The worst whip I’ve ever taken resulted in two staples in the back of my head. Why did I fall? My foot blew!
Footwork is very important in climbing–debatably the most important aspect of your technique. Practicing good footwork can make or break your ascents (and maybe even your head).
So what can be done to specifically target footwork improvement? Let’s find out!
I went scouring the internet and my climbing reference books to find some groundbreaking drill that is fun, exciting, convenient, and will cure inefficient footwork for life. I found no such thing.
What I did find (and have my own experience with) are the two drills below. They are widely recommended because they are simple and effective. If you haven’t heard of them, try them out this week and see what you think!
Silent feet – When climbing practice silent foot placement. Ensure that the feet are placed carefully and quietly. When feet are placed silently, they are placed accurately. If the toe gently lands on the chip, and sticks, that one movement is all you need and then you move on. It is meticulous. It is efficient.
Downclimbing – most of climbing is done looking up, leading with your hands. When you downclimb, your feet lead and the weight is on the toes. Make sure that when you do it, you climb as carefully down as you do up. It can be strange at first, but you get used to it.
The best way to practice these drills is to do so when you warm up. Hop on some easy boulders to warm up for your day of climbing, climb carefully with silent feet and climb down the routes as well.
Here’s a video that I think illustrates this super well (skip about a minute in if you don’t care about what literature pro climbers are reading–feel free to watch if you do!)
I hope you enjoyed your weekly dose of climbing technique. For the betterment of myself and others I’ll be bringing you a technique tip every Tuesday for Technique Tip Tuesday! I’m a sucker for alliterations.
Since pictures are worth a thousand words, here’s 10 pictures that sum up what a blast I had this weekend on my first trip to Rumney, NH.
1. The “V8 boulder” that I was introduced to in the kitchen of our Air Bnb. Note the tic showing the starting crimp. I hadn’t met most of the people I was staying with, so this was a great and hilarious introduction to the gang.
2. Me belaying Mike on our warmup route in The Meadows. Felt great to be clipping bolts again.
3. My friend Cat and I having a blast taking in the views. (PS she just finished hiking the AT–check out her blog at seebagsgo.com)
4. Me having a very fun time flashing Waimea, 5.10d. Also, peep the guy a couple of routes over working his project–14c! He was so excited when he sent it! I was bummed I didn’t get to see it happen.
5. Views from the top of Waimea.
6. Getting Mike to take a nice picture can be very challenging.
7. Case in point.
8. Me putting in my first burn on my new project, Orangahang, 5.12a. This route is so fun and I’m ridiculously psyched about it.
9. Watching another climber send Predator, 5.13b. After he sent it, he unclipped the chains and took a MASSIVE victory whip. The whole crag was stoked.
10. The gang participating in some advanced stick clipping while we supported Scott (bottom of the pyramid) in his pursuit of Charlie Don’t Surf, 5.13b.
It was a stellar trip with incredible weather and I am beyond stoked to have made it up there this weekend.
I was recently at a gathering of climbing friends from my local gym and was greeted by some surprise patronization:
“I know you, you’re the girl with the journal!”
He was referring to my notebook. that I use for logging my training at the gym. It is where training data is recorded. It is NOT where I pen diary entries about Chris Sharma with his shirt off.
(but while we’re on the subject… here’s Chris Sharma with his shirt off. This one’s for you, ladies!)
Mr. Sharma’s splendid abdominals aside, my notebook is where I keep track of key data from training sessions. This includes things like how much weight I hang on my harness on the 15mm crimp and whether or not I nutted myself when I limit bouldered that day.
I write down everything that is relevant to my training session, so I can use it to improve in future sessions.
This lesson was taught to me via DVD four years ago during my Summer of P90X. I’m the words of esteemed fitness icon, Tony Horton:
“How are you going to know what to do, if you don’t know what you did?”
Tony was yelling this to you between of biceps curls to get you to record your sets. He had a point. It is important to know what you did so you can know how you can improve.
