Saturday, October 07, 2006


If you are under the age 15 this post ain't for you. Periodization is a training technique used to improve overall climbing. Kids under 15 just need to climb like crazy because your body doesn't really get any benefit for this type of training. Look at all the pre-teen and teen climbers hitting 5.13 and 5.14 after only a couple years of climbing...You don't need it.

For the rest of us it is a battle, and then like myself... A war. I have read a lot on training and it boils down to some very simple ideas. Most of us don't train, we just climb. We work a project after a couple of warm-up laps, flail for a while and go home. This is fun but it is not training. We plateau soon enough, I was stuck at 5.10a for 2 years. To become better climbers we must work weaknesses and become systematic in our approach and this is where periodization comes in.

Periodization is training in block intervals on one type of climbing; endurance, power or power-endurance. Endurance is very important on longer route but also with changing styles of climbing. It takes much longer to climb a sport route than top rope and likewise longer still to climb trad. Power is important for bouldering and sport climbing. Power is called on to get that one HARD move. Power-endurance is needed when you feel that deep down nasty pump just as you are trying to make that next clip. It is being able able to climb for a period at near maximum power. We should train these individually to get the most benefit.

Bob and I have been following a 4-3-2-1 periodization schedule and I have seen good results (Over the last 12 months I have gone from climbing 5.10a to 5.10d and working my first 5.11.). It works like this;

  1. 4 weeks of endurance. Easy climbing at 2 grads below your onsite grade. Continuous climbing (up and down climb without touching the floor) for 10 minutes then switch belay. Some nights we would climb slightly harder routes but do laps (ie climb up and lower off). You should not feel a heavy burn doing this, if you are get on something easier.
  2. 3 weeks of power. 10 minute intervals of redpoint climbing or bouldering. One routine we use is to climb the first 3 moves then lower off, then 4 moves, lower, 6 moves lower, top out or high point and lower and then the first three again.
  3. 2 weeks of power-endurance. Here you want to chase the burn. You want that nasty deep burn every time you get on the wall. If you get the burn in less than 5 minutes...Too hard. If you last more than 10 minutes...Not hard enough.
  4. 1 week of rest. No climbing just allow yourself to heal before the next series.

Very impotent tips;

  1. Always warm up with easy laps. If you don't warm up well you are much more likely to get injured.
  2. Drink water while you are working out. Dehydration stops the body from performing well.
  3. Have a protein shake with in 30 minutes of the end of the workout. You body needs the protein substrate to build muscle and it is most effective when you are pumped.
  4. Take you vitamins. Vit C helps rebuild proteins (ie muscle) and a multi-vit will make sure you aren't missing any important things.
  5. If you don't have power you have nothing to endure! You should be be doing 3 sets of pull-up daily 5 times per week. Aim for 10 to 12 reps. If you can't get 10, do as many as possible and do the rest as negatives. If 10 is easy, do 5 to 10 Frenchies (Pull-up and hold at the top for 3-5sec then lower, pull up and then lower to 90 degrees, lock off and hold for 3-5 sec then lower and pull up and lower to 125 degree, lock off and hold for 3-5sec...that is one rep).
  6. Power is related to your strength to weight ratio. The heavier you are the worse it is. It is easier to loose weight than to gain strength. Cut out junk food, cut out between meal snacks. If you eat a reasonable diet and you are still not at your ideal climbing weight start running. 20 to 30 minutes 3-4 times per week.
  7. Train antagonistic muscles 2 times per week. These are the opposing muscles which you use for climbing. Injure can occur if a balance is not kept. A basic chest, tricept and shoulder workout will do fine. (Push-up or bench press 3 set of 10, tricept dips or extensions 3 sets of 10, shoulder press or handstand press 3 sets of 10 or max)
  8. Train core 2 times per week.
  9. With the above periodization, climb 4 times per week with endurance and power-endurance, 3 times per week with power (Needs more recovery).

SO...over all you should be climbing 4 times per week, running 3 times per week, working antagonistic and core muscles 2 times per week and following a reasonable diet. Post a comment if you have any questions or comments.