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Any reason to not train power/strength/endurance in the same cycle?


Original Post
David Kerkeslager · · New Paltz, NY · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 77

I've found power, strength, and endurance workouts that work for me, but all the training plans I have found are specifically for one of these, the idea being that you work one of power/strength/endurance for i.e. 3 months and then move on to the next thing.

I'm a firm believer that the best training plan is the one that you actually do, and to make it easier to actually stick to my plan, I'd like to have one plan that I stick to forever, changing only the difficulty as I improve. My plan looks something like:

  1. Climb
  2. Endurance
  3. Climb
  4. Rest
  5. Climb
  6. Strength
  7. Climb
  8. Rest
  9. Climb
  10. Power
  11. Climb
  12. Rest
  13. Climb
  14. Strength
  15. Climb
  16. Rest

Is there any reason not to train endurance/strength/power in the same cycle?

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

Most of the proponents of periodization point out that you tend to have more long-term benefits with focused training.

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

I think one of the underlying principles in any sort of block/periodization cycles (whether its linear or nonlinear) is that you need to be hitting each set of exercises (strength, power, endurance) enough times in the cycle to produce any sort of gains/progression. What you have suggested there looks to be something along the lines of hitting 1 set of exercises (for instance endurance) once or maybe twice in a 5-6 week training cycle. That just isn't going to produce adaptations for that specific trait. The reason a lot of of sports and trainers utilize block periodization or some sort is to be highly focused on specific traits for a long enough chunk of time to elucidate adaptations before moving onto another trait. Non-linear periodization is more what you are talking about, with the idea being training multiple traits over a certain period of time so that you can make gains in multiple traits, which tends to appeal more to your average Joe weekend warrior. Honestly, unless you are a very new climber that has poor climbing skills/technique you need to cut out the number of climbing days, or tailor those climbing days to specific activities associated with developing strength, power, or endurance.

Eric Carlos · · Chattanooga, TN · Joined Aug 2008 · Points: 40

You are attempting undulating periodization, AKA non-linear periodization, and it has shown to be successful in many disciplines.  Look up Steve Bechtel as he advocates this type.  For me personally, I don't do well with linear periodization because you have to be strict about it.  Sure, it DOES produce higher highs.  But I climb outside 100 days a year, and do a variety of bouldering and sport, so I don't want to train 12 weeks for a 2-3 week peak.  Non-linear allows you to come closer to always being in peak.  The peaks won't be as high, but you will be slowly progressing forward.

With that said, currently I am doing 

1. Strength/hangboard

2.  Power/limit Bouldering

3. Endurance/Volume. 


Basically I just rotate through those days and work in as many outside days in there as possible.  Sometimes an outside day matches with the training focus, so it counts for that day.



Ben Ricketts · · Salt Lake City, UT · Joined Apr 2009 · Points: 30

He convinced me of the merits of a non-linear cycle.  I also think his books are super helpful.

JCM · · Seattle, WA · Joined Jun 2008 · Points: 95

Various things to comment on here.

1. To answer your original question. It is often reccomended that you not combine strength/power/enduro into the same session, but it is totally fine and appropriate to train each of those things on different days in the same week. A "linear" periodization scheme will have you focusing on only one attribute for a multi-week block, while a "non-linear" scheme will have you working on each attribute concurrently during the same block. There are some other variants, but this is a basic delineation. Both of these methods can work in the right circumstances. Generally, a nonlinear program like what you are proposing is easier to follow and is more suitable to someone new to training. As others have mentioned, you can refer to Steve Bechtel's book "Logical Progression".

2. That said, I would strongly suggest that at the OP's stage in climbing he not get too wrapped up in periodization schemes, hangboard protocols, and all that. It is way to soon for that. Put your attention of climbing regularly, climbing mindfully (with attention to learning and refining new techniques), resting adequately, and building your redpoint pyramid. This is the foundation on which climbing improvement is built; complex training programs are something that comes up much later. Don't skip steps, focus on the basics for now.

3. The program the OP listed appears to include way too much volume. I see 3 day on, 1 day off, to infinity. Looks like a recipe for overtraining.

4. Someone new to structured "training" can still benefit from adding some structure to their climbing sessions. A good method is to vary the level of climbing volume/intensity through the week. One way I really like is, if you climb 3 days per week, have one day of high intensity / low volume (warm up, try limit boulder problems, or work cruxes of a too-hard route, then quit early as soon as your power starts to fade). Another day you to low intensity / high volume (ARCing, route laps, moderate outdoor mileage, circuits of the easy boulder problems in gym, whatever you prefer. A third day is moderate intensity / moderate volume; this looks most like a "normal" climbing day where you try hard-ish onsights or try to redpoint short-term projects. Any of these can occur outside or inside. All of these sessions are 100% actual climbing, don't involve hanging from a wooden edge, and should all be focused on developing and refining climbing technique. This is still a version of nonlinear periodization, since each session focuses on a different attribute in climbing, but it is more appropriate to a training novice than targeted strength/power/enduro workouts.

