Climbing Training: Power Endurance


Vian Charbonneau (on Divine Fury 5.14b) has serious power endurance

It’s winter, and unless you have some awesome climbing trip planned or, unlike us, you live in warmer climates, winter can be a time when it’s hard to maintain motivation. Your project is covered with snow, you’re stuck in the gym, and have an overwhelming urge to drink hot chocolate and get cozy on the couch. Luckily for us, our favorite mean and lean trainer Jackie Pettitt from MetroRock Climbing Center, founder of Granite Girls Climbing School, brings us a power endurance workout to get you out of that rut!

So what is power endurance exactly? Jackie explains, “Unlike endurance, where you have a manageable pump, in training power endurance you will become very pumped to the point of possibly coming off the wall. Power endurance is the ability to do many difficult moves and not get pumped”. So in essence we are training both power and endurance simultaneously, to get us to that place where we can push through the dreaded pump. What climber doesn’t want that skill? Here Jackie gives us a killer workout to help achieve just that.Β 

Boot Camp Warm-Up
This type of warm up is really good for oxygenating your muscles and getting warmed up without doing anything too powerful before your body is ready. It’s also a great source of cardio.

  • Running intervals: 5 minute run, 3 minute jog, 1 minute sprint x2
  • Jump squats 1 minute
  • Wall sits 1 minute
  • Push ups 1 minute
  • Pull ups 1 minute
  • Core: 15 minutes (you can do a variety of different exercises such as planks, leg lifts, sit up variations, etc.)

4×4’s: 20 Minutes
A 4×4 means doing four bouldering routes, four times each (see here for more explanation). For the Intermediate group this should be V1, V2, V2, V3, and adjust for your level. To train power endurance, try to do these on overhung walls. Between each set of four try not to rest, go until you can’t! If you can’t hold on anymore take a brief rest so that you still have a slight pump sensation and continue.

Intervals: 18 Minutes x2
To do climbing intervals for power endurance, you essentially find an area of overhung wall, where you can boulder in a circle, or continuously on over hung wall for the following periods:

  • 1 minute on, 1 minute rest
  • 2 minutes on, 2 minutes rest
  • 3 minutes on, 3 minutes rest
  • 2 minutes on, 2 minutes rest
  • 1 minute on, 1 minute rest

If you fall off, try and get right back on.Β  A good way to do these is with a partner, you rest while cheering on your partner while she does hers.

15-Move-Boulders: Complete 5
Gauge how pumped you are and create movement that is not at your max ability, but that keeps you going for 15 moves. If you are not good at creating boulder problems connect two problems, which is called doing a “link up”.

Campus Boulders: Complete 5
Even if you aren’t great at campusing, try it anyway! Go ahead and campus on things that are finger friendly. No small crimps!

Push Up/Pull Up Pyramid: 15 Minutes
10 push up /10 pull ups, 9 pull ups/9 push ups so on… half of the pull ups should be lock offs. If you can’t fully do multiple pull ups, try doing negative pull-ups, or pull-ups with an assist (either a friend or a resistance band).

Once you have completed this training session, don’t forget to cool down and stretch out!

Thanks Jackie for the ass-kicking work out! Want this kind of punishment in person? Well, look no further. You can get a boot camp workout from Jackie on Tuesday nights at Metro Rock Boot Camp 7:30-8:30, $15 to drop in, and free for members. AND email Jackie at to join Granite Girls Climbing School, now open for 4 or 8 week customized programs where you will get individualized instruction and training in endurance, power, contact strength, lock-off strength and more!

Photo Credit: Climbing Narc

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12 thoughts on “Climbing Training: Power Endurance

  1. Cristina says:

    Some great tips for staying psyched during the winter season and getting motivated to get strong for spring! I’m a big fan of 4×4’s and Intervals, I’ve personally found them very effective πŸ™‚ I’ll have to try your other suggestions. It’ll be fun to change things up a bit.

    My only word of caution is campusing. I’ve seen way too many injuries from people who think they are strong enough to start campusing. It’s something you have to work up to. It’d be devastating to put yourself out while training for the outdoor season.

    • Missy says:

      Cristina-Excellent point! It would be a total bummer to injure yourself for outdoor season while campusing in the gym, that is a good caveat. Also, loving your Facebook page, you have some really awesome links! Thanks for reading πŸ™‚ Climb on! Missy

  2. Cathy says:

    It does look like a ‘killer’ workout since I assume you do the entire program in one session…?

    I don’t quite understand the Intervals 24 min x2 since the minutes only add up to 18. Do you rest for 6 min and then hop back on to do the same thing?

    And how long do you rest between each segment?

    Thanks so much!

    • Missy says:

      Cathy- Yes, the idea is to do it all in one session! I have done this, and would highly recommend a rest day the next day πŸ™‚ That being said, you can modify this workout, especially if you are newer to training power endurance. Also, you are totally right on the math. I’m going to change it. It should be 18 minutes x2. So you do your interval (1, 2 or 3 mins) then you rest an equal amount of time (1 minute on, 1 minute off, and so one). It would be 18 minutes, times two. Thanks for catching that! Climb on Missy

      • Cathy says:

        I did the workout today and LOVED! it. I was losing skin, sweatin’ and I’ll be sweatin’ more with the ‘no rest’ Interval 18X2. Instead of campusing, I did Horst’s Repeaters.
        The only concern I have is monopolizing the boulder area in our gym as it’s small or even get on in order to do my workout. Just have to find the quiet times.

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  4. Gabriel says:

    Hi ! How long do you rest between each 18 minutes set ? You do the set, and at the end of the 18 minutes you start again with no major rest between the macro set ? Thanks !

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  6. […] Climbing Training: Power Endurance | Crux Crush – It’s winter, and unless you have some awesome climbing trip planned or, unlike us, you live in warmer climates, winter can be a time when it’s hard to maintain … […]

  7. Matthew Cox says:

    What are the intended rests between each excersice? Also what is the desired intensity level for each?

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