Monday, March 29, 2010


I regularly read a variety of training blogs to gather new ideas and learn what others are doing to get more fit for climbing. One of my favorite sites in Steve Bechtel's Climb Strong blog. Along with being a well accomplished climber, Steve is a American Strength and Conditioning Certified coach and runs the Elemental Gym in Lander Wyoming. Steve combines his education and deep understanding of exercise science with an intimate knowledge of climbing to write some thoughtful and effective pieces on training. Check out his site here

In his latest column, Steve talks about the concept of "Tolerance." For many years since training texts had referred to "power endurance." Recently myself and others have used the term anaerobic endurance which seems more accurate to me but still not clear. "Power Endurance" to me, is an oxymoron. Power and endurance couldn't be more of a dichtomy. I like to use the analogy of the marathon runner and the sprinter to frame this idea. The marathon runner is training for a extremely long and sustained performance effort while the sprinter is training for seconds of maximal intensity performance.

Steve says that he was turned onto the term tolerance by a spanish trainer/coach who used the term to define the ability to climb through fatigue for sustained periods on a climb. To me this terms sums it up perfectly. Most routes that are difficult for us come down to being able to sustain a high level of strength and power for several moves through crux or multiple cruxes on a route.

Lately I've dealt with this on a long term nemesis in Rumney. The crux of this route is only about 12 moves long but by the 7th move I'm feeling gassed and mentally I find it challenging to push through that. Training tolerance will not only physically prepare yourself for that sustained crux climbing, it will also prepare you mentally to climb through the fatigue. Check out some of the exercises we've been doing lately here.

I'd be psyched to hear what others are doing to train tolerance and what they think about this concept!

1 comment:

  1. The idea of training tolerance as opposed to "power endurance", as it is offereed referred to, lends itself well to those of us who wish to perform at a high level in many fields of climbing. For someone like myself who wants to climb hard routes, but doesn't want to lose that hard bouldering strength I would prefer to train in a manner I am able to keep my power and still have the endurance to climb long routes. We have witnessed this "strength" many time before with climbers like Adam Ondra, Tommy Caldwell and others sending super hard problems and also super long (and hard) routes. It seems to me rather than climbing with a pump of easy-moderate climbs for say 20-30 minutes you might instead use 4 by 4's and other progressive bouldering circuit and other workouts to build endurance while maintaining power.