Do you find yourself sending boulder problems but having to take rests on longer routes? Do you have to shake out a lot on longer routes and find yourself shouting “take!” a little too often? If so then you might want to train your endurance.
Having good endurance for climbing will allow you to climb for long periods of time without rests and also aid you in recovery from pump. This means that you can spend more time “hanging around” on routes, planning moves without getting that good old forearm burn.
Aerobic vs anaerobic training
Working endurance means focusing your training in an aerobic state (aka cardio). Aerobic exercise requires oxygen to meet energy demands during activity and is performed at a lower intensity over a longer period of time than anaerobic, in climbing terms from no pump to moderate pump. In endurance training you don’t want to stay for long periods of time in an anaerobic state (high volume but low intensity), in climbing terms very pumped!
Training tips for increasing endurance
We compiled a list of different training techniques you can use to increase your endurance, breaking them up into route climbing and bouldering training.
Route climbing for endurance
- The pyramid strategy- Quantity over quality.
Climb around 20 routes in one session. First climb at a grade that is very easy for you, then gradually increase the difficulty (repeating grades is fine, you want to focus on frequency not difficulty) with each climb until you hit your maximum grade. Stay in the easy to moderate zone for the majority of this session. When you get to the maximum grade work your way back down. This maximum grade needs to be very challenging to you and one you are likely to fall off. This should be the only route where you enter the anaerobic state. Out of the 20 or so routes only around 4 should be challenging and one where you feel you might fall. By the end of the training an easy climb will feel quite hard.
This training teaches you when you are actually pumped and not just tired. Stay on the wall until your fingers literally peel off. This is true pump. This will help you know how much you have left in you so you can assess if you can make that move.
Climb a route four times without rest. Rest 15 minutes then climb it again. Do this four times (16 routes). To keep it interesting you can pick different climbs for the sets but never pick something too hard. It must be between easy and moderate. As your endurance increases try increasing the sets or reps.
Bouldering for endurance
Many bouldering centres now have a dedicated circuit board. This is a boulder problem that has been set in a continuous cycle so you can continue climbing for as long as you can. If your wall doesn’t have one of these you can make up your own but be careful, other climbers might not appreciate you taking up 4 different problems going around in circles!
This training is pretty straight forward. Pick an easy grade on the circuit board and stay on for a certain amount of moves. The aim is not to be very pumped. So for example I might pick 35 moves but if I feel like I'm getting very pumped I can decrease this to 25 next time. Repeat this for 2 -3 sets. It is usually good to do this at the end of a boulder session so you don’t get pumped too early.
Test your base level time pick an easy graded circuit and stay on it for as long as you can. You can then do this again in a few weeks time to see how much your endurance has improved!
- High volume
Climb many different easy to moderate problems. For example if your average on-sight is V3 do around 40 x V1-V2/3.
At the end of the session you should feel that tight burn in your forearms but you should still feel like you can do a few more.
Let us know how your endurance sessions go in the comments below or on our facebook page !
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