Date: June 23rd, 2016
Training for Climbing on A Time Budget
This week, in our tenth mini Ask Kris episode, we talked about how you can train at home or in the gym on a time budget. We talk about what boulderers should focus on as opposed to route climbers, and how you can train at home or in the gym in less than an hour 2 or 3 times a week.
More Details about The Talk
- Quickie power endurance drills
- When to do circuit training
- Don’t forget about abs!
- Treadwall workouts
Freebie Home Workout
This workout is the same one I posted on the last Ask Kris episode about efficient home workouts, but I figured it’s pertinent to this episode, too. So if you didn’t do it last time, go get it this time!
This is a circuit workout, so do all of the exercises below without rest, then rest as suggested below, then repeat. Regarding this workout, Kris told me, “My client in Europe did it this morning and said it’s the hardest workout he’s ever done,” so, uh, have fun with this…
Home Wall: laps – 10 minutes without touching the ground (Jug holds for shake outs and rest every 2 or 3 minutes)
Push Jerk (Video): 40-90 lbs (depending on ability), 20 reps
Toes To Bar (Video): 20 reps
Hang Board Pull Ups : 10 reps on edge (size depends on ability)
Farmers Walk (Video) (with kettle bells or dumbbells) : 1 minute with 50-100% of bodyweight total. Take quick breaks if absolutely necessary.
Rest: 3-5 minutes Sets: 4-6
Want Help With Your Training?
Each of these training programs contains workouts that are 2 hours or less in duration 3 days per week. We tried to cater to those people who don’t have all day to train. They’ll get you stronger and more fit without breaking your soul 😉
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Neely Quinn: Welcome to the ‘Ask Kris’ series of the TrainingBeta podcast. I’m your host, Neely Quinn, and today we’re on episode 10 where I talk with Kris Peters, our trainer over here at TrainingBeta, about a certain topic of climbing training.
Today we’re talking about how to train when you only have a very limited amount of time. I think that this one is very pertinent to a lot of people out there who have only, like, an hour to an hour and a half at a time, maybe a few times a week, maybe a couple times a week. A lot of time people are training out of their homes because they have families and jobs and maybe they don’t live too close to a climbing gym.
We talked about this to try to give you some ideas of what you should be targeting and how you can work on a home wall or a treadwall, or with weights, or in the gym, or wherever you are. Hopefully, this will help you guys.
I don’t really have any other updates for you so I’m just going to jump right into this interview. Here’s Kris. Enjoy!
Neely Quinn: Alright, welcome back Kris. How’re you doing?
Kris Peters: How’s it going, Neely? Good to see you again, or hear from you again.
Neely Quinn: Yeah. You can’t see me right now. How’s your day been?
Kris Peters: Good. I biked up Mount Evans this morning so that was a fun bike ride. My first fourteener bike ride, so that was a blast.
Neely Quinn: Damn.
Kris Peters: I had a good time doing that. It was fun.
Neely Quinn: Did you start at, like, 13,800 feet?
Kris Peters: Well, I started at Idaho Springs, which is 6,600/6,700 feet and then topped out at 14,100 and saw some mountain goats on the way up, so that was fun.
Neely Quinn: Oh my god. Are you exhausted?
Kris Peters: Um, I’m pretty good. I ate a lot of food and I’ve just been sitting on the computer all day so my legs haven’t been walking around too much. I actually feel pretty good.
Neely Quinn: Well, if ever there was a trainer who walked the walk, it is you. [laughs]
Kris Peters: [laughs] Thank you, Neely, thank you.
Neely Quinn: So today we’re going to be talking about efficient workouts for people who only have a certain amount of time/a short amount of time, which is a lot of climbers. A lot of climbers have full time jobs and they have families and all that.
So, where should we begin? Can you give me some examples of clients that you’ve had?
Kris Peters: Yeah, just even today I got an email from someone who was very specific. They were like, “I have three days a week I can workout, 1-2 hours. What do I do?” Really, I think what a lot of people/most climbers wish they had 3-4 hours to train every day and they’d really like to focus on all their specific needs. I think when you’re limited on time – I’m always about quality, so what – sometimes it’s all based on the goals of the climber.
If this climber’s like, “Well, I just want to get in better shape and just be more fit and stronger,” with her our focus is to try to be as efficient as possible with the climbing specifics. If you only have an hour and you want a good workout, I would recommend a power endurance workout. Working at a higher level with her doing a hard-easy-hard-easy and then she has one day a week of strength training.