If you aren’t totally sold on being a notebook nerd in the gym yet, here’s a dose of wisdom from climbing trainer Steve Bechtel in his book, Logical Progression.
…you’re going to refer back to your log frequently. This is not an optional aside to your training, but rather a guide. A few seasons into your training career, and it will be the most valuable piece of gear you own.
With that in mind, let’s get down to details. Here are some tips on how to take good notes on your training .
Tips and Examples:
Below are examples from my notebook of how I track different workouts. I really love this notebook from Amazon–the graph paper paper format makes it super easy to make tables, which I love.
Example #1: Power Endurance Notation
So, in this workout I was doing a boulder problem on the minute every three minutes. I try to write down the color of the route for my reference so I know what I did the previous time. I also write down what sorts of holds the route has. Additionally, I write the grade in a separate column. I also give myself a quality or a “Q” score–basically how I felt about my attempt on a scale of 1-5. It doesn’t necessarily mean I finished the route, but it describes how well I felt I climbed. The “Q” score is a tip I stole from Logical Progression. I also write some notes –this is especially helpful for remembering beta for next time.
Example 2: Notation for a hangboard/strength workout
This is a little more straight forward. I like to set up the table so that I have the exercise on the left with the set noted at the top. For exercises with variable resistance and duration (e.g. a deadlift, or a hangboard set, depending on if you are adding/subtracting weight), I put the number of reps at the top, and the resistance at the bottom, as you can see below. I also take notes in the column on the right!
Example #3: Endurance/ARC Tracking
Below is how i track an endurance day. I write the grade, if I went up and down the route or just down, and any notes. Usually, I climb up a specific route and down any holds available–noted as “rainbow”. For more information about ARC training, click here.
Three reasons to track your climbing and training:
1. It will be helpful to know what you did in days, months, and years to come so that you can ensure you are improving–even if only incrementally.
2. By tracking your training you can gauge how many rest days you require before certain types of training (especially helpful when trying new types of training/strarting new programs).
3. If this season goes really well, you will want to know exactly why.
How do you track your training? Do you use an app? Have you ever tracked your training before?
If you want to discuss, leave a comment or send an email. I am happy to chat!
If you can find 5-6 hours to train every week, you can significantly improve your climbing. With structured training after work twice a week and a day or two on the weekend, an outdoor weekend trip here and there, you have the time and resources to get better.
It’s time to get down to the nitty gritty and plan out your time in the gym each week. I am going to take you through some sample schedules that will be mostly relateable to the average weekend warrior–which is me.
I climb 3-4 days/week. I go to the gym 2-3 days after work M-F and climb on the weekends 1-2 days (if I’m lucky, I am outside on these days).
WEEKLY TOTAL TRAINING HOURS: ~4 hours plus a weekend outside
The key is to rotate between Strength, Limit bouldering, Endurance and Power Endurance. I have decoupled my outdoor climbing with my training. I climb outside, have a good time and pick up training where I left off in the cycle when I come back. Learn more about block periodization in part 3.
Block Sample Schedules
For block periodization, at least in the case of the Rock Prodigy Program, the schedule is pretty simple. See below for breakdown by phases. Each phase lasts 2-6 weeks depending on your goals and climbing experience. You can learn more about this program by picking up your own copy of The Rock Climber’s Training Manual.
Tuesday/Thursday: linked boulder circuits or route intervals
Saturday/Sunday: redpoint attempts
Resting is critical. Recently I’ve noticed myself trying to do too much back to back. I only recently have dialed in what I can do back to back and what I can’t. I know I need a rest day before I limit boulder now, no matter what. I also need a rest day before strength training. I also know that if I’m feeling too tired for that day’s agenda I can slot in low-end endurance and move on to the next day of training when the time comes.
I also prefer to rest before I go outside. I want to be fresh and presentable when I get the chance to climb on real rocks.
I get outside whenever I can and I do my best to make the most of these days. I like to follow Eric Horst’s philosophy on the time you spend climbing:
Gym days are for practice, for me. Extrapolating from this philosophy, days outside are about 1/3 performance and 2/3 practice. In a weekend I like to spend one of the days working something hard and the other day climbing things I can onsight. This enables me to both try hard and practice smooth, high-skill climbing outside.
