I have written extensively in articles about the limitations of normal periodized climbing training plans, as well as the clear limits of “just going climbing.” Somewhere in the magic space between lies the Shangri-La of climbing training programs. I can’t say that I have found it, but as we continue the discussion and experimentation, we are getting closer. We have to keep searching for the answer in two very different places: First, we have to look at successful training plans from other sports and see what we can extract from them. Second, we have to continue to look at what elite climbers actually do (their training logs tell us much more than their training plans do) to get better.


Yes, the many programs out there now are fine for some, but I believe most climbers still feel underserved by them. With this in mind, I continually suggest taking different views of structuring training, trying them, and deciding whether they work. If you’ve read much of my stuff, you’ll already know this:
Climbing is a skill sport, and we can never stop practicing climbing.
The physiological demands of redpoint climbing are diverse, and therefore training of multiple qualities is critical.
Only climbing your best for a couple of weeks twice a year isn’t fun for anyone.

The 414 plan is a pre-season or in-season power and endurance plan. three to four cycles (33 to 44 days) of this are appropriate, and can extend the useful length of a redpoint peak by a month or more. You train 4 days in a row, take a rest day, then train 4 more days in a row. You then take two days off and start again. The scheduling of the cycles is logistically challenging since it doesn’t neatly follow a week, but if you can allocate 1 hour per day, every day, to training you’ll be fine. On days where training is scheduled but it’s a rest day, you can either work on mobility for an hour, or go buy a bunch of good food to eat during the next 4 day block.

The first 4 days look like this:
Power (hard bouldering) 45 min
Power (medium bouldering) 45 min
Intensive Endurance (linking problems) 60 min
Power (medium bouldering) 45 min

Then, you rest a day and try to eat and sleep well.

The second 4 days look like this:
Intensive Endurance (linking problems) 60 min
Power (medium bouldering) 45 min
Intensive Endurance (linking problems) 60 min
Extensive Endurance (open climbing or easy routes) 60 min


Then, take two days off completely.

The hard bouldering day will consist of a warm-up, then 45 minutes of trying limit-level problems. I suggest working 3-4 different problems in a cycle throughout the session. You should look for problems of differing angle and character. Keep track of problems you send.

The medium bouldering day is the big key. You’ll spend most of your time climbing on problems near your onsight level. You’ll get more volume this day, and will have the opportunity to think “climb perfectly” rather than “send at all costs.” As with the hard day, you limit the training to around 45 minutes. You’ll finish feeling like the session was too short, and that’s exactly what you want. Track both problems sent and good attempts.

The intensive endurance sessions will consist of climbing one sub-onsight problem every 90 seconds for 9 to 12 minutes (6-8 problems) with open easy traversing between. This will keep you from “dumbing down” your endurance work, and keeps you interested. Rest between sets should be equal to the work sets, i.e. climb 9 minutes, rest 9 minutes. Do 2-3 sets per session. The final session of the cycle will be lower intensity, and should be done on easy open terrain or on routes or traverses substantially below your level. We call this easier session “extensive endurance.” This is effectively a flush-out session where you shouldn’t feel like you are working hard at all.

It is critical you track your activity each session. Write down the problems you do each session, and try to improve the numbers over the same session in the previous phase. These sessions can be done in concert with actual climbing days by climbers used to that level of volume. If you don’t do this much training, guess what? It won’t work. Just do the training instead (winter climbing in much of the U.S. is gym-based anyway), and start back into cragging slowly toward the end of the second or third cycle.

Leave a Comment