Right now her issue is lock-offs and she can’t do a push-up so we’re really focusing on her shoulders, her upper back, and it’s not a lot of work. Some training plans you see, sometimes they’re five or six days a week for multiple hours but there’s a lot of people who don’t have that much time. You just have to really look at what equipment do you have available, what are your goals. Like, “I want to climb 5.13. I climb 5.11. I can only workout two days a week.” I’ll be like, “Well, that’s going to be kind of challenging.”
When people have big goals like that, you really have to put the time in to see the effects of training. That’s what I tried to tell this new client. “I can’t promise you the world but I can promise you that you’ll get – we’ll work on your fitness, we’ll work on your strength.” Just being efficient with your time.
If you’re limited on time, make the climbing as hard as you can for that amount of time. If you want to do core training, structuring it so it all fits into that time frame but I’d usually say the intensity of those workouts is going to be a lot harder. It’s not going to be a lot of resting or sitting around. It’s going to be like, “Okay, here’s the agenda, you’ve gotta go. You’ve gotta move.” It’s definitely a higher pace of workouts for those clients, for sure.
Neely Quinn: Alright, so let’s go back. You said for a climbing specific workout for this girl in particular, maybe she has an hour, you’d do a power endurance workout. You rattled a couple things off. One of them was ‘hard-easy-hard-easy’ and I’m not sure that everyone knows what that means. Those are things that are in our programs that you created but can you explain that?
Kris Peters: Sure, so what I’m trying to do is make the client climb at a – the hard problem is at their project level. Something that’s going to be stressing their body to the max, that they’re working to the very top trying to finish it. Usually the way I have it structured out is there’s usually a time frame to complete the four climbs, and it looks like a 4×4. Really, that easy climb is meant to be an active recovery, so the client tries really hard to do that hard climb. I usually give them 2-3 attempts to finish that climb. If you fall you’ll have two more goes until I won’t let them climb anymore. Then they’ll have their easy climb, which is something that’s mindless. The point of that is just to keep their body moving but try to recover, like, try to get their arms back so when they go back to another hard problem, they’re not fully pumped out.
I’m just trying to make sure that she’s working at her top level and having those recovery moments in between but not just sitting around. She’s still moving, she’s still being active. It’s like any type of gym workout. You’re doing all these hard workouts and the trainer tells you “Alright, do jumping jacks.” The whole idea is to keep you moving, but to train your body to want to recover while you’re still functioning.
When I’m trying to do that with some of these climbers, if you have little time and you can’t train a lot during the week, I’m trying to figure out how to give you as much volume and as much quality as possible within that time frame. Hitting a power endurance like that, hard-easy-hard-easy, she’s going to get a lot of climbs in. Her rest time between sets is five minutes and within an hour she can get in 12-16 different climbs and be working at her max for half of that.
She can really get a good, efficient workout in that hour/hour and a half by doing that drill.
Neely Quinn: Are you talking about boulders or routes?
Kris Peters: Boulders, and you can structure that for routes as well. You can make the same hard-easy-hard for routes, the same idea.
Neely Quinn: It would definitely take more time, though, because if you’re projecting a hard route and then you’re trying to try it a few times, that would take way more time.
Kris Peters: And the route climbing people who have limited time, it’s a lot harder for them to get in all of that volume because to do one route, to set-up and get the rope out and all that stuff, it’s a process. That can take you 10-15 minutes just to get all that done, lower down, untie – you know what I mean?
With this client we figured out that bouldering is going to be the most time-efficient for her.
Neely Quinn: And that will still help her to train for routes if she wanted to do routes?
Kris Peters: Yeah, and she has a treadwall at the gym so she’s going to be using a treadwall as well.
Neely Quinn: Okay, so let’s talk about the treadwall. If I have an hour, that’s what I do because – what would you have somebody do on the treadwall?
Kris Peters: I think because you’re a route climber you just can’t beat that amount of time on the wall, you know? Just being able to stay on it for 10 minutes straight. Usually, it’s going to be timed. When your time is limited I’m going to make it timed sets, so 5-10 minutes. It will have specific routes on it. Some gyms have colored tapes for certain movements and routes on those things, so as long as you have some sort of structure on that treadwall, you’re good to go.
I’d say just give it 5-10 minutes and then I usually say, for most people starting off, I try to give them that same amount of time for their rest. As you start to see your fitness increase I usually try to cut that rest in half. So Neely, with you, we started off five minutes on, five minutes off, and then as you started getting stronger we were giving you three minutes’ rest. Just trying to be efficient with our time.
Neely Quinn: How hard should they be trying on it?