I climb outside as much as life allows and I hope you do too!
1. If you can climb three days per week and dedicate an average of 6-8 hours/week to climbing, you can improve.
2. Rest days must be taken when needed
3. Climbing outside is fun and opportunities to climb outside should be seized and cherished and celebrated with crag beers with good pals.
How many days a week can you get to the gym? What time management strategies have you found?
I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
In part three we review two types of training structures. There are different ways to set up your training on a day-to-day, week-to-week and month-to-month basis. These are block and non-linear periodization. They both have their pros and cons and either training structure is only as good as the climber’s adherence to the program.
What is periodization?
Generically speaking, periodization is the idea that training is more effective if you train certain attributes in a time-specific way. Periodization is an idea that is employed in many athletic fields, climbing included. See scholarly definition below.
Periodization is an organized approach to training that involves progressive cycling of various aspects of a training program during a specific period of time.
I have personal experience with both styles. I have completed multiple macrocycles of what is essentially a block periodization program and it was very effective. This is what made up the first year or so of my training.
Currently, I am in the middle of my first non-linear program and I am really enjoying the change—the results are not yet in in terms of improvement in my climbing as I have not yet completed it, but at minimum certain measurable aspects of my climbing have definitely improved (finger strength, completion/improvement on some indoor boulders, etc.).
I could explain each style of program with some lengthy post, but the comparison of the two can be nicely summed up using the table below.
Breaks up your training into 3-4 distinct phases where you focus on one attribute of climbing at a time for 4-6 weeks.*
*Note that although the focus is on one attribute per phase—there are other attributes being worked on simultaneously in the background. No block training program is purely one component at a time.
Rotation throughout the program, working on all critical attributes concurrently over the course of 7-10 days (depending on how much rest you need).
The schedule would look some thing like this:
Mon – Strength Weds – Power Thurs – Endurance Saturday – Power Endurance
Reach a performance peak at the end of the training plan. During some periods of the training, outdoor climbing may need to be ommitted for adherence to the program .
Outdoor climbing can be de-coupled with training. You can go climb outside and project on the weekends—no specific performance “peak”.
You can, in theory, be performing all throughout the program. Flexible and engaging because you rotate through different workouts (strength, limit bouldering, etc.) in addition to working different aspects in one single training session.
Training must be planned around trip outside to work on goal route. Potential omission of outdoor climbing to focus on training. Can be daunting to focus on one attribute for a month at a time. Certain aspects decline while focusing on other aspects.
No specific performance peak. May develop certain aspects (finger strength, power) more slowly than if you focused on one aspect at a time.
After evaluating my own goals for the season and my schedule, I have chosen a nonlinear periodization program for this training season. I am currently following the Logical Progressionprogram laid out by Steve Bechtel and I am really enjoying it so far. I chose this program because I think it works well for the time frame in which I need to be in tip top shape. I will be trying to hit some personal bests on a couple of trips in October and November, so a very targeted performance peak does not work for me this year in terms of timing. I also thought it might be time to change it up a bit, which has been really fun so far!
I am headed to Mallorca, Spain for a week in October (1 month out!). I am also headed to the Red River Gorge for a long weekend as well. I will have just three days to try and take down my first 12b (ahh!).
Once you have your own goals and your time frame nailed down, you can choose which will work best for you too!
Which style of training appeals to you and your goals? If you’ve tried both, which do you like better?
Leave a comment or shoot me and email, I’d love to hear your thoughts.
If you don’t know what The Gunks are, they are a group of Mountains situated in upstate New York in near the quaint and kitschy town of New Paltz.
The area is haven for hikers, trail runners, bikers, climbers, and vacationers alike. Behind the well-maintained trails and lovely resort facade; however, lies a gnarly climbing area. It is an area where 5.5 will make you pee your pants and only the trad-daddiest of crushers are putting their pieces in a 5.9.
