Thursday, 6 March 2014

Training Plan

Ok so this is an insight into what I currently do to try and improve my grade. I will add over the following days some explanations behind some of the exercises and some of the principles I am using. I hope this helps anyone who is looking into training. It is essentially a condensed resource for every one to use.

Please let me know your thoughts or questions on anything I talk about, I want to better myself as a climber, any help I can get I appreciate. In turn any help I can give is always given for free.

'Training Processes -

1 .Strength/Power 3 Weeks 3. Stamina 1 week
2. Power/Endurance 2 Weeks 4. Rest 1 Week

Throughout this diary I will provide Tappa top tips, the GOLDEN RULES - “Try hard, it just might make you better”

Section 1 - Strength/Power
  1. the quality or state of being physically strong.
  2. the capacity of an object or substance to withstand great force or pressure.

“There is only one thing better than power… More power” - The late and great Wolfgang Gullich

You are partaking in this section to get stronger and more powerful, not fitter. If at any point you cross into the realms of fitness then stop, rest and think about what you have done.

- Weekly cycle 3 days training/climbing and no more (easy trad days don’t count, they never count ;)

Each day the focus must be totally upon warming up properly, stretching properly and ensuring you have enough rest between what you do. Ideally split the days training with a long gap in between to allow recovery throughout the day. If at any point you are fatigued then you have crossed into the realm of endurance/stamina… it is pointless to do this during this phase of training. If at any point you think one of your body parts might explode from exertion then this is not to be mistaken with fatigue, this is a good sign you are trying hard enough.

Exercises should be regularly tweaked, it is important that every time you are able to up the intensity you do so, the opportunity must be snatched as quickly as possible so as not to waste the potential gains coming to you sooner. Some slap in the face obvious tweaking - add weight, use smaller holds, make moves bigger. Importantly Do not increase time hanging on holds, 3-5 seconds max.

You can eat more (just a little bit more, hmmm meat and chocolate milkshakes) during this stage - as long as you are not working on a project or going on a trip. If you are feeling a bit of a fatty then it will only make your job harder…. Don’t worry weight loss is coming in the other section.


Weakness is a key focus of all training, only climbing outside will let you understand what your weakness really is i.e. crimps, steep terrain, heel hook tension, remembering prolonged sequences. Include your weakness in all elements of your training and try to focus on it for a whole 6 week cycle, unless it improves very quickly, if that is the case then go and find another one.

Section 1 - Strength/Power - What you can do

  • Bouldering - Maximum Intensity - no more than 5 problems worked with good rests
  • Campus board - Work on using the worst holds and making the moves harder - no more than 5 moves!
  • Fingerboarding - Repeaters are too long in standard form - Maximum 5 seconds on and 55 seconds off
  • Complex train! To be brought in around the start of the session and quickly removed again
  • 3 second hangs - Big Weights might be needed
  • Systems board - make some problems at your limit, go on…
  • Weighted pull ups - no more than 3 :)
  • 1 arm lock offs/2 arm lock offs - no more than 3 seconds :)
  • Sport climb - but work the impossible! Punt about on moves far too hard for you, hang around and make your partner angry
  • Weakness bashing - Destroy your arms with some weights and the try and do some powerful move straight away after. i.e bicep curls before a set of weighted pull ups
  • Front Levers
  • Ground exercises - Push ups/sit ups - work a variety but spend most time on the more strenuous variations i.e. medicine ball use, increasing the angle of the sit - up, weights vest
  • Heavy Weights - Or at least reasonably heavy, we don’t want to look like Arnie, but we do not want long muscles either. Do a small set to keep the antagonist muscles strong.
  • Running should be kept to a minimum - but don’t stop it completely! Try to run on the evening before a rest day, then you have more time to recover.

Section 2 - Power/Endurance

  1. the ability to endure an unpleasant or difficult process or situation without giving way
  2. the capacity of something to last or to withstand wear and tear.

“Come on arms, do your stuff” - Ron Fawcett on the first ascent of ‘Lord of the flies E6 6a’


This is a core part of you climbing, some boulder problems are long, many routes have sustained cruxes, give it a good go and spend 2 weeks on this.

Power endurance is harder to define within training, in the case of my training I use stamina almost as active rest, it is purely for fitness and therefore will be high volume, fast pace, no rest, steep and have big friendly holds. Power endurance however is the ability to do very intense sequences over and over again. Resting on jugs goes out the window and instead bad rest must be used. You do not need to keep on going forever, so in between climbs lots of rest is necessary. Think of a day at Malham Catwalk, there is no way you would keep on attacking your redpoint without rest in-between, that would be ludicrous. So relax and have a cake instead in between goes.

