2020 has been an extremely challenging year for us all. We are all guilty (myself included) of not making time for ourselves and looking enviously at others’ lives, mostly through social media channels, and thinking “where do they get all this spare time from? I wish I climbed as much as they do”.
It is more important than ever to make time for your own climbing and to begin to prioritise your own physical and mental health. And what better time to start than in January. Here are 5 super simple tips.
Start with a (SMART) Goal
Ah goals. That one thing that seems to elude my training plan as often as Leeds Utd’s strikers
SMART objectives are: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-based.
An example of a SMART objective for a V3 climber could be: “By developing a training schedule and climbing at Freeklime twice a week, I want to climb a V4 before the end of March”
While setting SMART objectives can provide a yardstick by which you can measure your progress, it is just a goal and by no means is it a given that you will achieve your goals. I rarely, if ever, achieve mine.
Start a routine and stick to it
It is simply unsustainable and unrealistic to climb 6 or 7 days a week. You will tire yourself out, go backwards and ultimately, risk injury which would put you back further. Create a climbing calendar for the month. I personally aim for 8-10 hours of training per week, which I find is plenty.
The power of increments
Instead of having a big hairy goal looming over you, breakdown your year into small, measurable objectives you can tick off. Something to be weary of is that by focusing on 1 single boulder problem or route, you risk compromising other aspects of your climbing performance. Train little and often, try different routes/problems and mix up your climbing styles.
Surround yourself with psyched people
This one is a no brainer. Having psyched climbing partners is a great tool to help stay motivated, helping you reach your goals.
Remember that climbing is meant to be fun. While it is great to climb with people who are constantly pushing you, it is equally important to have fun and enjoy someone’s company, irrespective of the grade you happen to be climbing.
Mix it up
This section might be a bit techy, so bear with me.
I try to mix up all aspects of my climbing. Luckily, in the UK we are blessed with huge variety when it comes to rock types, climbing styles and, of course, the fickle British weather.
Broadly, I spend October – March bouldering outside on gritstone and sandstone crags. I will focus almost exclusively on power-based training methods from September through to February, as most of my goals will be less than 10 moves. Typically, this will take the form of climbing a lot on the 40-degree board and some fingerboarding, supplemented with some movement-based training (both steep and slab terrain). The movement training is particularly important and is often overlooked in favour of strength-based training. Just look at how much jumping around Shauna Coxey does on her Instagram. This is called the ‘Movement Economy’ (Lattice). Strong fingers and big biceps will only get you so far if your footwork is not up to scratch. “Strength is only a strength if you can use it”
During April – September I will move my focus predominantly to route climbing (both trad and sport). This time of the year tends to lend itself more naturally to route climbing and I often find my motivation for bouldering dwindles somewhat as temperatures start to climb. I will focus predominantly on aerobic fitness and endurance (circuit training, running etc.) which I will supplement with some power (Less than 10 moves), power endurance training (10-20 moves) and movement-based training.