Climbing of late has just not seemed that fun. Here's why. I am a fiery girl, love intensity and the pursuit of a goal. When I just flitter around from one route to the next with no real direction, I enjoy being outside and enjoy the company, but I am not that excited about the climbing. I like the challenge of figuring something out and working at it until I can reap the reward of that moment where I get out of the way and somehow this body of mine gets to the top. That elusive state of flow where the mind stops its chatter and the experience of connection to something bigger than little ol' me occurs.
But for that to happen, I train. I focus my energy when I go to the gym on getting my body prepared to achieve that state. The more in tune with my strength and my adaptability, my capacity and most importantly, my will, I am, the easier it is for me to achieve that state of focus and eventual flow.
Ah.... great question.... what do I train? I like to think I am pretty good at climbing efficiently, so I train strength. If you are looking to see a plan, here you go. BUT - be aware that this plan was designed specifically for me and I know my strengths and weaknesses, I know when I am over doing (usually). I welcome you to use this plan, but remember, this may not be the best plan for you. If you want to work with me and get a plan... just let me know.
A Climbing Training Plan
Designed to develop back and shoulder strength and grip strength
GOAL: Name a goal you want to achieve in 3 months.
CURRENT HARDEST REDPOINT: List your hardest route to date & how many tries it took to complete the route.
CURRENT CLOSE ONES: List any routes you have not accomplished, but came close.
HARDEST ONSIGHT/FLASH List your hardest onsights or flashes.
Now let’s look at a typical climbing session. Answer the following:
How many routes do you try in a given session in the gym or outside?
Can you give a break down of the number of routes at a given grade? Make sure the grade you describe is in the same format as the grades listed in your reappoint and onsight.
How many tries per route?
How many warm up routes?
How many cool down routes?
How long does the session take you? This gives you an idea of how much you rest.
Basic focus of this plan is to:
The challenge in developing a plan that will work for you is that without knowing where we are starting, it is a bit of guess work and could set you up for injury. If for example, your grip strength is greatly weaker than your back and shoulder strength, you could end up with an activity in this plan that perpetuates an imbalance and could even lead to a strain in the forearm or fingers.
For the best approach to training, I recommend meeting with a coach who can actually assess your strengths and weaknesses and create a plan that is tailored for you.
Cycles for training
How many days a week do you climb?
How many days do you rest between climbing days?
The answer to these questions can be different for each person. My suggestion is that you pick a pattern of climbing to the best of your ability and try to stick to it. I recommend a weekly pattern because most of us have similar schedules week to week.
Here are some ideas:
In this training plan, the goal is to get to a level of fatigue where you do feel tired the second day and notice you cannot climb as hard as day one.
****Disclaimer - this plans not for everyone. Injury or longterm growth development can be negatively impacted if this plan is too ambitious. Check with someone who has a coaching certification, your doctor or a personal trainer before implementing this plan. Youth under 14-15 yrs of age, based on development, should not be adding weight to pull-ups or hangs.
Activities for Training
This workout is designed with someone climbing at a moderate (V4 or 5.12 level). To adjust for someone more in the beginner level (V0, 5.9) Drop 15 sec from hang time and add it to the rest time. Pull-ups can be done with weight taken and definitely do not add weight.
1st min Hang on 2 or 3 finger pocket for 25 sec. Rest 35 sec.
2nd min 5 pull ups - Rest
3rd min Hang sloper (moderate) 40 sec. Rest 20 sec.
4th min. Pull up and hold the lock off for 20 sec. Rest the rest of the min.
5th min. Hang 2 finger pocket 15 sec. Rest 45 sec.
6th min. Pull up with 5 lb weight - 4 over the course of the minute.
7th min. Hang crimp edge 35 sec. Rest 25 sec.
8th min. Pull up and hold the lock off for 20 sec. Rest the rest of the min.
9th min. Pinches 40 sec. Rest 20 sec.
10th min. Pull up half way - arms at 45 degrees - stay as long as you can.
