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SKILLS: Lattice Training Series with Tom Randall - Part 1: Endurance

Crack connoisseur, training guru and director of Lattice Training, Tom Randall, shares some training tips in this 4-part series, complete with live Q&A sessions in the forums from 7-9pm every Wednesday for the next 4 weeks. Ask him anything (within reason...!) in the thread linked to this article during the session. Download Lattice's new (and free) training app Crimpd to assist with these drills.


There is so much training knowledge out there these days that often it's hard to get to the bottom of what you should do and why you should do it. This is before you even try and get your head around levels of intensity and how often you should follow these various training methods.

Maddie Cope leading at The Foundry., 150 kb
Maddie Cope leading at The Foundry.
© Lattice Training

In the years that I've been working as a coach, I've seen trends come and go and methods come in and out of fashion. In the end though, it's some of the most basic, foundational aspects of training that will get you 90% of the way. Most climbers would do themselves a huge favour by tuning out some of the "noise" that they see on social media and on the Internet generally to focus on the fundamentals with quality, in the appropriate quantity and with the correct rationale.

Over the course of the next 4 articles, I'm going to break your training season down into 4 key areas:

Endurance

Power Endurance

Strength and Power

Conditioning & Mobility

photo
Pie chart of workout completion.
© Lattice Training

The reason for categorising in this way is to take you through aspects one at a time and use the backdrop of a new and free training app that we've been working on at Lattice, called Crimpd. Anyone can download it to use on iOS or Android and we're really keen to give everyone out there a taste of what training feels like in a simple format and with no cost. I hope this sounds appealing and straightforward!

Endurance

What is it?: In the simplest sense, the endurance that you have as a climber is your ability to climb constantly at a low-to-moderate level for durations over 1 minute. This will be climbing that features moves that are a long way away from your maximum bouldering level and is highly correlated with your route climbing ability ie. the best route climbers have a good level of endurance. In addition, it's highly related to your ability to recover on holds and in rests. It also has an effect on how quickly you get pumped on a route.

It's useful to further break down endurance into two categories: "aerobic capacity" and "regeneration."

Aerobic capacity: can be thought of as a more intense type of endurance training and creates changes in the physical structures and metabolic processes in your muscle

Regeneration: is more akin to recovery activity that's perfect for rest days or at the end of long sessions.

Why do them? If you're able to train your muscles to improve their aerobic energy production then you'll see obvious results in your grade! You can go for longer, you can climb at harder grades without getting pumped and it also improves your power endurance further down the line. Secondary to this, the regeneration training will improve your recovery rates and also increase the amount of climbing training that you can handle over the years. We really can't understate how important regeneration training is for both boulderers and route climbers.

photo
The endurance section of the Crimpd app.
© Lattice Training

How to train aerobic capacity

Let's take an example workout from the app, which is 1 on 1 off. This session is one that sets the climber the task of climbing intervals that are just one minute long and at an intensity that is around two grades under your onsight.

1 set of 10 reps.

Each rep is 1 minute

Rest between each rep is 1 minute

Grade is 2 grades below onsight

Focus points

The grade must be below your onsight. This gives you a high chance that the intensity is low enough to be an aerobic stimulus and that you won't train anaerobically.

Pump level is only high at the end of the session.

For this session, it's recommended that you choose terrain that is varied - don't always do it on the same size of hold, either. It works extremely well on bouldering walls, top-ropes and in lead climbing!

Ollie Torr on a circuit session at The Climbing Works., 186 kb
Ollie Torr on a circuit session at The Climbing Works.
© Lattice Training

How to train regeneration:

The focus of regeneration workouts is to assist in physical recovery from more intense training and also improve localised blood flow. If you get the intensity correct then it can be done on rest days or at the end of hard, exhaustive training sessions.

An example of this would be a session found in the app called "Continuity 5x3" which can be performed on a bouldering wall, roped wall or even a very easy foot-on campus board.

3 sets of 1 reps.

Each rep is 5 minutes

Rest between each rep is 3 minutes

Grade is at least 4 grades below onsight

photo
'1 on one off' workout, as displayed in the Crimpd app.
© Lattice Training

Focus points

The grade must be a long way below your onsight. As a guide, you should play it safer than you think and the session must feel extremely easy – so easy that you could switch off from the climbing and chat to someone whilst doing it!

Pump level is extremely low or non-existent. If you feel zero level of discomfort that is absolutely perfect.

Structure for boulderers vs route climbers

The key knowledge here is that this type of training is extremely beneficial to both boulderers and route climbers! The fact that you're stimulating the forearm muscles to work aerobically is a great thing and the physical, technical and psychological benefits are long-term beneficial to all climbers.

As a very rough guide, we would expect boulderers to do only 25-50% of the endurance training of a route climber and typically at lower grades. It's really important to get this aspect right as both specialisations have different physiological demands. A route climber training three times a week should include at least 2 sessions a week that work an element of endurance and a boulderer would do at least 1 session.

Summary

Endurance training is a localised aerobic form of training that is low intensity.

Training and performance are not the same. You can train in relatively short blocks (for example 1 minute) and if done correctly, this will allow you to "perform" on blocks of significantly longer than 1 minute.

Your training should take into account your specialisation, whether it is bouldering or route climbing. Importantly, boulderers should do less of it and at a slightly lower intensity.

Crimpd, 101 kb
Crimpd is a new, free climbing training app. Follow workouts crafted by world-class climbers and coaches Tom Randall and Ollie Torr of Lattice Training. Each workout is tailored to help climbers improve their endurance, power endurance, strength & power, and conditioning & mobility. Track your workouts and analyse your progress with assistance from easy-to-follow exercise demo videos. Available on iOS or Android.



Forums 21 comments

If I could only train 20 mins a day then I'd always focus on what I could achieve meaningful gains in. Realistically this is going to be some kind of fingerboard training and as you've got such a short time it's likely...
This one is a really tricky issue to deal with! Typically you would look to reduce loads when suffering from GE, but this may well end up being in conflict with your endurance aims. As we know that load is a function of...
Is there anything you can say on training resting as a skill in its own right? E.g. Ondra was likely only able to complete Silence after training specifically to hold the knee-bar for over 4 minutes instead of the 30...
I guess you're probably referring to something I said in a TrainingBeta podcast? What I meant in this podcast was that too many people end up training what you can refer to as the "middle" zone of endurance training....
It somewhat depends on the depth of training history that the climber has. In my experience, if you're a >10yr trained climber then you can push the element of ignoring one part of your profile much harder... IF......
Hi Mike, in the interests of keeping this thread full on content to do with endurance training, could I ask that you repost that question in a later Q&A once we get round to the anaerobic end of the scale :-) ...

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