Andi Stull only started climbing about six years ago, but in that short span of time she’s soared through the grades to become one of the most promising female boulderers around. Some of her proudest sends so far include…
- A Maze of Death, V12; Bishop
- Midnight Lightning, V8; Yosemite
- Phantom Ants, V8 (FA); Black Mountain
- Lethal Design, V12; Red Rocks
- Kill On Sight, V11; Bishop
- Pops Scotch, V10 (FA); Black Mountain
- Tour de France Center, V11 (FFA); Black Mountain
- Vigilante, V10; Red Rocks
But lately, no matter her soft spot for bouldering, Stull is looking to broaden her horizons as a climber.
“I still have goals in bouldering—and that will never change,” Stull adamantly confirms, “but I think I entered a bit of a stagnant point mentally. I’ve always wanted to explore sport climbing but the time or the situation was never right. Now that my mind is craving a change, I can jump on the chance.”
Starting the Switch
Success in one type of climbing doesn’t necessarily transfer right over to another. It takes intentionally diversifying your skill set to master multiple climbing styles. Stull knows that she can’t expect to just tie in and tick the same caliber of climb on a rope as she does on a boulder. In fact, she’s very aware of her weaknesses when it comes to sport climbing. “My endurance is pure trash,” she laughs.
The transition starts with the way she trains. Since wrapping up a big performance block in Bishop over the spring, Stull’s been focused on restructuring her gym training to match her sport-oriented goals. Her main intention at the moment is simply to build up a better base of endurance. From there, she’ll be able to combine that with the skills she’s gleaned from years of bouldering—power, body tension, pure strength—and set her sights on specific projects.
When she’s in bouldering mode, Andi Stull works off of a two days on/one day off rotation. The first day involves campus training or sets of max weighted hangs, followed by general strength training with a focus on squats, deadlifts, and shoulder exercises. If she has the juice, she’ll squeeze some projecting in as well. On the second day, she prioritizes hard climbing: a bit of projecting, but mostly repeats on her hardest sends.
Sport Climbing Training
With sport climbing in her sights, Stull opts for a one day on/one day off schedule instead. She needs a bit more recovery time in between sessions now that she’s honing in on weaknesses that her body isn’t as comfortable with yet. Day one starts with projecting and limit bouldering to keep up her top-end power. She follows that with a power-endurance workout, like an Every-Minute-On-The-Minute session for three sets of ten minutes.
The second day shifts to a more basic endurance focus. After getting her fix on a few boulder projects, Stull hops on the systems board for an hour of ARC training. She keeps the intensity low, climbing mainly on jugs and good crimps at 15-25 degrees for sets of 20 minutes. “I’m aiming for a comfortable pump,” she explains. “If I start to get death-pumped, I’ll move to bigger holds. If I can’t feel anything, I kick it up a notch.”
Andi Stull’s biggest struggle with endurance training isn’t getting used to the pump, though. “It can get so boring!” she exclaims. “I’m used to trying so hard right off the ground that I don’t have time to think about anything else. Now I’m having to learn how to be more patient and thoughtful.”
To stay sane, Stull swears by podcasts, audiobooks, and Dru Mack’s endurance playlists on Spotify. They occupy her mind enough to pass the time without distracting her too much from form and precision. Stull’s favorite way to train on the systems board, though, is to partner up and take turns directing each other with a laser pointer. The game keeps her guessing so her brain isn’t tempted to turn off.
On her off days, Stull prioritizes recovery. Foam rolling, walking, and light jogging keep her feeling loose but rested in between hard training sessions. She also emphasizes sleep and plenty of food. “I think recovery is very overlooked among climbers,” says Stull. Just like the rest of us, she knows how easy it is to get wrapped up in the more-is-better mindset. But she notices a drastic difference in her climbing ability when she gets out of balance.
Stull’s bouldering background doesn’t offer any guarantees when it comes to sport climbing. Her dedication to the process, on the other hand, is what will unlock her potential in this new arena. If you’re working to widen your own net as a climber, try some of Stull’s swaps for a training routine that sets you off in a new direction.
Lessons to Learn from Andi Stull:
- Think expansion, not elimination when learning new climbing skills
- Adjust your schedule when training your weaknesses
- Keep your brain occupied for more motivation
- Don’t neglect recovery—nutrition, rest, and gentle movement
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