Endurance Training for Rock Climbers. The concept of periodization involves identifying various training schemes throughout each year of training. This may sound cumbersome and uninteresting at first glance; however, the concept of periodization will enable you to see the big picture of training along with the minute details needed to achieve optimal success. This concept can help you achieve adaptation to training, progress, and realization of goals. For an in-depth view of periodization, refer to Tudor Bompa’s text Periodization: Theory and Methodology of Training, Fifth Edition.

Endurance Training, Rock Climbers

In short, periodization emphasizes that an athlete should see the big picture of strength and endurance training by using the principles of progression, specificity, and overload. The intensity of the athlete’s workouts should move from light to moderate to high throughout an entire yearlong cycle (the cycle may be shorter depending on goals and athlete ability). Also, within a periodized program, rest, relaxation, and cross-training are frequently incorporated to allow for adequate metabolic adaptations of the muscles.

Thus, when designing your training schemes—including the use of year-round climbing—you should frequently change your routine from light to moderate to high intensity. You should also remember to schedule rest and episodes of cross-training (different than your normal grind of training). For rock climbers, year-round climbing is now possible on indoor walls.

This will be the cornerstone of any training program used to maintain specific muscle adaptations and the range of motion of joints. Rock climbers wishing to progress should focus on the following: high aerobic power, specific muscular strength and endurance, developing energy systems related to muscular power, and some minimum range of motion for leg and arm movements.

Based on this, climbers should aim for overall muscular and cardiorespiratory fitness along with specific strength that will enhance climbing ability. Aerobic ability can be developed by using a variety of modalities or situations, including treadmills, stationary cycles, elliptical trainers, hiking with a backpack, runIndoor running or walking is a great cardiorespiratory workout.

Improving your aerobic power will enhance your climbing ability. In general, running creates the most effective cardiorespiratory overload and requires greater energy input compared to walking or cycling for the same duration.

Trail running on undulating terrain is especially stimulating to the cardiorespiratory system and the muscular system of the lower body. When choosing an aerobic activity, be sure it is something you enjoy, and feel free to change up your activities frequently to maintain interest and tissue adaptations. Don’t forget to vary the intensity from day to day, week to week, and month to month.

Climbing with ease requires lean body mass, muscular fitness, and flexibility along with enhanced physiological responses to increased climbing intensity. Successful training and climbing always require dedication, an organized training plan, and a penchant for having fun. When organizing a training plan, remember to address progression, overload, and specificity using a periodized program for both endurance and strength routines. Frequent and well-planned training allows your body to accrue overall climbing fitness.

This comes in the form of enhanced endurance, muscular fitness, and flexibility, as well as greater development of muscle mass relative to fat tissue. As you train and rock climb in a gym or at a local crag, remember to keep your body well fueled with sugars and some protein by consuming your favorite bars, gels, or sport drinks. Throughout the day and week before climbing (or around training), be sure to eat a well-balanced diet tailored specifically to your activity level.

Most of all, make sure you incorporate rest periods into your training or climbing days. This will allow your body to recover properly from the degradative nature of continual exercise. Don’t forget to become a student of climbing! Reading up on climbing technique, climbing often, and having a plan will make it easier for you to progress as a rock climber.

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