Climbing training: How to make the leap from 6a to 7a

Quick comes in climbing the progress, as well as a first stagnation in the difficulty 6a. Who wants to make the leap to 7a, should start with a systematic training. We talked to Pirmin Scheuber, Swiss national coach, about what it takes to get into the seventh grade.

“You should avoid campus boards and all the training bells and whistles at the beginning,” says Pirmin. The risk of overload and the resulting injuries is far too high. According to Pirmin, at the beginning you should concentrate on improving your technique, the scope - i.e. climbing as many routes as possible - and mental aspects. In this post we would like to focus on the climbing training (scope) itself. Pirmin suggests the following three-phase concept.

1. Climb as many and as many different routes as possible (scope)

Plan two training days a week during the next four to eight weeks. On one day you do the following training in a climbing route:

Exercise 1
Choose a route that is two degrees below your level of difficulty. So if we assume a 6a, then we are talking about a 5b route. Choose four routes of this degree, which differ as much as possible (plates, overhang, sloper, ledges, etc.). Now you climb every single route twice in a row, without a break (-> series). Before you go on to the next route, secure your climbing partner or take a 10-minute break. You should climb between six and ten (depending on your fitness and time) such series in one evening.

Important: Before each training, set a technical focus on which you and your training partner want to focus: clean and active; Keep handles clean the first time and do not pick up more than once; Hang exons out of stretched arms, scramble forward, concentrate actively on breathing, and so on.


In numbers

  1. Route A twice in a row without a break
  2. Secure your partner or 10 minutes break
  3. Route B twice in a row without a break
  4. Secure your partner or 10 minutes break
  5. Route C twice in a row without a break
  6. Secure your partner or 10 minutes break
  7. Route D twice in a row without a break
  8. And everything again ...

On the second training day of the week, you proceed as follows:

Exercise 2
Define a total of four different 10 train boulders in medium difficulty for you, ideally with a buddy. You should be able to climb the Boulder four times with the appropriate break. If you fall off, get back in directly or use extra kicks or a better grip if nothing works.

Climb each boulder so defined four times in a row with two minutes break in between.


In numbers

  1. Boulder A four times in a row with two minutes break in between (if you do not come up the boulder on 3 or 4, increase the break a bit or use extra kicks)
  2. Five minutes break. Define during the next boulder
  3. Boulder B four times in a row with two minutes break in between
  4. Five minutes break. Define during the next boulder
  5. Boulder C four times in a row with two minutes break in between
  6. Five minutes break. Define during the next boulder
  7. Boulder C four times in a row with two minutes break in between

Important: The boulders should contain as many different grip shapes as possible (ledges, slopers, holes, pliers). Ideally, you will define a boulder with a corresponding grip. Be sure to climb the steeper and harder boulders in the beginning and the 3. or 4. Boulder climbing a flat wall.

2. Increase the intensity of the workout (intensity)

If you have completed the first four to eight weeks with the above training, this will be expanded with the following program over the next four to six weeks. So on the first day of the week you train "circumference" again, as described in chapter 1, on the second day you do the exercise below.

Your weekly program looks like this:

Even week
Day 1: Circumferential Training Route (Exercise 1), Day 2: Intensity Training with Boulder (Exercise 3)
Odd week
Day 1: Extensive boulder training (Exercise 2), Day 2: Intensity training with boulder (Exercise 3)

Exercise 3
Choose four different boulders in medium difficulty again. Climb steep and powerful boulder in the first two series and in the last two series rather flatter and technical boulder.

You climb every boulder once and only take 30 seconds between boulders. If you have climbed all four boulders, you wait four minutes before the fun starts from the front and you have climbed four times each boulder.


In numbers

  1. Climb Boulder A
  2. 30 second break
  3. Climb Boulder B
  4. 30 second break
  5. Climb Boulder C
  6. 30 second break
  7. Climb Boulder D
  8. Four minutes break. After the break, you should have recovered to some extent. If you are still completely flat after four minutes, increase the break by a few minutes or choose easier boulders.
  9. Go through this program three more times

3. Time to tackle the 7a project

The time has come for your 7a project. Again, it is advisable to act strategically. Look for a route that you like firstly, secondly, and third, more or less close, so you can go from time to time.

At the beginning, the bouldering of the route should be in the center. Remember grip sequences, especially heavy spots, rest positions and try to climb the individual moves with the least possible effort. In a next session, the focus should be on dividing the route into three sections and climbing the individual sections in one go. Between the sections, you hang in the rope and rest for three minutes. In a third phase you try to climb the route in two parts: optimize your resting position, quickly climb paces, try to memorize the route as well as possible to avoid small climbing errors and thus additional effort. In a fourth and final session, the time has come for the passage. I wish you success!

About Pirmin Scheuber

Pirmin Scheuber studied sports science at the Swiss Federal University of Sport Magglingen and at the University of Friborg (Switzerland) and has been a trainer for the national climbing team at the Swiss Alpine Club since 2012. In 2017, the Alpnacher in Magglingen was named Trainer of the Year in the "Individual Sport" category.

Pirmin Scheuber_SAC_Nationaltrainer_Photographer David Schweizer
Pirmin Scheuber, national coach (Photo: SAC / David Schweizer)

You want to know more about training?

Other Training tips can be found here.

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Credits: Cover picture Austria Climbing / Johann Groder

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2 comments

  1. Puhh, did I understand that correctly? From 6a on 7a in around 4 to 6 months, so for
    Part 1: 8 weeks,
    Part 2: 6 weeks,
    Part 3: 4-6 weeks
    Ok, it would be worth a try on myself, and the big eyes of my occasional climbing partner when I climb a 7a ... priceless!

    However, it is beyond my imagination to have any 6a / 6a + on it, but I have no plan for a challenging 6b on how to climb the keyhole.

    I do not train specifically, but I also climb demanding routes every week around the 100m, but mostly not at the limit, because I'm the one who has to clear out again.

    Who can report on his experience with specific climbing training and his progress?

    ... I have to go to the rock 😉

  2. Si van a colgar un artículo en la section en castellano, tengan la decencia de traducirlo de una manera legible y no con el traductor de Google. Porque vaya mierda habéis subido, no se entiende nada, no hay una sola frase con sentido en castellano. Para esto esto esto poner el artículo en Alemán (asumo que es el idioma original) y que cada uno se busque la vida para leerlo. Esto es muy cutre.

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