Training Protocol Research
Over the decades multiple training modalities have been experimented with and the optimal training solution has widely been thought to be some form of periodization. It is unquestionable that periodization as a form of training works, however due to the rigorous demands of climbing periodization can be quite challenging and complex.
The difficult part about climbing, especially red point sport climbing, comes down to the three energy systems that a climber needs to succeed. The anaerobic alactate system, the anaerobic lactate system, and the aerobic system.
In summary the anaerobic a lactate system demands high intensity short bouts of duration, the anaerobic lactate system also called the glycolytic energy system is the most taxing and composes high to moderate intensity with equal bouts of duration. The aerobic energy system although the most difficult and tedious to train involves low intensity long duration endurance bouts.
The complexity of creating a standard linear periodization system in climbing is to figure out what to do with all three of these energy systems; as focusing too heavily on one will detrain the others. Although significant gains can be made in one area the others are sacrificed at an alarming rate.
There has been some thought about nonlinear periodization involving all three of the systems on a week to week basis, however appealing this may be, it is difficult for any climber at any level to progress substantially in any one of these categories.
We suggest a blend of both linear and nonlinear periodization in which the climber focuses slightly more on one energy system while maintaining the other two energy systems. Research has shown that this, while complex, may be most likely to produce both progression in sport and top end performance.
A simple training mantra can be as follows: train the energy system of interest twice per week while maintaining the others once a week. Cycling through strength, power, and power endurance as your season progresses will give you the most sustainable growth.
Download the research here.