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Janelle Snake Pit GoG, CO

Janelle Anderson bouldering in the Snake Pit, Garden of the Gods, CO. ©Mike Anderson

Bouldering is climbing in its simplest form…movement over stone. With this freedom, you can commit completely to a handful of moves and pursue your true limits. Bouldering is an essential training for your pursuit of continuous improvement, but it’s also an extremely worthy endeavor in itself. The Rock Prodigy training program can be modified to maximize your bouldering performance.

Training Adjustments for Bouldering

Bouldering differs from route climbing in several important ways which should be accounted for in a bouldering-specific training plan:

• Length: Short boulder problems require little to no endurance.

• Hold Type: Bouldering typically involves more slopers and compression than route.

• Intensity: Bouldering moves are more intense, increasing the importance of strength and power.

• Duty Cycle: The work-rest schedule is greatly compressed. Bouldering attempts are shorter, with shorter rest between attempts. Also, the duty cycle for hand movements while climbing is much faster when bouldering.

• Movement: Bouldering is often more dynamic than roped route climbing.

• Arousal: Bouldering requires high levels of arousal.

• Style: The ability to hangdog on routes simplifies the process of discovering and refining beta, but this isn’t usually possible when bouldering.

• Exposure: Fall consequences are much different when bouldering, an can effect your level of commitment.

• Accessibility: Boulders permit many more attempts on a problem per session, which enables quicker sends, but increases repetitive stress on joints and skin.

• Group Size: Roped climbing requires exactly one partner, but when bouldering, more is almost always merrier.

• Conditions: Temperature is even more critical in bouldering. Colder is better, but it takes extra effort to warm up and remain warm throughout the day.

Cold weather is best for bouldering, so make sure you dress appropriately, like Mike on Tennessee Thong, V7, Little Rock City, TN.

Cold weather is best for bouldering, so make sure you dress appropriately, like Mike on Tennessee Thong (V7), Little Rock City, TN. ©Anthony Carco

Training is more effective when your training conditions closely mimic the performance conditions. Therefore, for the most effective training for bouldering, adjust each of these characteristics appropriately. In most cases, training exercises can be easily modified to increase specificity, such as using comparable hold types, training intensities, rep and set durations, duty cycles, and movement skills. Articles related to Bouldering:

  • How to Build a Campus Board …Previously we described how to install a hangboard, even in tight spaces. In this article, we’ll expand these approaches to Campus boards. Campus training is important to the Rock Prodigy method, but it’s often the first training activity to be skipped because it requires unique equipment. This is unfortunate because; as described in the Rock Climber’s Training Manual, campus training develops several vital attributes for climbing: Read more…
  • Bouldering for Power  Bouldering can be great fun, and that can present a problem for climbers-in-training.  The casual nature of the activity makes it easy to get side-tracked on problems that are unique and challenging, but perhaps not ideal for facilitating improvement.  As discussed here power training must be extremely intense and brief to be effective.  Many boulder problems have far too many moves to provide effective power training.  The challenge of such problems is not in executing a single powerful move, but in linking several moderately-difficult-yet-pumpy moves.  This is Power Endurance training at its finest–it has its place, just not in your Power Phase!  This is where Limit Bouldering comes in. Read more…
  • Roped Bouldering in Cowboy Country  We recently spent a few days in Wyoming to take advantage of the last week of Kate’s maternity leave. Sinks and Wild Iris are among our favorite crags.  I can’t ever recall having a bad day at Wild Iris.  Even when I get bouted by a project there (which happens often enough), the warmup climbs are so fun and the setting so magnificent its hard to leave the crag without a smile.  Read more…
  • Joshua Tree  Over Easter Weekend the family and I flew out to San Diego to visit our good friends Rob and Julie and their toddler Samuel.  The first day we headed out to JTree for some mellow sight-seeing and car camping.  This wasn’t a climbing trip but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to check out JTree’s amazing boulders.  Read more…

If you have a question or comment related to Bouldering, please post it on the RCTM Forum.  We will try to respond as soon as possible.


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