Training for Climbing: Step Zero


Although it may not feel like it right now, spring is just around the corner. That means it’s a great time to start thinking about what you can do to improve for the upcoming rock season. Training for climbing is hardwork, but finding the motivation to commit to a training program and stick to it is even harder. Hopefully these pointers can help you take the first steps toward becoming a better self-coached climber.  

Do you need a workout plan?

For most people who have never trained for climbing before, hitting the hang board won’t make them better. Climbing is a technique based sport which means you should spend 70% of your time practicing, 20% of your time training, and 10% of your time performing. This means the easiest way to start training is to increase the volume of climbing that you do. Essentially just practice more, and this can be accomplished by managing your time better. 

Stop Wasting Time. 

If you are truly interested in breaking that plateau or getting to that next grade you have to use your time wisely. You could spend more time in the gym or you could spend more quality time in the gym. You can increase the quality of the time you alot for training by having specific goals for each session and sticking to them. I find a lot of people try to get in more climbing by skipping a warm up or cool down. That’s a bad idea. One place I try to trim time when rope climbing is with changeovers. If you can swap with your partner efficiently when you finish a route you can do 50% more climbing in each session. 

Get a Work Out Buddy.

Climbing is a social sport and that could help or hinder your training. If your partner wants to chat and hang out they may be taking valuable wall time from your session, but if your partner keeps you moving and encourages you to push yourself they can turn out to be a real asset to your training. The Adult Team is a great place to find like minded people ready to train at your level. The workout pagoda area on the mezzanine level is another great place to make friends who want to train. The nice thing about climbing with a buddy is you don’t necessarily have to be on the same training schedule to workout together. 

Plan your training around your schedule. 

I have an opportunity to climb in the New River Gorge in early April so the first thing I did was count out how many weeks there were until my trip, 14, and made a workout plan that goes through 2 cycles, each 7 weeks long. This way I’ll be at a peak in performance when I have the time to climb. The first 2 weeks focused on strength training, the next week was a transition from strength to power, then I go into 2 weeks of power endurance, followed by a week of endurance and an unloading week where I climb fewer and easier routes. Having a trip to look forward to and prepare for is a good source of motivation.