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Endurance training without volume; Arc?


Original Post
Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 190

Hey all,

So I had a kid about a year ago.  Climbing hasn't taken as much of a hit as I expected, and I've actually managed to bump up my bouldering and trad grades a bit, but my sport grade feels stagnant, mainly due to endurance.  I'm bouldering V4/V5, but struggle to reliably send higher than 11a/b (techy vert = no problem, overhanging jugs with roofs...:/).  I don't feel like it's a technique or max strength issue (not that I couldn't improve there) because I can fairly easily work out the beta and make the individual moves, but I pump out pretty quickly and have trouble connecting long pumpy routes.  Ordinarily, the training would be simple: climb a lot! ...buuutttt...

<quote=me>So I had a kid about a year ago.</quote>

And therein lies the problem.  We've worked it out where I can usually make it to the gym 2-3 times per week and outdoors once a month, but I'm not hitting the volume needed for building up base endurance.  So I guess what I'm looking for is a way to cram more training volume into fewer sessions, which made me think of Arcing.  So for those of you who Arc...

1) How many times per week?  I've started doing it as a cooldown from a regular climbing session, but am willing to donate some of my precious climbing days if it will help.

2) How do you push it?  I did a 20 min Arc session on a 5.9 after climbing, which wasn't too bad.  If training for steep single pitch, do you bump up the grade/angle, or volume?  In other words, should I go for 2 sets of 20 min 5.9 Arcs, or 1 20 min 10a?

DGraham · · Dallas · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 921

hangboard

Charlie S · · Ogden, UT · Joined Aug 2007 · Points: 1,556

ARCing is good as a startup before a training season.  I ARC for about 2 weeks before hitting the hangboard for a month.

I am typically ARCing in 2 rounds of 30 minutes each, twice a week.  Plus maybe some extra.  For example, a typical ARC week looks like:
Monday: 2x30min, Wednesday: 1x30min, Friday, 2x30min.

This is a big time commitment, and trying to get that controllable, slow burn, takes concentration.

Alternatively, diverging from the RPTM's approach. Tom Randall has made a video on a 20 minute endurance protocol:
https://www.epictv.com/media/podcast/lattice-training-the-20-minute-endurance-boost/605825

I have not tried it, but would be interested in hearing the results.

Keep in mind: strength will help your endurance, but endurance will not help your strength.  If you're on a super tight time crunch, hangboarding is probably the most efficient way to improve both strength and endurance.  You can also ARC on a hangboard (but can you say BORING!?).

If you don't have a hangboard setup at home, that's the first thing I would do.

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 190

So, I do have a hangboard and home and use it somewhat regularly.  I'm coming off of a nasty tennis/golfer's elbow injury, so I've been avoiding it, but I did a session recently and was fine.  I haven't seen the supposed endurance gains that come with strength, probably because the muscle groups are too different for my problem area (long, sustained steep jug hauls).  I feel like steep jug endurance is a different system from thin crimps; the latter I'm fine with, former is what I'm trying to improve on.  Would weighted hangs on more positive holds be a better simulation?  I usually do 7/3/ repeaters and 10s max hangs (not in the same session); is there a hangboard workout that would work for endurance?

Session length isn't a problem (I usually hit the gym after putting baby to bed), it's more frequency (wife has things to do too), so 2-3 Arc sessions are doable...2x30 sounds brutal though, lol.

Thanks for the link!  Randall is the man.

will ar · · San Antonio, TX · Joined Jan 2010 · Points: 270
Ted Pinson wrote:

  I don't feel like it's a technique or max strength issue because I can fairly easily work out the beta and make the individual moves, but I pump out pretty quickly and have trouble connecting long pumpy routes. 

I've never climbed with you, but I don't think that's a safe assumption to make. My hunch is technique is going to be the easiest area for you to make gains.

Keep in mind that there are 3 ways to improve how long you can climb on a route. 1) Climb more efficiently 2) Get stronger 3) Train endurance. A lot of people seem to focus on training endurance first because it recreates that pumped feeling you get when you actually fall off, but could improve more rapidly be focusing on strength and technique.

