/ How hard can you climb without training?

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tom_cart - on 22 Apr 2012
After a long hiatus I started climbing again back in October, and I've been loving it.

Twice a week has recently become four or five and im now able to lead around sport 6b and boulder around v4/5.

The thing is, I think the main reason in enjoying it is that I'm not training, just climbing. I've got no programme, rarely to more than 5/10mins of fingerboards, and if I'm not feeling like it I just don't go.

My question is when do people find they plateau without structured training? Do some casually float up v10 or are there some clearer limits? Is there a Good half way house between a grinding training programme and a casual climb?
wushu - on 22 Apr 2012
In reply to tom_cart: I found and a few of my friends I grew up climbing with found that it is relatively straight forward getting up to V8, but to then move further past this grade specific training is needed.
Al Randall on 22 Apr 2012
In reply to tom_cart: I hate training, even indoors I treat it like another climbing session. The best I have achieved on this basis i.e. just getting in the mileage is E4 and F7a both on sight but this is a very personal thing.

Al
tom_cart - on 22 Apr 2012
In reply to Al Randall:

That's pretty good. Was that just a natural bit of form, or a grade you found you could consistently repeat but not better?

I agree on the 'it's personal' thing but it's interesting to get an idea of how these things go for others.
Anonymous on 22 Apr 2012 - cpc21-harb8-2-0-cust333.perr.cable.virginmedia.com
In reply to tom_cart:
I am climbing V6/7 and still improving without training, and don't touch anything over 10-20 degrees overhang or a fingerboard. Its slower though, 2 1/2 years to this point
Al Randall on 22 Apr 2012
In reply to tom_cart: I think that I peaked at that level and at the time realised and accepted that to improve on that would require some structured serious training which I was not prepared to do. It did require a lot of mileage however including indoors but I did perform at that level consistently. I think that my "natural" level is probably E2,5b and I can get usually get up that even after a layoff. The key grade for me has always been 5c and has been since the late 60's. I have always thought that you could get a fit but talented novice up a 5b but 5c seems to require a little more effort and trickery/technique. Others may put that grade either higher or lower but that is my experience.

Al
Bob Kemp - on 22 Apr 2012
In reply to Al Randall:
A friend of mine, a much better climber, gave up climbing in the late '70s for a long while after an early failure on Footless Crow, then E5. He realised he was never going to achieve that standard without training and he wasn't prepared to do more than the traditional night's cragging during the week (he considered training both painful and unethical!). Fits with with your peak of E4, that being about the hardest grade he'd ever got up before then.
The Ex-Engineer - on 22 Apr 2012
In reply to tom_cart: If you live somewhere like Spain and can go climbing outside 300+ days per year then there are enough people out there who prove you can probably get to around f8b without doing anything other than just going cragging for a decade.

The only reason to 'train' is that you can't 'climb' enough or you are concerned more about you speed of progress than enjoying the journey.

However, you can't get away from the fact that improvement is directly related to the volume and quality of climbing (or training) that you do.




tom_cart - on 22 Apr 2012
In reply to Bob Kemp:

E4/5 on a couple of outings a week seems pretty impressive.

I like the training is unethical angle. I think if I were to start some kind of routine I'd just immediately break it in the pub...
Skyfall - on 22 Apr 2012
In reply to Al Randall:

> my "natural" level is probably E2,5b and I can get usually get up that even after a layoff. The key grade for me has always been 5c

Yes, I'd agree; I can quickly get back up to 5b English trad and E1 or even the odd 'soft' E2 (normally bold but easy) but I find I come to a halt at that point. And f6a+/b onsight sports climbing. That's doing a couple of unstructured wall sessions each week and climbing outside every couple of weeks and on hols of course.

My goal this year is to do some simple structured training (which prompted some long threads a couple of weeks back) and push on and tick some of those classic harder E2's etc.

I know that quite a few people find it a lot easier than that and I am just relaying how it feels to me.
johncoxmysteriously - on 23 Apr 2012
In reply to The Ex-Engineer:

Yeah, exactly. I have friends who live in Montpellier and climb 8b (him) and 7c (her, started three years ago), and they do no training at all, other than going to the crag four times a week in the summer.

It rather depends what you mean by "training". If you mean circuits, fingerboards, campusing and whatnot then you can climb pretty damned hard without any of that stuff. When I was climbing a lot I knew loads of people who were climbing E5/6 and F7b or so without doing anything other than going down the wall twice a week and playing about, and we weren't anything special; I'm sure strong and able young people climb much, much harder on that basis or less. Mind you, I suspect that's probably more useful than something "structured" by most people, since most of us don't really have any idea what we should actually be doing.

jcm
aretherenoneleft on 23 Apr 2012
In reply to tom_cart: I just climb as often as possible which is usually 5/6 days a week, indoors week nights and outdoors weekends, and I currently climb font7b+ and getting close to doing a couple of 7c's.
tom_cart - on 23 Apr 2012
In reply to aretherenoneleft:

Do you find yourself doing campus board stuff or just problems?
aretherenoneleft on 23 Apr 2012
In reply to tom_cart: I've never done any specific training and when im bouldering at the indoor wall i treat it as just climbing/having fun. Thats not to say i dont push myself though.
Fraser on 23 Apr 2012
In reply to tom_cart:

Ask Chris Sharma - , he doesn't train (allegedly), he only climbs.
ericinbristol - on 24 Apr 2012
In reply to tom_cart:

The good thing about this question is that people tend to focus too much on training physical power/endurance in comparison with other things that can help them climb harder, especially tactics. Learning, applying and refining tactics is a form of training. It's worth distinguishing that from just going climbing in a casual/haphazard way. I climb outdoors twice a week for about half the year and once a week at most for the other half with only the occasional session indoors. Just on that I redpointed F7c last year and am on the brink of redpointing F7c+. I choose projects that play to my strengths and then put the emphasis on getting the route wired and my sequence perfect, the clips just right, looking really hard for rests and semi-rests, being relaxed about falling and so on. I develop some route-specific power/endurance as a by-product of working a route but that's it: no fingerboarding and so on. I find it fun seeing what I can climb while being physically weak and short on endurance.
Quiddity - on 24 Apr 2012
In reply to Fraser:

> Ask Chris Sharma - , he doesn't train (allegedly), he only climbs.

False dichotomy. It depends entirely on how you define 'training' and what people mean when you say/hear 'climbing'.

If you take a loose definition of 'training' as any activity that you do, not for its immediate benefits but systematically with the rationale of advancing you to some specific end state over a longer timescale, then yes, what Sharma does when he 'only' goes to the crag 6 days a week, is training (even if he doesn't think of it as such).
ericinbristol - on 24 Apr 2012
In reply to Quiddity:

Spot on.
tom_cart - on 24 Apr 2012
In reply to Quiddity:

I guess that's what I was getting at, the message seems to be that frequent climbing without 'writing things down' can get you up to some pretty strong grades. Ericinbristol makes a good point though, that you can get more out of this by thinking about the type of climbing you want to do and giving that some focus, rather than just sticking a pin in a guidebook.
Fraser on 24 Apr 2012
In reply to Quiddity:

Well, it's not really a dichotomy is it. And anyway I'd agree, climbing is training, especially the way he does it.
Robert Durran - on 24 Apr 2012
In reply to ericinbristol:
I choose projects that play to my strengths and then put the emphasis on getting the route wired.

You have perhaps answered a slightly different but related question: how hard can you climb if you only redpoint, only climb one style of route, and then work it to death?!
ericinbristol - on 24 Apr 2012
In reply to Robert Durran:

Sigh, argumentative. I don't only redpoint. Feel free to click on my profile if you are interested in knowing more.
Quarryboy - on 24 Apr 2012
In reply to tom_cart:

Martin Crocker told me that he has never trained and just got good by climbing a lot for a long period of time and I think most people will agree with me that he is definitely one of the better climbers around.
The Norris - on 24 Apr 2012
In reply to tom_cart:

I'm a punter through and through but attempted proper training for about 6 months or so, every time i got better i got injured and couldnt climb for a few months. I've gone back to being a punter! much more fun and less painful. My max without training is about 6a/6a+ sport as far as i can work out.
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Ciro - on 24 Apr 2012
In reply to ericinbristol:
> (In reply to tom_cart)
>
> The good thing about this question is that people tend to focus too much on training physical power/endurance in comparison with other things that can help them climb harder, especially tactics. Learning, applying and refining tactics is a form of training. It's worth distinguishing that from just going climbing in a casual/haphazard way. I climb outdoors twice a week for about half the year and once a week at most for the other half with only the occasional session indoors. Just on that I redpointed F7c last year and am on the brink of redpointing F7c+. I choose projects that play to my strengths and then put the emphasis on getting the route wired and my sequence perfect, the clips just right, looking really hard for rests and semi-rests, being relaxed about falling and so on. I develop some route-specific power/endurance as a by-product of working a route but that's it: no fingerboarding and so on. I find it fun seeing what I can climb while being physically weak and short on endurance.

Spot on. Whilst specific training is quite likely to be necessary to push near the upper boundaries of the sport (for all but a very lucky talented few), the rest of us punters can go a long way just by paying a lot of attention to learning how to climb better, and the best part about that is you can keep learning movement for the rest of your life.

The day I sent my first 7b project, feeling pretty pleased with myself for knocking it off in just four days, a 62 year old French lady walked up and onsighted it. According to her husband, she was still capable of redpointing 8a. I could be wrong, but I find it unlikely she spends her evenings on a 45 degree systems board.

For me, I do a lot more gym climbing, but most of the time indoors I'm still just doing "routes". In the past I found any sort of fingerboard training, or concerted effort to boulder for anything more than warming up caused me finger injuries, so I just didn't bother. I'm starting to find finger strength a limiting factor in my routes climbing now though at around 7b+ (I've never sent a problem above V5, which isn't an unreasonable crux sequence at that grade) so I'm going to give finger strength training another try... hoping the tendons have toughened up enough in the meantime.

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