Kris Peters: I usually tell clients about halfway through you should be starting to get pumped and feeling the burn, when you should be trying about halfway through the set. With the hard-easy-hard, that first hard you should be able to do, the easy, and then the second hard you’re really having to work hard for that climb. As you go on in sets, that’s when you want to start seeing your body start to feel the effects. The first two sets are good, you’re feeling great, and then your body starts to get tired so you have to fight more.
I think a lot of people kind of go out of the gate too fast but just know that when you have a certain amount of sets, you want those sets to be hard but it’s going to be a build-up. As you build through those, if you’re on a treadwall for the fifth time in five minutes, you’re probably going to be pretty pumped, which is okay and that’s what we want.
As long as you start off and it’s challenging and as the sets go on, it gets harder and harder then you’re doing a good job. If it’s just staying the same or it’s getting easier then you’ve got to take up the intensity. With all my clients, if I’m watching them workout and they’re like 4-5 sets in and they’re not suffering, I’m like, “We’ve got to take up the intensity.” That’s for people with the limited time. If you have an hour or two, 2-3 days a week, I try to just keep that intensity up super high.
Neely Quinn: I’ve seen a lot of people when they’re on the treadwall and there’s like a break area – not a break area – there’s a rest jug right next to the ‘on/off’ switch so they can stop there for awhile. That’s what I used to do. Is that part of the five minutes?
Kris Peters: Yeah, and I’ll say in the programs, “Have a rest jug. Have something where you can get it back.” I usually tell people 10-30 seconds of just shaking out, chalking up, catch your breath, slow your heart rate down, and then jump back on. What I don’t want is just people flailing all over the wall. Like, they fall off, they jump on, they fall off, they jump on. It’s just this back and forth motion. Slow it down. Even on my bike ride, when I find my flats I slow it down and try to get my legs to recover for that next steep climb. It’s the same thing with climbing. Climb to that hold to rest and relax, and that’s where you try to get it back so you can keep going.
So, yeah – with any of those drills like that, definitely have a rest jug anywhere from – it can even be a minute long. If you’re 10 minutes on the wall, you can take a full minute off and just get it back. It’s active recovery because you’re still on the wall and you’re still hanging on. That’s totally fine.
Neely Quinn: Alright. I didn’t mean to make this all about the treadwall, but since it is such a really great tool to use for people with little time, I’m wondering, when you say to people, “Start with five minutes on, five minutes off,” that’s a lot of time. Or 10 minutes is a lot of time for people. Is there some way to sort of sneak your way into that?
Kris Peters: Like, build your way up to that amount of time?
Neely Quinn: Yeah, yeah.
Kris Peters: Oh yeah. It’s like, decrease the time. What I would say, and you’ve hit the point already, is having that rest jug. Try and make it a minute full without stopping, grab onto that jug for 30 seconds, jump back on for a minute. Kind of have those intervals in there where you’re not trying to force stuff to make it through the whole time but you’re giving yourself that time to rest and recover. I would still keep the time frame the same. I would still say stay on for 5-10 minutes, just take longer breaks.
Another biking drill we do is stand up in the saddle for a minute, sit down for a minute, up for two, down for two, up for three, down for three. When you’re up and out of the saddle, you’re using more power and when you sit down, that’s kind of when you get it back. You can use the same concept with the treadwall: hard for a minute, rest for a minute, hard for two, rest for two, hard for three, rest for three. You can build yourself up that way as well. It’s just knowing your body, understanding the equipment you have, that there’s ways to adjust things to make sure that you’re still kind of on track to do what’s laid out for you.
Neely Quinn: With our remaining time I want to go through – we have a boulderer and we have a route climber. Each of them has, this is hypothetical, each of them has three days a week to train about an hour, maybe an hour and a half each day. What would the boulderer do and what would the route climber do?
Kris Peters: I mean, if it’s – you say an hour to an hour and a half each day?
Neely Quinn: Yeah, for three days a week.
Kris Peters: Again, I think depending on personalities, if a client tells me they still want to project, then one day is a project day and the last two days is when you’ll have high volume. You can use the same concepts/the same type of drills for routes and bouldering. It’s just putting more power in the bouldering area and more endurance on the climbing wall. I would say to keep things fun for the client so they’re not always just feeling like they’re training since it’s such a limited time, “Okay, you have your project day. After your project day go up and do your core work.”
I would never neglect core for anyone of any age, just because it’s such a vital thing. After my back injury I never want to experience that again, so always have core in those sessions, even with that limited time. You have your project day and then I’d say, the second day of the week, “Okay, let’s try to work at a higher level. Let’s try – you’re at your onsight mode, so onsight, get a recovery climb in, onsight, recovery climb.” Do that like a 4×4 set-up, hard-easy-hard-easy.