To my chagrin as a spoiled ex-Red River Gorge sport climber, there are no bolts anywhere. However, what the Gunks lacks in bolts, it makes up for in trad routes. According to my friend who has been climbing there for 6 years the Gunks has “more than you could hope to climb in a lifetime if you went every weekend until you died”.
On my trip, we kept it casual. Due to a lack of both trad experience and gear, we did an early morning sampling of the boulders on Undercliff Road. It was exceptionally good fun and I am very grateful to our new friend from our local gym for coming up on short notice, lending us pads, and serving as an excellent tour guide.
“So what you do is walk down Undercliff Road and boulder your way back.” Our buddy explained as we walked down the well-maintained path. Undercliff Road is long. The boulders and routes are on one side and an immaculate view of the valley is on your right. We couldn’t see it for most of the morning, but the fog was really cool!
We started out on box car boulder, doing some warm up routes–VO through V1. Our friend also explained that the grades were stiff. Take your gym grade and add three. I don’t boulder outside much, but this sounded about right. Going into this trip to the Gunks, I expected this ferocious gap between indoor and outdoor grades. I had made sure when I left my apartment that morning to leave my ego at home. It was much more fun that way.
After Box Car, we made our way down to Andrew’s boulder. I worked on it a bit. It’s classic V4, where, if you’re tall enough, you do this crazy move where you drop your heel hook to a toe hook so you can get the last couple of inches out of your legs to reach the next hold. It was ridiculous. I’m too short to get to do that move, but I am pretty psyched to keep working on it. Apparently you can keep climbing in the Gunks until December if you’re lucky. You might see me there.
A few mini-projects later, we made it to our final route. (See some fun mini-proj pictures below– I actually remembered to take pictures of these).
We then made it to the final route of the day, back at the beginning of Undercliff Road. It’s called the Lorax.
“It used to be fun, until they cut the trees down! It makes the whole route at least one grade easier.” Our friend reminisced about the days that there were two trees in front of the problem, making it exciting and absurd to negotiate. “It didn’t count if you touched the tree. If you even looked at the tree funny, you didn’t sent it.”
He also added “I prefer to climb without the crowds, so I like to get here around 6 or 7 a.m. By the time I’m done, everyone else is showing up.” Which was true. By the time we were ready to leave, the rectangle-backed afternoon boulderers were coming in droves. It was time to go.
We walked off of Undercliff Road sun-soaked, smelly, and happily exhausted. Mike and I smashed some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches before hitting the road. In two hours we were back at home, napping.
I’m a pretty lackluster boulderer and I don’t know anything about trad climbing, but I do know that I am very, very excited to get to know my new home crag–and maybe expand my horizons while I’m at it.
Training for a project is like a mixing a great cocktail. A variety of ingredients, well-synthesized and carefully planned will yield great results. In this article we’re going to go over the different bases, modifiers, and huge cocktail-shaking forearms you need to make the ascent of your goal route both smooth and delicious.
Let us start with a quick exercise. Grab a beer and enjoy the short film below of Michaela Kiersch sending Golden Ticket (14c) at my [former] home crag–The Red River Gorge.
For starters, this route is 85 feet tall and has many challenging moves and holds. Note that Michaela has the endurance to deal with marginal crimps for all 85 ft. She has the power and strength to accomplish the move, recover from it, and clip the anchors. In addition, she has to have the stamina to try this route many times in one day since she is in school and is only able to make it down to the crag on the weekends.
Summarily, in order to redpoint this route, she needed to:
1. Be able to do all of the moves.
2. Be able to link all of these moves together.
3. Have the capacity to make put in multiple burns on it in one day since she is short on time.
4. Not get injured in the process
We may not all be intensely projecting 14c, but if you are reading this blog, you probably have a goal route–or a few–in mind (if you don’t, see How to Make a Training Plan Part 1: Goals You can Point To). It is natural then, that you would want your training program to address all of the above. After reviewing some of the most popular training regimens by a variety of authors and doing a few of them myself, it seems that training for single pitch sport climbing can be summarized by these 6 components: strength, endurance, power, skill, power endurance, and injury prevention.* *Note that my training and goals are primarily for single pitch sport climbs, at this time. The cruciality of these components will vary for other styles of climbing.
