Mountain Project Logo

How is everyone getting back into shape for the spring?


Original Post
Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 195

Hey everyone,

So the weather here and most other places has sucked this year, and we had an extra long + cold winter/late spring (it’s snowing in the Red!).  Temps are finally looking good for next weekend on, so I’m trying to get my endurance back, as I’ve been doing a lot of training/bouldering but not much ropes and my endurance is shot.  What do you guys do to get your endurance back for sport?  So far I’m thinking lots of volume days and arcing followed by a slow ramp up into steep, pumpy limit climbing as I get closer to my next trip.

Rob the tricam · · Springdale, Utah · Joined Sep 2009 · Points: 0

Hangboarding? Works for me

Mark Paulson · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2010 · Points: 100

Linked boulder circuits.  They've had a greater impact on my outdoor rope performance than anything else.  I've pretty much abandoned indoor roped climbing as training for outdoor roped climbing.  If I were training for the RRG (instead of the NRG), I'd probably incorporate some overhanging repeaters or maxed-angle treadwall circuits.  If you've been climbing for a while and have decent technique,  ARCing is pretty much a waste of time, and volume days easily turn into junk-miles (unless you're training for multi-pitch).  Also, boulder all winter.

Braden Downey · · Bellingham, WA · Joined Feb 2007 · Points: 105

After experimenting with concepts in Andersons's rock climbers training manual, and Training for the New Alpinism (a lot of the concepts overlap), this is baically what works best for me: A few weeks of progressively higher-volume, lower intensity climbing, plus regular streching and light strength seesions 2x/week (emphasize injury prevention, and optional light hangboard and core routines), help me avoid a premature plateau and overuse injuries later in the season, than if I were to jump right into power endurance or intense strength training. You probably won't notice results until a couple weeks go by, but it will provide a taller gear you'll appreciate when racing to the chains later in the season. This is how you get stronger over time, break through plateaus, and prevent injuiry. For me, high-volume low-intensity training means 40min-1hr treadwall arc sessions 3x/week. I'll arc until I feel the onset of overuse injury, then back off a hair and ice/massage with arm-aide and foam roller, eat well, and get adequate rest. First week usually 50% of that. Move onto strength when arcing benefits start to plateau (stick with it at least 2-3 weeks). Keep a log with notes about how intense arcing sessions feel / how depleted /sore you feel, so you have some reference for where to start the next time you're "off the couch". My 2c.  EDIT: Arcing is a great opportunity to hone technique. Prevent boredom during ARC sessions by stepping on features on holds like bolt-holes, and experiment with moving your hips around to improve reach / improve resistance to barn-door-ing, body tension and precision + speed.

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 195

One concern I have with ARCing is that it tends to promote slow climbing, as your goal is to stay on the wall for a ridiculous amount of time.  When climbing on steep terrain, I find the opposite approach is necessary; the faster I climb, the less likely I pump out.  Also, with both boulder circuits and ARCing, you’re not clipping, which makes the climbing a lot less pumpy.  I wonder if there’s a way to make the training more sport-specific by building in approximated “clips” where you stop and hang/lockoff?  Also, what about lapping lead routes?

Allen Sanderson · · Oootah · Joined Jul 2007 · Points: 1,187

I have been power beer drinking all winter. I have a couple of heavy glass mugs that turn the 12oz curls into 44oz curls. Been sending all winter.

Derek DeBruin · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2010 · Points: 585
Ted Pinson wrote: One concern I have with ARCing is that it tends to promote slow climbing, as your goal is to stay on the wall for a ridiculous amount of time.  When climbing on steep terrain, I find the opposite approach is necessary; the faster I climb, the less likely I pump out.  Also, with both boulder circuits and ARCing, you’re not clipping, which makes the climbing a lot less pumpy.  I wonder if there’s a way to make the training more sport-specific by building in approximated “clips” where you stop and hang/lockoff?  Also, what about lapping lead routes?

One of the reasons you get pumped is the inability to remove metabolic byproducts from the cells. Increased aerobic capacity and capillarity (that is, ARC) is the solution to this problem, hence the recommendation. This is a long-view solution though, and is often referred to as "base" fitness in many sports.

Basically, ARCing will ultimately increase your capacity to climb longer/steeper before getting fully pumped. Failing to do this, additional training just makes you better at using your current capacity, but doesn't increase this capacity. Moving quickly as a tactic works on hard climbs works regardless.

