14 Week Periodised Rock Climbing Training Program

14 Week Periodised Rock Climbing Training Program

Designing a long-term plan, like a 14-week Periodised Rock Climbing Training Program is hard work but if you do it properly then the rewards will be worth it. A word of caution before we move on, working to and staying on the program of training is hard work and as a result you need to understand that from time to time you will ‘fall off the wagon’ whilst the godfather of training for climbing Wolfgang Gullich said, “The hardest part of training is making the decision to train at all”. He probably should have added “and then to maintain the motivation to stay training” onto that.

I am going to suggest there are two ways to go about training and this is the time to decide which way you are going to go. One is a full periodised training program for your rock climbing train. This is what we are covering in full for now. 

The other is to identify your weakness through performance profiling on a monthly basis and work on them. There is one slight caveat and that is that you also need to mix the underlying themes up, so you are not working strength or anaerobic endurance for more than 4 weeks at a time. The reasons we don’t want to train strength for more than a month is that we are likely to injure ourselves as muscles get stronger quicker than tendons and ligaments so you need to give them a rest. You need to not training anaerobically all the time for the simple reasons as what do you think happens when you drench muscles in acid, the answer is they shrink. This is why the periodised training works so well it does that and puts the various themes in what is considered to be the most appropriate order.

With that in mind we have developed a full example program for you to either use as it is or as a base to develop your own training program. 

Link to PDF of 14-week periodise rock climbing training program.

Whatever training style you decide we would suggest you read through this post and its linked content to understand how you can tailor the training to your specific needs. In doing so you will have a greater understanding of the basics of training for climbing.

The Phases of your training break down as follows:

  1. Rest and Planning
  2. Recovery Climbing
  3. Local Muscle Endurance
  4. Strength and Power
  5. Anaerobic Training
  6. Rest
  7. Peak Performance

Phase 1 – Resting and Planning your Training

It may seem counter-intuitive but in order to improve you first need to rest your body. This phase will last at least a week. If you have some injuries then it is well worth taking the extra time off to allow your body to recover fully. Take this time to relax from climbing but spend it well by planning your training.

We recommend that you look at our posts on:

Phase 2  – Recover Climbing 

Duration: 2 – 4 Weeks

Session a Week: 3 to 5 days

This is a low-intensity phase and is really just a way to keep you active as you continue to recover. Only extend it if you are carrying an injury. When you are climbing focus on it being social and the difficult around 60% of your max or less. 

We have included light cardio, light core, flexibility a focus on easy climbing and technique when climbing.

OUTDOOR OPPORTUNITIES: Lots of easy climbing, long routes are good.

Phase 3 – Local Muscle Endurance

Duration: 4 Weeks

Sessions a week: 3 to 5 days a week

Climbing in a session: 20 – 60 minutes climbing per session

The phase starts as with more aerobic climbing and moves onto to the climber having a slight pump by the end of the phase. Most of the overload is added through volume and length of sessions. Although towards the end we up the difficulty slightly but stay aware of not being too pumped.

We start to add ARCing sessions (Aerobic, Respiratory and Capillarisation Session) we continue the focus of good technique throughout the climbing. We have a standard warm up prior to the session. Rest days are cardio, core, flexibility and shoulder stabilisation.

OUTDOOR OPPORTUNITIES: Lots of easy climbing, long routes are good.


Phase 4 – Strength + Power

Duration: 3 Weeks

Session a week: 2 to 3

Climbing in a Session: Less than 15 minutes actual climbing per 1-hour session

Here we switch to indoor bouldering at the high intensity. Work on strength first followed by power. The volume of climbing is low and the amount of rest between each problem is relatively high. Climbing sessions should stop when you lose contact strength.

The number of sessions is very low as we are going to be working at our limit and we need at least two days to recover. Don’t be afraid to have an extra day rest and move all the session on a day at any time. It is better to recover and train hard then train when not recovered and potentially injure yourself so listen to your body.

Again we have some general strength and condition with body weight exercises.

OUTDOOR OPPORTUNITIES: Bouldering trip or holidays.

Phase 5 – Anaerobic 

Duration: 3 weeks

Session a week: 2 to 3

Here we are using 4×4 and 3×3 to act as an interval training to develop a total pump multiple times during the session. We change how we reach this by changing from 4×4 to 3×3. We can up the grade here but essentially we are trying to be at, or very close to failure at the end of each set of climbs. We then need to rest between each set to recover.

OUTDOOR OPPORTUNITIES: SPorts Climbing Trip and Holidays aimed at onsighting near limit and doing 3×3 on moderate rotues like you would indoors.

Phase 6 – Final Rest

Duration: 4-7 days

This final rest allows you to recover and get all your energy back prior to your big push during you peak performance phase.

Phase 7 – Peak Performance

Duration: 2 – 3 weeks

Hit the crags and take down your project. This after all is what it has all been about.

OUTDOOR OPPORTUNITIES: Having a dream route or holiday to aim for really does add to the motivation behind your whole training program

Phase 8 – Fine Focus/Re-development

Your work may not be done for your project, you might find you are lacking in an area. At this point, you might consider focusing another training phase or two to combat the specific weakness for your project before entering phase 6 and 7 again. Similarly, you might end up re-entering a complete training phase. Overtraining can lead to all sorts of injuries so listen to your body before starting another 14-week program.



If you would like your own personalised training program then Mark Reeves, Snowdonia Mountain Guides head coach will assess your needs and design one specifically for your needs. The cost is £250 and includes a half day needs assessment in North Wales.