Optimal climbing and running strength and core training

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  • #46373

    I think I might be looking for the unicorn of uphill athletes but researching this amazing site has gotten me a lot closer than I was a few months ago!

    Based on the other forum posts, periodization is the best approach for performing well at rock climbing and trail running, especially ultras. I agree with this based on my experience trying to both rock climb hard and run ultras. I can’t do them both without getting injured or burnt out, especially as I get older.

    From climbing, I’ve suffered some pulled rotator cuffs or deltoids and brachioradialis due to climbing in the last year so I want to strengthen to prevent injuries as well. From running, I’ve usually had weaknesses in hip flexors and glutes, and over developed quads or weak hamstrings.

    I’m currently excited about rock climbing and pushing back in the 5.12 grade. My goals with climbing is to build a solid base at 5.12 and increase my endurance for longer routes at the 5.11 to 5.12 range and bouldering projects at Hueco Tanks this winter. Endurance and hanging on seem to be my weaknesses for this goal. I can usually do isolated moves in V6-V8 range but not always link everything together. I like to run so I’ve been running 15-30 miles a week through the summer. Sometimes those miles will be long hikes in the mountains. They are usually at a very casual, base building pace. Both of these activities help with longer trad/desert alpine climbing later in the winter that require easier climbing but long hikes and long days in the mountains. Eventually I’ll probably get excited for trail racing again and shift my focus that direction. I’d like to keep my running base around 20-30 miles so I can easily start to build up for longer distances when I decide to shift my focus back to running. Through the summer I was able to maintain a healthy balance of running, hiking, and climbing of 20-30 miles/week on foot and 2-3 days on rock at a pretty easy level up to 5.11.

    I would like to find the optimal, general strength and core workout/training plan that I can do throughout the year regardless of whether I’m focused on climbing or running, BUT will help each sport the most. Also, as I get older I see the benefit of strength training for longevity at sports and time in the mountains, so that is a goal as well.

    Through my research, the following exercises seem to benefit both sports and overall strength: single leg exercises such as squats, lunges, and step ups, hanging leg raises, planks, pushups and pullups. Yoga and foam rolling also help. What are other strength and core exercises people recommend? Is there a good training plan on here that meets this criteria? I think adding in some hangboarding and route 4x4s or ARC sessions while focused on running and hill sprints or short speed work while focused on climbing every other week or so could benefit the other sport while not detracting too much from the specific sport I’m focusing on at that time.

    Thoughts? Do you recommend a certain training plan, coach, workout? Thank you.

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    Anonymous on #46385

    You’re wise to treat these two sports as distinct in their demands and training approach. While there is come crossover when it comes to the core strength area much of the training will be different enough to even have a negative effect on the other sport unless planned well.

    It sounds like you have determined that you have some foundational strength work to do that will help your running. Those exercises could easily be incorporated at the end of climbing gym session when the climbing training is a priority. Hill sprints are the most effect way to build leg power for mountain runners, if you have a steep >20% grade hill with good footing.

    Plan your hard climbing sessions, indoors or out when you are well rested. It is fine to do a longer run after a bouldering session but doing a long run before you go bouldering you will not have the power you need to get much out of the bouldering.

    Remember: Strength, Power and Speed always before endurance.

    I’m going to ask Dave our climbing coach to chime in with some specific ideas about who to improve your climbing weaknesses.

    We do not have any stock plans for this combo of running and climbing due the immense variability of the user group but we’d be happy to discuss putting a custom plan together for you or a coached program.


    David Thompson on #46394

    Hi there,

    The programming that Scott alluded to (strength, power, and speed before endurance) is how you’ll want to program your days and weeks. The climbing-specific exercises that you mentioned–hang board, 4x4s, ARCing–are a good mix to get you started. In terms of core, anti-rotational exercises are very helpful for the demands of climbing. For examples of these do a search for Pallof press, or two- and three-point planks.
    Hope this helps.

    whodancarter on #46512

    Thank for the replies Scott and David! This website is becoming such a great resource for myself (and many others I imagine).

    Running after climbing or climbing workout makes a lot of sense. I always did my runs in the morning or as a warm-up. I guess this is probably fine for easy runs but I’ll start re-prioritizing climbing related workouts first. I have plenty of steep hills to mix in some hill sprints. These will help with long approaches for desert alpine adventures too. Hill running is one of the best “speed” workouts for running to since the chance of injury is much lower.

    I’m going to look into the free bodyweight strength and core workout plans on this website to get into a better, more steady routine of these types of workouts. My opportunities for climbing in a gym and outside are kind of limited at the moment. Weekends are pretty much my only chance for climbing routes or boulders. So I have to make do with a hangboard, rock rings, and an occasional session on a friends woody wall. I know I have a lot of room to improve with building a regular strength workout routine so this should keep me busy for now. I’m 38 and want to ingrain regular strength and core into my life for the future. This has always been a challenge since doing the actual thing I like, getting into the mountains, is way more fun.

    whodancarter on #46515

    I’m looking at the Free At Home Rock Climbing Training Plan. Would you modify this if climbing outside is available? If so, how? Or are the workouts short enough to do in addition to a climbing session?

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