/ 'The best way to improve your climbing is to climb more'?
I used to climb lots and I was OK at it. I was much better outdoors. Now I don't get the chance as I have moved to Kent (grumble grumble...)
I reckon I can get to a wall twice a month because its quite a drive away. This is clearly not enough to improve my climbing again. Does anyone have any ideas about how I could still improve, even with not climbing so often? Chances are I won't be living in Kent forever, and when I move back to the mountains I'd like to be able to do the routes I used to (and new ones!).
I do pump (weights) and cardio type classes at the gym (4-5 per week) for general fitness but would like to improve my climbing specifically.
Any help would be very gladly appreciated!
Thank you :)
From experience, keep fit but don't get too heavy putting lots of gym muscle on. Ok, it might make you feel better but you'll probably climb better if a bit lighter. I lost best part of a stone in muscle bulk and my climbing grades shot up.
What about your southern sandstone in Kent anyway?
I think you either need to find a way to go climbing more or take the hit.
Climbing's all about moving well through practice, and gaining confidence, through practice. Without practice, all you can gain is a bit of strength, which won't help much without the other skills in place.
If you can't sacrifice climbing, you'll need to put more effort into making the opportunities, and when you do go, make it count.
i only climb once a week maybe twice but i do alot of training at home etc but yet i can still climb f7a+ its all down to personal preference
Build yourself a training wall in your garage/loft/garden/spare room.
Wood's cheap, plenty of designs on the web but it's not rocket science, just ensure your frame and supports are thick. holds from ebay and nuts and bolts from banana fingers. Throw a bouldering matt under it and you're away!
Took my and a friend just under a day to construct mine and i'm on it 3-4 nights a week for at least 30mins. I've noticed the gains too. mine is set at an angle of 39degrees (we were aiming for 30 but a protractor meant for high school maths is prone to exacerbating systematic errors). My grip and crimp strength and faith in fingertip friction is very good these days.
the best way to improve is to train AND climb more.
hit the wall/rock when you can, do climbing-specific training when you cant, stick with some of the gym stuff because theres more to life than just climbing.
as it goes, most gyms have ample stuff for climbing-specific training. almost anything body weight helps, then add weight to that stuff.
static hangs/holds, balance stuff, HIT etc all help.
do waht you can, and maybe concentrate your climbing days into multi-day sessions that optimize time-on-rock.
2) Eat well, I find a Paleo diet is superb for keeping lean and strong
3) Keep up your cardio fitness, cycling, running etc
4) Get to a crag or wall whenever possible
Should work a treat!
Thank you so much for all your tips.
I can't wait til summer - more time to actually climb :)
Southern Sandstone can't be a million miles away, make the effort to get out climbing when you can....
Is it only me that thinks finger strength is basically irrelevant for trad below about e3?
Fingerboard & look after your core.
All of the above :)
Where abouts in Kent are you? I spent 2 years in Canterbury and managed to climb a few times a week. There are a few small walls dotted about if you know where to look. As mentioned by a previous poster, Southern Sandstones not to far and although an acquired taste has plenty to go at whatever your grade.
If you're genuinely keen to climb well and you genuinely can't get to the wall or the crag more than once a fortnight your only real option is to build a wall. Failing that, stay in good shape doing something you can enjoy locally, climb when you can and get back into climbing more seriously if and when the opportunity arises.
I'm not far from Ashford. At the moment I work long days so no time in the evenings for more than a quick blast to the gym. Hopefully next year will get a bit easier. But I will def have to have a look at the sandstone for weekends! I'm not sure I've climbed sandstone before.
Yah, fingerboards not really my thing... But all the other tips are fab. Thanks.
> I'm not far from Ashford. At the moment I work long days so no time in the evenings for more than a quick blast to the gym. Hopefully next year will get a bit easier. But I will def have to have a look at the sandstone for weekends! I'm not sure I've climbed sandstone before.
> Yah, fingerboards not really my thing... But all the other tips are fab. Thanks.
If you are time starved you should make fingerboards your thing. Otherwise I've no sympathy for your predicament.
> If you are time starved you should make fingerboards your thing.
For bouldering or hard sport climbing, I'd agree if the OP climbs hard enough already (excessive finger strength with poor technique does not a good climber make). But if the OP is wanting to do trad in the mountains up to E2, a fingerboard is going to be no help whatsoever.
Would be helpful if we knew what the OP was aiming for, and where she is now...
Your an hour's drive away from the southern sandstone crags around Tunbridge Wells. Do you have a car? If so you could get there easily on a weekend. You're three hours from Swanage, which has tons of routes and is plenty adventurous. Three hours is quite a drive, but it's also day-trip territory. For a year those venues will keep you busy, get you fit and improve your technique no end.
