/ Cardiovascular exercise for endurance

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morphomouse - on 13 Sep 2017
Does anyone have positive experiences with any form of cardiovascular exercise as a supplement to training for longer routes (subjective)? I've heard mixed opinions about things like cycling/running for example. I want to gauge whether it's worth the effort to include some through the week's training. If not, what are your experiences and/or recommendations in specific endurance training on the wall?
paul__in_sheffield - on 13 Sep 2017
In reply to yh001:

4x4, pyramid
zmv - on 13 Sep 2017
In reply to yh001:
Endurance really divides into two main categories: Both important for route climbing (even for boulderers who climb longer boulders).

1) Stamina (also known as aerobic capacity or aerocap to training geeks).

Generally if you have good stamina, you have excellent recovery both on and off the wall, marginal rests feel better, so do repeated redpoint attempts.

Simple to train - 20 minutes on the wall on EASY gound, like many grades below your onsight level. Let's say you onsight 6c, you should be aerocapping at around 5+,6a. No interruptions. Yes, it's extremely boring to do this, climbing up and down autobelays is a good way of doing this training, or just traversing around the bouldering wall.
Note: The pump should be manageable at all times, if you feel you're getting pumped and can't get rid of it, make the moves easier. You should feel almost refreshed after it.

Quite hard to build up the stamina to a good level actually - expect to do this 2 times a week for a couple of months for your endurance to peak.

2) Power endurance.

Fun but also painful to train!

This is where training moves near your limit and lapping just below your limit come into play. The idea of PE is to be completely pumped for as long as possible shutting bloodflow to your arms and letting the forearm learn how to work when totally pumped.
Excellent article on this by Steve Mcclure:


Is your profile up to date? If you're bouldering at V7ish (well done btw, V7 is hard!), and climbing about 6c+ this is quite a big disparity, and it might be worth looking at the other factors which have a major influence how you do on longer routes:
I.e. are you overgripping? Bouldering is about pulling really hard, route climbing is about pulling as little as possible and conserving energy, making each move as easy as possible.

Are you afraid of falling? Not being afraid and moving as fluidly as possible will make absolutely bags of difference to your climbing (Some time ago, I jumped from 6b+ to 7a+ just by working on the head and no training).

Do you avoid certain routes because they are too long, too sustained etc? Generally if you do more of them, you'll get better at them quickly.

As far as cardiovascular exercises - I don't do any personally, but who knows, maybe they might be helpful at some point? I just never ever feel I didn't complete a route because I ran out of breath.

Good luck! You'll experience massive gains soon as endurance improves very quickly. Enjoy!
Post edited at 18:42
Alun - on 13 Sep 2017
In reply to yh001:

zmv's reply is brilliant.

I would only add the cycling/running are fine to do as cross-training, help keep the weight down, improve general fitness for long days out in the hills etc. But they will do almost nothing for your rock climbing endurance.
Jon Stewart - on 13 Sep 2017
In reply to yh001:

Do the stuff zmv says. If you're out cycling instead when your aim is to build climbing endurance, you're wasting your time. If you've got the time to do both and you like cycling, then do that too - you won't lose anything.
Webster - on 13 Sep 2017
In reply to yh001:

unless you are incredibly unfit (in which case your not going to be in a position to be training for climbing anyway) then CV fitness will never be a limiting factor to your climbing. working on your fitness for health sake is never a bad thing but its not goin to give you any additional climbing benefit...
morphomouse - on 15 Sep 2017
In reply to zmv:

Thanks all for the responses. I usually am projecting V6/7 climbs, but somehow struggle to get up relatively simple routes on lead - currently aiming for 7a. I think you are correct, it's the mixture of the fear factor, technique, and lack of endurance training (I mainly boulder). I think I will drop the cycling/running idea and mix in the longer 20 min burns!
stp - on 17 Sep 2017
In reply to yh001:

I think some form of cardio can help climbing indirectly. When I was in Kalymnos last year I got a fair bit of exercise each day walking to the crag and back each day (typically at least 1 hour per day). By the end of the three week trip I was considerably leaner. Carrying less weight definitely aids endurance. Another benefit is that it's supposed to speed up recovery. Certain forms of cardio can boost your metabolism for up to 24 hours. Just don't overdo it.

Paige Claassen did a short vid on running for climbing, also points out it's nice to not arrive at the crag being knackered from the walk in.
AlanLittle - on 18 Sep 2017
In reply to stp:

> it's nice to not arrive at the crag being knackered from the walk in.

I was going to say that too. Depending on where these longer routes are, being able to arrive at them reasonably early in the day & not already completely knackered might be advantageous. I'm thinking mostly about approaches to alpine rock routes.
stp - on 18 Sep 2017
In reply to AlanLittle:

I think there are lots of places where some cardio fitness will help with the approach. Any half hour, steep uphill with a heavy pack is likely to be tiring for the uninitiated, even more so in harsh conditions like extreme heat.
planetmarshall on 18 Sep 2017
In reply to yh001:

There is some evidence that non-specific cardiovasuclar exercise can aid recovery between climbs (can't find the reference, but a bit of googling should bring something up). Anecdotally I would say this is true.

With regard to long approaches, you're basically in the Alpine domain there so the benefits of CV should be self evident.
AlanLittle - on 18 Sep 2017
In reply to planetmarshall:

Scafell? Cloggy? The Ben? Sron na Ciche - I was pretty fit after three weeks of commuting up there more or less daily.

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