My training for climbing

The climbing training I do indoors is basically just a bunch of rope climbing. I know I should extend this with more technique training and bouldering. But unfortunately my local climbing gym has a tiny uninspiring bouldering section so I find it hard to motivate myself to do pure boulder sessions.


I try to lead everything. What that means is that I lead everything up to my limit. Onsighting as much as possible. So no rehearing on toprope before!

I follow the guideline (from the Training for Climbing book, I think) that 30% of what you climb should be over your limit. When doing those routes I do a mix of toprope and/or leading. If the clipping positions look quite alright, or there are some other holds you can use while clipping, I try to lead the route. Otherwise I’ll work on it a few times on toprope before trying to lead it.

Don’t wait until you can do the route on toprope before you start leading it. It’s going to be different anyways as you might end up having to do a different sequence to mange the clips.

Pace yourself

You shouldn’t go to the gym, do your usual routine and then leave. That won’t do you any good. You need to vary your training. To help me with this I have divided my training sessions into easy, medium and hard sessions.

Easy session

Climb a bit under your limit. Focus on good and proper foot and hand technique when cruising up the easier routes. Don’t do any hard routes at all. After the session you should feel that you have worked out but not be totally wasted.

Medium session

Climb around your limit. Mix easier and harder routes but avoid maximum performances. When you climb a route you’ve done before, focus on trying to climb it better so it requires less effort. This might mean you have to develop new sequences. After the session you should feel pretty tired.

Hard session

This is the most fun session. Now you should really push yourself. Try to lead the hard route you’ve almost succeeded with and put in a few maximum tries. Mix in a few easier routes to recover and move on to the next hard route. When you’re done with this session you should be all done for, if you start wondering how to get home from the gym, you did good.

Mixing it up

You want to find a good balance of easy, medium and hard sessions in a week. Last winter I did mostly 1-1-1, i.e. one easy, one medium and one hard session per week. This winter, it’s been more like 0-2-1, two medium session and one hard session per week. Only doing easy sessions when I’ve felt tired and worn out.

Most import of all is to listen to your body. If you feel all drained before the training it’s not a good idea to do a hard session. That’s a straight route to injuries..

Complementary training


Running is a perfect complement to your climbing sessions. If you find it boring, bring your iPod and listen to some podcasts or music.

I usually run for 45 to 60 minutes with decent effort, not too hard but not too easy either.

Building core strength

Once a week I work on core strength. Meaning, the stomach and back muscles. I do two sets of 50 straight sit-ups, 50 left side sit-ups and 50 right side sit-ups. With 50 back lifts between the two sit-up sets and after.

This training doesn’t take more than 30 minutes and it’s perfect to do on a busy day.


We have a Metolius fingerboard at home that I use every now and then but not as systematic as I should. The main problem is that I haven’t found a good way to fit in the necessary rest periods in my training schedule. Additionally I have problems with warming up properly before I use it and doing the exercises with cold muscles cause more damage than it does good.

That’s just bad excuses though. I need to work on the discipline and fit a finger board session into my weekly program.

Typical training week


3 hours medium climbing session


Core strength training


3 hours easy climbing session


45-60 minutes of running


Day off!


3 hours hard climbing session


45-60 minutes of running

How do you train? Let me know in the comments!