Some General Training Guidelines

Some General Training Guidelines

Welcome Back Workouts

Well I hope your return to work has been good so far. I know that this week will involve a lot of catching up before many of you shift your focus onto fitness goals, but I hope that means that each of you are at least doing some of what I call “Welcome Back Workouts” this week as we count down to “Fitness D Day” next Monday, Jan 9. That’s when we all get seriously on The Path again. Don’t forget about our Fitness Expo / D Day kickoff on that day. Look back at my prior posts for more info on that, if you missed it.

What I want to do in the few days we have remaining is line you up on the runway as you come in for final approach to D Day. We’ll help you with setting some goals and some tracking systems in the next few posts, but today is meant just to give you a very general idea about how to think about training in a climbing gym. Specifically ours – but these concepts work very well anywhere. This is the info I’ve been texting to many of you over the last few months when you asked me about some guidelines.

Beginners. You learned to belay. Now what?

Do you just get up there and move around on the walls? Or is there a systematic way to climb? How long should you rest between climbs? Do you climb to failure? Here below are some answers.

More Advanced Climbers

It always surprises me to see how many technique / training mistakes that advanced – and even elite – climbers make. Many things I see 5.12 climbers do poorly are items I cover in my Intro Class, so most people have a lot of gaps in their training. If you’re one of those people and you’re ready to break through some plateaus, there’s info here that can help you too.

But like I said, this post is very general. Delve in deeper by taking some classes with us. The Resolution Membership deals that are happening until Jan 15 include free class passes.

For More Info

There may be terms below that you don’t know. Talk to the Climbing Pro working The Floor and ask if you read this but don’t know what a 4×4 is, or where the campus rungs are, etc. This would just get too long if I explained it all here. Until then, here’s some “The Least You Need to Know” level info. Ready? Ok:

Beginners (white and yellow routes) and Recreational Climbers (orange routes)

Focus on:

  • Technique first
    • The Least You Need to Know
      • Attach with your hands, but push with your legs
      • Stay in balance
      • Get one hand off the wall, every chance you get, and shake it out
    • The Three Essential Techniques
      • Twist Locks
      • Straight Arms
      • Quiet Feet
  • Build endurance and stamina through Volume (mileage)
  • Traverse around The Gym, and keep track of how far you can go before you fall off. Warm up first, though, with some easy climbing.
  • WAIT to start thinking about building power and finger strength (see “Intermediate Training Plan”) until after you have built a foundation by doing the endurance and stamina work


  • Climb 2-3 days per week
  • 1/3-1/3-1/3 Rule.
    • Warm up for the first third of your time
    • Climb harder routes for the second third
    • Climb things that take you to muscle failure (make you fall off) for your final third
  • When training to failure, expect to be able to stay on the wall for 2-3 minutes. Rest 2 minutes between sets on the wall.
  • Campus only on largest rungs and WITH FEET ON
  • Use Atomik Balls by jumping or pulling to the “up” position … then hold the lock off as long as you can.
  • During a workout, do three to five routes (not including warm ups and cool downs) – and / or one 4×4. As your skin and your forearms adapt, and as you progress through yellow and orange tape, increase your number of routes to eight and do more 4x4s. Then begin to add systemized training on the System Wall as appropriate to you.
  • Do routes on autobelays and topropes. The autobelays are a great way to do volume – especially if you don’t have a climbing partner. When done at a fast pace and in rapid succession, this is also a great lunchbreak cardio workout! Shoot for five auto belays at a time, without rest, and don’t follow routes. Grab and go! Rest two minutes, then do five more! Do this for 20-45 minutes total time.


  • “Rainbow” Lap The Gym with as few falls as possible. Rest two minutes between falls. Start again where you left off. Keep track of how many falls it takes to get all the way around The Gym. In the Arch, you will probably have to work out the moves through the two unavoidable overhangs. Treat these like boulder problems. When you figure out your sequences, sprint through them and get to the vertical “mountain mural” wall as soon as possible.
  • Do all the routes, boulder problems of the first two colors (white and yellow) or orange if you are an every weekend (recreational) climber.

Intermediate Climbers (blue routes):

Focus on:

  • Better technique. Same essentials, done better.
  • Start to introduce physical training more. Build endurance, stamina, and power through Volume, but not too much high impact intensity just yet.
  • Start to carefully build finger power with timed hangs on friendly crimps
  • Work on “lock off” arm power. Hold your bodyweight in the “up” position with your arm fully bent.


  • Climb 2-4 days per week
  • 1/3-1/3-1/3 Rule
  • When training to failure, Rest one minute between sets


  • “Rainbow” Lap The Gym (in The Arch keep hands on ceiling but feet on vertical wall)
  • Do all the blue routes and problems … and system wall holds
  • Learn to lead climb if you haven’t already

Advanced Climbers (green routes):

Focus on:

  • Impeccable technique
  • Build endurance, stamina, and power through Volume
  • Build more finger power
  • Build more “lock off” power
  • Shift more focus to Systemized Training apparati


  • Climb 3-4 days per week
  • 1/3-1/3-1/3 Rule
  • When training to failure, Rest 40 seconds between sets


  • “Rainbow” Lap The Gym (in The Arch keep hands and feet on ceiling). Do not use the vertical wall when you get there. “Lifeboat” just past The Arch, then come back. Back where you started is “one lap.”
  • Do all the green routes and problems and system wall holds
  • Be able to lead climb
  • Work The Roof (at least as a rainbow)

Expert / Elite Climbers (red or black routes):

Focus on:

  • Perfect technique
  • Build endurance, stamina, and power through Volume
  • Focus on building finger power
  • Work on “lock off” power
  • Do more training for climbing than you do climbing


  • Climb 2 days on, and one day off; then two days on and two days off
  • 1/3-2/3 Rule
  • When training to failure, Rest 40 seconds between sets


  • “Rainbow” Lap The Gym (in The Arch keep hands and feet on ceiling). Do not use the vertical wall when you get there. “Lifeboat” just past The Arch, then come back. Back where you started is “one lap.” How many laps can you do? The “time off the ground” record is 2.5 hours.
  • Do all the black routes and problems

For All

Don’t neglect cardio and supplemental training. Especially the triceps and chest (primary “pushing” muscles) that need to be balanced with our ridiculous amount of “pulling” work. To climb for cardio, keep a fast pace on the wall and between routes. Minimize your down time by instantly clipping into the next auto belay. Do 5 to 10 auto belay routes at a time without resting, then rest two minutes and do it again until you have done 20-45 minutes of total cardio. Running and cycling are great too. So is rowing or any other cardio event, but when you do climbing for cardio, you’re also getting that climbing specific training at the same time.

See you around this week! Be sure to be there for the Monday D Day workouts and classes. And don’t let January 15 pass you buy without getting your Resolution Membership deal. They work on membership extensions too.

A bientôt!

-Marc sends



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