Periodised programs that work

The article that started it all on

The article that started it all on

"While we have tremendous confidence in our program, and its long track-record of producing results for mortals like us"

Way back when I started climbing, it was largely of the mindset of 'go-to-the-climbing-wall-or-the-gym' mindset. It worked well (exceptionally well in fact and it's my recommended programme for most people who are developing in their early introductions to climbing) but had it's limits. It's largely a scatter-gun approach to improving - working really well at developing technique and mental mindset (two of the most critical components of climbing as a skills-based sport) but leaving it largely up to luck about whether you were getting stronger. I dipped my toes into some exercises at the gym, campus boards (there's an awesome setup in DCU) but nothing more. Information was hard to come by back then both online or in person!

I then came across 'Making of a Rock Prodigy' on's forums. No idea how, but it was the catalyst and I largely owe a lot of my improvements to this forum post - it was eye opening in it's direction, and most importantly, easy enough to read and comprehend. Something that was written specifically for climbing, used proper sports science principles and covered many of the topics important to improving as a sports climber*. The quote above is from the same authors, Mike and Mark, who recently released a book, The Rock Climbers Training Manual'**. It turns out, hidden away in the bottom of this post from Jonathan Siegrist was a little reference to Mike and Mark also. And now, there's a post from the guys themselves about their work with Siegrist. Of course, everything related to coaching him is not as relevant to most mortals but it's impressive none the less, that the programming they recommend works with both intermediate to elite climbers. As a compliment, the two authors both climb in the high 8's and both have full-time jobs and familiies, and Ryan Palo (who also is of the same background), swears by this programme also.

Essentially, it's followed what is called periodisation in other sports. It's focused around the concept of preparing for a specific event or period of time when you will/are at peak performance and can send your goal route. It allows for trying routes/goals throughout the year, but is targeted towards specific peaks. For anyone in the Real World, this is a hugely useful tool. You can't possibly keep in peak performance year around (you're human and no-one in the history of humankind has managed this :) and it allows you to account for lazy periods of time (e.g. Christmas, or a busy period with work, etc.).

For some of the people I've worked with coaching, you might notice some similarities - it's largely the method I use on both myself and others. [Contact me if interested in some advice]. If you want to improve it's well worth considering......

*Their original programme and book are both largely focused on improving at route climbing.

**Interestingly, there's now three known copies of this book in Ireland - great to see people interested!

Neal McQuaid