Improve Your Sport Climbing (10): Power Endurance, Part 4 (HARD)


A major part of our efforts when training power endurance, then, especially if we have specific routes we want to redpoint in mind or at the very least specific holds or angles of climbing we want to train for (for an area or for competitions or both), should be spent in replicating as close as possible exactly what it is we want to accomplish in performance – we need to teach our bodies what needs to happen on these routes in particular, through repetition within reason. This often involves pushing ourselves into an area of physical discomfort, one where we walk the fine line between falling and staying on, as we fight to push our bodies through each sequence of movements, through each interval (and this offers a great time to work on breathing and pacing, too), and then to rest, recover, and continue climbing, if it’s required of us for our goal(s).

If you’re not trying routes that put you into this state of being, you’re not actively working your power endurance through climbing (which I think is generally far more efficient than trying to break it up and work it separately in pieces). Yes, there are exercises, including lifting and other resistance workouts that you can use, to train parts of the climbing power endurance equation, for sure. They can be effective, too – especially if crucial areas that you want to build power endurance up in for future routes aren’t getting the work needed through your actual current climbing efforts (like you’re maxing out your bigger muscle groups before your forearms ever get worked, or vice versa), or if you happen NOT to be pushing your power endurance at all or not at a high level when you climb routes (if you’re working a boulder problem to easier climbing style of route, or a route that involves easy climbing to a rest, then a boulder problem, for example).

How can you tell if this is the case – if you’re not actually taxing and challenging your power endurance on the climbs you’re trying right now? I suggest you start by counting moves, as I obviously do these days. If you’re working on a project or a few projects, this should be easy to do – but this gets us into memorizing routes and visualizing, topics of yet another training blog, which apparently I’m going to be writing for the rest of my life, at this point – there are just too many areas to talk about!

In a nutshell, though, if you count the moves you have to do in a row that require a serious and consistent power output (for you, meaning that all or most the moves feel difficult) with no real stop-‘n’-shake/regrouping spots in between, and they number more than 8 to 10 up to about 30 (as a loose and very debatable ballpark), you are doing sequences that work your power endurance. In other words, you’re training your power endurance through climbing.

This multipart series of blogs and articles starts here, in case you have to catch up. Remember that my designation of each area as “easy,” “medium” or “hard” is purely subjective. I’ve arrived at the designations from my personal experience garnered from 20 years of climbing along with my observations from climbing coaching throughout the past four years. You may find some of the areas harder or easier to change than I do/did. You also might not agree with me or my take on things. That’s fine – feel free to take it or leave it as you wish! Also, remember that the information I provide here is purely offered as advice and that no exercises or training program should be undertaken without receiving medical clearance from a healthcare professional.

One other caveat: As will be true for all of the entries and articles in this series, if you’ve already mastered or maxed out the topic at hand to the best of your ability level, you’ll reap far fewer benefits or none at all from my suggestions – good for you that you figured it out, but sorry I couldn’t help you out more. Happy climbing, bouldering and training!

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