11th min. Slopers - max hang time. Hopefully over 60 sec. This is a time to cultivate persistence attitude. TRY HARD.
Try to build up to 3 sets of this workout.
After Set 3 and Hangboard workout - do whatever you like.
If this hang board plan is easily accomplished for you - add 15 sec. to hang times and decrease the 15 sec from rest time. Increase the weight added incrementally until you find the degree of weight that compromises your form.
Mental training tactic development -
What level of difficulty is the right level for you?
Activities will be described and when to implement these activities will be outlined. You will have to use the guidelines of where your current redpoint and onsight levels are. As a guide, I typically recommend a 3-4 grade difference between your hardest redpoint and onsight. For example, if I can onsight V4, ideally, I would be able to project V7 or 8 and eventually send that grade within 6 months. Keep in mind that grading is subjective and there are countless problems where the grade me be accurate for a climber who is 5’10” and can span a 6’ reach and not at all the same level of difficulty for someone who is 5’1”, spanning only 5’1”. Use a more generalized approach to what feels like what you can project and eventually do, versus could do relatively quickly.
Cycle of Training 2 on 1 off, 2 on, 2 off
1st day - Project day on Route just below redpoint level
WITH EACH TRY RECORD THE ATTITUDE LITMUS TEST DESCRIBED ABOVE
Set 1 8-10 attempts on level just below your redpoint - route should be on a 10 degree -30 degree wall.
Rest 5 min
Rest 5 min
Set 2 Repeat above or select new project. Same rules apply.
Set 3 Repeat
2nd Day on
Focus is volume- routes at onsight level or just above
Set 1: Climb an onsight route rest 3 min.
Climb just below onsight rest 3 min
Climb at onsight rest 3 min
Climb warm up route rest 3 min.
Set 2 Repeat
Set 3 Repeat
Set 4 Repeat
*If you are falling off early and unable to do routes in 2-3 sections, lower the harder routes.
Rest 12-15 minutes
Repeat the 4 sets.
- Movement exaggeration - Using walls that are 30 degrees or steeper, warm down on easiest routes for you with slow motion climbing OR do these routes with elimination - making the routes big moves and feet not cutting.
Core strength work out. Plank in 1-2 min holds with lift of one foot and push back with toe, reaching for a wall. Alternate legs.
Day 3 - Rest day - Flexibility day
Shoulder openers -
1. Stand against a wall with arms out from shoulders, with backs of arms touching the wall. Bend the elbows to 45 degrees. Keeping the back connected to the wall, raise the arms up toward the ceiling. When arms start to pull from the wall, lower them to the start position. The goal is to be able to lift the upper arms up to vertical.
2. Using a wall, post, place your open hand flat against the wall at shoulder height. With arm extended, rotate away from the wall getting a stretch through the front of the should.
3. Take one arm out to shoulder height with palm facing forward. Rotate the palm so thumb moves down and palms faces behind you, Sweep the hand so the back of the hand lands on the sacrum. Continue to draw the hand across the back body toward the opposite waist. Then bend the elbow and let the hand move up the back toward the centre between the shoulder blades.
Repeat with the opposite arm.
Hip Openers -
Set 1 8-10 attempts on something close to redpoint level - route should be on a 10 degree -30 degree wall.
Rest 5 min
Rest 5 min
Set 2 Repeat above or select new project. Same rules apply.
Set 3 Repeat
Hangboard workout Day 5 - Volume
Just climb lots of routes between just below onsight and two grades below redpoint goal difficulty. Preferably not projecting too much.
Day 6 & 7 Rest Days
Similar to the previous Rest Day.
WEEK 2 - Keep the pattern, number of routes, difficulty and rest the same.
WEEK 3 - WEEK 10
With each progressive week, you will increase the intensity on the first day to more difficult by adding a route of a harder grade OR doing one more set,
Initially do not reduce rest.
After this - check in with me for more ideas.
The beauty of this struggle to send our project is the connection we make sharing the struggle with others, it is the focus we must cultivate, an inner stillness that allows us to remember the nuances. The sense of inner strength to fail again and be patient, curious of how to not fail. The final ingredient is the ability to let go of the struggle, even before completing the route without falling.
