The Logical Progression book details a surprisingly effective program of nonlinear training for rock climbers. The program is simple, flexible, and enjoyable…and follows a simple series of workouts. In general, athletes are asked to do an Integrated Strength workout, followed by a hard bouldering session, followed by a session designed to increase their endurance.

Although I wrote the program with route climbers in mind, the book has taken on some amount of popularity with boulderers, too. Although the plan can work well to develop a boulderer’s ability as it’s written, I have developed a modification of the original plan that is more suitable to the needs of bouldering.


To review…

The nonlinear approach involves sequencing several different sessions which aim at specific performance variables. By switching between the foci of sessions, we are better able to sustain high levels of performance across strength, power, endurance, etc. Although you could conceivably focus on one style of training for a few sessions at a time before switching to a new focus, we have found that switching efforts each session seems to produce the best results and keeps athletes interested longer.

Boulderers needs differ only slightly from the needs of route climbers. They won’t need as much ability to recover actively, but they still need to train for capacity – without a fairly robust recovery system in place, they aren’t going to have very many goes per day before their power wanes. It is critical for boulderers to get past the idea that they don’t need endurance, and get into the mindset that being able to do more work means being able to do more high quality bouldering in any given period.


Bouldering Is Not Training

We go to the gym and boulder with our friends, which is fun and usually helpful to our overall progress. Bouldering with our friends should not be considered training, though. Let’s call it practice or performance. By separating un-organized climbing sessions from our structured training, we can keep things quite focused in each type of session.

I like to program the majority of an athlete’s training as practice-style sessions; climbers should spend most of their time just climbing, and (more importantly) developing skills. A mindful workout structure will help here, with the climber planning a thorough warm-up, a short section of skill-development, and then a nice, fun session of bouldering to finish the day. Let’s call these Bouldering Days.

The focus of these days should be fun and should involve mastering movement as well as spending time with others. These days will be slightly less intense than a limit bouldering day, and should be of higher total duration for this reason.


Also, Training is Not Bouldering

In addition to bouldering days, you’ll also train. Too much time focused exclusively on training the physiological factors of the sport such as finger strength, explosive power, or endurance can limit or dull your skills. For most climbers, I argue that ceasing climbing for a month to focus on finger strength is, at best, a lateral move. Most climbers lose so much in skill over that period that the finger strength gains are of questionable value.


In Logical Progression, the second session in the series in a Limit Boulder session. This will be considered a normal bouldering day as far as the training/practicing relationship is concerned.

In this plan, a boulderer would do 2 skill/bouldering sessions for each of the training sessions. A 3-week plan might look like this:


Integrated StrengthLimit BoulderBouldering DayCapacity Training
Bouldering DayIntegrated StrengthLimit BoulderBouldering Day
Capacity TrainingBouldering DayIntegrated StrengthLimit Boulder


Capacity for Bouldering

In the original program, the third-day sessions were about building endurance for routes, i.e. being able to maintain power in an active state for short periods of time. Although some boulder problems lean into the endurance realm, the majority of boulder problems take less than a minute to complete. Where endurance comes into play is in developing the ability to have several good tries per session at very high levels of intensity.

Instead of training “deep” into the anaerobic system, we train “wide.” We don’t worry too much about sustaining efforts over longer durations, but rather about being able to elicit more quality repeats per training session.


Step 1 is to build up to 90 minutes of bouldering in a single session with no more than 5 minutes rest between problems. For a normal boulderer, this might mean backing off to easier problems at first. Once you have done the full 90 minutes 2-3 times, start tracking the V-Sum of your sessions. A 6-session cycle of capacity should see your V-Sum (always at a fixed 90 minutes) go up by about 5% per session. You’ll really be working hard toward the end of the cycle.

After 6 sessions, back off for 1-2 weeks, then start in again with a goal of matching your V-Sum from session 3 or 4 of the previous cycle.


If, for some reason, you can’t hit 90 minutes each session, you can divide the V-Sum by the number of minutes you trained to get a “session density” number.

For example:

V-Sum = 110


Density = 1.47


If you followed this with a second session that was 90 minutes, you could compare density numbers rather than V-Sum. i.e.:

V-Sum = 129



This is an inferior practice, though, because we really want to look at total work in sessions and want to be pushing for more over each cycle.


Do the Work

A tendency of many climbers (and most humans) is to look only for the things they agree with and excel at. When boulderers start training capacity, many of them struggle. They think it is “useless” or is “stupid.” It is important to keep in mind that if your training is working, if you’re regularly sending harder and harder grades, then you should not change your program. If you’re stuck, be willing to assume that your plan might be at fault. And if you decide to enter a new program, understand that the least attractive parts of it might just be the most useful things you can do.


  1. Denis Lantsman on January 31, 2021 at 12:26 am

    Based on this schedule, you would only do hangboarding (or strength work like deadlifts / pullups) less than once a week on the integrated strength days. Is that right? Is limit bouldering and bouldering sufficient to make finger strength gains? Or would you be also hangboarding on a different day?

    • Steve Bechtel on January 31, 2021 at 9:12 pm

      Hi Denis,
      You’re right, the volume of work on specific finger strength is low. That being said, the LP programs are climbing training programs not finger strength training programs. If your goal is greater finger strength, a different program that doesn’t involve as much climbing or bouldering will get you closer to that goal.

  2. Andrew on August 30, 2021 at 12:48 am

    Hi Steve,
    I am a bit confused. So a ‘Bouldering Day’ is a day of ‘just climbing’, but then what does it mean that a limit bouldering day is a ‘normal bouldering day’?

    Also, what does it mean that “In this plan, a boulderer would do 2 skill/bouldering sessions for each of the training sessions”? Does this mean for each of the 4 kinds of sessions we start with a skill session and end with a bouldering session? (i.e. skill session, integrated strength, then finish with bouldering session?) or does it mean we do a day of training, and then the next 2 days are skill/bouldering? Because the example plan has a 5 session cycle, so i dont see how 1:2 works?

    What I think may be the case is that this is the same as the level 1 logical progression, but with capacity bouldering instead of intesnive endurance, and with ‘Bouldering Day’ instead of ‘volume’ or ‘red point’ days.


    • Steve Bechtel on August 30, 2021 at 10:30 pm

      Hey Andrew,
      Thanks for getting in touch. I have gone through a lot of iterations of how this can be put together, and I apologize for the confusion. By all means, keep it as simple as possible. At the very basic level, you need to decide if you want to integrate your performance days outside with the training, or to run them separately. If you are simply using climbing days as part of the training, do a three session cycle:
      1. Integrated Strength in the gym
      2. Hard bouldering / some Limit Bouldering (your In A Day level should be the anchor here)
      3. Volume bouldering or circuits – aim is more movement practice and capacity

      If you are less structured in your bouldering days outside, just go have fun those days, try some hard stuff, do what feels right. Then at the gym, alternate between
      1. Integrated Strength
      2. A Power Boulder / Campus session
      3. An interval-based conditioning session

      Either method works well.

  3. Tom on August 27, 2023 at 9:59 am

    Hello Steve,

    I was wondering about the V-sum increase. You state that you should increase around 5% per session.
    Should this increase be found in adding more problems of the same (or lower grades, in case I run out of boulders of that grade in the gym), or should it be found in swapping out easier problems for harder problems?

    Kind regards and thanks in advance,


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