2 Periodization Tactics for Climbing Performance

A failure to plan is a plan for failure, especially when it comes to climbing and training. Recreational climbing only for the sake of going up the wall will be a short-lived endeavor. Building long-term health and climbing fitness requires endless motivational drive. Structuring your training in a way that keeps that motivation elevated is a necessary factor in promoting a lasting and effective regime.

Many good-meaning climbers engage in some form of random climbing that is loosely focused on ‘problems’ or ‘routes’. While well intentioned, the majority will bail out for a lack of variety, a lack of priority, or just simple boredom. Re-think how you are going about your climbing training. That means you are going to need more intention behind your goals, and use some form of PERIODIZATION to keep your progress going for the long-term.

“But what is periodization for climbing?”

By alternating the training focus, exercises, and intensity at strategic times in the year, climbers can produce their best performances when it matters most. While you might not be in the place to compete in the Olympics, you can do planning behind your training. Using just three basic principles of periodization, you can find your answer to maintaining a long-term habit of successful climbing training.

1) Planned Climbing Exercise Variation

This is not about mixing up your workouts with new exercises every session but rather a deliberate and focused commitment to a set of exercises until you’ve maximized your progress.

The goal is to fully capitalize on gaining as much strength or size as you can realistically accomplish within a certain window of time.

Why would you not want to mix it up every training session? The answer is PRACTICE. The more you practice a usable climbing movement, the more your nervous system adapts and finds how to efficiently produce force within that pattern. Keeping your climbing problems, routes or drills structured around the same general movement style or pattern can provide a potentiation effect, where the successful strength gain of one movement helps to promote the strength developed in the next.

2) Hierarchy of Goals

For your own training, establishing a hierarchy of goals that work towards a larger goal. This simple strategy helps give a motivational structure that keeps your attention rooted in getting a successful workout each day. It provides a layer of consequence to each session that can help motivate you to put in the necessary work and avoid the feeling that your workouts don’t matter. This mindset also helps to keep your mental energy focused. Continually gaining fitness is even harder. The more you progress in your training, the harder it becomes to keep that progression going.

A word of wisdom: Plan as much as you can but do not be afraid of being flexible.

Periodization helps when trying to manage complexity but that does not mean it has to be complex. By controlling the variation of exercises, intensities, and adaptation goals, you can give yourself a long-term climbing plan that produces solid benefits. By prioritizing consistency, you help to make physical fitness part of your lifestyle.

If you want to get serious and push your climbing to the next level, you may want to consider:

The climbing workouts website with resources, such as free videos, articles and downloadable manuals


The Total collection: a set of climbing manuals categorized by energy type:


The printable power pack: A set of logs and printable trackers for the climbing gym or for your own home wall (if you’re lucky to have one – or if you plan to build one sometime).