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by Jon Vickers /

What are Continuous Intensity Repetitions (CIRs)?

As outlined in “The Self Coached Climber,” Continuous Intensity Repetitions (CIRs) are another great routine to improve local endurance. It is not the same type of endurance associated with ARCing but instead is more commonly associated with stamina and work capacity. According to The Rock Climber’s Training Manual, “stamina is the body’s ability to endure multiple difficult climbing efforts, or pitches, throughout the day.”

This type of local endurance is essential to all types of climbing from multi-pitch climbing to bouldering projects. On long adventure climbs, this can translate to feeling strong on the upper pitches and when working hard projects, it can translate into more quality attempts for a send. No matter your pursuits, this type of routine is a great compliment to ARCing and can be tailored to your specific goals.

Doing Continuous Intensity Repetitions (CIRs).

For routes, the routine consists of climbing 10 to 15 laps (8 to 10 for beginners) on the most difficult terrain you can climb without developing a pump. The resting time between laps should be about as long as it takes to do a lap. This usually works well if you partner is doing the same routine with you. At first the climbing should feel easy, but the further into the routine you get the more challenging it will get to finish the routes. This is not a routine that is aimed at getting pumped, but instead should leave you feeling generally fatigued.

For bouldering the routine is very similar and consists of 10 to 15 boulder problems (8 to 10 for beginners) at a certain grade with 2 to 3 minutes of rest in between attempts. The goal of this routine is the same as for route CIRs and is focused on getting generally fatigued and not pumped. If you have picked the right difficulty, the first half of the session should feel easy, while the last bit will be somewhat challenging. For a V6 boulder this might be 10 or more V4s. With both routes and boulder problems, the difficulty of the 10-15 repetitions should be as consistent as possible. The great part about this particular routine is that it packs a wide variety of moves into a short session which is something lacking when projecting harder problems.

Tips for CIRs.

  1. Have a partner to alternate with you to keep your climb to rest ratio correct.
  2. Strive to do routes/problems that don’t get you pumped in the hands and forearms.
  3. Climb with absolutely perfect technique. This can be dynamic or static, but be deliberate about all of your movement.
  4. Take this time to practice incorporating your breath with your climbing.
  5. Strive for consistent difficulty across all the repetitions.

Our Next Article >> “What is Strength?”

Works Cited and Further Reading:

The Self Coached Climber by Dan Hague and Douglas Hunter

The Rock Climber’s Training Manual by Michael and Mark Anderson

Training for Climbing by Eric Horst

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