Eric Carlos · · Chattanooga, TN · Joined Aug 2008 · Points: 40
Ben Ricketts wrote:

He convinced me of the merits of a non-linear cycle.  I also think his books are super helpful.

Having been a powerlifting coach and nationally ranked lifter, I can tell you that if you just want to peak a few times a year for a specific goal route, periodization has merit.  Most climbers, however, want to climb good year round and that is where non-linear will suite many people better.    

Alexander Blum · · Charlotte, NC · Joined Mar 2009 · Points: 131

David, as everyone else said, look into undulating periodization. To get decent results your workouts, as well as your overarching plan, WILL need to change with time - both to address all of the different 'energy systems', as well as to target emerging weaknesses. The RCTM is worth buying just for the chapters that relate to planning and goal setting - even if you have no interest in linear periodization, they do an excellent job of describing a simple, effective framework for those tasks.

I am pretty sure you are an engineer. You do an excellent/totally over the top :) job of analyzing the technical skills we use wrt ropework, gear placement, etc. I think that if you apply that same approach to this part of it all, you will see a lot of success. I would buy the Rock Climber's Training Manual (Anderson & Anderson),  Logical Progression (Bechtel), and Training for the New Alpinism (House and Johnston). The latter is definitely optional but dives pretty deep into the physiology of it all, which I find useful and interesting. This link that Mark Dixon posted in another thread is also a good resource for tying it all together. What I am saying here is get a good handle on the 'first principles' used in this space and how successful coaches are applying them.  

After you've done that you can simplify them and apply them to your situation. I agree that consistency is difficult, I struggle with that a lot as well. My best advice for that is to have a plan, start simple (and low volume), and be flexible. For instance, it almost always makes sense to skip a gym training day if you have an opportunity to get outside. If you have glaring technical or mental weaknesses it makes sense to address them primarily, leaving the physical training on the back burner (although feeling strong really helps my head game).Don't forget to measure things! It is important for quantifying progress, and can be very mentally/emotionally satisfying as well.

One more thing. Don't forget there is no reason climbing days can't train a particular aspect. So you would then have:

  1. Climb (Endurance)
  2. Endurance
  3. Climb (Endurance)
  4. Rest
  5. Climb (Strength)
  6. Strength (Strength)
  7. Climb (Strength)
  8. Rest
  9. Climb (Power)
  10. Power 
  11. Climb (Power)
  12. Rest
  13. Climb (Power Endurance)
  14. Power Endurance
  15. Climb (Power Endurance)
  16. Rest

Which still isn't ideal, but gets you closer to undulating periodization.

JCM · · Seattle, WA · Joined Jun 2008 · Points: 95

Am I the only one that thinks that recomending a complicated undulating periodization  scheme to a 5.9 climber is totally off base and missing the point? Jstar seems to agree...https://www.climbing.com/skills/jonathan-siegrist-climb-to-train-how-to-improve-by-simply-climbing/

Training is great, at the right stage in your career, but it has gotten so trendy now that novice climbers want to jump into an advanced, optimized training regime that is totally inappropriate to their climbing stage.

Climb often. Rest well. Seek new and varied challenges. Practice mindfully. Seek variety. Build up your experience. Learn about redpoint tactics. Buy some decent rock shoes. The hangboard can wait.

David Kerkeslager · · New Paltz, NY · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 77
JCM wrote:

2. That said, I would strongly suggest that at the OP's stage in climbing he not get too wrapped up in periodization schemes, hangboard protocols, and all that. It is way to soon for that. Put your attention of climbing regularly, climbing mindfully (with attention to learning and refining new techniques), resting adequately, and building your redpoint pyramid. This is the foundation on which climbing improvement is built; complex training programs are something that comes up much later. Don't skip steps, focus on the basics for now.

To address this: every day includes climbing. I'm hangboarding on strength (max hangs) and endurance (repeaters) days, but I'm also doing boulder circuits at the gym on all training days (with different sets/reps/rest to adapt it to train strength/power/endurance). The reason I am not climbing with a focus on strength/power/endurance on my climbing days as another poster suggested is I want those days to be focused on whatever my latest weakness is. Currently my biggest weaknesses (worst first) are 1. Falling fear, 2. Technique, 3. Placing gear quickly (really only applies to trad).

