Tuesday, February 23, 2010

2-23-10:The 9 week Training Cycle (take 2)

I've gotten a number of questions about the Tudor Bompa Cycle after the post on the Touchstone Blog. Since my last post was a little cryptic, here is another take on that it that will (hopefully) make more sense...

Phase 1 "base": 3 sets high rep weights to get body ready for training phase - work as many muscle groups as possible - gradually increase intensity - ideally 4 to 6 weeks.

Phase 2 "train": Use below program to concentrate on 'muscles of interest', otherwise train the rest of your body (after working 'muscles of interest') by doing phase 1 type exercises and volume bouldering outside on weekends. For each cycle, I concentrate on 'muscles of interest', e.g. 2 pulling exercises and 2 triceps exercises (to keep things balanced and avoid tendinitis). Here are some examples:

A) Tues = weighted pull ups & weighted dips, Thurs = seated rows & triceps pull down

B) Tues = one arm pull downs & weighted dips, Thurs = preacher curls & reverse triceps pull down
C) Tues = preacher curls & triceps extensions, Thurs = seated rows & narrow grip push ups
D) Tues = weighted pull ups & reverse triceps pull downs, Thurs = one arm pull downs & weighted dips

***test one rep max***
70% x 8 reps x 1 set
80% x 6 reps x 2 sets

80% x 6 reps x 2 sets
85% x 5 reps x 3 sets
90% x 3 reps x 1 set

85% x 5 reps x 2 sets
90% x 3 reps x 3 sets
95% x 2 reps x 1 set

***test one rep max***
80% x 6 reps x 2 sets
85% x 4 reps x 1 set

85% x 5 reps x 2 sets
90% x 3 reps x 3 sets
95% x 2 reps x 1 set

90% x 3 reps x 2 sets
95% x 2 reps x 2 sets
100% x 1 rep x 2 sets

***test one rep max***
80% x 6 reps x3 sets

85% x 5 reps x 1 set
90% x 3 reps x 3 sets
95% x 2 reps x 2 sets

90% x 3 reps x 2 sets
95% x 2 reps x 3 sets
100% x 1 rep x 2 sets

Phase 3 "conversion": Intense indoor climbing, campusing. Still lift, but with lower weights (50-70%) with more explosive lifting - keep outdoor volume up and start trying harder problems - start working your projects. The duration of this phase should be the same length as the base phase or 4-6 weeks.

Phase 4 "send": Boulder your ass off and send all of your projects.

Phase 5 "repeat": See phase 1


Wednesday, September 02, 2009

9-23-09: The 9 week training cycle

It is about time that the fabled 9 week cycle gets explained in some depth. Many years ago, Randy Puro introduced me to the the 9 week cycle that he had adopted from the Eastern European training guru Tudor Bompa. He converted the power training cycle from his Periodization Training book and adapted it for bouldering. Here is my take if you will, on how to apply this method to bouldering.

This program is designed for boulders. I think the best candidates are boulders who have been climbing for a while and have hit a plateau. If you have been climbing for only a year and climbing v3 - this is not for you. You would be better off polishing your climbing technique. It also takes a good amount of dedication and for that reason I think it is important to have concrete goals (projects) that you can use to motivate yourself throughout the training.

While this program is frequently referred to as the "9 week training cycle" it is really much more than 9 weeks! Secondly, you can also do a 6 week training cycle if you don't have much time. Here is an overview:


This is where you get your body ready for the intense training by lifting 'easy' weights get your body used the exercises and the stress of training in general. A good rule of thumb is to plan for 6 weeks of base for a 9 week training cycle and 4 weeks of base for a 6 week training cycle.

For this phase you should be doing as many exercises as possible to try to increase your general fitness. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, boulder at the gym to warm up - but don't over do it and then head over to the weight area. Try to climb two days outside on the weekend if possible, to build up your connective tissues. The idea is to go for volume, not intensity.

When lifting, don't just work out your arms, try to hit every major part of your body. Start with a low number of sets (1-2) and do high reps (15-20). Over the course of the base phase, you want to increase the intensity to be doing 4-5 sets of about 10 reps by the last week.

This is the intense lifting part of the program that you will be doing on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Just as before, you should be climbing mainly to warm up (because you want to be fresh for the lifting) and getting plenty of bouldering in on the weekends.

As I said earlier, it can either be 6 or 9 weeks. Below is a picture of the complete 9 week training cycle. To do a 6 week cycle, just use the first 6 or last 6 weeks of the cycle.

