Mountain Project Logo

Applying RCTM to a Non-Linear Periodization Training Program?


Original Post
Pico Blanco · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2019 · Points: 0

So I've been climbing for a year now and recently decided to take the sport seriously and start training. Browsing through MP and other forums I found the RCTM and decided to check it out. I'm close to finishing it and it's been a pretty eye opening read. It's already taught me a ton about training philosophy and physiology for climbing.

However, it's also been dawning on me that the book's Linear Periodization program isn't ideal for me. It sounds to me like it's meant for more experienced climbers trying to break past a plateau. The use of extended phases in order to culminate in a ~3-4 week long "performance peak" also doesn't sound appealing to me, as I would much rather see steady consistent gains that allow me to redpoint routes year-round. Most importantly, I feel like the RCTM program is incredibly monotonous, inflexible, and, honestly, boring. Doing nothing but ARCing 2-3 times per week for an entire month sounds miserable.

So my question is, do any of you know of a non-linear periodization program with which I could apply the principles I learned in RCTM for training? From what I've researched, it seems like Steve Bechtel's Logical Progression would be good for this. However, the reviews seem to emphasize that the programs he includes in the book aren't very specific. Also I don't really feel like jumping into another climbing book so soon after finishing this one.

As a side note, I still might give the RCTM program a try for a season. If I start next week, the "performance peak" would be right around the time of a local comp, and maybe it can get me good enough to not embarrass myself if I participate in it.

Charlie S · · Ogden, UT · Joined Aug 2007 · Points: 2,051

A few comments:

1, if you haven't plateaued and you're only a year in, it may be too early to consider "training" for real.  Your time would be better spent on skill acquisition as technique will be tour limiting factor for a while.  Further, it will better prepare you for your future strength and power gains when do you start training.

2, the RCTM isn't true linear periodization, though conceptually it is closer.  Further, the RCTM can be as strict or as lenient as you want.  That's up to you.  As time has progressed, I've begun bending the program even more as I've realized that technique is again becoming my limiting factor.  The book is incredibly detailed and helpful.  You will learn a lot by applying those principles even for 1 season.  Yes, ARCing is a pain, but you'll see quickly the benefit.  In my observation, most people drop off during the hangboard phase.  If you can get through hangboarding, you'll find your fingers are ready and well suited for the following power and power endurance phases.

3, I recently finished reading Logical Progression.  It's an interesting new take and I think I may be implementing a few things.  Changing training methodology can be good, but if it's ineffective it can be a wasted season.

Finally, you're going to have to find what works for you.  Even the RCTM fanboys have variations to the program to suit their unique situations.

To answer your question directly, I'd take the RCTM workout descriptions and use those in the Logical Progression workout schedule.

Pico Blanco · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2019 · Points: 0

Thanks for the comments! I really appreciate them.

1, if you haven't plateaued and you're only a year in, it may be too early to consider "training" for real.  Your time would be better spent on skill acquisition as technique will be tour limiting factor for a while.  Further, it will better prepare you for your future strength and power gains when do you start training.
I've seen this mentioned a lot and understand it. But coming from another, more competitive sport, I kinda have this itch to train "for real". Also, I'm really hoping serious training will accelerate my climbing gains more than "just climbing" would. RCTM talks about how you can still practice technique while training and provides some drills to do exactly this while ARCing.

To answer your question directly, I'd take the RCTM workout descriptions and use those in the Logical Progression workout schedule.
This makes a lot of sense! But I guess my followup question would be, what does a Logical Progression workout schedule look like? I'm sorry if it's kind of a tedious question, but I don't have the book.
Z Winters · · Mazama, WA · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 220

Only being a year in, I'd recommend in general to spend less time doing training activities that don't include climbing movement. ARC, 4x4s, limit bouldering, and movement drills will all dial in movement and skill, while training. Campusing, hangboarding, and weightlifting won't make you a better climber, only a stronger one. Or at least that's my understanding, but I'm neither ;)

Charlie S · · Ogden, UT · Joined Aug 2007 · Points: 2,051

Climbing has very high demands on very small muscles and tendons.  Ease into it.  For practice drills, I'd highly recommend John Kettle's "Rock Climbing Technique".  It was a very well written book with a bunch of get informational nuggets.

For a wholistic approach, Dave MacLeod's "9 out of 10 Climbers Make the Same Mistakes" is another great read.

The Logical Progression schedule appears to be a 9-12 week reciprocating schedule with focus on a particular area.  For instance:
The first 4 weeks focuses on strength.  This means if you train 3 days a week, there are 2 strength sessions and 1 bouldering session.
The second 4 weeks focuses on bouldering.  2 limit bouldering workouts per week and then alternating strength and practice on the remaining day.
The third 4 weeks focuses on power endurance.  2 power endurance workouts per week and then you fill in the blank for the others.

It's very open ended, which in a way is nice because it lets you figure out what works best for you.  Essentially, you cycle through each workout type/energy system per week so you have this kind of baseline fitness year-round.  For those who live in bad weather areas and need to do well when the chance strikes, that's an attractive alternative to only have 2-3 weeks of primetime 3 times a year.  For me, I'm somewhere in the middle.

I'm trying to nonlinearized my schedule for the rest of this year since I have a few schedule changes.  After I wrap up my 5.13 projects, this is the notional schedule:



Chances are this is a bit heavy and I'll have to back up a bit.  Note how this leaves me open for mid week climbing, mid week lifting, and outdoor climbing every Saturday.  Note also that every Saturday is not all-out try hard.  There are days where it's just a go outside and have fun day.
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Training Forum
Post a Reply to "Applying RCTM to a Non-Linear Periodization Tra…"

Log In to Reply