Thursday, September 27, 2007

Training, Progress, Belief

Climbing fitness and strength are linked, by many, to the ability to send hard routes. There is definitely something to be said when you can hang onto smaller and smaller holds. Climbing, as with most things, usually shows improvement with time. While a climber may not always improve in a linear fashion I think that things usually change for the better. Personally I find that climbing a lot and getting in the right mindset really helps.

In recent times I consider myself a fairly fit climber but I often struggle with the mental game involved in climbing. I have a hard time pushing to my limit and getting past thoughts of failure and falling. Belief in yourself and the ability to keep pushing when you might fail I feel are key to improving.

As we develop as climbers and move up through the grade ranges the routes tend to demand more from the climber. Bigger holds on slabby faces yield to crimps on a vertical wall. Jugs become slopers and foot holds become smears. This transition can be mentally difficult as a climber finds themselves holding on to progressively smaller holds. Cruxes can be harder to decipher and holds can be directional. Footwork and pressure come into play and all the while you have to keep from getting pumped. The difficulty of a route not only demands more physically but mentally as well.

I think that training in some form or another can be important to steady progress. Personally I keep track of all the routes I have climbed and have a fairly accurate picture of the last 4 years of routes I have sent. A more in depth idea is a Training Journal where one keeps a log of all workouts for future comparison. Both of these things help to keep tabs of where you are and how you are doing.

Personal evaluation is essential to taking the next step and breaking through to the next level in your climbing. Weather the goal is to send a give route or onsight a certain level knowing where you are at shows what a climber needs to work on. The types of routes that you do well on can help you figure out what you are strong in. If one wants to be an all around climber one cannot only go to the same crag and do the same routes. To really grow as a climber one must try and climb the things that are the most difficult. I found this quote fitting as many new climbers become strong boulderers yet struggle with routes.

“If you focus entirely on power based bouldering training you are asking your muscles to work 100%. You have ‘recruited’ all your muscle fibres to work in one explosive effort. The minute you go on a route you are asking your muscles to work at 70% for 10 times as long. No wonder you get pumped!” From Katherine at

Right now I am trying to keep a large variety in the types of routes I climb outside while maintaining fitness while climbing and training inside. The biggest breakthroughs that I expect to be making in the next 6 months will be mental. In addition, I want to gain more endurance as well as learn how to push through when plagued with doubt.

Til next time,


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