Training for a climbing trip

So the Upskill Kalymnos trip has three spots left(!), and some of the team have been thinking about training and how they can best prepare to be in "peak fitness" for the trip. I've been sending them various articles and bits and pieces, including this nice FAQ from Dave McLeod...

Es asked - I'd quite like to know about what you can do in quite a short space of time to get the most out of a climbing holiday.

If it's a bouldering trip then you have to remind the body how to pull really hard (in sports science speak - improve neuromuscular recruitment). This is all you can do in a few weeks off the couch. If its short (up to 25m) sport climbs then get straight down to the wall and run laps on a 30-40 move steep bouldering circuit that is hard enough that you are breathing hard, getting pumped but can complete 6-8 laps before your arms die. Repeat at least 3 times a week and the endurance will come remarkably quickly. If the routes are long then mix up the anaerobic laps with some aerobic ones; up, down and back up a steep leading wall route. Don't mess about with this type of training - you need to work yourself hard or nothing will happen. Hard breathing, bulging eyeballs and hot forearms are the symptoms of a good endurance session.

So in response to that, one of my team members emailed me the following couple of questions, and I outline my answers below.

Q: "Reading the Dave McLeod piece above, our Upskill sessions actually seem positive for both short and longer climbs, yeah? But they are less Aerobic and more Anaerobic based, yeah?"

A: "Correct. A few reasons for this. If you can climb even 25 hard moves (10 metres of climbing) and then recover in a few minutes on a rest, and then do the same again, you can do quite hard and long 'endurance' routes if they are broken by one or more rests, as most are, particularly in Kalymnos (stalactites, kneebars, arm wraps). This is exactly what we do with our [25 move] circuits and why they are such a useful tool. This is anaerobic endurance training. True 100% endurance routes (with zero rests) are very hard to find (and much sought after). Usually you can wrangle a rest somehow.

Pure endurance training doesn't really need to be addressed via our Upskill training sessions because you get this with your weekend outdoor sessions at the crag i.e. easier climbing for longer periods of time. Other ways to train pure endurance is doing 60 - 90 minutes of continuous climbing (laps or bouldering)."

Q: "How could we best gear two Upskill sessions per week, to have me in the optimum shape for Kaly climbing?"

A: "As discussed, suggest that we continue the good work we're doing with circuits on Wednesdays and then use the extra session on Monday to target your weaknesses. At the moment, front-on power. We'll do this via hard bouldering, hangboarding, campussing, and strength exercises.

In order to be your best, you have to come to the party too by training your mental toughness. This is belief in yourself at the cliff, trying hard routes, going for the onsight, taking the falls and working hard. Pushing yourself. You are already making headway in this area but don't stop!"

I'll have more in coming posts about how best to schedule your training in the lead-up to a big trip.