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Greg Davis 02-06-2007 05:25 PM

90%+ Training
Hey I am having problems working out my training routine lately and hope I can get some advice. I use to use a periodized training protocol that incorporated 90%+ 1RM work but lately I'm struggling to figure out how to work this into my routine.

Problem is I've been getting really into rock climbing and bouldering, and hit up a climbing session 1-2 times per week. So on top of that I might do some interval training and 1 weights session. But climbing involves a lot of high intensity moves so I'm totally puzzled as to how I can work some 90%+ powerlifting/1RM work. Basically for a weights workout (squats, deadlifts, pressing) I've been trying to do a 90%+ workout once per month since I only get 1 weights session per week. Any ideas for how I can fit this type of training in?

I think 90%+ 1RM work is really important to get stronger which is good for climbing and my other sports. But if I only manage to work with weights once a week, I can't train that hard ever time and I'm worried that hitting that threshold once per month won't be enough for my non-climbing movements ie. squat.

Steve Shafley 02-07-2007 05:11 AM


Climbing/Bouldering ~2x weekly. How long do these sessions last?
1 Interval session. What's a typical session look like?
1 Strength session. Again, what's a typical session look like?

Are you involved in any other sports?
Do you just want to get stronger for climbing purposes?
Do you climb on set days, or just go when you feel the urge?

It's hard to get stronger, especially for a beginner, on 1 strength session weekly. Not impossible, but hard. This is really because frequency and working on the skillful execution of the movement is important for the neophyte.

The climbing is really high volume relative strength training coupled with practicing skilled movements, especially in relation to upper body strength.

I suspect that you're going to have to lower your intensity range (the 90%) and increase volume in the movements you're interested in getting stronger in.

Greg Everett 02-07-2007 10:30 AM

I whipped up a training template for a climber recently. Basically she climbs in a gym 1 night/week and outdoors 1 day/week. So 4 days a week, she does a single strength/power element, i.e. day 1 = deadlift, day 2 = weighted dip, day 3 = power clean, day 4 = weighted pull-up. She has at least 2 exercises for each type of movement that she can rotate periodically, e.g. press instead of weighted dip. For these she's doing rep schemes like 8x3 or 10x2 (power cleans are 5 x 2 or 5 x 3). Then she has 1 day/week to work stamina for each of those movement types, i.e. leg/hip, pushing and pulling, so she'll do basically a circuit with a few movements for the type in question to get some volume and variation in--these workouts are different each week. Similar approach to abs/core--basically she does some high-instensity, low rep movement, then in a week makes sure she covers all possible angles, i.e. flexion, side bending, rotation, etc., as well as static and dynamic. Also works active flexibility 4 days/week, does 1-2 monostructural interval sessions/week and a few other odd things.

She has a pretty good recovery capacity, so she may be able to manage more work than you; or, you might be able to manage more than her. I would suggest starting out conservatively in terms of adding more training and watch closely how it affects your climbing. If you['re doing something with calculated periodization, you may have to take a hit in your climbing for a period while really hitting the strength elements, then back off to maintain that new strength and bring the climbing-specific stamina back up.

Greg Davis 02-07-2007 04:57 PM

Steve- A typically climbing session lasts for 2-3 hours, but there is a lot of rest periods (alternating with climbing partners).

If I lower intensity and increase volume I would be using the repetition method of strength increase which I'm not a big fan of because I'm after relative strength (not gaining muscle size). I am in to other sports during the summer (mountain biking, paddling, basketball) but climbing is my main priority for my training.

What I'm looking at doing is a 4 week split (some examples for the intervals):
Week1- no weights, 1x moderate intervals (swimming, rowing, basketball)
Week2- 1x weights (4-6 rep range), 1x moderate intervals
Week3- 1x weights (2-3 rep range), 1x high-intensity intervals (sprinting, sandbag/sledgehammer)
Week4- 1x weights (90%+ range), 1x high-intensity intervals

And consistently climb 2x per week, leaving the most aggressive climbing for the last 2 weeks. Its hard to structure the weight training with all the climbing mixed in..

Greg- Hey thanks for sharing that! That sounds like a lot of volume but I like the idea of seperate days for each movement but I just don't have that much time for additional workouts.

Steve Shafley 02-07-2007 05:23 PM


Week1- no weights, 1x moderate intervals (swimming, rowing, basketball)
Week2- 1x weights (4-6 rep range), 1x moderate intervals
Week3- 1x weights (2-3 rep range), 1x high-intensity intervals (sprinting, sandbag/sledgehammer)
Week4- 1x weights (90%+ range), 1x high-intensity intervals
I'm curious. What's your weight training experience and your training poundages in specific movements look like? Squat/Deadlift/Power clean, etc? What are your physical statistics...i.e. height/weight/bodyfat, etc?

An experienced lifter can pull something like this off for a while because of the experience and the trained ability to get the most out of lower volumes of work. It's going to be difficult and tricky, though, due to the low volume and the degradation of the response to the exercise.

Even just using a simplified single factor supercompensation theory, you are going to be recovered and then maybe degrading yourself after an indeterminant amount of time.

Robert Allison 02-08-2007 07:06 AM


Nice workout template... I may have to give that a try when I start climbing regularly again.

Under that format, if I wanted to maintain a climbing volume of at least 2x / week and if the volume of power training was still a little high, do you have any suggestions for reducing the volume while still getting the most out of the workouts?


Greg Everett 02-08-2007 08:43 AM

Actually, i think that volume of work is a little high... but this client has an unusualy great capacity. I would reduce the stamina stuff first before reducing the strength/power elements. If you have to reduce both, for those strength elements, just cutting the sets in half (e.g. 5x2, 4x3) should still work well.

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