I have found it beneficial to take some time off training after a big climbing trip – if you climbed hard, your body is probably beat to shit. The trick is taking off enough time that you’re jonesin’ to start cranking pullups and punishing the resistance bike again, but not so much that you start to get mentally and physically soft. I don’t think there’s any formula to figure it out; I just sit on my ass and get fat until I can’t stand it anymore. After this last trip to Montana, seven days of drinking beer, watching old Mighty Boosh episodes, and eating unnecessary amounts of fattening food was enough to start the craving for discipline again.

Whether it’s a training day, a rest day, or a climbing day, every morning begins┬áthe same way: a shrieking alarm at 0455 and a reluctant roll out of bed to start the daily 100/100/100. The numbers denote 100 pushups, 100 pullups, and 100 situps. Method is irrelevant; some days I do 10 sets of 10, and other days I’ll start with 15 of each exercise and do a decreasing pyramid count until I clear 100. I can’t claim originality on the concept – I stumbled on the idea reading another climber’s blog post, and he said that the daily 100/100/100 regimen (beyond his regular training schedule) had greatly increased both his climbing endurance and ability. I’ve only been adhering to the routine for about 3 months, and there’s already an appreciable increase in my fitness.

Because I currently work a 9-5, I do the bulk of my training in the evening when I get home. I converted my apartment into a little training gym with the following equipment:

  • Schwinn Airdyne resistance bike
  • Plyometrics box (adjustable from 14-22″)
  • 2x 30# kettle bells
  • 2x 20# dumbbells
  • 2x 35# dumbbells
  • 3x fingerboards (2 Metolius Simulators and 1 BeastMaker 2000)
  • 1x exercise ball

It’s pretty minimalist, but it’s everything I need for my current training plan. That’s one of the great things about body-weight exercises – you don’t need a fancy gym (and all of the accompanying drama, ego, expense, and spandex). If you’re pursuing a high level of functional fitness specifically for climbing, most of the machines and weights at your local over-priced facility are good for looking pretty and collecting dust.

After six years on the sidelines, I’ve been whipping my ass back into climbing shape with a combination of circuit training and low-impact cardio workouts. I won’t bore you with my calendar of which days are what workouts; that’s dictated by my physiology, recovery rate, and current fitness level so it wouldn’t be applicable to another person anyway. However, I think the circuits themselves are fairly well-designed to meet the goal of increasing climbing fitness and endurance.

Circuit 1:

  • 20x pushups
  • 2x French pullups
  • 10x box jumps @ 22″, unweighted
  • 15x pushups
  • 10x goblet squats w/ 30# kettle bell
  • 15 sec. L-hang on 2-finger pockets
  • 10x lunges, unweighted
  • 25x situps
  • 10x bicep curls w/ 35# dumbbells
  • 10x V-sit/full extensions w/ exercise ball

Circuit 2:

  • 3x French pullups (any holds)
  • 8x V-sit/full extensions w/ exercise ball
  • 20x pushups
  • 30 sec. L-hang on 2-finger pockets
  • 50x flutter kicks
  • 3x man-makers w/ 20# dumbbells
  • 5x V-sit/full extensions w/ exercise ball
  • 2x French pullups (any holds)
  • 20x situps
  • 10x pushups
  • 15 sec. L-hang on sloper holds
  • 8x bicep curls w/ 35# dumbbells

A typical training session is a combination of 4-7 circuits and a 10-minute fingerboard session. I also integrate a variety of sprints and long-distance rides on the resistance bike for cardiovascular fitness; if you’ve never been on an Airdyne till you puked, you don’t know what you’re missing! In my opinion, that (torture) machine is the best low-impact cardio workout you can get. For a reference point, try for the following distances/times:

  • 1 mile sprints in 2:30 (between each circuit)
  • 5 miles in 15 minutes (pre or post circuit training)

There are Airdyne fanatics out there that can absolutely crush those times, but I have found those benchmarks to be indicative of a solid level of fitness for alpine climbing. Again, the goal is functionality. Bragging rights and six-pack abs are just for fun. Now get off your ass and go train.