about spending 1 weekly session on upper body push/pull exercises, and another on grip strength followed by copious amounts of wrist extension/pronation. I would possibly consider adding a third day if conditions allowed. I am just unsure as to when would be the best time for strength training, and I do plan to keep the workload relatively low in order to keep from being injured or over trained. I could also drop the aerobic volume, but three 15 minute sessions of 5-6 400m sprints feels pretty good right now. For strength exercises, I am considering doing pull ups, rows, deadlifts, reverse hypers, dips, dumbbell bench presses, pylo- pushups, overhead presses with dumbbells or weighted bags, campusing, and possibly inclined lower trap raises. Kettle balls and one legged squats are great suggestions as well. Grip work would mostly be on hangboards and HIT strips with some plate pinching, and balanced with reverse wrist curls and wrist pronation. So 2-3 sessions of grip and upper body push/pull strengthening exercises designed to complement the micro cycle goals.

My question is when would be the best time to perform strength training? Also, should I consider reducing the volume of any of this outside of climbing? Sorry for the long post, but I hope it explains things better. Thanks for all of the help! I will need to check out those books and post climbing pics soon.