The Best Way to Start Your Winter Training: Interval Training

The Best Way to Start Your Winter Training: Interval Training

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Gym season has arrived. It’s time to ask yourself: Am I getting the best results from my training? Now can be a crucial time to win. In particular, you can increase the productivity of power-endurance workouts by applying some basic principles of training structure.

Power endurance is the type of fitness required for most athletic routes, with typically sustained streaks of 20-60 hand movements. Although most climbers use the term power endurance, trainers may also say “anaerobic endurance” or “high intensity endurance”. The hallmark of the power endurance course is that there is no real rest – stopping and shaking will only increase fatigue. Therefore, the best approach is to simply keep moving forward.

The biggest mistake

With power-endurance training, it’s easy to fall back into old habits: climbing routes in the gym, guided by whim, on free lines. But the biggest mistake is trying to break into that elusive new class every session. This forces you to take long rests between ascents and therefore not climb a worthwhile amount. Another consequence is that you burn out during the first half of the session and are forced to lower the note so much that the second half of the session is not productive.

Interval training explained

How can we ensure that we are climbing the right number of routes, at the right level to maximize the benefits of our sessions? The answer is to take the same approach used to train for endurance sports such as rowing, running and cycling – interval training. It’s all about finding a balance between the intensity (or difficulty) of the climb and the volume (or number of routes/movements). The equation is simple: the higher the intensity, the lower the volume can be achieved. With interval training, the idea is to achieve optimal balance, maintaining both reasonably high volume and intensity.

Training Rating Definition

Another key principle of interval training is that the intensity of each interval remains constant. Choose a fixed grade (usually a grade or two below your maximum sight ability) and stick to it for the duration of the session until you fail. For example, someone whose current best sight score is 5.12c would maintain (after the warm-up) the 5.12a score throughout the session. The idea is that the first two or three intervals feel comfortable, the next ones are hard and the last ones are desperate.

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Number of repetitions

The repetitions will depend on the number of movements you perform during each work interval. For shorter work intervals (e.g. 20-30 reps), aim for a higher number of reps (e.g. 8-10), and for longer work intervals (e.g. 50-60 reps), aim for a lower number (5 to 7). See chart for guidelines.


Your rest between each work interval has a direct effect on the number of repetitions possible. If you take 30 minutes of rest between each ascent, you’ll probably be able to ride routes at your training level all day, but if the rest drops to two minutes, then you’ll be on the ropes after two or three ascents. The answer is to find a balance. Rest times should be approximately “time and a half” of the work interval, so the greater the number of movements, the longer the corresponding rest. Again, see the chart.

The technical element

Rock climbing differs from most endurance sports in that the technical component is very varied. You will get better results switching from one route to another rather than navigating the same route. Circuit training is also beneficial. Finally, it is also essential to train on different types of grips and different wall angles, selected to prioritize your objectives or your weaknesses. In other words, if your project is a sport course in 40 movements in slight overhang on small rods, then this is what you must simulate in your training.

Training tips

A common oversight is to train the same number of movements (usually the length of the routes in your gym) every session. Be sure to train at different intensities within the given spectrum for power endurance (20-60 reps). For longer work intervals, lower and do double or triple turns. Make sure to pull the rope down and start climbing again as quickly as possible, without any rest. Circuits on the bouldering wall offer a great option if you don’t have a belay partner.

Goal setting

The key to success in any type of training is having goals for each session, and interval training lends itself perfectly to this notion. Try to reduce the rest times very slightly each time you train. The table gives upper and lower values ​​for rest times, so start training at the higher value and reduce the rest by 15 to 30 seconds each session. If you’re training on circuits, an alternative to reducing rest times is to add five moves each time or make some moves slightly more difficult. With this approach, if you train power endurance two or three times a week, it only takes a month or two before you see impressive results.

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