If your ascents don't have all these ingredients, I would suggest you could be climbing harder.
My mother used to say, "God only gives you what you can handle." Maybe she was right. Or maybe we learn how to handle struggle because of the adversity along the way teaching us what we are capable of. Either way, in struggle, there is the gift of new growth, maturity. In the ease, the opportunity for gratitude and appreciation.
This summer has been busy.... maybe too busy.
Working full time and teaching a Yoga Teacher Training while painting and doing the ongoing maintenance at home, managing the travels of my child and trying to get out climbing makes life feel full, but not so fulfilled.
Fulfillment is unique to each of us. And there is no solution. No end. It is a continual choosing particular actions, words and expression.
Everyday is a balancing act of choosing the things that provide us as much of the fulfillment ingredients, while keeping an eye on getting everything necessary completed.
The world needs you.
Do you know your unique offering to the world?
Ask someone who loves you what it is about you they love.
Do you get to work in a filed that provides you with enough resources and a sense of expression? Look at your debts, your savings. Is it good debt and do your savings out weigh what you owe? Are you living comfortably, with someone to share a meal with?
Do you have time for the pleasures that remind us of the beauty around us in every moment? Plan time each day to do something that gives you at least 30 minutes of joy. Read a good book, journal, walk in nature, talk to someone you love. Hug people.
Are you free from fear and uncertainty? Most have some fear, but do you also have the confidence you can move through the worst.
I am very excited to be filling my cup this fall, check back for details in September.
There are so many great fathers in my life; my teacher, my brother, my brother-in-laws, my friends... they are great in their desire to love.
It is my hope that each day I will pause for a moment and think kindly of all of them, after all, I am so very fortunate to have them in my life.
I leafed through the pages of the women's magazine while I waited for my appointment. A side article about resiliency caught my eye and I quickly read through the story. The gist of it was this... a woman goes on a blind date, has a nice time. On the way home, she is in a terrible car accident and becomes paralyzed, unable to do anything, including talk. Over the months of her recovery, many people, including the young man she was on the date with come and visit her. They just sit and talk to her, read to her. As she goes through the healing process, physically and mentally, she eventually comes to realized that she has come to see that even when she had absolutely nothing to offer, she was loved.
Wow! How may of us truly believe this about ourselves? My hazard at a guess, with a quick look around the world around me, is not very many.
I asked myself that question - Do I believe I am worthy of love even if I have absolutely nothing to offer?
Cultivating Self Worth
1. Self Care
When we value our health and our well being, we give ourselves permission to be worthy. Even if you struggle a little with believing in your own worthiness, take some time to do something for your body or your mind. That might be eating a healthy meal, a massage, a walk in nature, taking a dog for a walk. No competition, no selfies, no box to tick. This is something you do for YOU. Sure maybe you have issues with eating unhealthy and beat yourself up about it most of the time. This time just eat to nourish yourself. And focus on just this time. To make this really about nourishing is the key. It is not doing for the sake of doing, it is an act of self appreciation.
This can be cleaning your home, or your car. Just make sure that when the task is being done, you recognize the effort of doing this for yourself. You want a clean home to be in. You want a clean body, with clean clothes. Cleaning removes the past, the negativity, purifying our senses. Breathe in the smell of cleanliness and the lightness of a more organized space. The beauty of a clean environment. You deserve to be in such a space.
Find some friends, find a friend and play a game. It could be tag, it could be tossing rocks into the ocean, it could be frisbee. Just play. To play allows you to stop taking yourself so seriously. Get out of your mind and into your body. When you reconnect to the physical body, the mind becomes less serious, worried. We laugh and we heal the stress in our body. With less stress, the heart and body relax.
4. Let Go
The whole world and everything that happens in it is not about you. It is about all the multitudes of threads running through it. Often times we believe that we are the centre of the Universe and all that is happening is because of us. But that is not true. All that happens, happens because of the interplay of many karmic seeds. Sure your karmic seeds have something to do with you being in the situation, but lots of others seeds also influence that situation.