Then your third day a week I would just try to make it high volume. Lots of movement and lots of climbing. In bouldering you can make a 35-circuit move and the goal is to complete it two times through. In routes, on the wall for up-downs for 10 minutes or you can do a pyramid. I would say just having one of those days as very high volume, more of just fighting the pump, you’re really uncomfortable, you’re sweating, you’re dripping, and then that other day is working more at your higher level but getting those active recoveries in so you can keep trying hard but you’re more of in a training mindset. Then, again, always having that project day so you can go in the gym, have fun, try new stuff, and just have a good time like that.
People with limited time, you don’t want to forget the joy of what you do so I would definitely say that project day is very valuable. Then, if you have time and you want to do that cross training, with limited time it’s usually going to be circuit training so I would just create different rounds of timed rounds/timed circuits but always hitting core, without a doubt, all of the time.
Neely Quinn: Okay, so should they do circuits every day?
Kris Peters: No, I don’t think everyday. When your body is at a high level and you’re really exerting a lot of energy, it can take 2-3 days for your body to fully recover from that. A lot of times, people get caught up in beating myself up all the time and then you just kind of feel sluggish and you feel tired or you feel down, especially for people with busy work lives. If you’re working all the time and with family life, you just want to be aware of just how your body is doing with all that because that’s stress in itself. If you’re just trying to beat it up all the time in circuits, I would just have that one day where you’re doing a high volume. Follow that into a big circuit plan. Have different stations set-up in the weight room and go to those stations and get after it.
Neely Quinn: So on your least intense climbing day, that’s when you would do circuits?
Kris Peters: On the most intense climbing day I would do a circuit, so like, on the day where they’re doing, for the boulderer, 35 moves on the bouldering wall and routes are doing 10 on, 15 on, whatever it is, I would just carry that over into a circuit right after that.
Neely Quinn: Oh, okay. I guess I was thinking intensity was the project day, where they’re trying super hard.
Kris Peters: Yeah, I would just leave that for the climbing. Let them project hard. Don’t even worry about circuits or anything like that, but just still always address those shoulder issues with the bands or always address your core, for sure. I’d have the circuit day be on the day that they’re high volume day, for sure.
Neely Quinn: Okay, one last question. We actually get this question kind of a lot, where people are like, “Okay, I’m doing your program and I don’t have two and a half hours at a time. Can I break up the workouts and do one in the morning and the other half in the evening?” I think that that’s a really good idea, right?
Kris Peters: Yeah. That’s totally fine. I usually tell people that because sometimes the programs, we’re putting stuff on there, we’re trying to give everyone enough because some people do have that time. Some people don’t. I would say if you want to split it up, for sure. Do your climbing stuff in the morning and do the fitness stuff at night, or vice versa. Whatever you want. I, personally, I would do my climbing in the morning and then cross training later on in the day so that way if I did cross train in the morning I’m not tired for my climbing at night time. That’s how I would structure it because throughout the day there’s a good chance you might be tired if your work was stressful/your day was stressful. You may not have a lot of energy to go into the gym and get your best climbing workout in. That’s why I would say just focus on the climbing stuff first and then hit that cross training later on.
There are some clients that are like, “Hey, I can only do the climbing portion. Give me stuff to do at home.” They’re doing their core workouts at their house and that’s totally fine.
Neely Quinn: Yeah, yeah. Okay, well I think that was good.
Kris Peters: Cool.
Neely Quinn: Is there anything else that we missed?
Kris Peters: No. I think that’s it, ya’ll. The finger stuff is all written out. We’re working on it and it’s going to be coming out soon. Just got some more tweaks and stuff to do with it but hope ya’ll like that.
Neely Quinn: Alright, cool. Yeah, thanks for working on that. Get some sleep tonight. It’s been a long day!
Kris Peters: Have an awesome day guys. See ya. Bye!
Neely Quinn: Alright, I hope you enjoyed that interview with Kris Peters. We do these about once a week where I talk to him for about 15 minutes about a certain topic. If you guys ever have any questions just let us know. You can just email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you need anymore help with your training we always have training programs for you. Kris has created a lot of them. The two subscription programs, the bouldering one and the route training program, they both give you three workouts every week and we made sure that they’re not over two hours. Sometimes, they’re two and a half hour workouts but we tried to make it so it’s much more manageable for people who have jobs and families and not that much time. They’re two-hour workouts, three days a week. You can find those at www.trainingbeta.com. At the top there’s a tab called ‘Training Programs’ and they’re all in there.
I think that’s it. Have a great Fourth of July weekend and I’ll talk to you next week. Thanks for listening.