June 21, 2010 posted by

The Workout From Hell For Climbing

After nearly a week I’m finding more merit in the WFH than I was expecting. Maybe it’s just because it’s so damned hard, but I’m enjoying my pumped up trip down memory lane. I also may be on to some type of breakthrough so this is going to be an ongoing series about doing a climbing specific WFH. For those of you not into climbing (most of you) there will be other things to learn in this experiment. In fact, it’s possible that the rep scheme for WFH might be appropriate for those of your trying to do X and get leaner. I’ve written an article on this here but my new training program could be the next evolution.

Essentially the WFH is three, 3-week blocks of training that target muscular endurance, followed by hypertrophy, followed by power.

The first block targets muscular endurance by having your work til failure doing 30 reps—yep, you read that right! If you do these reps til failure (or close—if you never fail on a set you’re not using enough weight). This is the “hell’ part of the program. These workouts are ridiculously long and hard. The plus is that it’s almost impossible to not have some sort of physical or mental transformations occur from the process.

The 2nd block targets hypertrophy, though the reps stay at the high end, 15, in order to limit muscle growth (since the whole concept promises that you won’t gain weight).

The final strength or power phase targets only 5 reps. Again, we’re looking to strengthen the muscles yet limit growth.

Due to the excessive nature of the program, especially the first training block, sports specific training must be minimized. But during my round I’ve altered Long’s version by adding more sports specific movements to target some of my weaknesses.

Essentially, my endurance-driven decade has caused me to regress in certain aspects of strength, especially when it comes to big muscle power. My ability to lock-off, do one-armed pull-ups, etc, has all gone way down. If I can improve this during the program, when my endurance comes back later my overall climbing ability should go way up– theoretically higher than its ever been (of course age will come into play but still, we’ll see). Also, I was in my early 30s during my last round of the WFH, so that’s another aspect to observe.

Because of my injury I can’t do any strength tests at the moment so I’ll start just looking for improvements in body fat percentage (when I can do one-arm pull-ups and muscle-ups I’ll know my strength has improved). Currently, my body fat % is somewhere between 6% and 15% (using two different devices, which are always wrong). I’d say in reality its in between. The goal is 5% at 50. My weight is 173.

Tomorrow I’ll start describing the actual workouts.

pic: i know, the WFH isn’t supposed to make you big, but you do plenty of screaming so i couldn’t resist using a pic of one of the masters of the iron days, tom platz (who also taught my first fitness seminar)


  • I'm more excited/anxious about this rather than Volume 3 one on one.

  • Great article. Totally transferable to my world of triathlon training. More strength is good, more muscle size, aka weight, is a liability. What good is a carbon frame bike when you're carrying around 10 pounds of unnecessary muscle. Thanks for the insite.

  • It's not going to be "better" than volume III of One on One because that is the trial run of XN. But it could be helpful within the scope of your training for sure.

  • John, Pretty much all of my (personal) stuff is for strength-to-weight-ratio athletes. Multi-sports are another of my diciplines but I can't run or ride at the moment so this is focusing more on upper body. However, provided I heal okay I'm planning a run at Duathlon World's next year in Spain so this will get spun into lower body work as well. There's a lot of my old training in this blog but, essentially, I'm sure you'll know how to personalize the training at any rate.

  • btw, I'm sitting here about to eat and totally shakey from today's training session. I anticipate that the breakdown is going to get a lot worse before it gets better. Fun stuff.

  • Do you feel like overtraining the upper body?

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