Articles - Neil Gresham's Masterclass:Stamina Training (Bouldering)
A walk in the wood. Always do bouldering training the day before stamina if you train on consecutive days.
We’re still in stamina mode with my Training Easy series, but this month I’ve outlined some sessions for those days when you’re lacking a belay partner or access to a decent leading wall. Just as I showed for power endurance, it’s perfectly possible to carry out effective endurance training, even on the smallest of bouldering walls, provided you know what you’re aiming for.Many of the World’s best climbers do the majority of their stamina by climbing around for long stints on a bouldering wall, mainly because it beats relentlessly top-roping up-&-down the leading wall. So if you’re tired of getting in the way of others on busy nights and boring your belayer to tears, dial into some of these sessions and watch your stamina come on in leaps and bounds.
The following sessions will take approximately 2.5 hours including a warm-up.As usual, do 2 or 3 easy ‘climb-arounds’ on the Bouldering wall interspersed with stretching before you get started.
These sessions will condition you for shaking-out and making use of rests between bursts of moderateto- high intensity climbing.Construct a 15-20 move circuit that climbs around in a loop and finishes at the same place as it starts. It should be enough to get you fairly pumped, but not so desperate that you get completely boxed, or worse still, fail before you complete it.The starting / finishing position should offer some larger holds, and an ease in angle, perhaps with an opportunity for a slight bridge, but not a total hands-off rest. Do the circuit and return to the rest point, shake-out without stepping off the wall and then do it again once you feel sufficiently recovered. Aim to do 3 laps of the circuit in this manner and then come off the wall and rest on the ground for 15 minutes. Repeat this 3 times. Regarding the preferred training angle – those climbing in the F7s or above should pick a section of bouldering wall that is 25-35 degrees overhanging for the main circuit and a rest station that is between vertical & 10 degrees overhanging.Those in the F6’s should go for 10-25 degrees overhanging with a vertical rest and those in the F5’s should train on the vertical with a bridge rest.Note also that you may use 2 or 3 different circuits (of the same grade) in order to maintain variety and technical interest.
Session 2 Repeat 4 times
Session 3 Repeat 4 times but make the rests poorer by using slightly smaller holds or not bridging out as far.
Session 4 Repeat 5 times with the same resting holds as in Session 3,
Session 5 Repeat 5 times but make the rests even poorer still!
After this phase of training is complete, return to session 1 but start again with a new and more difficult circuit.
These sessions differ from the previous in that they have no obvious rest points. It’s just a matter of keeping going and having quick ‘flick-style’ shakes all the way. You can either link together a series of easy circuits or just
climb around at random and gauge the difficulty yourself as you go; although this will take some getting used to. Use the training angle guidelines given above, although you may need to be on something slightly easier angled (or with bigger holds) seeing as you’re not going to be getting the rests!
6 mins on 60% effort
10 mins on 80% effort / 10 mins rest
12 mins on 90% effort / 12 mins rest
15 mins on 95% effort / 15 mins rest Peak Set
12 mins on 90% effort / 12 mins rest
10 mins on 80% effort / 15 mins rest
Session 2 Do 2 x ‘Peak Sets’
Session 3 As for session 2 but cut each rest time by 2 mins
Session 4 Rest times as for Session 3 but do 2 Peak Sets
Session 5 As for Session 3, but do a stint of 20 mins of climbing sandwiched in between the 15 minute (peak) sets.
Training tips – Vary the Pace
We all tend to climb so much faster indoors than we do on rock, especially when crawling our way up a trad on-sight and scavenging for protection.This means that our endurance training often lacks specificity because the muscle contraction times indoors are way too fast. In view of this, every once in a while try climbing much more slowly for these sessions, and perhaps even counting for up to 30 seconds between moves, as if trying to arrange a runner or work out a baffling sequence. Clearly you’ll need to reduce the length (or difficulty) of the circuits if you apply this to the ‘Recovery Control’ sessions, but it will work as normal for the ‘Sustained Intensity’ sessions.
As for last month’s notes – keep records of your performance and use them as a learning tool in the future. It’s amazing what trends appear in your training diaries over time when you look back at them. If a certain theme has worked for you then you may wish to repeat it in the future. Alternatively, you may notice that incorrect combinations of training sessions or clashes with work or social life have caused you to perform badly.
Sessions per week
As mentioned last month – you need to put the hours in if you’re going to get properly fit in climbing terms. Although a productive stamina session can be performed in 2 to 3 hours, you will need to do at least 3 a week to see notable training gains.Those who are having a total stamina blitz may wish to do as many as 5 or 6 (with one of those being a light ‘recovery session’) but a more worthwhile combination is 3 stamina sessions combined with 1 or 2 bouldering sessions. Always do bouldering the day before stamina when you’re training on consecutive days.