Not a Comprehensive Training Guide for Climbers
While scouring the web for resources on training and techniques that focus on climbing, I found that the available resources were lacking, too generalized, or scattered. This is an attempt to fill the gap and make a more comprehensive guide as a resource that would help supplement a coach, training regiment, and/or lifestyle. I understand that each person has their own strengths and weaknesses so rather than try to assume that everyone is at the same starting point I thought it might be a better idea to make the information easily accessible allowing athletes and coaches make their own choices and take what they need…with a grain of salt.
Where to Begin
When you’re beginning any sport the best thing you can do is practice that sport. With that in mind, I believe the best thing you can do to accelerate your climbing growth is make small changes in the way you begin and end your climbing sessions, keeping the bulk of your climbing session, climbing. After my warm up, I like to reserve the beginning of my climbing for work on technique and the end of my climbing session with supplementary training followed by stretching.
So, when designing your own lesson plan some things to ask yourself would be:
- What you should be doing in a warm-up?
- What you can focus on for skills while you’re warming up on the wall?
- How do you want to end your session?
- How much time do I need each activity?
- Have I rested enough between sessions?
What’s worked for me is to plan for 2-3 hours. At first, each climbing session should consist of:
- ~15 min – Ground Warm Up
- ~15-30 min – Wall “Warm Up” Technique & Skill Acquisition
- ~75-105 min – Climb!
- ~15-30 min – Stretching
Once you feel like you’re starting to plateau, and your fingers are still strong after a full session, then I’d recommend replacing some of your climbing time with some supplementary strength/power/endurance training.
Ground Warm Up
A solid warm up is of the easiest things to skip. I want you to understand that warming up is essential in injury prevention, ensuring you have a productive and enriching climbing session. If I skip my warm up or scale up the grades, I’m climbing too quickly to I find that I get pumped quicker and that I can’t climb as long. Maybe that’s just me, I’d advise that you test out for how long you need to warm up for yourself.
Your ground warm up should only really take 10-15 minutes if you really focus (unless you’re like me and you like to take your time warming up) and should consist of:
- Cardio – Anything that gets the heart-rate up and gets you sweating (or close to it).
- e. Jumping Jacks, High Knees, Butt Kicks, Running on the Spot, Handstands, Stairs, Game of Tag, Jumping Rope, Burpees, etc.…
- Mobility – The focus for mobility are the joints, it should entail quicker movements and lubricating the joints before you engage in climbing.
- e. Windmills, Tea Cups, Thorax Swing, Hip Circles, Leg Swings
- Activation – The focus for activation are the muscles, these movements should be slow, and focus on really pushing, stretching and engaging the muscles.
- e. Controlled Articular RotationS (CARS), Tendon Glides, Finger Flicks, 90/90 Progressions, Foam Roll, Ball Roll.
Wall Warm Up
Once you’re warm, loose and limber grab your shoes and get on the wall!
This is a good time to focus on the fundamentals, “play” on easy climbs and work on building a solid foundation. Many climbers skip the fundamentals when trying to improve, because they the fundamentals are “easy” or they already know those skills, but the fundamentals aren’t fundamentals because they’re easy, but because they’re important.
“Knowledge is only a rumor until it is in the muscle.” ~ Papua New Guinea Proverb
To get started, begin with easy climbs to warm up the fingers and muscles you couldn’t address on the ground. Then select a single technique to focus on, this technique will be the focus for the beginning of every climbing session. I’d advise sticking with a technique for at least a few weeks, so it can begin to be muscle memory; and if you want to master it at least few months. You should keep working on the same technique until you feel like you’ve improved on it, or you’ve run out of creative ways to work on that technique. I’ll normally go until I get bored of a technique and move on to another one. After all, you can always come back to it when you have some more inspiration.
When you’re moving on to the rest of your climbing session think about and try to use the technique but don’t actively stress about forcing it for every move. That’s what the beginning of your session is for. For the rest of your session, keep it fun and climb! ^.^
Ending Your Session
At the end of your session is where you can start thinking of putting in an optional supplemental training program, that way you’re not going into your climbing tired. The supplemental training section can at first consist of fingerboard and body-weight workouts and later with weighted exercises and a campus board routine; these will be expanded on and have their own section at a future date.
Stretching IS MANDATORY… if you want the most out of your climbing session. If you don’t, that’s completely your choice. (I can’t stop you)
There are many reasons that I consider stretching mandatory.
Stretching will help with:
- recovery (stiffness and soreness the next day),
- dispersing lactic acid buildup,
- posture (so you don’t get a climber’s hunch),
- flexibility (which helps throughout life and, in some cases, needed to complete a climb),
- reducing the risk of injury,
- improving (or keep) your range of motion.
That said, post-workout/climbing stretching should be primarily static stretching which means you should hold the stretch for at least 30 seconds to get maximum benefits. I personally prefer to start stretching from the top of my body working down the muscle groups to ensure I hit every major muscle group.
If there’s anything lacking, concerning, or you simply want to contribute feel free to reach out to me and I’m sure we can work something out.
All feedback is completely welcome if you disagree with something, something sounds awkward, doesn’t make sense, is wordy, uses poor grammar, uses too much lingo, is hard to understand, or is just written poorly let me know down below or Contact Me!
Just know, that I’ll take it with a grain of salt ^.^