Earlier in the spring of this year, I decided to bite the bullet and purchase a Lattice Training Lite plan. On the east coast, it seemed like every single weekend this spring was rained out this year. So, I spent a LOT of time in the gym, and found myself feeling kind of scattered. I luckily had a climbing trip to Colorado coming up in June, and I wanted to see how strong I could get before then. I also had never actually spent a considerable amount of money on a training plan for myself, but I was drawn to the data assessment aspect that Lattice offers their clients, versus the countless one-size-fits-all plans out there on the internet. I also was drawn to the price ($160 for a 12-week plan), as many similar personalized plans I found ran up to closer to $200.
Likewise, in late March, I went ahead and bought a plan for myself. Within a day of my purchase, I received instructions for a climbing assessment to complete and send back so that one of the coaches could analyze my results in order to customize my plan according to my strengths and weaknesses. I also filled out a questionnaire detailing my climbing history and short-term goal routes that I’d like to accomplish. Within two weeks of completing those two items, I received an well-anticipated email with my customized training plan!
Based on my assessment results and a comparison of my climbing goals, the Lattice team made a plan that prioritized the following aspects:
- Finger strength was considered a high priority area, as my results indicates that I had below average finger strength compared to the climbing grades I’ve achieved outdoors.
- Power endurance was considered another high priority area, as most of the goal routes I listed were longer sport climbs. Additionally, my results indicated that my power endurance was below average for the climbing grades I’ve achieved outdoors.
- My upper body strength was also made a high training priority. Likewise, pull-ups and TRX work were included among my weekly workouts.
- Lastly, flexibility was considered another priority, and hip stretches were included among my weekly workouts. I have notoriously tight hip flexors from sitting at a desk all day, so this was definitely welcomed into my training.
At first glance at my plan, the first thing I noticed was the sheer volume of it. Each week of the plan is broken up into workout units to be completed (for example, one unit could be “5×5 weighted pullups” or “a 45-minute boulder campus workout). My first week, one of the lightest of the whole 16-week plan, included 9.5 units. My most intensive week included up to 12 units. Lattice developed a free app, Crimpd, where users can use to complete and track each of the workouts included in their plan.
I found myself being able to comfortably fit in all the workouts if I went to the gym approximately 4 days a week. I am fortunate enough to live close enough to my climbing gym so that I could complete some of my workouts at 6:30am before work when the gym wasn’t as crowded. I will say that many of the workouts included in my plan were endurance-based and entailed spending a fair amount of time on the actual climbing wall in a session. It could be challenging to complete some of these types of workouts after work (5pm-8pm) when my gym was crowded, so that is the main reason why I opted to go before work most of the time. Each day of training was usually comprised of 3 or so training units, and took me approximately 2-3 hours to complete. I found it very worthwhile to break up training days into two sessions (AM and PM) if I was able to.
My plan was broken up into 3 4-week chunks of time. The first phase focused on base conditioning, the second phase more on strength and power, and the third and final phase concentrated on power endurance. However, each phase still included elements of strength, base conditioning, and power endurance. Each phase included a low-intensity week at the end, that allowed for most rest before ramping up into the next phase. Another note I’ll add is that most of the climbing workouts could be completed on boulders or routes, which was nice if I was at the gym alone (which was most of the time).
I was pretty strict with following with this plan, and was pleasantly surprised to see results very quickly. Some of this might have to do with the fact that I let a “training” mentality leak into other areas of my life. I found myself focusing more heavily on my own nutrition, particularly recovery post-climbing. I wasn’t a big drinker previously, but I cut out most of my weekday alcohol consumption. I also found it imperative to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep after training as well or else I felt trashed the next day.