3. The program the OP listed appears to include way too much volume. I see 3 day on, 1 day off, to infinity. Looks like a recipe for overtraining.

Yes, I'm not going to be too strict about the 3:1 ratio. If I need more rest days I'll take them (my problem has always been taking too many rest days, not too few).


Alexander Blum · · Charlotte, NC · Joined Mar 2009 · Points: 131

JStar's advice (as written) doesn't work that well if, you know, you have a real job. Or genetically weak fingers. 

I also don't think the two approaches are mutually exclusive. Did you see the part where he stagnated for four years and then broke that plateau by training? The spirit of his advice can absolutely be taken while still 'training'. The Bechtel rule of thumb where "75% of training should happen with your climbing shoes on" is essentially what he is advocating for.

Training smart will get you to a given grade more quickly. It doesn't have to mean hangboard, or campus board, or lifting weights. 

David Kerkeslager · · New Paltz, NY · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 77
Alexander Blum wrote:

I am pretty sure you are an engineer. You do an excellent/totally over the top :) job of analyzing the technical skills we use wrt ropework, gear placement, etc. I think that if you apply that same approach to this part of it all, you will see a lot of success. I would buy the Rock Climber's Training Manual (Anderson & Anderson),  Logical Progression (Bechtel), and Training for the New Alpinism (House and Johnston). The latter is definitely optional but dives pretty deep into the physiology of it all, which I find useful and interesting. This link that Mark Dixon posted in another thread is also a good resource for tying it all together. What I am saying here is get a good handle on the 'first principles' used in this space and how successful coaches are applying them.  

LOL. Not an engineer, computer scientist, but I do have some engineering (robotics) background.

One more thing. Don't forget there is no reason climbing days can't train a particular aspect. So you would then have:

  1. Climb (Endurance)
  2. Endurance
  3. Climb (Endurance)
  4. Rest
  5. Climb (Strength)
  6. Strength (Strength)
  7. Climb (Strength)
  8. Rest
  9. Climb (Power)
  10. Power 
  11. Climb (Power)
  12. Rest
  13. Climb (Power Endurance)
  14. Power Endurance
  15. Climb (Power Endurance)
  16. Rest

Which still isn't ideal, but gets you closer to undulating periodization.

Well, there is a reason: specifically, I think my biggest weakness is the mental aspects of the sport (fear/risk management, technique, just having fun) and I want to focus on those on my climbing days. I think it would be too complicated to find outdoor routes that focus on just one of strength/endurance/power while learning the other stuff.

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

To address this: every day includes climbing. I'm hangboarding on strength (max hangs) and endurance (repeaters) days, but I'm also doing boulder circuits at the gym on all training days (with different sets/reps/rest to adapt it to train strength/power/endurance).

I was wondering what you meant by "strength", "endurance", and "power" in your schedule, since you're already planning on climbing a bunch.

Alexander Blum · · Charlotte, NC · Joined Mar 2009 · Points: 131
David Kerkeslager wrote:

LOL. Not an engineer, computer scientist, but I do have some engineering (robotics) background.

Well, there is a reason: specifically, I think my biggest weakness is the mental aspects of the sport (fear/risk management, technique, just having fun) and I want to focus on those on my climbing days. I think it would be too complicated to find outdoor routes that focus on just one of strength/endurance/power while learning the other stuff.

Man, and I was going to ask how you got an engineering gig in NYC :). 

After I read your response a few posts up, I realized you were already doing what I suggested. It sounds like your actual plan has a lot more nuance than your initial post conveyed, and that you are basically on the right track.

Cocoapuffs 1000 · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2008 · Points: 10

IMO if you are a new climber who is trying to get strong quickly, the only training you should be doing is injury prevention (and I would do it obsessively).  Otherwise just climb as much as possible for your first few years.

Unless you are gifted with Adam Ondra's genetics, you will regret not focusing on injury prevention as you get stronger

Franck Vee · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2017 · Points: 30
Alexander Blum wrote:

Don't forget to measure things! It is important for quantifying progress, and can be very mentally/emotionally satisfying as well.

^^^ This.

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

anyone else notice that the OP appears to not be heeding any advice given.... why even start the thread...

Aleks Zebastian · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 175

climbing friend,

it is quite difficult. you must have great sexual frustration to achieve the necessary nerd levels in order to undertake "focused training" and "undulating periodization." these are simply additional terms for "I have not had sex for at least 9 to 18 months."

however, if you abstain either by choice or lack of choice, you may channel it your frustration and pent up energy into incredible levels of discipline and newfound strength!

may I recommend not simply climbing often and trying hard, or even simple and consistent hangboard training, but instead making this as complex as possible and hoping for some magic secretz shortcutz, with also many colorful spreadsheetz and graphs for "tracking" the hangboarding?


