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Why Train For Climbing?

To Defeat Boredom, Conquer Plateaus, and Get Motivated, That’s Why

Training for Climbing

We all want to send harder grades, right?  

Well, yeah.


But that’s not the only reason to get into a serious training regimen. To be honest, I started training because, well, I got bored.  I’d been climbing for nearly a decade, and had traveled all across the country, experiencing different kinds of rock and the styles of climbing they yielded to. During the heady early days of my climbing career, I would see marked improvements with every trip, with every season—it seemed like I’d return from every trip I took with a new “hardest route” under my belt, a new perspective on what it really meant to “climb hard.  

Over time, that trend subsided. My two week trips began to seem too short to work my projects into submission. I had plucked all the low-hanging fruit from my local crags, and nothing but long-term projects remained. What’s more, as other aspects of my life got busier, I seemed to be spending less and less time at the crag and more time at the gym.

Enter training.  

I began to notice that all of the strongest climbers at my gym were spending more of their time on the hangboard, campus rungs, or in the weight room than actually climbing. Their conversations all revolved around their training programs, their diet, and the newest stats on their spreadsheets. It all seemed a little…clinical,  but there was no doubt it was working. While I continued to bumble around in the gym, spending my sessions aimlessly wandering from one boulder problem or route that I couldn’t do to the next, they were getting stronger.  

Eventually, I made the decision to start a training regimen. It wasn’t so much because I was frustrated with my climbing—I was bored of being in a rut. If nothing else, training would at least offer up some novelty.

The Rock Climber's Training Manual

The (training) Bible

I picked up The Rock Climber’s Training Manual and was immediately hooked. I turned out to love the “clinical” approach, the new, interesting exercises and training tools, and, most of all, I loved the optimistic, constant-improvement mentality that training brings. I was now privy to a whole new facet of climbing I’d always been too intimidated (or egotistical) to approach in a legitimate way. The perceivable (and documentable!) forward momentum I began to see was exciting.

Now, I’m not going to say that adopting a training program has immediately vaulted my climbing to a new level of performance (though I certainly haven’t gotten any weaker). What it has done is fundamentally change my approach to climbing, particularly during these long New England winters spent confined to the walls of the climbing gym.

It’s like this: Each session, I have a goal designed to build on my previous workout. This keeps my motivation high, and it puts me in a positive headspace because I know that my limited climbing time has been spent productively.  Even if I never send a harder climb—though I intend to—climbing with a training approach is worth it to me just for that.

And yes, I too have a spreadsheet.

Training means sending

The author sending Fear and Loathing, III (5.12a), Red Rocks, NV

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Published:January 18, 2018

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