Training for the Combined

Elevating endurance while also increasing strength + power. How we redesigned our methods for Tokyo to train them all. 

With the push for the 2020 Olympic Combined format, we had to peak in Sport, Boulder, and Speed all at the same time for US Team selection and the World Championships months later. Departing from the stigma that training endurance will reduce power and vice versa, the top competition climbers from around the world redesigned their training plans, developing a method that allowed them to continue being a beast while improving their weaker disciplines.

Innsbruck World Championships 2018 Combined Finals [Lead|Boulder|Speed]

True, most people can’t commit the 6-8 hrs a day we put in at the gyms 5-6 days a week to train for these events. The basic formula, however, and methods we used can be implemented into your own routines. Continue reading for some insight on how we trained both! Even if you aren’t a competitive climber, these methods can help you prep for trips to areas with routes and boulders, or even just push you through a current plateau.

– Gain endurance without losing power
– Increase strength and power without hindering endurance

Timing, volume, and body awareness are all key when adding significant workload while balancing such varied disciplines. 


Listen to your body. In the beginning, you will probably need extra rest days to recover after the first round of training both power and endurance subsequent days as your body adapts to higher/new demands. I found that by the 2nd week I could recover in 1 day from 2-3 days on vs initially needing 48 hrs. Looking back, my highest volume months consisted of:

3 Days on —› 1 Day off —› 5 Days on (3rd day was light) —› 2 Days off

This workload was sustainable in between competition seasons, which was never more than 6 weeks at a time. Training volume tapered off 7-10 days before a competition, intensity remained high. I haven’t tried maintaining such a workload for longer time periods due to only having a few weeks separating competitions or outdoor trips. And, honestly, I think I would start to risk overtraining if I pushed this schedule for more than 1.5 months.

Starting with a moderate endurance and solid bouldering background, I had to be patient and strategic with my endurance sessions. Two days in a row of more than an hr of hard routes would leave me powered down for days. Eventually I found these formulas [outlined below] of week and day plans to be the most efficient and effective for my training!

Example Week Schedules for Elite Workload

Not included but crucial to efficiency: Every day includes foam roll, lacrosse ball deep tissue, and theragun recovery work. Also, notice that I sometimes do strength after endurance. I’ve found it to be beneficial on days when endurance is priority, and the strength session is supplemental as maintenance/short. For days where strength/power training is a priority, I HIGHLY suggest doing those workouts BEFORE endurance sessions.

[Note: I train at Sender One LAX with steep 70’+ walls. Therefore I rarely do “laps” as their walls are plenty tall enough to build solid endurance. If your gym’s walls are below 40′, consider doing 2 pitches in a row for every 1 pitch I list.]

Individual Day Outlines

Strength + Endurance
Session 1:
Full body warm up
Boulder 30 min
Resistance Training 45 min (weighted pulls, push
press, TRX, fingerboard, core, etc)

Rest 1-3 Hrs

Session 2:
Sport climb 1.5-2 hrs (4-6 pitches)

Power + Endurance
Session 1:
Full body warm up + 20 min boulder
4-6 laps on Speed Wall
Boulder 45 min
Campus 30 min or Mock WC Comp round
Boulder 30+ more min

Rest 1-3 hours

Session 2:
Sport climb 1.5-2 hrs (4-6 pitches)
2 Warm up laps back-to-back, 1-2 onsight routes,
1 project burn

Endurance + Strength or Power Maintenance
Session 1:
Sport climb 1.5-2 hrs (4-6 pitches)
2 Warm up laps back-to-back, 1-2 onsight routes,
1 project burn

Rest 30 min – 3 hrs

Session 2:
Brief warm up
40min – 1 hr Weighted Strength

[Note: this post focuses on the organization of a training week, not the individual sets and reps of each workout. For specific rep and weight formulas of exercises and campus routines, I would reference Training for Climbing by Eric Horst and The Rock Climber’s Training Manual by the Anderson’s.]

Let me know your thoughts!!

IFSC WC Meiringen SUI

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