Power Endurance Training: 4x4s


Yay! #tryhardthursday is upon us! This post and video kept me occupied this week while I tried not to think of how excited I am for the Heist this weekend. We leave in a couple of days but I already cannot wait to try out some new routes. I’m freakin’ stoked.

For all my fellow try hards out there, you should really care about power endurance. The ability to sustain strength and power for a long period of time is crucial in fighting off the God awful pump creeping in during the middle of a boulder problem. If you try a problem with about 12 difficult or dynamic moves of similar toughness, but you can only do a few at a time, this is probably your P.E. failing you. You know you can do the moves, but you’re just too pumped to execute. Story of my life.

Lately I’ve been working to overcome this weakness through a nifty yet simple little exercise called 4x4s. No, this does not involve all terrain vehicles and mud, although that would be fun too. I really channel my inner Tony Horton on this one: “I hate it – but I love it”. It really forces you to push past your comfort zone, way past, to try powerful moves when your energy tank is running on empty. I really enjoy it (type #2 fun, of course) because it moderately simulates a real competition experience. You’ll know what I’m talking about in a second.

what are 4x4s?

A timed power endurance exercise. One set will consist of you climbing 4 routes in 5 minutes, with a 5 minute rest to follow. You will repeat this 4 times (4 sets of 4 routes).

what you need:

  • approximately 40-50 minutes of time.
  • 4 routes. These routes should be at the high-end of your flashing level. This means that you could send or you have sent this route your first try, but it was still a challenge. Don’t pick beginner routes here if you have moved on from beginner routes long ago. Conversely, if you are a beginner choose routes the same way – you can get them your first try, but they’re not too easy.

what to do:

There are two different ways to do 4x4s, each having their own pros and cons:

Method #1: 1 set = all 4 routes.
  1. Set a timer for 5 minutes
  2. Pick the order in which you would like to do your routes (the order doesn’t really matter).
  3. Start the timer and quickly head to your first route
  4. Climb your first route and then quickly move on to the second, the third and then the fourth. Goal: Climb all 4 routes in 5 minutes.
  5. After 5 minutes is up, drop off the wall (if you’re still on) and REST for 5 minutes.
  6. Repeat step #4 three more times, except each time you will choose a different order for your routes so you’re not doing the same order each time. An easy way to do this is to start your second set with your 2nd route, your 3rd set with you 3rd route, etc.
Example of method #1 set

Pros: More variety of moves in a short period of time; beta practice.

Cons: Takes up more space in the gym.

Method #2: 1 set = 1 route x 4 reps
  1. Set a timer for 5 minutes
  2. Pick the order in which you would like to do your routes (the order doesn’t really matter).
  3. Start the timer and quickly head to your first route
  4. Climb your first route 4 times back to back.
  5. After 5 minutes, drop off the wall and REST for 5 minutes.
  6. Repeat step #4 with each route. (ie. your second set will be you climbing your second route 4 times).
Example of method #2 set

Pros: Takes up little space; you’re motivated to send each time if you’ve already sent your first couple of reps; more closely models a competition format.

Cons: Less emphasis on beta because it becomes repetitive.

things to note:

  • Failing is the whole point! You will get tired and you will start failing (if you picked the right difficulty of routes). Push yourself as far as you can! This is where the magic happens.
  • Do it with a friend – you’ll have way more fun.
  • Pick a less busy time of the day for this or you’ll end up hogging walls/not being able to get on the routes you need.
  • The method you choose is based purely on personal preference. My guest for the video, Carlie, and I prefer the first method because it keeps our minds in check. Although we’re only doing 4 routes, having to do all 4 in 5 minutes requires more focus on beta, whereas with the second method you are repeating the same beta 4 times in a row. That being said, the second method is easier to do when you have a group to coordinate around. Again, it’s up to you!

Climb on xx


2 thoughts on “Power Endurance Training: 4x4s

    1. Too much for a beginner for sure! I’d recommend at least a year of climbing before trying this. Simply climbing does a lot for power endurance in itself though luckily! 🙂

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