If a route is steep and still in the low 11 range odds are that the individual moves are relatively easy by themselves, but it's the sum of the moves that contributes to the difficulty rating. Focus on figuring out the beta that allows you to do all the moves, not just a few at a time. Maybe try some technqiue or movement drills. Developing efficient technique will have more lasting benefits than strength or endurance.

Strength-this was outlined well in the RCTM and I think Steve Bechtel has a few blog posts on it as well. Basically increasing your maximum strength ensures that the same moves are now lower in relation to your anaerobic threashold and you can climb the route without getting that killer pump. The downside in your situation is it's really hard to develop a lot of additional strength on large jugs as you have to add a ton of weight on a hangboard.

Endurance- ARCing will create a great base to build upon, but I don't think spending a lot of time on 5.9ish terrain as your primary form of training is going to help you send a 5.11. Maybe look into doing some more intense, but shorter intervals. Try to figure out how much time you spend on your project actually climbing (subtract out the time hanging when working it) and find a route of similar style and duration, but maybe a little easier and take multiple runs on it with rest limited to double the time you take to climb the route.

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 190

Yeah, it's a thin line between Aerobic/Anaerobic endurance.  Lapping easier routes is a good idea and something a lot of people who train for the area do.  I've also seen gains from just throwing myself repeatedly at these kinds of routes, but again can't seem to work enough volume in to really get to where I want to be.  I should mention that the outdoor sport climbing is mostly at the Red, so...you hit the nail on the head for grades.

Technique you can always improve upon, totally agree there, and efficiency is super important on overhangs.  Again, though...5.11a to V5 is a pretty big discrepancy, which is why I concluded technique was not the limiting factor for these specific routes.

DGraham · · Dallas · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 921

forget the 7s on 3s off stuff. 

warm-up/cardio jump rope 15-30 minutes stretch 

warm up fingers on jugs

pick a few holds, hang on a long as you can with all your might (or 30 seconds, which means pick a harder hold)! 

when you fall off (or 30 seconds is up), give yourself 10-20s and go again.

 Do this for 15 minutes, you'll feel plenty pumped. 

Basically just go hang on your hangboard, and don't take training so seriously :) like you said, you're still making progress thru the grades. For me, when I have trained to hard is usually when i got hurt. enjoy the slow progress and respect the grade. 

aikibujin · · Castle Rock, CO · Joined Oct 2014 · Points: 294

What exactly are you doing in the gym? 2-3 times per week is plenty to get endurance/strength/power or whatever you want to work on, even if you just have one or two hours to climb.

climberish · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 10

ARC less, hangboard more (work up to max weight 10s on 5 minute off on a large edge look up the lopez hangs..... and if you are hangboarding properly you should not have any elbow injuries, and should actually feel better after a month or two of hangboarding), and do more intense project level intervals preferably on a systems board... You can waste your time ARCing all week and your endurance for climbing 5.9 or easy 5.10 will be great... but throwin a few moves at 90% of your limit (crux on a project) and youll flame out real quick. 

climberish · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 10
DGraham wrote:

forget the 7s on 3s off stuff. 

warm-up/cardio jump rope 15-30 minutes stretch 

warm up fingers on jugs

pick a few holds, hang on a long as you can with all your might (or 30 seconds, which means pick a harder hold)! 

when you fall off (or 30 seconds is up), give yourself 10-20s and go again.

 Do this for 15 minutes, you'll feel plenty pumped. 

Basically just go hang on your hangboard, and don't take training so seriously :) like you said, you're still making progress thru the grades. For me, when I have trained to hard is usually when i got hurt. enjoy the slow progress and respect the grade. 

And don't listen to this guy... if you are going to train you should take it seriously otherwise whats the point. If you train smart and efficiently you can train hard and not get hurt. 