If clipping is a problem, it's worth dedicating some practice time to it. If it's truly making you pump out and frequently demands you lock off, you can likely make yourself more efficient by improving your ability to find stances that don't require a lock off and clipping efficiently. Think of clipping as something you do on the way by as the carabiner is passing in front of your abdomen. 
Mark Paulson · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2010 · Points: 100
Ted Pinson wrote: One concern I have with ARCing is that it tends to promote slow climbing, as your goal is to stay on the wall for a ridiculous amount of time.  When climbing on steep terrain, I find the opposite approach is necessary; the faster I climb, the less likely I pump out.  Also, with both boulder circuits and ARCing, you’re not clipping, which makes the climbing a lot less pumpy.  I wonder if there’s a way to make the training more sport-specific by building in approximated “clips” where you stop and hang/lockoff?  Also, what about lapping lead routes?
Actually, I find LBC's do a pretty good job of mimicking clipping, or at least the rhythm of how one climbs cruxy outdoor routes.  6 or 7 problems on 90 second intervals means the more quickly/efficiently you can pull the problems, the quicker you can downclimb back to your stance (i.e., clipping stance).  By adjusting the number, difficulty, sequence and angle of the problems, number of sets, size of resting jug, and length of interval, you can completely tailor the workout to whatever terrain you're training for.  
Mark Paulson · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2010 · Points: 100
Derek DeBruin wrote:

One of the reasons you get pumped is the inability to remove metabolic byproducts from the cells. Increased aerobic capacity and capillarity (that is, ARC) is the solution to this problem, hence the recommendation. 

Well, the other way to not get pumped is to reduce the percentage of muscle fibers that contract under a given load, i.e., get stronger via hypertrophy.  No amount of capillary capacity will flush out lactic acid when a muscle is 100% loaded.  ARCing may increase capillarity (non-anecdotal citation needed) and thus your ability to pull more low-medium difficulty moves before getting pumped, but hypertrophy does the same thing aaand means you can pull harder moves. Time way better spent, IMO. 

I followed the Anderson bros. program to a T for four cycles, and found the ARC sessions to provide no appreciable benefit.

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 195
Derek DeBruin wrote:

One of the reasons you get pumped is the inability to remove metabolic byproducts from the cells. Increased aerobic capacity and capillarity (that is, ARC) is the solution to this problem, hence the recommendation. This is a long-view solution though, and is often referred to as "base" fitness in many sports.

Basically, ARCing will ultimately increase your capacity to climb longer/steeper before getting fully pumped. Failing to do this, additional training just makes you better at using your current capacity, but doesn't increase this capacity. Moving quickly as a tactic works on hard climbs works regardless.

If clipping is a problem, it's worth dedicating some practice time to it. If it's truly making you pump out and frequently demands you lock off, you can likely make yourself more efficient by improving your ability to find stances that don't require a lock off and clipping efficiently. Think of clipping as something you do on the way by as the carabiner is passing in front of your abdomen. 

Totally agree, but IMO it will always be a factor regardless of how clean your clipping technique.  You still have to stop to clip and hang from one arm, and locking off is sometimes necessary if a route is poorly bolted or just not suitable for your size.  Compare leading a vertical route to toproping it...pump factor is totally different, at least for me.

Derek DeBruin · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2010 · Points: 585
Mark Paulson wrote:

Well, the other way to not get pumped is to reduce the percentage of muscle fibers that contract under a given load, i.e., get stronger via hypertrophy.  No amount of capillary capacity will flush out lactic acid when a muscle is 100% loaded.  ARCing may increase capillarity (non-anecdotal citation needed) and thus your ability to pull more low-medium difficulty moves before getting pumped, but hypertrophy does the same thing aaand means you can pull harder moves. Time way better spent, IMO. 

I followed the Anderson bros. program to a T for four cycles, and found the ARC sessions to provide no appreciable benefit.

Did you also follow rock prodigy to a T and omit the ARC phase to compare? If not, it's not really a definitive conclusion. Notwithstanding, its certainly possible ARC is of little/no benefit to you. Looking at your ticks, which appear in the 12 to low 13 range, I'd guess you have a sufficiently large base that it doesn't matter much. This is noted in RCTM as well--ARC might be worth omitting for climbers with a healthy base owing to years of experience. 

I also don't disagree that hypertrophy is valuable, if for no other reason than that it changes the definition of "low-medium difficulty move." As Yaniro tells us,  "Without power there is nothing to endure." In the strictest sense, LBC that you referenced before isn't so much hypertrophy as power endurance, though this gets pretty muddy depending on who's definitions you use as our language in climbing for this is a bit imprecise.
Derek DeBruin · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2010 · Points: 585
Ted Pinson wrote:

Totally agree, but IMO it will always be a factor regardless of how clean your clipping technique.  You still have to stop to clip and hang from one arm, and locking off is sometimes necessary if a route is poorly bolted or just not suitable for your size.  Compare leading a vertical route to toproping it...pump factor is totally different, at least for me.

