A “bridge” is a high-intensity training program that links two close-together peaks of fitness. Frequently, we see climbers ramp-up for the summer season, only to see fitness drift off after a month or so. This comes as no surprise to coaches and physiologists, as it is simply a result of too much intensity too soon in the early season. The fix? A quick bridge season training program that will restart and re-energize a climber’s performance.

 

The bridge is not just a season-saver, though; It can easily be a launchpad for best-ever fitness. Like all training, the bridge requires discipline: you really do have to back off at the crag, and you really do have to hit the gym – not the most fun thing to do midsummer. When you start feeling flat, it’s time to start this program. Remember, the sooner you admit that you gave it too much gas early, the sooner you’ll be back to redpointing.

 

The typical bridge program looks like this:

 

Week 1: recovery

Week 2: Strength Build 1

Week 3: Conditioning

Week 4: recovery

Week 5: Strength Build 2

Week 6: back to performance

 

The program really has just three components:

Strength Build: Rebuilding finger and upper body strength, with some power work.

 

Recovery: Legitimately getting away from hard training and refocusing on general fitness and mobility.

 

Conditioning: Getting the aerobic and anaerobic systems restarted.

 

The weeks can be varied, but I’ll detail each one here. Remember, your schedule might be different, but try your best to break your normal habits and follow along – often a big part of a flat peak is a fixed volume and intensity each week.

 

Week 1: Recovery

 

MONDAY TUESDAY WEDNESDAY THURSDAY FRIDAY SATURDAY SUNDAY
30 minutes mobility and flexibility 30-60 minutes easy CV activity 30 minutes Base Strength Circuit + 30 minutes easy movement on climbing wall or boulders Rest 30 minutes mobility and flexibility Climbing at crag – volume focus. Hardest routes 8 grades below RP max Rest

 

Week 2: Strength Build 1

 

MONDAY TUESDAY WEDNESDAY THURSDAY FRIDAY SATURDAY SUNDAY
60 minutes Base Strength Circuit + Finger Strength 30-60 minutes easy CV activity 60 minutes Base Strength Circuit + Finger Strength Rest 60 minutes Base Strength Circuit + Finger Strength Climbing at crag – volume focus. Hardest routes 6 grades below RP max Rest

 

Week 3: Conditioning

 

MONDAY TUESDAY WEDNESDAY THURSDAY FRIDAY SATURDAY SUNDAY
60 minutes moderate bouldering + Linked Problems 20-30 minutes medium intensity CV work 60 minutes Base Strength Circuit + Finger Strength Rest 60 minutes moderate bouldering + Linked Problems Climbing at crag – volume focus. Hardest routes 6 grades below RP max Rest

 

Week 4: Recovery

 

MONDAY TUESDAY WEDNESDAY THURSDAY FRIDAY SATURDAY SUNDAY
30 minutes mobility and flexibility 30-60 minutes easy CV activity 30 minutes Base Strength Circuit + 30 minutes easy movement on climbing wall or boulders Rest 30 minutes mobility and flexibility Climbing at crag – volume focus. Hardest routes 8 grades below RP max Rest

 

Week 5: Strength Build 2

 

MONDAY TUESDAY WEDNESDAY THURSDAY FRIDAY SATURDAY SUNDAY
60 minutes Base Strength Circuit + Finger Strength 30-60 minutes easy CV activity 60 minutes Base Strength Circuit + Finger Strength Rest 60 minutes Base Strength Circuit + Finger Strength Climbing at crag – volume focus. Hardest routes 4 grades below RP max Rest

 

Week 6: Back To Performance

Move back into your normal climbing cycle.

 

Session Notes:

Base Strength Circuit

After warm-up, cycle between the following three exercises as time allows. In the 30 minute sessions during the recovery week, there is not a finger strength training component. Rest as much as needed – there is no reward for getting more circuits done.

 

Recovery Week

Inverted Row x8

Single Leg Squat x5+5

Kettlebell Swing x10

 

Strength Week

1-arm Inverted Row x5+5

Pinch Block x10s+10s

Single Leg Squat x3+3

Kettlebell Swing x5

Edge Hang x10s

 

Bouldering + Linked Problems

Warm up well, then spend about 45 minutes climbing moderately hard boulders – things you can do in one or two tries. Rest plenty between these problems – you don’t want to be working up a sweat. With 15 minutes left in the session, turn up the intensity by linking two problems back to back, downclimbing between the two or quickly jumping down and doing the second. You’ll complete three of the pairs with 3-4 minutes rest between.

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