Strength The concept of strength is pretty simple–you either have the physical capacity to do something or you don’t. In climbing, a good program will focus on the following, in terms of strength:
By definition, an antagonist muscle is a muscle that directly opposes another muscle. In climbing, we use all of our muscles; however, climbers tend to overdevelop certain muscle groups. Therefore, a good program will have you develop the lesser-used muscles. Read more about antagonist muscle strength from The Climbing Doctor!
Selection of exercises with a focus on climbing specific movement
Whether you are too pumped to clip at bolt 3 or at bolt 11–if you don’t have the endurance to recover from the crux and finish the route, you are never going to send. Building up your low-end endurance capacity is important.
See Guide to Endurance Training for more details.
Let’s talk physics. See equation below.
Power = Work/time
Now let’s look at a practical example from my personal life.
My boyfriend, Mike, is very tall–about 6’3″. He is able to reach things that I cannot and thus, some moves work better for him when they are done statically. I am not tall, and there are some holds that I will not be reaching unless I start moving dynamically.
If Mike and I both do the same move, but he take 5 seconds to do it because he can move slowly, and I take 1 second to do it because I jumped–I have done the same amount of work in less time, and therefore I have displayed more power.*
A good training program will set you up to increase your power so that you can efficiently do those big powerful moves on your project without letting one big throw bust your whole send.
*if we are being extra nerdy, technically Mike has more mass than me, so technically he has done more work than I have. However, let’s not get too detailed.
This is where things get whacky. Experts get into debates all day about whether or not power endurance is even a real energy system–this is fine. As climbers, I think the term “power endurance” is a term that makes sense to many of us, so we are just going to take it and run with it. Let’s look at another example.
Climber A can climb v8 in the gym. Once he tries on it for a week or so, he can get warmed up, rest properly, and do the problem. If he wanted to do it again, however, he’d have to wait at least 5 minutes to rest and he may or may not have the capacity to do so when he tries again.
Climber B can also climb v8 in the gym. However, climber B has a different rest requirement to do this problem. She is able to place this problem in a circuit. Climber B can start on this v8, climb down a v3 to recover, stay on a jug for a nice, active rest and do the v8 again.
Both climbers exhibit the power to do the moves on this problem; however, Climber B has the power endurance to repeat these powerful moves without a full resting recovery. Climber A does not.
Power endurance is the ability to exhibit near-maximum power over and over again. It is the ability to maintain a prolonged display of near-maximum power. A quality training program will also focus on improving this element of a climber’s skill set.
If you want to learn more about this, give TrainingBeta Podcast Episode 101 a listen–one of my favorite trainers, Steve Bechtel, explains power/strength endurance very well.
At its core, climbing is a skill sport. If you want to get better at it, you will not do so by doing tons of pullups. You must learn lots of moves and hone your skills to improve as a climber. I think this point is summed up very well by Eric Horst in his book, How to Climb 5.12.
The best climbers [climb at] an exceedingly high level because they have internally programmed gazillions of different moves that are on call at a moment’s notice.
Essentially, you can be great at hangboarding, campusing, and doing pull-ups, but if you never improve your technique you won’t be getting better at climbing. A well-planned training program has plenty of on-rock time in which you can hone your skills.
If you are run-down, your shoulders feel like trash, and you slept three hours last night, you aren’t going to be performing or training optimally.
However you train, the first priority should be to avoid injury. Generally, if you can’t climb you can’t get better at climbing.
Overall, a quality training program will focus on improving your strength, power, endurance, skill, power endurance, and preventing injury. Blend all of these
Last spring, when my work was getting particularly gloomy, I decided to spend my lunch time sprucing up the cork board above my desk. I needed a reminder of why it was worth it to drive an hour from work to get to the climbing gym to train. I knew I had to stay motivated and go climb, though sometimes all I really wanted to do was smash the jelly doughnuts in the break room and take a nap.