If you don't have a car you're bu99ered mind.
Could read lots.
9/10 climbers make the same mistakes and training for peak performance are the two make-yourself-abetter-climber books I've read.
The first has a lot of other info, but mostly says if you want to be better climb more and get over the likely fear of falling.
The second possibly targeted more at mountaineering, suggests gym strength work, good diet, stretching, and a whole lot of other non-climbing things. It struck me as a book about good health as much as climbing.
Both were shortish and easy to read.
Got the rock warriors way to read yet, sounds like a third quite different training book.
Good for you certainly, but doesn't do much for your climbing.
Get a fingerboard
And, Stevie Haston says it helps too, so there ;)
> Get a fingerboard
Rock rings can be a better alternative for some, worth trying both out if you can, some walls have them.
Southern sandstone is an aquired taste but if you can climb English 6a there you can climb it anywhere :)
I also found that I had to do lots of soloing on it as being on a top-rope permanently can make it seem like a shock when you do get on the sharp end.
The moves have to be pretty hard if you need yoga to do them! And I don't think Mr Haston was advocating getting better at climbing by doing yoga instead of climbing, which is the case here.
In general, I'm skeptical that anything other than climbing is really going to help the OP except for not getting fat and doing a few pull-ups, i.e. what she does at the gym already. The forms of training recommended here are in general helpful to people already climbing E5/V8/7b+. Which of course the OP may be, we don't know!
I've known a few climbers where flexibility was the main factor holding them back and yoga very much helped with this. It can also help focus. Active rest isn't climbing either, nor are some mental training techniques. As such either your scepticsm is in direct contradiction to the advice in some of the best books or you don't mean what you say.
All of these things help tremendously if you are also climbing. To get better at anything you have to apply skills to the task in hand, you can't go away and learn loosely related skills in isolation and then hope to come back to the task a year later and be better at it. Mental training, for example, has to be put into practice otherwise it's just a completely theoretical exercise.
> I've known a few climbers where flexibility was the main factor holding them back and yoga very much helped with this.
What sort of grade were they climbing at, though, and how often were they climbing indoors / outdoors?
I think there's a big difference between "can be a limiting factor" and "will always give a noticeable improvement." Dave Mac makes this point in 9/10 Climbers - that when people talk about campusing or fingerboarding or doing weights and point out all the top level climbers who use that sort of training, they forget that that top level climber is also doing absolutely masses of (carefully targeted) actual climbing, on rock and on plastic, and the strength work is a supplement to that. They aren't deciding to replace one of their two climbing evenings a week with a week of weights...
Session of weights, not week of weights.
Although the flipside of that is that he points out that it can help if you do all this stuff as well as climbing as much as possible, rather than instead of it...
> The moves have to be pretty hard if you need yoga to do them! And I don't think Mr Haston was advocating getting better at climbing by doing yoga instead of climbing, which is the case here.
No, the sort of grades I climb aren't that hard. If you won't take my personal experience or Offwidths at it's word then I don't see this conversation going anywhere.
When you do get back into it you'll get back to your previous grade pretty quickly and then can look at improving from there.
I've had a few months off and my grade has dropped a little, all in my head rather than technique or fitness.
If you accept the above then you'll not be disappointed when you get back outdoors...
In order of priority:-
1. If you’re actually keen, stop asking daft questions on the internet and, to coin a phrase, just do it.
2. Make friends with some local climbers who have a car (assuming you don’t).
2a. Ideally, target one of them who is better than you and transform him or her into a boy/girlfriend, although I do realise that other issues arise here.
3. Get out on the sandstone.
4. Build a home wall.
5. Forget cross-training, yoga, dieting and all the other bollocks until you can climb at least F8a and E5, which presumably is not the case at the moment otherwise you wouldn’t need telling this.
I might well have made that last one number one.
> (In reply to SunnySara)
Very poor advice.
You're tasked with getting a complete beginer up a F7a (unaided) as soon as possible. Who you gonna have an easier time with, a generally athletic person with good flexibility or a fat bloke who can't touch his toes?
> No, the sort of grades I climb aren't that hard.
Your profile says you're onsighting UK tech 6a. It's all relative of course, but that could be a different world to the OP, who might want to be confidently storming up mountain VSs, rather than pulling off gritstone contortions you get at 5c upwards (Gumshoe springs to mind for a yoga route!).