My last point at "clipping on the way by" is relevant here. Certainly, clipping adds an additional move/step, but depending on route difficulty can be incorporated into movement to minimize its effect. My point remains the same that if clipping is problematic, then it's worth practicing on it's own to refine the technique as needed. It can still be taxing, but it would be akin to simply trying to muscle your way through a move without bothering to rectify the underlying footwork problem.

Derek DeBruin · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2010 · Points: 585
Mark Paulson wrote:

Well, the other way to not get pumped is to reduce the percentage of muscle fibers that contract under a given load, i.e., get stronger via hypertrophy.  No amount of capillary capacity will flush out lactic acid when a muscle is 100% loaded.  ARCing may increase capillarity (non-anecdotal citation needed) and thus your ability to pull more low-medium difficulty moves before getting pumped, but hypertrophy does the same thing aaand means you can pull harder moves. Time way better spent, IMO. 

I followed the Anderson bros. program to a T for four cycles, and found the ARC sessions to provide no appreciable benefit.

I mean no slight to Ted here, but the difference in your abilities (at least as visible on MP) might also lead to different training plans and relative effectiveness. ARC could be beneficial in that case.

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 195

None taken!  I don’t know that it necessarily does make a difference, as the differences are proportional.  ARCing could be beneficial for me, however, since right now there’s a big discrepancy between my bouldering/lead abilities.  The other night at the gym, I flashed a V4 and pumped off of a 10c, lol.

Derek DeBruin · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2010 · Points: 585
Ted Pinson wrote: None taken!  I don’t know that it necessarily does make a difference, as the differences are proportional.  ARCing could be beneficial for me, however, since right now there’s a big discrepancy between my bouldering/lead abilities.  The other night at the gym, I flashed a V4 and pumped off of a 10c, lol.

I suspect two culprits here:

1. The need to improve endurance. I'd start with ARC and then move on to LBC.

2. A technical or mental skill deficiency on lead. Head game concerns can definitely exacerbate the pump. Have you tried mock leading? Compare with your lead performance. This could help you determine how much is related to head game and how much is related to inefficient clipping and/or lack of endurance.
Ian Machen · · Carson City, NV · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 35

I've been doing the Mountain Tactical Alpine Rock Climb program. I completed it once, and have been going through it again.  It combines a ton of lower body endurance and power, along with climbing. I've found it very effective so far.

Franck Vee · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2017 · Points: 70

I've been training fairly hard for most of the winter, so I think I'm actually in pretty good shape overall. The main thing will be to get used to the rocks again and to longer routes - my PE isn't great and my endurance probably sucks.

I'm cool with that - I'm just going to ramp up volume progressively as well as intensity. I have like 6 weeks in Wyoming/SD so I won't feel the need to rush to tough grades too early, as there will be plenty of time then to do just that.

Andrew R · · Arizony · Joined Jun 2006 · Points: 3,862

Deep dish pizza and lurking MP. I’ll be spending the next six months complaining about the heat anyway. 

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

Well, the other way to not get pumped is to reduce the percentage of muscle fibers that contract under a given load, i.e., get stronger via hypertrophy.  No amount of capillary capacity will flush out lactic acid when a muscle is 100% loaded.  ARCing may increase capillarity (non-anecdotal citation needed) and thus your ability to pull more low-medium difficulty moves before getting pumped, but hypertrophy does the same thing aaand means you can pull harder moves. Time way better spent, IMO. 

I followed the Anderson bros. program to a T for four cycles, and found the ARC sessions to provide no appreciable benefit.

Well I just sent my hardest project after 4 weeks of ARCing, and I credit the redpoint to my increased ability to recover on route as the result of all that ARCing. The argument that "you only need to get stronger so the moves get easier and you don't need to train aerobic endurance" has some merit, but it's not the whole story. Let's say you have really strong legs, maybe you set the world record in squatting or something. But that doesn't mean you can go out and win a marathon. I know, I know. Different movement patterns, the muscles are not used the same way, etc., etc. The point is, strength and endurance relies heavily on two different energy systems, just training strength is not an effective way to train your endurance. If you're a boulderer, you can afford to only train strength and power. But if you climb routes, you need all the energy systems to work together. I'm sure we all know a boulderer who can climb V8s but pumps off 5.10s.

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 195

Yeah, energy systems is a good explanation.  I think the strength=> endurance definitely translates on crappier holds, but holding onto and making a series of moves from ok or marginal holds for a long time adds up in a different way.

Andrew Southworth · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 55

I know your question is directed toward what you can do for this spring, but if your considering a longer term solution in your progression I'd recommend considering Steve Bechtel's logical progression. It has been really beneficial for me and continually trains the different systems throughout the year. It's also flexible and encourages days outside. 

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Training Forum
Post a Reply to "How is everyone getting back into shape for the…"

Log In to Reply