Lactate Threshold Improvement Tactic 2: High-intensity interval training (HIIT) outside. This is very similar to the indoor training paradigm outlined in last week’s entry, but instead, you’ll use your outdoor project or projects as the training ground rather than an indoor climbing wall. Once you have the beta worked out, at least enough to start trying to put sections of the climb together, you can start employing a HIIT approach to your project(s) outside – keeping an open mind that you might need to rework beta sometimes, too. Note that you can also work on HIIT on still-challenging routes that you have already sent by pushing the pace and decreasing the resting intervals, so long as this presents an actual challenge for you and pushes you into a place where you feel you are fighting to maintain technical/tactical control, struggling to recover, and pushing the pump away.
Step 1: Overlapping sections. Breaking the route up into sections between rests just like you did inside can be an effective way to train HIIT on the route. Work to climb to a given point where you’ll get a shake on redpoint, and then allow yourself to take there rather than trying to shake out on the hold right away. But, if you have a particular place where you “always fall” (a crux for you), do NOT train the fall (i.e. don’t make that a standard take-‘n’-shake place) – what I mean is that you should not just get back on from where you fell and continue, but rather, you should lower down a few moves prior to the fall point and attempt to climb into and through the move(s) in question (assuming you can do them!), and on to your designated shake point.
If I hang at the shake point, I usually try to get back on and start there with a few shakes to simulate that I’ll be moving out of this place from a rest, and then carry on to the next shake-out spot (again, if I fall, lowering down and trying to climb through rather than training the fall). You’ll never get to rest right before the place you fall while you’re climbing the route (unless it’s right after a real rest), so you don’t want to train your body to be recovered when you go into the move – once you’re able to hit the move consistently from a hang right before it, which this training regimen assumes you can, you will not want to keep repeatedly ingraining the rested execution of the move.
Step 2: Linkage of sections with shakes. After you’re able to do the route with the designated take-‘n’-shakes, you can start to link longer sections with the shake outs taken on the actual route rather than taking hangs at each shake. You’ll still stick with the falling and lowering part approach to cruxes, and you should take care to reduce all hang-time on the rope during this portion of your HIIT training on the project – so you won’t lower down a few moves and hang until you’re totally de-pumped and then attack the moves into the crux and the crux again. You’ll rest while you’re lowering, and then immediately get back on and tackle the moves and the crux, and then continue.
Step 3: Send the route and find a new project! Start the process over again. I actually usually have a few projects going, indoors or outside, so that I’m never too specific in training on only one angle/set of holds/movements/length of sequences or route, etc.
Lactate Threshold Improvement Tactic 3: Consider undertaking a program of climbing-specific resistance (weight) training. Resistance training has been shown to help improve lactate threshold. But this is the topic for a different series of articles entirely, so I’ll leave it at that for now.
Up Next Week: Move of the Month 5: Initiating Movement (Improve Your Climbing Series)
This multipart series of articles starts here, in case you have to catch up – you’ll also find a full table of contents, complete with links, in that entry. This information and advice is based on my 20+ years of climbing along with observations I’ve made as a climbing coach/certified personal trainer. You 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 and training!