Improve Power Endurance with 4 X 4's

What is power endurance?

If you you can get all the moves on a boulder problem or route climb but cant link them then you are probably lacking the required power endurance, simply put power endurance is the ability to climb harder for longer, it is different to local endurance which would see you able to climb easier terrain for sustained periods so you do need to train specifically for this.

Simply put, training power endurance involves climbing to and sustaining around an 70-80% pump and flooding the forearms with lactic acid, they will then reward you with the ability to store more energy in the cells.

How can I train power endurance?

There are many ways to train power endurance, here I am going to share with you one of my favorite workout for power endurance. 4 X 4 training, this will give you the physical and mental ability to climb through a pump.  

What is 4 X 4's and how do I structure my workout?

The clue is in the name, 4 X 4's requires you to pick 4 problems around 2 grades below your flash grade, either boulder problems or routes and climb them 4 times within 4-6 mins for boulders and 10-15 mins for routes. 

I prefer to climb the same problem 4 times in a row to really pump that muscle group before moving onto the next problem, but you can also do 4 different problems to make the first set but this requires jogging to the next problem and can often be hard in busier gyms.

  1. Pick 4 problems, you should know these problems relatively well and they should be 2 levels below your flash grade meaning you are not falling off at any point (if you do fall off either pull back on from where you came off or restart the problem).
  2. Climb the first problem 4 times, don't worry about down climbing or topping out as this will waste time and you want to have as little rest as possible between climbs.
  3. Rest 3-4 mins before attacking the next problem if bouldering or 10-15 if route climbing.
  4. Repeat the process until you have climbed your 4 chosen problems 4 times.

If you cant finish your circuit then you have been a bit optimistic, lower the grade and try again next time. Your last set should feel hard with the very last problem feeling barely doable but you must finish.

How many times can I train 4 X 4's in a week?

I tend to do two 4 X 4 sessions in a week, one on a Monday and one on a Friday with a different session on a Wednesday, but listen to your body as it will know best whether you are over training or not.

Can I train 4 X 4's outside?

Although you probably can I would not recommend it, I like to keep training for indoors and just reap the benefits when climbing outdoors, hit my projects and enjoy my climbing and time outside


Well that is one way that you can improve your power endurance and it is certainly more fun than hitting the circuit board in my opinion, give it a go and let us know how you get on.

If you find this too easy and are feeling super strong apparently Adam Ondra uses a 4 X 4 X 4 power endurance program with a 5kg weighted vest, but that is probably not recommended for mere mortals.


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