Tristan Mayfield · · SLC, UT · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 45

I've been trying the Lattice Training thing and it really works! I just do a strength/power workout and some weights and finish with those. Then, when I switch to real endurance training I still did the easy vs hard days, but I started reducing the rest time for the 1:1 climbing to make it more power endurance. That's a pretty simplified description, feel free to message me if you want a more spelled out version of this. I think this 20 minute endurance boost is one of the coolest training tools I've ever heard of. 

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 190
aikibujin wrote:

What exactly are you doing in the gym? 2-3 times per week is plenty to get endurance/strength/power or whatever you want to work on, even if you just have one or two hours to climb.

Mainly just climbing.  About 50/50 sport/bouldering g, depending on partner availability.

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 190
climberish wrote:

ARC less, hangboard more (work up to max weight 10s on 5 minute off on a large edge look up the lopez hangs..... and if you are hangboarding properly you should not have any elbow injuries, and should actually feel better after a month or two of hangboarding), and do more intense project level intervals preferably on a systems board... You can waste your time ARCing all week and your endurance for climbing 5.9 or easy 5.10 will be great... but throwin a few moves at 90% of your limit (crux on a project) and youll flame out real quick. 

Yeah, I've actually found it helps a bit and is definitely much less destructive than bouldering.  I think it's the dynamic loading that aggravates tendinitis, but when the pain was acute, I needed to avoid tweaky holds, which is hard to do on a hangboard. :/

aikibujin · · Castle Rock, CO · Joined Oct 2014 · Points: 294
Ted Pinson wrote:

Mainly just climbing.  About 50/50 sport/bouldering g, depending on partner availability.

By "just climbing", are you doing what majority of the climbers do in the gym: walking around the gym/bouldering cave and climbing random routes/problems that are new or look cool, and basically just having fun? If you don't have any set objectives for your gym sessions, then maybe you need to look at how to utilize your gym time better.

My wife and I just had our second child in January, I haven't been to the climbing gym in four months. I'd be ecstatic if I can go to the gym even once a week. I have a set of gymnastics rings and a hangboard at home, so I've been doing all my training on these. I train about 2-3 times a week, usually after the kids have gone to bed. My session last between 60-90 minutes, depending on what I'm working on. So I train about 4 hours in total each week. My technique is definitely suffering, but I'm able to maintain strength and maybe even improve my endurance a little. I sent a project just a couple of weeks ago. I did all the moves on this route in January just right before the birth of our second child, but I didn't have the endurance to link all the moves. After a gap of 2-3 months during which I couldn't climb at all, I went back and got it after three tries. I credit that success to having defined objectives in my training and structuring it to meet my goal. Of course you don't have to take training seriously and just go have fun, climbing is really pretty pointless. But if "just have fun" is not getting you where you want to be with your climbing, then you may want to look at your training a little more seriously.

Brendan N · · Salt Lake City, Utah · Joined Oct 2006 · Points: 378

There is no magic bullet that is going to give you endurance without putting in the work. You have plenty of time at your disposal you just need to use it effectively to improve. 

ARCing is the most efficient way to get volume in limited time. If your project (and weakness) is overhanging terrain, spend as much time there as you can tolerate. 

2-3 nights of ARCing 3 x 20min with supplemental hangboarding at home is plenty of volume to get ready for the Red in the fall. 

AmandaM · · Jackson, WY · Joined Apr 2010 · Points: 10

This thread is interesting to me because I have the same problem.  Routes with long, overhanging sections are my nemesis. However, I think my problem is my leading technique, which hasn't gotten much attention in the comments above. If I can break a route up into many boulder problems and recover at rests in between, or climb up and place gear then come back down to a rest to recover, then I do well.  But if I have to find a way to rest on overhanging terrain, even if the holds are "better" and the moves are "easier", then I find it hard to relax and pump out. I usually onsite a couple of letter grades higher if the terrain is vertical and crimpy or tricky, rather than overhanging and pumpy. 