Mark Paulson · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2010 · Points: 95

I'm with JCM on this one.  The issues with "training" at the OP's experience level are manifold.  Firstly, it's time taken away from what will actually make you a better climber, which is mileage and experience.  Secondly, it's commonly known that connective tissue strength develops at a much slower rate than your muscles can undergo hypertrophy.  Intensive training before you've developed strength in your tendons and pulleys will only serve to increase your body's ability to injure itself.  Thirdly, none of the training methods or protocols you've mentioned will do anything to address what you've already identified are your main weaknesses.  Saying "My biggest weaknesses are my lead head, technique, and facility with gear placements, so I'm gonna start hitting the hangboard" is completely counter-intuitive and borderline absurd.  I could go on, but I'm trying to avoid typing "fourthly"...

Climbing alone should be enough to get most able-bodied people to the 5.12-/V6 range at a reasonable rate of progression (2-5 years).  Training is what you do when that progression ceases or plateaus, and right now it sounds like your brain is keeping you a long way from even realizing your _current_ potential.  I understand impatience and wanting to maximize rate of improvement, but there's no cutting in line on the road to being a better climber.  Attempts to do so usually end up in injury or burnout.  Based on your own testimony, your training prescription to work on your weaknesses should be obvious:  

- Lead at your (sport) limit indoors (and eventually outdoors) as much as possible (i.e., be _falling_ as much as possible).  Fear abates through experience, not logic.  "Knowing" ropes don't break and bolts are bomber means nothing to your amygdala- only through the process falling over and over and over and being unharmed every time does your brain learn to stop blasting cortisol and adrenaline every time you venture two feet above a bolt. Again, there's no shortcut here-  climbing up a sheer rock face whilst being cool with the prospect of falling off is completely antithetical to every self-preservation mechanism we humans have developed.  It take time to counteract these mechanisms, and it happens in two parts:  through gaining trust in the system (_empirical_ evidence that, yes, ropes don't break, gear works, bolts are bomber), and by learning to correctly identify situations in which it's safe to fall.

- Put in as much outdoor mileage, on as many types of rock, on as many varieties of climbs, as you can.  Indoors, focus on what you usually try to avoid, be it overhanging thug-fests, slopers, insecure slab moves, etc.

- Do a ton of easy trad pitches.  Visualize every placement before you make it; always try to look, think, and grab the right piece the first time.  

Nick Drake · · Newcastle, WA · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 471

JCM and Mark Paulson covered a lot of my thoughts. Personally I feel that if you're starting in a position of good physical fitness, before the 5.12 level the only thing that technique practice and varying types of climbing (both wall angle, style of movement, number of moves) with the focus being on honing technique is the fastest way forward. Any time spent off the wall is basically a waste because skill acquisition is what you really need, the days you work 1-4 move links on boulders will develop all the strength you need.

The issue I see on forums is the advice of "just climb" isn't expounded upon. It does not mean go to the gym and randomly climb the blue route because your friend dropped the rope there, then spend the next five minutes talking about the last episode of game of thrones. Go climbing with a focus on a specific aspect of technique, execute on the wall and then reflect immediately after, repeat the drill. Skip the reflection and repeats and you're not going to learn much, or at least learn at a MUCH slower rate. 

The next problem that I see many people (myself included) is deciding what to focus on. Left to our own devices we often try ignore our weaknesses by explaining them away with excuses. Have your partner tell you what to focus on, if your partner is at the same technical level ask climbers who have great technique to watch you on an onsight and a perfect repeat. Note I didn't say "ask the strong guy", someone who can muscle fuck their way up a V5 isn't going to be helpful, the physically weaker climber who floats the V4 may. Not everyone is great at analyzing movement, you might have to hunt around for a mentor. 

Jake Jones · · Richmond, VA · Joined Jul 2011 · Points: 1,507
JCM wrote:

Am I the only one that thinks that recomending a complicated undulating periodization  scheme to a 5.9 climber is totally off base and missing the point? Jstar seems to agree...https://www.climbing.com/skills/jonathan-siegrist-climb-to-train-how-to-improve-by-simply-climbing/


I read this a couple days ago and I couldn't agree more.  But, having said that, I was there once too.  Just wanting to climb harder stuff so badly and looking for a silver bullet.  But Siegrist is right on, as one would expect.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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