8 unique ways to improve your Climbing and Bouldering endurance.

man on bouldering wall

The more efficiently you can climb, the less energy it will take for your body to get up and down a route. This means that if you’re able to climb efficiently and rely less on brute strength in order to accomplish moves, then over time these techniques should allow you to last longer when climbing.

1. Improve your technique

Your technique might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about endurance, and there’s a good reason why we will address technique first. If you’re able to climb efficiently and rely less on brute strength to get you up the wall, you’re going to be able to last longer and repeat more routes. 

Plain and simple.

Cast your mind back to the first time you ever went climbing. Did you just try and haul yourself up the wall using your arms? Yep. Did you last about 30 minutes? Uh-huh. Once you learnt some fundamental climbing techniques such as using your legs, footwork, body positioning etc., the improvements were massive, and you could last a lot longer, right? 

Keep working on your technique and try climbing some more accessible routes to climb with good form and the obvious takeaway here is that repeating bad habits will never work out well. In any scenario. Once you have conditioned a terrible habit, undoing the old habit whilst trying to re-learn a new habit is effectively doing double the work, with half the results.

2. Hangboard sessions and dead hangs

Hang boards are precisely what they sound like - it’s a board, and you hang. They’re designed to specifically train finger strength in a very similar fashion to the equipment in the gym that trains specific body parts. 

Hangboards exist to train everything finger related - from endurance (raw strength), and they optimise your grip within a multitude of orientations. Hangboard workouts are vast and riddled with increasing complexity alongside some scientific basis; however, the most accessible place to start is the classic 7:3 Repeater exercise. 


TRY this : The 7:3 Repeater Exercise

  • After a good warm-up, hang for 7 seconds, then off for 3 seconds (one repetition)

  • perform 6x reps, then rest for 3 minutes. 

  • Rinse and repeat 3 to 6 times 

  • Utilising bodyweight only and focusing more on the endurance side of hangboarding!

One essential aspect of hangboarding is to try hard! If you fail to complete a set, drop the intensity by moving onto a larger hold. If you’d like to find out more about hangboarding, check out our Beginner guide to hangboarding here

3. Increasing strength in your Core + Back + Shoulders

Becoming stronger will help with the ability to bust out multiple moves over and over again. Some areas to get started on are your shoulders, back and core. Even a sneaky Yoga session once a week would lead to some noticeable improvements. 

Yogis often have to hold some pretty strong positions for long periods so don’t pull a face when you hear yoga...

Fundamental exercises - aim for up to 12 repetitions per set. 

  • Pull-ups - regular, or assisted using a resistance band or machine

  • Single-arm lat pull down  - this  one is a great way to work on  your imbalances

  • Push-ups - a great core and shoulder exercise with lots of variations.

  • Single-arm dumbbell bench press -  another one to  target both left  and right sides

  • Overhead barbell shoulder press

  • Handstands - check out  this video if you’re keen to give it a go.

  • Seated row - you can  even use your body  weight and some gymnastics rings 

  • Reverse Dumbbell fly

4. (4x4s) for bouldering

4 x 4s (Four by fours) are a classic training exercise designed to train your power endurance. In other words, it teaches you to pump out powerful explosive moves for longer!

Who doesn’t want to last longer…..?

The idea is to train through the pump, and in doing so, you not only get fitter and stronger, but you also build the mental capacity to work through the exercises and learn to try hard.

After a good warm-up, pick 4x boulder problems that you already know are relatively comfortable and not likely to cause tweaks or injuries, ideally a  few grades below your max. 

Tip: You want to be working at around 60% of your max effort.

  • Climb all four boulders back to back

  • Rest for 4 minutes

  • Repeat  4x times

5. ARC training for climbing routes

ARC Training is the nerdy marathon running cousin to 4x4s. ARC stands for Aerobic, Respiration, and Capillarity, focusing on skill and technique; it’s a great form of physical and mental training.

ARC training is often riddled with loads of science and tech; however, the overarching point of ARC is to increase what’s called your Maximum Steady-State through increased capillarisation in your forearms. 

Without the sci-fi lingo - it works to raise the point at which you pump out!

To ARC train (in the most basic manner)

  • Continue to climb through a light pump for around 30-45 minutes on easy terrain. 

  • Keep it smooth, keep it efficient! If you haven’t tried traversing, 

  • A great way to ease into the training focus that ARC training surrounds. 

  • The only downside is that you’re going to have to convince someone to belay for you for lots and lots of laps.

6. Cross-training

Try adding some other cardio to help develop your base and improve your mental stamina. If you feel like you’re starting to get a few niggles, or you’re becoming a little bored of climbing (yes. God forbid it happens) mix up your sessions with some other outdoor or indoor pursuits. 

When I was training for a half marathon with a goal time of 90mins, one of my weekly sessions involved;

  • 60min spin class (on the bike) 

  • followed by a 30min run home. 

It was a great way to replicate the 90 mins of cardio, using similar muscle groups but without the hardcore impact of pounding the pavement. You could also try kayaking, hiking, boxing….take your pick!

7. Hydration & Nutrition

Even though we are talking about climbing and bouldering endurance, when compared to a 3.5-hour long marathon, or climbing a mountain, your hydration and nutrition requirements would be better suited for shorter or repetitive or sprint type exercises

Read our blog on nutrition for bouldering performance for some tips on what to eat before /during /after your session on the wall.

Staying hydrated is essential for promoting blood flow to the muscles during your session. An electrolyte mix is a good idea if you’re a sweaty human and it’s a hot day.

8. Be Specific about your Goal

The most crucial factor in goal completion is Specificity.

If your end goal is to spend all day out on a massive multi-pitch route in the middle of summer, and you have to hike in and out for several hours carrying a considerable amount of gear, be sure to factor that into your training. 

If your goal is to climb an overhang be sure to include lots of steep routes in your training. You can even go as far as replicating some of your moves on the wall, so you are physically and mentally prepared.

Even testing out the same snacks/clothing/footwear you will be using on the day is essential - who wants a blister (new shoes) or tummy ache (new snack) on the day of your big adventure!

So there you have it!

8 expert tips designed to maximize your energy and most importantly -  minimise your risk of injury!

Climb fit offer training programs designed around maximising efficiency so climbers can climb higher than ever before without getting tired or risking an injury. 

Let us know what kind of goal you have in mind or, why not book into one of our many Bouldering and Climbing courses?  We cater to all levels and abilities from absolute beginners to the most advanced athletes. 

K-Byeeeeeeeee.

Sarah J.

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