I'm also in a similar boat since i have a toddler at home, with another coming in October.  I think ARC training on overhanging terrain should be perfect for gaining endurance for overhanging routes, AS WELL as learning how to relax and find rests when you're still on your arms, while just spending 1-2 hours at the gym.  I'm planning to do ARC training on our sport club's treadwall this winter after having this baby, and supplement with hang board training.  I should be able to find the time to do this...

What about doing sets of 20 minutes on the overhanging portion of the bouldering wall at your gym, with a focus on finding rests? And on outside days, maybe try to see if you're missing rests, or if it's possible to climb up, clip, come back down to a rest, recover, and then power through to the next rest.  You can usually use this technique to manage the pump on 11-/mid 11 routes at Sinks Canyon. Not sure if that translates to the Red.

Parker Wrozek · · Denver, CO · Joined Mar 2012 · Points: 83
aikibujin wrote:

By "just climbing", are you doing what majority of the climbers do in the gym: walking around the gym/bouldering cave and climbing random routes/problems that are new or look cool, and basically just having fun? If you don't have any set objectives for your gym sessions, then maybe you need to look at how to utilize your gym time better.

My wife and I just had our second child in January, I haven't been to the climbing gym in four months. I'd be ecstatic if I can go to the gym even once a week. I have a set of gymnastics rings and a hangboard at home, so I've been doing all my training on these. I train about 2-3 times a week, usually after the kids have gone to bed. My session last between 60-90 minutes, depending on what I'm working on. So I train about 4 hours in total each week. My technique is definitely suffering, but I'm able to maintain strength and maybe even improve my endurance a little. I sent a project just a couple of weeks ago. I did all the moves on this route in January just right before the birth of our second child, but I didn't have the endurance to link all the moves. After a gap of 2-3 months during which I couldn't climb at all, I went back and got it after three tries. I credit that success to having defined objectives in my training and structuring it to meet my goal. Of course you don't have to take training seriously and just go have fun, climbing is really pretty pointless. But if "just have fun" is not getting you where you want to be with your climbing, then you may want to look at your training a little more seriously.

I agree it is all about how you sepnd your time in the gym. I have thought about training but I really don't. I just go climb 11's and 12's that look good in the gym and I think that will prepare me for upcoming trips or areas I am climbing. I did my first 12a last year and after I tried it I realized I was going to need dynamic big move power, so I worked on that to get the send. I think it helps to have routes in mind that you want to send so you can focus your training. Or just go have fun and don't worry about falls and hang dogs or whatever.

That was a sweet send of the project. I am going to say you were just super confident in my belaying, so it pushed you to the top ;) 

Lena chita · · Cleveland, OH · Joined Mar 2011 · Points: 250
Ted Pinson wrote:

Hey all,

So I had a kid about a year ago.  Climbing hasn't taken as much of a hit as I expected, and I've actually managed to bump up my bouldering and trad grades a bit, but my sport grade feels stagnant, mainly due to endurance.  I'm bouldering V4/V5, but struggle to reliably send higher than 11a/b (techy vert = no problem, overhanging jugs with roofs...:/).  I don't feel like it's a technique or max strength issue (not that I couldn't improve there) because I can fairly easily work out the beta and make the individual moves, but I pump out pretty quickly and have trouble connecting long pumpy routes.  Ordinarily, the training would be simple: climb a lot! ...buuutttt...

So I had a kid about a year ago.

And therein lies the problem.  We've worked it out where I can usually make it to the gym 2-3 times per week and outdoors once a month, but I'm not hitting the volume needed for building up base endurance.  So I guess what I'm looking for is a way to cram more training volume into fewer sessions, which made me think of Arcing.  So for those of you who Arc...

1) How many times per week?  I've started doing it as a cooldown from a regular climbing session, but am willing to donate some of my precious climbing days if it will help.

2) How do you push it?  I did a 20 min Arc session on a 5.9 after climbing, which wasn't too bad.  If training for steep single pitch, do you bump up the grade/angle, or volume?  In other words, should I go for 2 sets of 20 min 5.9 Arcs, or 1 20 min 10a?