Section 2 - Power/Endurance - What you can do

  • Sport climb - High difficulty of problems, 1-3 routes requiring a lot of redpointing
  • Bouldering 4x4’s - Find a problem just beneath your maximum (only just)
  • Sport climb 3x3’s - choose the high intensity redpoint and chuck your self at it
  • Circuit board - climb straight through the jugs to find the worst holds and have a lovely rest.
  • Campus laddering - Small rungs where possible and try to recover hanging on the big ones
  • Campus longer sequences of big moves - up and down
  • Complex training - always a winner
  • Systems board - create a stopping point in your problem and recover there
  • Repeaters! Standard. If you feel like a beast then hang on positive holds in between a go to recover
  • Frenchies - if you make 3 times through then stick some weight on
  • 1 arm lock off - no weight and go straight to 3 pull ups, now lock off again without getting off
  • interval pull ups on edges with weight - aim for 5 pull ups and a 5 second rest
  • Chris Webb Parsons crimp locks
  • Power pull ups and rest by shaking on the bar
  • Tabata Protocol - only twice a week!
  • Groundwork - Sit-ups and push-ups - try out some very fast moving variations
  • Reasonable weights - Again fast variations into stress positions - power is fast twitch
  • Running - Do a bit of interval running

Section 3 - Stamina

GOLDEN RULE - Do not go light on carbs… Reduced rest = More energy needed!

  1. the ability to sustain prolonged physical or mental effort.

This section is purely related to your fitness, do not confuse this with power/endurance, the key difference being this is your ability to continue no matter what. Power/Endurance has a failing point and long rests in between are required to reduce the chance of that point being breached. Stamina has no failing point, it continues past it, if the terrain has to get slightly easier to allow that to happen then that is not a problem, as long as you continue.

As fitness is the key consideration understand that this is not as important as power, so rejoice as you only have 1 week of this to do.

Running can be increased during this section, even if it is at the detriment to your climbing ability. If you do not feel physically sick, then you should keep on trying. This section gives you a chance to burn off excess calories and improve your ability to recover on long terrain or generous bouldering days.

Excess carbohydrates may be required to help you along, if you are dumping carbs then make sure you eat a hell of a lot of broccoli ;)

Section 3 - Stamina - What you can do

  • Long days out bouldering or sport climbing.
  • Sport and boulder - Reduce the intensity by around a grade earlier in your session than usual, but do not rest in between your attempts
  • Sport climbing - Lead up, recover, unclip as you climb down
  • Fingerboard - Moving hangs, feet on a chair far away to create an overhanging sensation, find some holds and hold for as long as you can, return to the jugs to rest, try and beat the clock… try hard
  • Campus laddering, biggest rungs and ladder until your heart is content
  • Circuit board - rest on jugs for stamina
  • Tabata Protocol on good holds, see how long you can go
  • Interval pull ups - extra 10 mins
  • Pull up routine - pull up narrow, pop up and catch to normal, pull up and pop up and catch to wide, pull up and pop and catch to one arm lock off, only beasts can lower and do the one armer on each arm, repeat without dropping off
  • Work out you maximums - How many pull ups? How many seconds can you hang that? How many v? boulders you know already can you do in a row before you drop one? How many sit-ups and push-ups? How far can you run if you put your mind to it? How much broccoli can you eat?
  • Circuit training - use light weights and get sweaty

GOLDEN RULE - Stamina means do something every day of the week!

Section 4 - Rest

“If there was one thing I would go back and change, I would have taken more rest days” - Jerry Moffat, looking back on a career riddled with shoulder and elbow injuries… that resulted in major surgery.

Rest is important, but how long? The body will start to deteriorate developed muscle after around 2 weeks of inactivity… but the muscle memory still remains along with the neuromuscular links. Many climbers see it fitting to take a month off a year, this is often to recuperate their minds, rather than their bodys. As this method has worked so well for so many I do not see it as a bad idea, but I struggle to take a week off... so a week will do just fine!

1 week of rest after 6 weeks of climbing, when you read it like that it sounds like a good plan, but I know as well many that even a week can feel like a decade, here’s how I shorten the time.

Light activity every day is perfectly fine, no more than 30mins at a slightly elevated pulse, the rest of the day should be very relaxed. Even climbing is acceptable as long as you can force yourself to climb well beneath your limit (Easy trad anyone?) The body recovers better in a state of “active rest”. The problem is just how active you should be. I think listening to your body is often the best way, so you should not raise a sweat or let out a grunt. If you climb it should be silent and effortless, running slow and easy, push ups few, weights don’t even bother... the only change to theme is Yoga and stretching a plenty, that’s just fine to do as much as you want.

GOLDEN RULE - Do not stretch a cold muscle for more than 10 seconds! If creates spongy tissues

The requirement for a list of activities is pointless for this section, go out and have easy fun doing whatever the hell you like. Continue to eat well and increase your protein intake for muscle repair again, reduce the carbs and you’ll keep trim for the next stage of power, or that project you will now be able to do.

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