You'll notice that the first step of the training cycle is to test. Tha means you need to test for your 'one rep max'. All the weights in this program are based on your one rep max (ORM). If it is your first time figuring out your one rep max, you can use and online calculator to help you out. But once you have done the first three weeks, I would try to test your ORM the real way: strap on some weight and see if you can lift it one time. It is important to test your ORM before weeks 1,4 and 7 and not use old numbers or guess at the increase.

Here is an explanation of week 2:

The percentages should be worked out in advance so you don't get bogged down with computation during your workout. If you weighed 150 lbs, and you could do only one pull up when you added 50 lbs, your ORM is 200 lbs (NOT 50 lbs). If you calculate your percentages based on 50 lbs, they would be way off. In this example, your 80% weight should be 160 lbs or your body weight plus 10 lbs.

On Tuesdays, start with what I call a primary pulling exercise: weighted pull ups, one arm pull downs, pull downs, curls, etc. Then do an opposition exercise like dips, push ups, or tricep pull downs to balance out your arms. On Thursdays use different pulling and opposition exercises. Make sure you feel fresh between reps - quality of reps is paramount. You shouldn't be failing on your last rep, if you are you should adjust our weights.

After focusing on the primary exercises above, now it is time to work on the secondary exercises, such as abs, hangboard work, shoulders, chest, legs, etc. With these I am not as scientific, but I adjust the intensity with to go along with the 9 week cycle.

This is the transfer of your new-found lifting strength to climbing specific strength. While you will still do some training, you will basically try to boulder and campus as much as possible.

Lifting weights should be done with much lower reps and weights but in a more dynamic fashion. For example, a muscle up is like a pull up but instead of the normal clean technique, try to shoot yourself through the ceiling. Mainly this phase should be all about campusing and trying hard boulder problems.

This should be pretty self explanatory! This is where you should theoretically should be peaking. My experience is that the peak will last approximately as long as the base portion of the cycle.

The conversion phase should morph seamlessly into the climbing phase as hopefully the conditions at your favorite crag are perfect. While there were no 2 rest days in a row for the entire program thus far, you can start to take more rest in a strategic effort to send your projects. Your body should respond pretty well to 2 days off after all that intense training.

The most overlooked portion of any training program is usually rest. It should be noted that the rest phase does not mean you should be lazing around eating ice cream. Doing exercises to maintain your major muscle groups is key, and resting smaller muscle groups that get overused in climbing like your forearms and fingers will give them a chance to recharge.

Hopefully this will correspond to the rain & snow season and the summer season. Generally I will do a full 9 week program to get ready for the fall season and a quick 6 week program in Jan/Feb/Mar to get ready for the spring season.

Please let me know if you have any questions. After all, this is my first attempt to put all this into writing!

-Paul Barraza

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

9-12-07: From the master: Tudor Bompa

hanks Paul for the info re. bouldering.Now I have a better picture about
this sport.
Yes, you are on the right track with your program. Your cycles are very well
designed and difficult to add too much to what you are already doing.
Maximum strength (MxS) is the key element in your training but you should
also add an exercise for the lats muscles. A pulling exercise will be very
beneficial, as close to the angle you use in competitions.
Let m reply to your questions (bellow):

>From: RAZA <paulbarraza@gmail.com>
>Subject: RE: periodization plan for competitive rock climbing
>Date: Fri, 2 Mar 2007 14:14:14 -0800
- Show quoted text -
>Mr. Bompa,
>Will Wangensteen forwarded this message to me so I could ask you a few
>questions to clarify about our adaption of your training program to
>Just for background, the type climbing that we are doing is called
>Bouldering which involves just a few, very difficult moves. The climbs are
>usually no longer than 8 moves long. Most all other styles of climbing are
>much more endurance oriented, which is why we have been focusing on Maximum
>Strength and not on Muscle Endurance.
>Typically we do two training cycles, one to prepare for the fall season (9
>weeks) and one to prepare for the spring season (6 weeks). Our target peak
>dates are the end of November and the beginning of April.
>Each training cycle consists of:
>1. Anatomical Adaption, (we call it 'base') 3 sets of 12 reps with many
>different exercises. We skip hypertrophy since strength to weight ratio is
>of maximum importance.
>2. Maximum Strength, 9 week (maximum load method program for Olympic-class
>sprinter) see attached picture. For the spring we do the first 6
>weeks. For the most important pulling exercises like weighted pull ups and
>one-arm pull downs, we use complex training. (immediately after doing the
>weights we do plyometric exercises on the campus board)
>3. Conversion, which entails bouldering a lot, Campus (see attached photo)
>and muscle up type exercises (light weights as fast as possible)
>4. Bouldering season
>5. Rest & recovery
>The most important muscles used in bouldering are the biceps and
>forearms for hand strength, closely follow by the abs.
>Now, the questions...
>1. Is there a better maximum load method program for the biceps &
>pulling muscles than the one we're using?
-as much as possible you should use heavier loads for MxS, such as 90-95%.
Equaly important is to use eccentric training where the load can be
130-150%. At times you may use a partner. For instance you may use chin-ups
but negatively, meaning you have to lower the action (eccentric) with extra
weight attached to your legs.