To ward off the dreariness, I printed out whatever google images had available for the routes at the Red River Gorge that I was excited about. When my coworkers would ask me what I was up to over the weekend, I would point to one of the pictures on my desk , smile really big, and say “I’m gonna go bag this route”.
And I did. It was a blast. Each weekend getaway to the red would yield another tick–I would take the route’s picture down as soon as I sent it, and pin another on the board.
They say “never lose sight of your goals” so I made sure to put my goals where I could see them everyday (even sometimes on the weekends, unfortunately).
When making goals at the beginning of a training plan, there are three key components that should be considered:
Choosing a route, or a handful of routes to train for is far superior to saying “I want to send an 11d outside.” When training, it is good to customize the program with the goal in mind. With the variety of terrain that can be classified as “11d”, it is more beneficial to choose a specific 11d, be aware of the cruxes on the route, and keep the unique challenges of this route in mind as training progresses.
Attainability Sure, I would love to climb 5.13d, but my hardest onsight is a 5.11a–so it would be pretty stupid to start trying to work a 13d, wouldn’t it? In How to Climb 5.12, renowned trainer, Eric Horst, recommends choosing projects that are approximately, 4-6 letter grades above your hardest onsight. (Keep in mind this is in terms of single pitch sport climbs). Additionally, training programs are a relatively short-term commitment (8-12 weeks)–it is important to choose goals that congruent to the timeline of training.
Inspiration If the goal isn’t getting you psyched before you start training–it definitely won’t keep you motivated when you’re in the middle of a tough workout. Pick something that, when asked about it, you want to launch into a full cinematic Reel Rock interview about how stoked you are to do this thing.
In summary, goals that are specific, attainable, and inspiring are a solid basis for a training program. Clear, stoke-inducing objectives will keep you motivated, even when the going gets tough.
It was fall in the Red River Gorge. For those that have never been, it is famous (and infamous) for its overhanging walls of wonderful sandstone jugs, pockets, and plates. I was working on a 10d in Miller Fork–an overhanging jug haul. Great fun with wonderful movement. All of my friends absolutely cruised it. Then me, pumped out and scared, bit it by bolt #3. I couldn’t finish the route at all. I was pumped out of my mind in a very short span of time and I felt like garbage.
Fast forward a little over year and a couple of 6 week cycles of focused endurance training later, I sidled up to Tesseract, once more. Armed with slightly bigger forearms, more confidence, and a veracious fear of failure, I SLAYED IT. I sent it with shocking ease and felt like a different climber.
There are many facets of training that go into this, but I can definitely attribute much of my improvement to focused endurance training–more specifically, ARC Training.
What is ARC Training?
ARC Training is a form of endurance training for climbers in which the focus is to increase the number of capillarization in the forearms. This thereby raises your maximum steady-state (MSS) when you are climbing. Essentially, if you raise your MSS (e.g. ” I used to be able to climb 5.10 forever, then I ARC trained, and now I can climb 5.11 forever.”), it means that you will be able to climb longer on more difficult terrain without getting pumped as quickly. See equation below:
MORE FOREARM CAPILLARIZATION = HIGHER MSS =
LESS FOREARM PUMP = MORE SENDING AND LESS FALLING
The main idea behind ARC training is that you want to maintain a slight pump for 20-45 minutes. In general you will want to stay on the wall for this amount of time. As stated by the Anderson Brothers: “This is best performed by climbing on vertical to slightly overhanging terrain that places a steady load on the forearms so that a moderate, but sustainable pump ensues for upwards of 30 minutes.” (Mark and Mike Anderson, Link here: Base Fitness )
If you would like to read more about ARC training, head on over to the Base Fitness page of the Anderson Brothers website. You can also read all about ARC training and other topics in their book, The Rock Climber’s Training Manual. The book is a holy grail of training information and I highly recommend it.