I'm not saying yoga is a load of useless crap and isn't helpful for climbing, I'm saying that you can't stop climbing and do other things and expect to get better at climbing. You can have incredibly strong fingers, bags of flexibility, have amazing mental focus when you're sat on the sofa or lying flat on the floor, but when you get to the crag and find yourself trying to climb a jamming crack or a bold slab, or teeter along an exposed traverse, or whatever, all of this stuff is completely useless. You have to be comfortable on the rock to apply any skills or strengths.
I get out climbing loads, and I still don't fail on routes because I'm at the limit of my physical resources (strength, flexibility, etc). I fail because I'm not climbing confidently, efficiently, reading the moves right, going for it, trusting my gear and making what seems like a 50-50 moves but actually it's 90-10, etc etc. I don't need stronger fingers or better flexibility, I need to be a better climber!
> I get out climbing loads, and I still don't fail on routes because I'm at the limit of my physical resources (strength, flexibility, etc). I fail because I'm not climbing confidently, efficiently,
Efficiency.. that's the one. I found this is where yoga helped a lot, simply becuase I could get into body positions I previously could not. Everyone's different so I appreciate this will not be a limiting factor to eveyone, but if the OP has time on his hands it's worth a try.
> Efficiency.. that's the one. I found this is where yoga helped a lot, simply becuase I could get into body positions I previously could not.
What sort of positions are you thinking of here? I normally think of efficiency in terms of spending too long hanging around in stress positions worrying about moves or gear, placing too much gear when I should just keep moving, pulling too hard with my arms when I could be using my legs and so on, and I can't see where more flexibility would be more than a marginal benefit (and this coming from someone more than averagely inflexible) but I'd be interested to be proved wrong.
> You're tasked with getting a complete beginer up a F7a (unaided) as soon as possible. Who you gonna have an easier time with, a generally athletic person with good flexibility or a fat bloke who can't touch his toes?
It’s not a very realistic exercise, though, is it? And not even logical. Obviously I'd be better off with an athletic person, but it doesn't follow that the best thing to do with a non-athletic person would be to start off trying to make him an athletic person instead of trying to teach him how to climb.
Most of us don’t have unlimited time to devote to climbing. If your beginner can spare the time for a bit of yoga between the three or four days climbing a week which are the quickest way to go from beginner to 7a, then by all means do some if you like. But the basics are strength and technique; for most people finding enough time to do as much of those as possible is difficult enough without wasting time stretching.
As to diet, if a fat bloke wanted to lose weight, he’d have done it without needing any advice – anyone who needs telling that hauling excess lard up routes will hold them back is too stupid to achieve much anyway. Sure, if climbing harder is a sufficient motivator, then by all means lose a bit of weight. If we’re talking about fairly recreational climbers, though, then generally it’s not so important to them that they’re going to change their diet from whatever it already is.
Anyway the OP already does weights and cardio 4-5 times a week and I suspect is not a 'fat bloke' Shark is right. If you want to be a good climber and time is short, forget the cardio and get a fingerboard.
You mention the idea of the limiting factor there - I know yoga is popular but I just can't imagine a climber for whom that limiting factor is flexibility or whatever as opposed to a good lead head, stamina, route reading, route tactics etc. I just can't picture the type of climber they would be. Confident, fit, fluid etc but lacking the flexibility for moves - what moves are these, aside from maybe a few choice horror shows, that someone about as flexible as average can't manage? I'm genuinely curious.
I've found one move on a project ever which made me think that more flexibility was actually the easiest way to take the move from barely possible to repeatable.
Yeah, exactly. With most of us the limiting factor is that we’re absolutely rubbish climbers, who are enormously crap at a wide range of skills and strengths which go to make up a good climber and don’t care enough about the fact to make a difference.
Given that it’s entirely possible to climb 8c without being able to touch your toes, it’s hugely unlikely that Offwidth really knows anyone whose ‘limiting factor’ is flexibility.
I suspect that for literally everyone posting on this thread and everyone they know, the true limiting factor is lack of commitment.
> (In reply to Papillon)
I can get my feat higher and and further across, utilise heel hooks I didn't used to be able to get. In those situations you mention (placing gear) I found this hugely beneficial. Where I'd be hanging on getting stressed, gripping harder (situation rapidly deteriorating) I can now relax becuase I feel more secure and concentrate on the next move.
Well, fine, but it’s obvious from what you say that at least one major limiting factor is holding on harder than you need (aka ‘being crap’ in much the same fashion as all the rest of us).
> Well, fine, but it’s obvious from what you say that at least one major limiting factor is holding on harder than you need
But's that's the point, I certainly feel that stretching exercises helped me to become less crap at climbing. As I said above I'm sure it won't help everyone but if you are stuck in Kent I can't see the harm in trying.
