You’ve been climbing for quite some time now. You’ve gained some friends from the community, completed your basic climber's gear set, and noticed that your grip strength has improved; but then something seems to be lacking. You have plateaued and your skills are not improving as they did in the beginning.
Don’t fret! This is fairly normal for beginner climbers. This is bound to happen when you have trained for months yet you've not been exposed to higher levels of stress - yet. Maybe there’s no climbing competition to get ready for, or you’re used to climbing the same problems or route. In short, there is a lack of challenge to your practice which causes this plateau.
The thing with Sports Climbing is that it’s a highly specialized sport. It is a combination of good technique and a strong physical background. It goes hand in hand and training these two aspects simultaneously, can be tricky. When you can’t finish a route, it may be because you lack the physical strength to do so, or you’re not using your energy efficiently by not utilizing foot techniques. Either way, it may be tricky to keep up with the whole affair.
How to be time-efficient
Say you only have 2-3 hours per session, twice a week, and you want to maximize that time. Here’s a simple guide that will make each minute of training worth it. A simple guide on how to train both the physical and the technical aspects of climbing:
• 15 minutes - Stretching and warm-up. Check out our blog post about "Awesome Stretches Before Hitting the Wall - How Flexible are You?"
• 45 minutes - Project routes on what you find to be the hardest wall
• 60-90 minutes - Climb up and down laps on easy to moderate walls (3-5 at a time. Remember to take 10 minutes rest in between)
• 15-30 minutes - Stretching and cool down - Do not skip this step. We know that stretching can feel a bit redundant, but it is important both to avoid sore muscles but also to improve your flexibility.
Why start with the hardest wall?
At the beginning of your training, your brain is ready to gain information. Your body, still up and fresh is ready to store muscle memory from exploring new routes. Climbers need to expand their repertoire of techniques since each wall is different from the next. Having a vast set of knowledge can help you become a better climber since you’ll be better equipped when faced with a new route or boulder problem.
Why end with laps?
You usually hear climbers say that they’re “pumped”. This pertains to their sore forearms, which when not trained enough, can get easily tired. To keep this from happening, you need laps (climbing up and down a wall via top rope) to gain endurance. Easy-moderate walls are great for strength training because the routes are not too hard to climb, and movements become second nature since your muscles have memorized the move sequence. With laps, you are also able to maintain your blood pressure for a longer period of time (20-30 minutes) which can enhance your strength altogether.
How often should you climb?
It really depends on your situation, but training 2-3 a week is recommendable due to the theory of super-compensation. Ideally, when we experience fatigue, our body overcompensates by giving more hormones to rejuvenate our muscles. We should take advantage of this super-compensation (happens 2-3 days after training) to sustain a slow and steady increase in progress.
There you go, a quick and easy guide on how to take your climbing to the next level. However, if you’re looking for something more short term and you want to get better fast, you may opt for periodization, but then that’s a different story and a whole new set-up.
Have any questions about how to take your climbing to the next level? Please don't hesitate to reach out to us!