High Skill, Moderate intensity
An important thing to note is that ARCing should still involve high-skill climbing and it should simulate the outdoors as much as possible (e.g. you want to climb with good technique and ideally you are using small footholds that simulate features in outdoor climbing.)
… I’m a huge advocate of keeping it high-skill climbing. ARCing, aerobic restoration capillary training, some people will just traverse along or climb open feet on the treadwall and we dumb down our skills there.
So, ARC all you want. But don’t spend your time climbing like garbage on a 5.6. ARCing should increase your endurance and your skills.
How to ARC.
Method 1: ARCing on a bouldering wall
This method works well if you can go to the gym when it is quiet.
What I like to do when ARCing on a boulder is half traversing and half up-climbing and down-climbing routes 1-2 grades below my limit.
I traverse to the start of a problem, usually sticking with v0-v3 routes so as not to get too pumped, then I’ll climb up and back down and then crawl over to the next problem (grade that serves the proper pump will vary from person to person)
Generally this method is nice because bouldering walls have tons of holds. With this, you can optimize your ARCing and temper the “pump” by simply decreasing/increasing the difficulty of the holds as needed.
Method 2: Autobelays
The use of autobelays is my typical method for ARC training. I try to find an auto-belay with a 5.9 and 5.10. I keep the routes generally 1-2 grades below my onsight limit (5.11). Anything slightly overhanging is ideal. I then climb up and climb down for 20-30 minutes (duration is discussed later). I usually climb something easier first, and then toss in a more difficult route at about 5 minutes. This helps me get a good pump going. By about 7 minutes, I am a little pumped and sweating lightly.
For etiquette reasons, I do my best to keep an eye out for someone waiting around to use the autobelay. Or I will typically warn people that I am about to be on the routes for 20+ minutes and let people go in front of me. It is ideal to stay on the autobelay for 10-15 minutes. You can then leave the first autobelay and go to another one. Climb something hard before departing for the next autobelay and get there quickly. The goal is to keep the pump going!
The method of swapping autobelays usually works pretty well in a crowded gym and is usually what I do after work.
Method 3: Get into a training belay-tionship
Get a buddy and have them belay you for each arc set. This might be a little time consuming since your rest periods between sets will be 20+ minutes, but this method is nice because having friends is good and the same four routes on the same two autobelays will get extremely boring after a while.
How Much and How Often?
If I am going to make a day of it, I will ARC for a total of 60-90 minutes.
I try to fitone day of ARCing each week, currently. You can also toss it into other days of climbing/training/goofing around. A sample schedule of what I am currently doing is below.
ARC 20-30 min.
ARC 20-30 min.
ARC 20-30 min.
ARC 20-30 min.
ARC 20-30 min.
In general, I will tack 20-30 minutes of ARC training at the end of a session, depending on if time allows. Additionally, I like to dedicate one day a week to it if I have the time, which I do right now. Note that when doing multiple sets, I rest about 10 minutes between each set.
Also please note that I do not stick to a rigid schedule in terms of days on/rest days–I rest as much as I feel is needed. I will touch on this in a later post.
General ARCing Advice
PUMP UP THE JAMS! Music is everything. Get some wireless headphones, put on your favorite spotify playlist, set a timer, and get going!*
*DIRTBAG TIP: Before I owned wireless headphones, I had earbuds with a wire and the pants I wore usually didn’t have pockets. Keeping my jams attached to me while I climb proved to be challenging. BUT I have found that a pair of earbuds combined with a Velcro arm band phone case does just the trick. I would strap the phone case to my harness and rock out!
**Other dirtbag tip: If you have the funds, pull the trigger and spend $25 on these wireless headphones– Bluetooth Earbuds – TaoTronics They work very well and for a good price, too!
STARTING OUT. Work your way up if 20 minutes is too long! If you need to break your ARC sets up into 10 minute segments for the first few sessions, it is alright. However, it is better to try to climb for the the full 20 minutes instead of shorter sets. If you need to start on 5.6/5.7 to get up to 20 minutes when you are just starting out, do it, but climb with good technique–and use small feet. If your fingers are not up to it, climb the route that has larger holds for your hands and use open feet, carefully selecting the chips on the wall as opposed to big knobs. This will be better for outdoor training. In my experience, when I was a 5.9/5.10a redpoint climber, I started out on 5.6-5.8 to be able to get myself to 20 minutes, but I did my best to use small feet if they were available.
