Initial training volume and aerobic / strength split

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  • #9586
    Alan Russell

    I know that similar queries have been answered before, but I’m not sure what the best things to do are for my circumstances, so I’m looking for advice.
    I’m undergoing a physio program (following a knee injury last year) which involves leg strength exercises and gradual increases in running, and in the last month my physio has suggested it would be ok for me to start climbing, so I’ve tried to make a plan for something like the Transition period, but I’m wondering if I am spending too much time on strength / climbing, and I would be better spending more time on aerobic exercise / resting. For info., what I’m considering as my week 1 of the Transition Period had around 0.75 h of jogging / walking and around 1 hour of leg strengthening for my physio. program, 2 hours of climbing (2 x 2 x 30 min ARCs), around 0.75 h of UA core + upper body general strength (2 sessions per week) + maybe an hour of other aerobic, so a total of around 5.5 hours. I joined TP in August and my active (training) hours for September to March were 151, which scales to an annual of 259, giving an average of almost 5 hours per week, which would suggest a starting volume of about 2.5 hours per week, which seems quite low, and wouldn’t allow for the inclusion of the core and general strength, or the climbing (prioritising the physio program).
    I’m now at week 5 of the Transition Period, and though I feel stronger, a problem I’m facing is trying to fit everything in, particularly as the leg exercises and climbing sessions are gym based, so involve a bit of travel time, and being restricted to their opening hours. Also, I am finding that the general strength sessions and climbing sessions are concentrated over the weekend, due to insufficient time on other days (due to e.g. work and physio exercises) and that as the duration of these sessions has increased (following the progressions for General Strength in TFNA and the ARC progression on UA), it’s getting even harder to fit it all in, and I’m wondering if I’ve started off too hard, and should cut back, and, if so, what. I’m guessing the climbing / general strength may be best, but not sure which / how much, so any guidance would be gratefully received.
    Assuming I reach the required fitness levels, my climbing goals are mountaineering / alpine routes / scrambles in the Scottish mountains up to UK V.Diff level (which I think is about USA 5.4), multi-pitch climbing up to 5.9, sport up to 5.11.
    So, in summary, my questions are:
    1. Should the initial weekly training hours for someone who did 200-400 hours of training in the last year still follow the formula of half the average weekly hours in the last year, i.e. about 2-4 hours in the first week, and, if so, what would be the recommended aerobic / general strength / climbing split be for someone interested in alpine routes?
    2. Have I started out too hard, and, if so, should I maintain my current training (without increase for a while) or cut back in order to get back on track? I am going to try and catch up with my TP logging to check my ramp rate.


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    Anonymous on #9590


    Good luck with your rehab. Do what the Physio tells you and let pain be your guide. Developing good leg strength is really key to your future sporting activities so that should be a priority. The aerobic stuff can’t be developed if you have a bad knee so focus on that now. BUT…Physio comes before strength at this stage: HEALTH BEFORE FITNESS.

    The way to tell if you started off to hard is if you are not recovering. You will need to progress the training load/volume if you hope to keep improving. If you are already maxed out time wise and you’ve just started then that is going to be an issue once you begin to regain fitness in a couple of months.


    Alan Russell on #9592

    Thanks Scott,

    Clear, simple, and sensible advice as always. I’ll be reducing training in some weeks in line with the modulation guidance of TFNA, but I think I’ve probably not left myself enough room to increase training volume in line with its programs (as I would have liked to do), so I’ll plan follow the TFNA plan such as I can, and reduce if its getting a bit much and I feel that I need it, though I’m guessing this may make it difficult not to plateau – something for me to learn from.

    Regarding the initial training hours for someone in the 200-400 hours per year bracket, my understanding of the Transition Period is that its main purpose is to get you ready to train harder, so the priorities would be something like:
    1. Address injuries / weaknesses.
    2. Build general strength.
    3. Do as much aerobic training as you can in line with the principle of gradualness.
    So, from that, would I be right in thinking that if someone is starting from having done 200-300 hours of training in the last year, they’d start with almost no aerobic training?


    Anonymous on #9601


    The rehab period must focus on getting back to where you can handle normal “training”. Physio and rehab strength work do not count as training. They are for health. Health MUST come before fitness. So get healthy first then think about training. Once you are healthy and are back to training and you are training for some sort of longer mountain goal then the foundation of the training must include as much aerobic training as you can manage. See your point 3 above. Supplement with strength training two or at most 3 days/week but prioritize the aerobic base training.


    Alan Russell on #9675

    Thanks Scott,

    Looks like I should chill out a bit regarding training plans until I’m healthy enough to train properly! I think I’ll try to do some mobility, core and upper body strength, and maybe some cycling in the interim though, so long as it doesn’t restrict my physio and is beneficial.

    Assuming that I do get healthy enough to handle normal training, I’m guessing from what you say about 2-3 days per week of strength that, for me, that’d be 1-2 sessions per week of climbing training (ARC / bouldering / fingerboard / routes), or other strength training (TFNA general strength conditioning / TFNA max. strength / TFNA hill sprints), but not 2 sessions of both like I have been doing! I’m also thinking that though it may not be too bad for these sessions to concentrate at weekends as long as the intensity is general conditioning / ARC, if I’m doing more intense training like the TFNA max. strength / bouldering / fingerboarding, I’ll need to spread these out more to get the most benefit.


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