>2. Your book shows a 6 week base program, is that the ideal length for
>a 9 week training session? How many weeks of base would be good for
>the 6 week training session?

- your cycle is well designed. However, since you have a good base now try
to use 9 weeks MxS, where in te last 3 weeks you can use eccentric. But
eccentric training just for the pulling muscles can be strted earleir, in
which case you can have 6 weeks for eccentric but only for the pulling
muscles. Reason: eccentric training and is more stressful. Also a 9 weeks
MxS is quite challenging.
This is why I have suggested eccentric training for the last 6 weekks (of
the total of 9 weeks) but
only for the pulling muscles. The other exercises and loading can be trained
the wway you train right now.

>3. To increase hand strength we do isometric hangs from climbing holds
>with weight that depends on the grip type. We try to find a weight
>that creates failure within 10-15 seconds (70%), 8-12 sec., (80%)
>and 4-8 sec. (90%). There has been some debate within our group about
>how to best increase hand strength. What are your views on this?

-you're right. Finger flexors (gripping) are essential. You can use hand
grip dynamometers and anything else that allows you to flex and extend the
fingers.Wrist flexion may also help but flexions for the fingers are
essential. Your group has to realise that when finger flexors do fatigue it
negatively affects pulling actions. Remember the idea of the weakest
link...Well, finger flexors might be a weak link if not trained properly.
Certaily, you can use isometric training but fingers flexion is very
beneficial. You may also try chi-ups but the grip should be performed only
with the fingers. Do not use use the traditional chin-up grip.

>4. What is the best way to figure out your One Rep Max? We have yet to
>a very scientific method. Some climbers adjust the weight until the can
>only do one rep, other use online calculators, like:
-calculators are OK but after a while is not difficult to gues the load you
can start to find out 1RM. The method you have specified above is use by
many other athletes. Simple and effective. It doesn't take too much time to
figue out 1RM.

>5. How many weeks should conversion be?

-your conversion is quite different than in other sports. A 3-5 weeks is
plenty and I assume it is mostly specific training. However, make sure you
are maintaining MxS sinc this type of strength is determinant

>6. Lastly, is there anything big that we are missing?
-I don't think so. As you'll continue to use the above cycles you may learn
more things about aplication of the MxS method.
I believe we have touched the main points.
Good luck,
Tudor O. Bompa
- Show quoted text -

>Thank you so much for taking the time to review our training program, I
>really appreciate it.
>Paul Barraza
>Berkeley, CA
>On 2/28/07, will william <ww8a@hotmail.com> wrote:
>> >From: <tudor.bompa@sympatico.ca>
>> >To: ww8a@hotmail.com
>> >Subject: RE: periodization plan for competetive rock climbing
>> >Date: Tue, 27 Feb 2007 16:17:13 +0000
>> >
>> >Thanks Will for your message.
>> >Certainly, you really have to adapt some of the programs from my book to
>> >your needs and the specifics of bouldering.
>> >I have to assume that you need to main qualities to train:
>> >1. maximum strength, as it will give you the ability to very effectively
>> >deal with own body weight, and
>> >2. musscle-endurance. This type of training will assist you in climbing
>> >longer period of time, a reality in your sport.
>> >Right now I don't have a program to suggest to you. However, if you have
>> >program made for your group and want to share it with me, I'll do my
>> >to react to it, make eventual suggestions.
>> >If you'll decide to do so please also mail me the date(s) you want to
>> >for.
>> >Good luck,
>> >Tudor Bompa
>> >
>> >
>> >>From: "will william" <ww8a@hotmail.com>
>> >>To: <tudor.bompa@sympatico.ca>
>> >>Subject: periodization plan for competetive rock climbing
>> >>Date: Mon, 26 Feb 2007 22:04:19 -0800
>> >>
>> >>To Dr. Tudor Bompa,
>> >> I am a competetive rock climber who specializes in bouldering that
>> >>currently resides in San Francisco, Ca. A small group of the top
>> >>in the area are currently using the 9 week training program for olympic
>> >>class sprinters from your 'periodization training for sports' book. We
>> >>have adapted the exercises to be more sport specific to climbing
>> >>(bouldering). We are interested to know if a program currently exists
>> >>is available that is climbing (bouldering) specific. If such a program
>> >>does not exist what options are available to us to have one designed.
>> >>
>> >>Any help you could offer would be greatly appreciated.
>> >>Thank you for your time with this matter.
>> >>
>> >>Sincerely, William Wangensteen
>> >>
>> >>_________________________________________________________________
>> >>Find a local pizza place, movie theater, and more….then map the best
>> >>route! http://maps.live.com/?icid=hmtag1&FORM=MGAC01
>> >
>> >
>>Play Flexicon: the crossword game that feeds your brain. PLAY now for
>> http://zone.msn.com/en/flexicon/default.htm?icid=flexicon_hmtagline
>Let me know if you'd like a Gmail account.
>El número del Raza: 510.917.6480
>Let me know if you'd like a Gmail account.
>El número del Raza: 510.917.6480


