Written by PDX Marketing Coordinator Alec Carrier

I sat down with PG Portland’s Assistant Manager JB, who also happens to be an amazing personal trainer, to talk about the training he’s been doing for his upcoming climbing trip. He shared his weekly training routine, as well as how to approach fitness and curate it for your climbing goals.

ALEC – I hear you’re planning an epic to Mexico this February. What are you plans?

JB -Yeah, I’m headed down to Potrero Chico, Mexico. An old climbing partner and I, he actually taught me how to climb eight years ago [laughing] have always wanted to make this trip happen. The past five years we’ve been taking 1-2 trips a year together.

Most of our trips have been alpine style tradition routes, we’ve done a lot of work in Yosemite and the High Sierras. Which is why a trip like this where we’ll be doing big wall, all sport bolted routes is going to be great.

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LEFT: JB climbing the Regular Route up Fairview Dome in Tuolumne Meadows. RIGHT: Spring Mountaineering on the Leuthould Couloir, Mt. Hood.

ALEC – So how is this style of climbing different than your previous climbing adventures?

JB – It’s all a little less committing, a little less scary, but the climbing is going to be hard. We want to top out El Toro several times and get on things like El Sendoro Luminoso so that means consecutive pitches of 5.12+ climbing.

With travel and everything we’ve only got 12 days of climbing so were looking at volume and asking ourselves, “how many pitches can we get in?” My partner has been there about six times before so he knows the area and the routes, which is nice. He’s always been the type of partner that pushes me which is really inspiring. We’re just looking to get some sun and have as much fun as possible.

ALEC – Woah! Consecutive pitches of 5.12+ that’s awesome- what sort of training are you doing for this?

JM – I keep a high level of fitness but this is a different style of climbing goal for me. For my alpine style climbing, I’m normally carrying winter gear, with long approaches, but since Potrero is so accessible, and the weather is warm, I’m concentrating on long days of hard climbing. I approached the setting team for help and they all agreed I needed to work on Power Endurance.

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LEFT: JB bouldering in Leavenworth. RIGHT: Climbing on Rock Wars, 5.10a in the Red River Gorge, Kentucky.

ALEC – That must be exciting for you! What does your weekly routine look like? How are you training for power endurance specifically?

JB – Our Headsetter, Josh, helped me put together a weekly routine to develop a strong base of power endurance before I go. You can essentially break my workout into three different parts: Cardio, Climbing, and Push-Pull. 

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The routine breaks down like this:

Climbing: 4 x a week

For my training, I run four by fours. This recreates leading long multi-pitch routes for me.

To run a four by four, pick four different routes about two grades beneath your onsight level. Climb them consecutively with as little rest time between routes as possible. That is one set. Repeat three more times for a complete four by four.

Cardio: 2 x a week

For my cardio, I like to do an hour long, low intensity run. This helps with weight management as well as upping my general fitness endurance.

Push-Pull: 2 x a week

These are actually two workouts. One is push and one is pull. The push workout is chest, shoulders, triceps, core and lower back, all in a variety of body weight exercises. The pull workout I think of as maintenance. It is band workouts, balance, and resistance exercises. These help keep my shoulders in good condition, and balance muscles refined.

I structure it so I’ve got two days on, one rest day in the middle of the week, and weekends off. For example, Monday I might do four by fours and my Push workout. Tuesday would be four by fours and Cardio, resting on Wednesday. Thursday would be four by fours and Pull. I would end on Friday with four by fours and cardio again.
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ALEC – What advice would you have for anyone looking to incorporate these exercised into their workouts?

JB – Consistency and longevity. Viewing it as a lifestyle, and a lifelong pursuit; I am very passionate about that. I try to instill that there is not one program for everyone, and everyone is unique: in his or her body type, injuries, and history. It very much so runs on year to year, and rest is super important. Running cycles is crucial to reach peak performance when you’re training. Keeping things realistic and balancing life with your workouts.

ALEC – Any other climbing goals beyond the trip? Anything you’ve on your radar?

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JB escaping Horseshoe Falls on the East Fork of the Lewis River.

JB – I’m newest to the ski-mountaineering scene so I’m pretty excited about my goals there. In the spring I hope to get on the SW Chute of Mt. Adams, a super classic ski-mountaineering area. The enchantments are where my alpine style traditional climbing goals are, climbing big granite alpine walls is where my background is so I always love that. I also have some goals in California with some climbing partners. I got rained off of the NW face of Half Dome a few years ago, that just haunts me so I’m dying to get back. Also something on El Cap, anything on El Cap [laughing]. The Evolution Traverse is near Bishop, it’s an 8 mile ridge traverse that covers 6 different 13,000 ft. peaks, that’s the big spring goal. I can just dream all day about my goals. [laughing]

ALEC – Well, have a good trip, and be sure to take some photos for us!

JB – Yeah of course! Thanks so much for the time. I’m always around the gym if anyone ever has questions about training for a trip, or if anyone who’s been to Potrero has any recommendations, let me know!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Alec is the Marketing Coordinator for Planet Granite Portland. When he’s not behind the desk, you can find him adventuring around the west coast snapping photos and shooting video.

Be sure to follow Alec on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Vimeo.