So, I'm going to make a wild guess, based on your location, that the overhanging area you are training for is Red River Gorge. :)

And based on that guess I would say that you need not so much pure endurance (aka ARCing training), as POWER-ENDURANCE. (aka 4x4s or Intensive Endurance Intervals).

4x4s: pick 4 boulder problems at the gym that you can onsight. Make them overhanging/ similar to routes you are trying to climb, if you can. Climb all 4 of them one after another, without rest. Time yourself when you do this. Rest about twice the amount of time it took you to climb them. Repeat for a total of 4 sets of 4 boulder problems. You should be failing towards the end of your set. if you fail much earlier in the set, substitute easier problems next time. If  it is too easy, make the problems harder. Once you get the right difficulty (you are barely finishing the last set, or failing on the last couple moves) start shortening the rest between sets. Once you get to where yuor time on the rock equals rest time, start substituting harder problems. But basically, progress by changing one thing at a time only.

Nothing magical about the number 4. if you have really short walls, make it 5 or 6 problems. If you have long problems, make it only 3 in a row. It takes a few minutes to climb a typical 50-70 ft route. So your goal is to have your sets close to that time.

Intensive endurance intervals-- similar concept, except you do not step off the wall at all. it would be something like: Climb up problem 1, downclimb easy jugs, climb up problem 2, downclimb, repeat for about 4-6 problems, the entire set should be about 8-9 minutes. Then rest 5-8 minutes, and repeat for 4 intervals.

Most common mistake is that people try this with too ambitions a plan, and create a circuit out of a bunch of V3/V4s to start. You probably should start with V1/V0 at your level, no really, that's how hard it would be to do.

Eventually, you progress, again, by changing only one thing at a time. if you did it by putting together V1, V1, V0, V0,V0, change it up by making it V0, V0 V1, V1, V0, or by making it V1, V2, V0, V0, V0. If you start with really long rests, like, if you need 15 minutes of rest to recover, then shorten the rests, but if you are already resting only 4-5 min between sets, then make the sets harder. If you started by only linking together 3 problems, make the set longer until you can do 6 problems in a row. And then start making the problems harder.

aikibujin · · Castle Rock, CO · Joined Oct 2014 · Points: 294
Parker Wrozek wrote:

That was a sweet send of the project. I am going to say you were just super confident in my belaying, so it pushed you to the top ;) 

Haha! Thanks for the belay on that one. Can you push my fat ass up some harder stuff? I need all the help I can get...

Parker Wrozek · · Denver, CO · Joined Mar 2012 · Points: 83

I think it is going to have to be the other way around but I can sure try!

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 190
aikibujin wrote:

By "just climbing", are you doing what majority of the climbers do in the gym: walking around the gym/bouldering cave and climbing random routes/problems that are new or look cool, and basically just having fun? If you don't have any set objectives for your gym sessions, then maybe you need to look at how to utilize your gym time better.

My wife and I just had our second child in January, I haven't been to the climbing gym in four months. I'd be ecstatic if I can go to the gym even once a week. I have a set of gymnastics rings and a hangboard at home, so I've been doing all my training on these. I train about 2-3 times a week, usually after the kids have gone to bed. My session last between 60-90 minutes, depending on what I'm working on. So I train about 4 hours in total each week. My technique is definitely suffering, but I'm able to maintain strength and maybe even improve my endurance a little. I sent a project just a couple of weeks ago. I did all the moves on this route in January just right before the birth of our second child, but I didn't have the endurance to link all the moves. After a gap of 2-3 months during which I couldn't climb at all, I went back and got it after three tries. I credit that success to having defined objectives in my training and structuring it to meet my goal. Of course you don't have to take training seriously and just go have fun, climbing is really pretty pointless. But if "just have fun" is not getting you where you want to be with your climbing, then you may want to look at your training a little more seriously.

Yep!  That's pretty much why I started this thread.  I'm realizing that it's going to be hard to progress by just "climbing what looks cool" all the time, so I'm trying to make more efficient use of my time.  Congrats on the second kid!  I've heard 2 changes things substantially.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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