DOWNCLIMBING. I know that when I started ARCing one of the things that I found very challenging was downclimbing, especially on autobelays. In general, if I find it too awkward to climb down a specific route, I usually use open hands and feet, trying to keep myself in a good zone aerobically.
Another note about downclimbing is that it is useful from a technique perspective (Read more about this in The Rock Climber’s Training Manual. ). Generally speaking, most of climbing is upward-centric. You look up and focus on where to put your hands. If you look down, you focus on where to put your feet–which is helpful in terms of developing your footwork. Don’t skip the downclimbing–it’s important!
TEMPERING THE PUMP. You want the pump to be manageable. At no point should you be about to pop off the wall. If you find yourself getting too pumped, rest a bit and scale back the difficulty until the pump feels manageable again. It takes a bit to figure out, but after a few sessions, you will have a feel for it. If you find that it has been 10 minutes and you are not yet sweating or feeling pumped, you can use smaller holds, try to move faster, or get on a harder route.
Feel free to shoot me an email if you have any questions! I am more than stoked to talk to you.
In the words of the beloved and controversial rap artist, Tyler the Creator, “I’m a f***** walkin’ paradox,” because I am. I spend most of my time attempting to be coiffed and professional in a corporate environment and when I’m off work on Friday I’m ready turn my hat backwards, head outside, and be the dirtbag I wish I was during the week.
I think a lot of outdoor enthusiasts are like this. We crave adventure and exhilaration and are maybe a even a little rebellious. Unfortunately, the jobs that sustain us (and our expensive extracurriculars) do not always provide the outlet we so desperately need.
So, enter climbing. It is a sport that satisfies my love of the outdoors, provides positive social interaction, and it is an outlet for measurably pushing myself to my absolute limit.
Admittedly, I take myself too seriously sometimes, but at the same time I make notes in my training journal like the one you see below:
So I might be serious, but never too serious.
A Classic Weekend Warrior
I have been climbing for about four years. I started in college to stave off the summertime sadness of being an avid skier. Now, I can’t really decide which sport I like better. I really love climbing.
For me, climbing is an outlet for goofiness, getting outside with your friends, and having an excuse to train like a goddamn sled dog if I really want to.
And to be clear, I really want to.`
I work at a major company based in New York City. My commute to work is 40-75 minutes each way depending on traffic. I train in the evenings when they gyms are crowded and I go climbing outside on the weekends. The nearest quality sport crag is about 5 hours away. I certainly have time to train and go outside, but my time supply is limited.
Training on a Time Budget
Fortunately for all of us, climbing is a sport where focused training a few sessions a week will yield great results. I have seen substantial evidence that you can continuously improve your climbing (for a long time) even if you have a time-consuming job and you don’t start climbing until your twenties.
I started climbing about 4 years ago and began training systematically about two years in. Since then, I have increased my hardest redpoint from 5.10a to 5.11d, and increased my hardest onsight from 5.9 to 5.11a.
Each year of training I have added an average of 3.5 letter grades to my hardest redpoint. I plan to keep training, keep getting stronger, and I’ll be keeping my job and having a social life while I do it.
What this Blog Will Teach You
This blog will provide information on a variety of climbing-related topics. And it will demonstrate that getting better at climbing is possible, even with a busy schedule.
I will give you the knowledge you need to set high-quality goals, construct your own training programs, select training programs based on your needs, and explore many topics in between.
Additionally, I plan to post about trips I take to different climbing areas, in case you are looking for inspiration for your next outdoor climbing adventure.
This blog will provide you with the resources you need to go from a training neophyte to someone that has an effective plan for their time in the gym and outside. I want you to become someone with goals for your climbing and I want you to have a lot of fun executing them.