So you are hooked on this climbing thing and you are keen to make the most of your time and improve as quickly as possible. Well, bouldering is one of the best things you can do. And with some of the following bouldering workouts, you should see some quality improvements if you consistently make time for them.
The possibilities when it comes to training for climbing is endless, like all sports really. The first and most important thing is to get to the wall, get some chalk on your hands and climb. Good and bad training sessions come and go, but you can improve the success rate by having a plan before walking into the gym. Hopefully some of the following bouldering workouts give you some inspiration for making the most of your time, help you improve and, most of all, have fun.
Freestyle Boulder Workout
This is still one of the best ways to use a bouldering wall and if you have the opportunity to climb with someone that is at your level or above, even better.
The main thing to be conscious of is not to get too carried away and overlook resting enough between attempts. With this session you are aiming for 2/3 minutes rest between attempts and when you pull on, you need to have a purpose. Climbing is such a skilful sport and this form of training is the best place to practice and learn.
As soon as you find your power decreasing it is easy to just lower the intensity and keep bouldering. This may feel like the best thing to do but stopping the sessions early will be more beneficial at improving your overall strength. Generally speaking, this session should be around 1-2 hours.
Some final points to keep in mind. Mixing up the lengths and styles to expand your skill set is highly beneficial. Working on individual complex moves will teach you more than doing easier problems, and actually completing hard problems is a must.
Boulders every 2 min for 45/60min
This workout is great if you have access to a Moonboard, Kilter board or the likes. It is quick, fun and helps build good base strength. Generally speaking, you want to top each boulder but failing to complete a few of the reps is totally fine.
It is also beneficial to repeat some boulders. You can climb them using different sequences, different grip types, not cutting loose, different tempos and so on.
Towards the end of the session, as the body gets tired, it is important to keep focusing on good technique.
4 x 4's
A classic bouldering workout that is more commonly recommended for working power endurance, but can easily be tweaked to be more strength focused if that is the desired outcome.
General structure is to climb 4 boulders in a row, rest and repeat for a total of 4 sets.
It really doesn't matter if you repeat the same problem 4 times, or you do 4 different problems as a set. Main reason for picking one variation over the other is if you were trying to replicate an outdoor project.
The most common workout recommendation is to do all 4 boulders consecutively then have around 5 minutes rest between sets. One variation that I tend to like is having 1 minute between boulders and making them a little harder, still having around 5 minutes between sets.
You'll more than likely fail on several boulders during this session. That is ok, but if you complete all then you should dial up the intensity for the next session. You can increase the intensity of the boulders in a number of ways - tweak handholds, remove feet or just make up a harder boulder. Another option is to add some weight. If you do decide to add weight, I wouldn't recommend much over 5kg, as this tends to change movement patterns, which is something to be careful with.
This workout is also a great one to train that inner grit. Towards the end of each set, things can get pretty tough, especially if you intentionally climb the hardest boulders at the end!
Using a campus board for training has long been the go-to for improving strength and power, but I would argue that using the bouldering wall is more specific, produces the same, if not better, results and is more fun.
There are various ways to use a bouldering wall for a campus session, but as a starting point, I would treat it very similar to the freestyle session. Concentrate on short-ish (max 6 moves) boulders, focus on harder rather than easier and make each attempt count. Rest around 3 minutes between attempts.
You'll find this workout really drains the power quickly. After 30 minutes you should be feeling pretty tired. Don't hesitate to keep this session short.
This is a great workout that can be slotted in as part of your warm up (20-30 minutes). Making the time to focus on technical problems whilst the brain and body is fresh is a great way to push oneself into becoming a better climber. Saying that, some people also like to warm down with a few technical slabs when fatigue and power has been utilised by other types of training.
This workout is best done on low angle walls. Picking problems that you find uncomfortable and confusing is the key to this session.
If you are lacking options, you can climb existing problems but eliminate some holds to make them more technical.
This workout is about opening up the mind and expanding your repertoire of moves.
By no means the above is all you can do on a bouldering wall, but hopefully I have been able to give you some inspiration to make your sessions more structured, resulting in some improvements.
The bouldering wall is, without a doubt, the best indoor tool we have to help us become better climbers. Enjoy.
If you are interested getting more insights into your boulder workouts, be sure to checkout out the Sequence App.