Here we go, part 2 of how to simplify your climbing training.
In part 1 we established that simply saying “keep it simple” isn’t enough. We have to define what simplicity is and actually ‘do’ simple. It’s great talking about this term but if we don’t know what it is for us and our specific context, we’ll just succumb to SOS (shiny object syndrome) and random, nonsensical training.
Part 1 also covered the fact that climbing is (as we all know) a largely technical sport. Strength and endurance matter but not as much as our skill level. Lastly, we went over how we shouldn’t chase intensity (I.e train more, perform less) or forget that actual climbing needs to form the vast majority of our training.
Click here for part 1
So we’ve laid out some theory, but how does this translate to what we do in practice?
Let’s begin by splitting your actual climbing into low and high intensity days. This is of particular importance to those that have passed the beginner stages where “anything goes.”
Have days dedicated to volume or intensity only and not both. In volume sessions, amass a large Vsum (i.e. total number of problems completed in a session) at grades a few notches below your max grade. These should be problems you can recover from relatively quickly and do in a few attempts.
In intensity sessions crank the effort level up. Work on problems that are 8-9/10 hard that require focus, planning and plenty of rest between attempts (projecting essentially!). If you’re climbing 3 times per week try splitting volume to intensity sessions in a 2:1 ratio, with the intensity sessions being done on a day where you feel the freshest.
Fingerboards? Campusing? Moonboards? Gym work? – Where do all these things fit into training?
Let me start by saying they all have their place, however for a beginner most of these things are of little relevance.
Strength work in the gym/cardio can be handy for beginners and those lacking basic athleticism and fitness. Gym work here adds a nice bit of variation to training that can help correct imbalances and avoid overuse injuries. For the intermediate/advanced climber, a good general rule of thumb is to limit time in the gym to about a 5th of your overall time spent climbing. For example, if you climb 10hrs/week, spend a maximum of 2hrs in the gym – the key word being MAXIMUM).
Campusing, moonboards and fingerboards then…
Generally these are reserved for those that are firmly in the intermediate/advanced bracket. All the above require very good climbing specific strength and conditioning. They can be very taxing on the body and the forces exerted doing these 3 (even what some dub as moderate efforts), can be very high. If you’ve been climbing less than a year avoid injury and steer clear of these, your time is better off spent actually climbing and simply splitting your days between volume and intensity days.
The day will come when you need an added stimulus like one of the above in order to punch up the grades. However until you genuinely see that one of these things can fix a hole in your skill level that actual climbing cannot fill, just climb.
To the intermediate and advanced climbers, use these tools sparingly. Do not become obsessed with them and think of them as a magic bullet. Yes they may help some weaknesses but beware the amount of time you spend on them. Being good at training for climbing does not guarantee you will be good at climbing.
Focussing on fingerboards specifically for a second though, the protocol known as “Density hangs” can be a great way of learning how to safely use a fingerboard whilst helping fingers recover between climbing sessions. Even if you’re relatively new to climbing, density hangs can be modified to suit most ability levels. If you’re super keen on including the fingerboard into your regime, these would be the protocol I’d recommend the most. Once or twice per week performing density hangs can benefit most climbers whilst not interrupting training efficacy.
So there we have it, training simplified! I sincerely hope this has helped clear a few things up for you all. Any questions, as ever, please just get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org or via my instagram – @will_green_kinesis.