Expert Advice for Rock Climbing Endurance Training

Chris Wall is a highly recognized trainer and coach who works at the Boulder Rock Club as head trainer and coaching director. He has been sharing his experience with climbers of all abilities for over 20 years. Chris earned a master's degree is exercise physiology and is a NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. In this video, Chris shares rock climbing endurance training exercises for building your strength that can be done with a partner, on auto belay, or on the bouldering wall.

Video Transcription

Chris Wall here at the Boulder Rock Club in Boulder, Colorado. Today I wanna talk to you about training in the gym for endurance. The climbing gym is a very safe environment for you to train to get stronger and learn how to climb more effectively. Most of the time you'll be climbing with a partner, but on occasion you're gonna have to learn to fly solo. Today I'm gonna talk to you about how to train endurance when you're by yourself.

When you're training by yourself, the Auto Belay is gonna become your new best friend. All the things that you could do with a top rope belayer, you can do with an Auto Belay. So, whether it's climbing all the way up and then lowering yourself down or climbing all the way up and climbing all the way back down, you can do this by yourself all the while protected by the Auto Belay.

There are many, many different strategies when it comes to training your endurance for climbing. When you use an Auto Belay, the only thing that's really gonna be limiting you is your creativity. All the things you could do with a partner, you can do with an Auto Belay, but now you don't have to switch back and forth with your partner because you're doing everything on your own. Whether you wanna be working on super long endurance routes where you're climbing five pitches at a time or whether you're staying on the wall for as long as possible climbing up, down, back up, down, it doesn't matter which strategy you choose, all are going to be effective and all should be based on your personal goals. But with the Auto Belay, you'll be able to do all these things without being hampered by having a partner who has their own needs to fulfill.

At the most basic level, when it comes to training endurance, consider what it is that you're training for. If you're trying to do long traditional routes that are, God knows, 100, 120, 150 feet long, you need to be spending that much time on the wall, which means you're gonna be climbing up, down, up, and possibly down and up again, depending on how tall your gym is. If you're training for a more moderate power endurance, maybe you're just gonna go up and then lower yourself back down, rest for a very short period of time, and then go up again. You can do this any number of times, depending on your personal level of fitness and what it is that you're training for.

When training alone, the bouldering cave is a great place to not only work your power and your technique but also your endurance. One of my favorite ways of working endurance is utilizing a technique called the four by four. Choose four moderate to difficult boulder problems that you can do. Get on the first one, climb it, come down, climb it again, come down, climb it again, come down, climb it again. That's four attempts on one problem. Take a little rest, anywhere from two to five minutes, and then move on to the next problem. Repeat four times, and then the same for the third problem, same for the fourth problem. Each problem four times, four problems, four by four.

So, the bouldering area is a great place to work your endurance. You can do long traverses, much longer sometimes than what you would do in terms of number of moves climbing up the wall, or you can do big looping circuits and you can do one lap, two laps, three laps, back and forth, literally hundreds of moves without stepping off the wall. This is a fantastic way not only to maintain your concentration when you're getting tired but also to work your physical stamina and endurance. So, those are just a few ways to train endurance without a partner. For more information, check out Thanks for watching this video.

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