5. Be kind
If a friend or your child were to ask you if s/he was worthy of love, I am fairly certain most of us would agree without hesitation that yes, they definitely were. So be your own best friend. Do unto yourself as you would do unto another whom you love.
The room is packed, the MC is encouraging the crowd to make some noise and show their enthusiasm for the competitors as the first two appear, making their way to the routes. Just about all who see me there ask me if I am competing or suggest that I should compete. I am not sure why they believe this. Perhaps because 100 years ago I was a strong climber. But that was a lifetime ago... at least it seems like a lifetime to me.
I encourage and guide the youth I coach, I hug and try to uplift, and celebrate my friends as each competes on these routes.
"I was surprised by how many tears I saw this morning." remarks one fellow coach.
I am not surprised. Competitions are like mini versions of our life which we create and shore up with successes. Not doing well at a competition leaves one feeling like they will not thrive within the community and perhaps will be placed on the lowest rung of value in the eyes of their peers.
Of course, most have not taken the time to consider why they are competing. Most are simply responding to the same question or comment I get as a person within the climbing community... "you should compete."
I am a thinker and I have considered "why I climb" and here is what I know. I enjoy connecting with someone. I enjoy the process of trying to unlock the secret that will enable me to get to the top. I enjoy sharing that discussion and trial and error with someone who like me also wants to grow in their potential. I enjoy the creative process and the focus required to put the pieces together. And I love sharing that with someone who seems as excited about the process as I am.
"You do better on reds than you do on blues. I don't know why you even bother with blues."
"You're right. I don't want blues. I don't feel bad falling off reds."
Yep... mentally I don't push myself on what I think I should do. I do not commit and so, they often become a greater frustration than something harder.
There is an amazing sense of satisfaction when you finally complete that ever sought after ascent. Or there can just be piles upon piles of frustration in the process.
Just as with anything in life.
Spend a little time in the yoga world and it won't be long before you hear, "just surrender and let go."
What the hell? How do you try hard and let go at the same time?
Letting go of things needing to be different RIGHT NOW, is what surrender actually means.. It is a willingness to be happy, content with where you are and the steps you are taking in this moment. It is being happy with all the falling off right now.
For this to work for me, I tell people how many tries I will attempt to climb. I tell people when I will come back. I pay attention to why I fell and focus on choosing the highest probability approach. I ask someone for a power spot. I reverse the move to make sure I know the correct body position. In other words, I do my best to stay focused on the moment and not looking forward to success as much as possible.
FYI, this is what they mean when they say it is a practice. Try it.
She listened as he explained, "I love that my mind has to focus and it is like I leave everything else behind. There is no room for anything else but the route in front of me."
She nodded her head in agreement. "That is why I also love Yoga. When you practice, each posture requires that you pay attention to expansion, creating greater space. Then when you layer attention to breathing in and out at a particular count, the mind becomes very preoccupied with the practice and the concentration draws your energy inward. The final step is to add visualization of the expansion or the internalizing of the energy, the movement. This continuous focus and concentration is where the mind becomes tamed. But the final step is letting go. It is a resting in the quiet nature of mind. In Yoga this happens when you suspend the breath, either after inhale or exhale. In climbing, it is where you stop reacting to the sensory information."
"What do you mean?"
"In climbing for me, when I know the route, I have practiced both physically and mentally and I know exactly what I need to do, I have to give up the urgency to do it. I want to do it, but I have to practice the letting go of the immediacy of the desire. I actually sit and tell people how many tries I will do, when I will return to try again. This allows me to settle the over anxiousness that is so easy for me when it comes to failure. I have to make it okay to fail even when I shouldn't."
That is the zone where all things become possible, both in climbing and Yoga, in life. When we reside in the present moment, that is true freedom.
But first, there must be a willingness to see vulnerability, to be curious, to feel the discomfort of negative feelings and share honestly. Only then can we see strength and courage.