Round 121

 Hi Eric, I’m a novice climber (11 months). I train together with a friend following your 4-3-2-1 cycle, and we are both really progressing. We climb about the same level, have the same size and weight, and similar strength. Interestingly my friend can climb much longer than me on overhanging pumpy routes. How can I train to get less pumped on steep routes? Thank you for any advice! –Alexander (Switzerland)

 Hello Alex! The difference on steep pump climbs is likely that your friend is climbing more efficiently than you, by turning his body and using less energy on the moves that you are climbing more straight on in a neutral position. This is a subtle difference that is hard to see, but it’s a critical factor in determining endurance and performance on overhanging routes. As relatively new climbers, you guys will continue to improve quickly simply by improving technique and climbing efficiency—you should pay special attention to learning how to turn your hips, twist-lock, and backstep on overhanging terrain. Enlist a coach if you aren’t sure how to do these techniques. Good luck, and always enjoy the pump!

I am just getting back into climbing with both my wife and kids. The way our schedule works out it is difficult to spend much time at the gym but we can go for 20-30 minutes almost daily. Most things I read recommend not climbing daily until your fingers have built up strength, but if I usually limit my climbing to 5.8 and below and V0 with just a couple of routes is it acceptable to climb daily? (The kids 3.5 and 2 really enjoy playing on the kids bouldering wall!) –Rich (Utah)

 Hey Daniel! Glad to hear about the family climbing thing! That’s how we roll, too. It gets easier ever year, as they get older. Yeah, if you are just climbing moderates (not getting deep pumps), then you can probably climb 5 or 6 days per week. Ultimately, your short sessions should be more about developing movement skills and not strength/power. Of course, long term you do want to do some targeted training—longer, harder sessions at the gym along with some supplemental exercises. It’s at this point that you’ll want to cut back to just 3 or 4 days per week…..maybe do two easy sessions and two longer/harder sessions per week. That’s the kind of schedule I suggest you work towards. Let me know how it goes. Wishing you and your family many happy days on the rocks together!

Hi Eric, I am not a boulder or sport climber who intends to send 5.13’s or higher, actually my long-term goal is to do multi pitch climbs rated around 5.11 high/5.12, which probably means I should be on sighting 5.11 to be comfortable on these routes and work a lot of endurance. Do you think the 4-3-2-1 (or 3-2-1) program applies to myself? I mean, in this program we spend 3 weeks training strenuous boulder problems and only 2 weeks training AE, which I think, is what I need for multi pitch 5.11’s routes. Could you please give me some light on that? –Fernando (Brazil)

Hi Fernando, I’d stick with the 4-3-2-1 or reduce it to a 3-2-2-1. Here’s why. Long/multipitch climbs require a robust aerobic energy system, in addition to anaerobic power, because it’s the energy system you want to dominate on all submaximal moves (as in you climbing many 5.10 and 5.11 moves on long routes). The 4-week phase of “endurance/skill” training is all about submaximal climbing…climbing for volume and avoiding a deep pump (so focus on climbs 1 to 3 grades below your onsight limit). You can reduce this phase to 3 weeks if you like—but I feel it’s important to have this phase to focus on movement skills (higher economy) and developing aerobic endurance in the climbing muscles.

The strength/power phase is important (do at least 2 weeks per cycle), since this is what opens up your high-end power for crux moves. The 2 week anaerobic phase is the most tiring/pumpy, but if you do more than two weeks of this you can slip in overtraining. Ultimately, you’ll need to find what works best for you…but I hope these guidelines will help you!

Hi Eric, I was also wondering what work-rest ratio I should aim for if I am training stamina? I am aiming for 30 routes at my bouldering gym, with down climbing, so that would be about a minute on. Should I then rest for another minute or two?

Yes, you want to use shorter rest periods if you want to train endurance—a 1:1 or 1:2 work-rest ratio is good for endurance sessions. Of course, if you are bouldering for max performance and to build strength/power, then you want longer rest periods that provide nearly full recovery between attempts (at least a 1:5 work-rest ratio). Both approaches are good—depending on the goal of the workout.