Friday, July 28, 2006

7-28-06: Mysterious Training sheet

The mysterious workout out sheet

When I starting this whole training odyssey, Randy showed be a book by Tudor Bompa that had a periodization program that he has used as trainer in the Soviet Union. I created an excel spread sheet that would have the 9 week periodization schedule at the top and I could adjust the numbers at the bottom depending where I was in the training. I am a firm believer in the training system that Randy showed me, I've seen a vast improvement in my climbing. Thanks Randy!

Monday, September 05, 2005

9-5-05: Training Talk

Many of us have been training lately, and I thought this would be a good forum to talk about that as well. Due to my anal nature I'm trying to come up with a common notation to write down how we train in short hand to help facilitate the conversation.

Mainly, I just wanted to have something on the web that I could reference when I wanted to. Here's my first stab:


●CT= complex training
P= plyometricsD= doubles (but not plyometrics)CS= campus board - small rungsCM= campus board - medium rungsCL= campus board - large rungs"+" = a bump (campusing)●2/1 = means an offset start; high hand on 2, low hand on 1
M = a match●"!" = a new personal best

"@" means time: 12@50 = 12 seconds at 50 lbs"/" splits left & right: 12/14@50 means that the left hand held for 12 seconds and the right for 14"x" means "reps of": 4x25 = 4 reps of 25 lbs●"-" means "negative reps of" for when doing negatives: 4-25 = 4 negatives of 25 lbs
"()" means "sets of": 4(4x25) = 4 sets of 4 reps of 25 lbs"()" also means a failed attempt on a campus board= 15(9) means you tried to go to nine but didn't make it. If only one parenthesis, 15(9, it means that there the was a failed attempt reaching for the 9 rung with your left hand.
Rules:Campus sequences should always be transposed into base "1": for example 268 should always be written 157 for easy comparison.

CL 1357910M = Campus (Large rungs) 1357910 with a Match on 10
PL 32435465768! = Plyometric Campusing, Large rungs, Personal Best

CM 15(9) =Campus (medium rungs) 15 failed to 9 with both hands
CS 15(8 =Campus (small rungs) 1, 5 failed going to 8 with left hand
CM 147+9 = Campus (medium rungs) 1, 4, 7 bumped to 9
CM 159! = First time doing 159 on medium rungs

Weight Training
PULLSWPU = Weighted Pull Ups
NPU = Negative Pull Ups
●OAPD = One Arm Pull Downs●NPD = Negative Pull Downs●MU = Muscle Ups

Front Levers●FL[x] = Front Lever (T=tuck, P=Pike, S=Saddle, R=real) s = seconds held
●FLN = Front Lever Negatives

●ABS = Abs
●ABM = Ab Machine●ABI = Incline Abs●MBA = Medicine Ball Abs●FLN = Front Lever Negatives●RE = Ring Extension Abs
●ABP = Ab Pike (Incline; bring feet to sky)
●AB-HC = Ab - Hanging Crunch

LEGSHAM = Hamstring CurlLC = Leg Curl (same as Hamstring Curl)
LE = Leg Extension
LP = Leg PressCR = Calf Raise
HS = Hack Squat●LP/CR/PJ = Leg Press, then Calf Raise (on same machine & weight), then Plyometric jumping - all in quick succession

VP = Vertical Press (seated bench press)PD = Pull DownsSR = Seated Row
●VF = Vertical (seated) flySF = Side Fly (shoulders)●CK = Coke Bottles (shoulders)
TRI = Triceps

-Paul Barraza