Nowadays it’s really easy to get in your car drive to the closest gym, less than 15 minutes away, do a couple of short hard routes and go home feeling like you are the champion of the world. Well that will only work in a colorful world of plastic holds, in which you climb 800 feet of 5.14d’s in your dreams. If you really want to get better, you need to get some vertical mileage under your belt on a regular basis. Train your mind and body to build and sustain, work on endurance.
There are several easy recipes to actually accomplishing this. Pick a route that is two or three levels below your comfortable climbing grade. And by comfortable, I mean be honest with yourself, can you do 10 laps on this grade and still have a smile on your face? I think you get my point. Set a total number of hand holds OR number of vertical feet you want to climb for the day. For the sake of examples, I am going to use 500 vertical feet. If you climb at a gym that has 30 foot walls, do the math and divide 500 feet into 30 to get the number of sends you need to make to accomplish your goal.
Here is another Not-So-Secret Low-Intensity Training Recipe Sample, perfect for a beginner:
Complete a certain amount of feet for the night, probably around 200-500 feet depending on how hard you want to work out.
Then do one climb at the end that’s 2-3 grades above your ‘comfortable’ grade until you fall 3 times.
Warm up on a 5.5 (easy)
Climb a 5.8 three times (your comfortable grade)
Climb a 5.7 three times
Climb a 5.6 three times
Do 20 laps on a 5.5 (again easy) or until you fall
Climb a 5.10 or 11 until you fall 3 times
You can crank the numbers up a notch, once these climbing grades become too easy for you.
Warming up is key to staying injury free, so help yourself and pick an easy route that’s 3 to 4 levels below your average comfort. Down climb whenever possible. Downclimbing will also help you develop the ability to switch routes when you make a mistake on the sequence of the climb. Continue this routine and repeat it over and over again. Before you know it, you will begin to feel that climbing will get a lot easier and you can increase the number of vertical feet per night.
One thing we all forget to mention is that in order for one to accomplish climbing training goals, you will need to find a belay slave. Now, I’m not sure what kind of a person is willing to be a sucker and agree to stand up all night to belay while you do 20 laps or 500 feet worth of climbing in one night. So I am going to point out the obvious and give you some enlightenment; do yourself and everyone else a favor and be independent, instead of having someone belay you all night like a sucker.
With today’s technology we are offered great alternatives to crying all night in our beds over finding a partner to train with. Find a gym that offers the “magical” belay machines or jump on an easy boulder problem and climb that over and over. Change the sequence of the moves that you make every time until you get your mileage goal for the night. Newsflash! You don’t need a partner and you don’t need a belay slave to become a rock climbing badass.
Climbing is a sport, a form of art, and it is very individual to each person. The only goals and competition that you should set, should be set for and with yourself.
If you need some pointers on climbing technique, check out our recommended short video tutorial, “Improve Your Climbing Technique” and get cranking.