Feb 7, 2011

The Climbing Lab’s Training Rules

Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.
Dalai Lama

1. Don’t Injure Yourself

If you injured yourself, either acutely or chronically, you can’t train effectively or efficiently. The easiest way is stop doing stupid stuff. You don’t have to try every arbitrary move in the gym. That double gaston move might be a routesetter's wet dream but it is your shoulder’s nightmare. Most importantly - DON'T DO INDOOR DYNOS! No matter how rad they are or how sexy the climbing nugget is. Don’t campus when tired, either at the end of a hard day or a hard cycle. Drink some water. Stretch a little (but not too much). Occasionally do a push exercise. Get a spotter. Get a good spotter. Throw a rope down that highball. Some people might not sign your scorecard (Who cares?). Make sure you are playing by your own rules not someone else’s rules.

3. Have A Climbing Goal

A goal focuses and compels training. Have something you are striving for. People frequently pick a grade goal. That is dumbing down climbing. Climbing can be much more than that. Pick a goal that makes you grow as a climber and a person. How about an experience goal? My favorite goal is travel to a new climbing area and attempt all the 5 star climbs. It means have to get better and very specifically better. If I’m going to Hueco, I throw more crimp and roofs into the training mix. If I’m going to Indian Creek, I run laps on greasy indoor splitters and try not to get MRSA (not linking that one). S.M.A.R.T. is a good starting point.

4. Create Your Own Benchmarks
Benchmarks are signposts on the path of progress towards your goal. 1-arm pull-ups are rad. But is that really your benchmark? Running a 5k in 16 minutes is rad. But is that really your benchmark? An arbitrary wieghtroom movement at an arbitrary weight could be rad. But is that really your benchmark? Grades are finicky but better than the above stuff. Test-piece climbs, preferable outside, make for great benchmarks.

5. Always Progress
Are you better, the same, or worse that yesterday, last week, or last year? Are you closer or father from your goal? If the answer is better and closer, than what you are doing is working. Keep doing what you're doing or as the kids say today, "KFTC." If the answer is not better, stop KFTC. You can't improve all things all the time, unless you are a rank novice, but something should be improving. Good things to be improving are technique and strength.

6. Improve Technique
Technique is the successful application of strength. Technique is the magically pixie dust that instantly makes you a better climber. It is free money on the table. Take it. Get a Flip Camera, video tape your training, and examine your faults frame-by-frame (if you are sadistic bastard like me). A wise man said, "If it is important, do it everyday." I don't warm-up anymore. I work "technique" for 30-45 minute at the beginning of every session.

7. Improve Strength
Strength is the successful application of technique. Strength is like salt. It makes everything better. Always remember, it is hard to acquire unless you focus on it. Additionally, strength is specific. What does that mean for climbing? Your fingers are primary. Everything else is a distant second. Dust off the hangboard today.