I scheduled my plan so that the 12-week mark coincided with my climbing trip out to Colorado. My primary goal for the trip was to climb as much as I could in within a 7-day time span, but I also hoped to send several 5.11 sport climbs while I was out there too. The very first day of my trip, I sent my first 5.11b, “Hanging Judge” (in Clear Creek Canyon) on my 2nd attempt. The style of this route is one of my favorites- steep, big moves, and big holds. I was stoked at how strong I felt climbing it!
I also ended up sending two more 5.11s in Rifle Mountain Park, both pumpy long routes (~80 feet) with powerful movement but pretty good holds. I definitely challenged my finger strength one day climbing routes with small edges and crimps in Shelf Road. Likewise, I didn’t have as much success there, ha.
Since Colorado, I’ve also sent two more 5.11s on the east coast, and one of them DID involve nearly all of my weaknesses as pointed out by the Lattice coaches. “Crosseyed and Blind” is a classic 5.11a at the New River Gorge, and is definitely one of the more challenging routes of its grade I’ve tried thus far. To me, it is characterized by two big weaknesses of mine: powerful, reachy moves and a beta- intensive crux moves on crimps/small edges.
I can get intimidated by climbing a route that is most definitely “not my style”, but this route is a classic for a reason- it is great climbing and a lot of fun. The crux sequence for me took a while to figure out, but entailed using very small side-pull edges as intermediates holds before nailing a big move to a jug. Likewise, after 2 days of projecting the route with Dustin, we both sent the damn thing!
In terms of results regarding my initial assessment test, I found the following:
- My finger strength, unfortunately, did not improve as much as I thought it would. My initial max hang (10 seconds) weight using a 20mm edge was +15lbs, and at the end of the plan, it was up to +17.5lbs. I was extremely conservative, however, with how I trained with the finger strength workouts (fear of injury) and did not push myself as much as I could have.
- My max weighted pullup ability increased by +7.5lbs. I started out with a 2-rep max of 22.5lbs, and was able to complete with +30lbs during my third phase.
- I did not re-test my power-endurance on the hangboard, unfortunately. However, I did find that my capacity for climbing a LOT of long steep routes in a day was a huge outcome of training. I’ve had multiple long days of climbing 7+ long, steep routes rated 5.11 and above in a given session, and have found my ability to endure and recover from these days much higher than in the past.
- I also found myself bouldering much stronger at the end of the Plan versus the beginning. While my Plan was largely focused on power endurance/finger strength and didn’t included much projecting at all, I still ended up sending some of my hardest boulders yet. For example, during the duration of my training, I sent 4-5 new v5s at my gym and my first v6. Previously, I had only sent 1 v5.
I personally found my Lattice Training Lite Plan to be highly effective and worthwhile. While the Lite Plans do not include coaching support, I found the staff to be very punctual and helpful if I did have a question about my plan. I have currently started my Plan over a second time in order to really focus on increasing my finger strength results. Below are some pros/cons I noticed with the Lattice Training Lite Plans:
- As mentioned, I found the Lite Plans to be one of the lowest price competitors for a personalized training plan
- It is straight-forward and easy to follow.
- I liked how each week was broken into workout “units”, as it allowed for user flexibility in terms of scheduling them
- A potential negative that I found with my Plan was the sheer amount of volume each week. If you’re time-restrained, it may be hard to fit in all of the workouts. Fortunately, you are able to list out the availability you have to train in your initial questionnaire, so this is likely something the coaches take into account when creating your plan.
- All the workouts are still very generalized, and I would recommend that users have some knowledge of training prior to purchasing a Lite Plan. Each workout does describe the level of intended intensity, but it’s up to the user to decide the grade/style of climb on which to complete the workout. Likewise, I found that as a user, I had to be pretty thoughtful/methodical about how to complete my climbing workouts. The Crimpd App also doesn’t include many modifications if the user is unable to complete an exercise. I found this particularly true for the strength training workouts, but luckily a quick Google search gave me plenty of modifications for completing a set of TRX archer rows, for example.
Having fun on the polished & pumpy “Cold Cuts” at Rifle Mountain Park