Actually, I don’t doubt that for a moment. I’m sure that with most of us anything we do which we think will benefit our climbing will in fact benefit it, by a sort of psychological/placebo effect. That’s the great thing about being so absolutely useless as most of us are – making gains through a better, more confident approach shouldn’t actually be so hard.
I suspect Leo would also recommend spending three months a year in Yosemite.
Being flexible is a real help in arranging wide bridging rests which would otherwise not be available. Anyone else remember the '80s poster of an American soloist on Right Wall? He was resting like this, with his legs more-or-less stuck out sideways.
Didn't that American come from Liverpool? Maybe it was a different poster.
I seriously doubt whether a lack of flexibility is what's keeping most posters from soloing Right Wall.
I might be misremembering the person; I do remember the poster. What was the name of the person from Liverpool.
I agree. Having flexible hips helps a lot: that was my simple point.
And perhaps more relevantly, as an HS-leading bumbly my resting isn't bad because I can't do the splits to get massive wide bridging rests on thin holds, it's bad because I don't really start looking for rests unless I'm basically stood comfortably on a ledge.
Sic transit gloria mundi, as they say. Phil Davidson.
I suspect Mr Davidson spent a lot of time at Pex Hill. Funnily enough, the OP is fairly close to the nearest thing the south east has to Pex Hill.
I've always wondered whether PD got paid for soloing RW again for those photos.
What's the going rate, do we think?
Thanks. My mistake - we're thinking of the same poster I think.
> I'm not far from Ashford. At the moment I work long days so no time in the evenings for more than a quick blast to the gym. Hopefully next year will get a bit easier. But I will def have to have a look at the sandstone for weekends! I'm not sure I've climbed sandstone before.
To be honest, if you drive or have climbing friends who drive then you've got a load of options for weekends - Swanage, Portland, the Peak, Wye Valley, Dartmoor, Baggy Point, South Wales etc. It just takes a bit of determination and a willingness to spend friday night on a motorway and not in the pub...
1) build a decent home woodie and use it
2) travel to crags
If you want it enough, you'll find / make a way for everything necessary to happen.
Have now read some other posts and realised I've just distilled jcm's 12:18 post. That one says it all.
Thanks everyone for your comments. I guess I was hoping for practical ideas/motivation/success stories etc... from some of the forum users. :)
In reply to some of your speculations, I am a real person (hehe!), I used to climb 6a/6b, depending on where and what and how I was feeling etc - so not a V12!! I much prefer climbing outdoors for the fun of it, but want to improve so that I won't fall off all the lovely routes I used to climb when I go back. I don't enjoy indoors so much, but I'll take it in the absence of better!
My fitness levels are improving, but I'm not a super fit athlete type - also not a "fat bloke" ;)
I am finding that with my gym sessions I am putting on weight (muscle gain, I know) though slimming down. Perhaps this may hinder climbing, but I'm hoping the effects are minimal!
Flexibility is most def not a limiting factor - I am flexible enough :) I was just wondering because
I have ordered a sandstone guidebook (hurrah!) and look forward to exploring. Have a car - just need more hours in the day now. Roll on summer!!
Edit: I have no idea what I was wondering. Forgot to finish that sentence...
Nah.. JCM knows everything so Leo must be just pushing one of his sponsors.
I'll believe the real stars who (I've clearly fantasised) tell me the benefits of training flexibility, face-to-face, and the excellent climbing training books on the subject, over the likes of JCM anyday (wrong as I therefore must be as well). The whole point of looking at weaknesses is to improve climbing which may not always be the same thing as improving grades (it might make it a more comfortable physical experience, or broaden your grade range). A climber capable of F8c who currently can't touch his toes simply because he can't be bothered to train flxibility (which could then enable that) seems to me to pretty dumb.
Where I will more likley agree with JCM is other weaknesses hold climbers back way more often.
My climb more would be to push your limits often (but listen to your body and don't overdo it) and climb as much as you can with better climbers. Volume in itself just isn't so helpful.
Does Dave Macleod in 9/10 Climbers count as a real star and an excellent climbing training book? Because, without quoting the entire section, he basically says that it might be worth working a few stretches - specifically for hip flexibility - into gaps (rests etc) in your training session, but unless you've got almost unlimited time to train (which I'd guess is the point for the likes of Leo Houlding), then from a climbing point of view an evening a week spent doing yoga or a session working specifically on flexibility is basically a waste of an evening that could be more productively spent bouldering.
And FWIW, self coached climber (the only other training type book I've got) doesn't mention stretches at all as far as I can see...
Just a thought - have you considered weekend trips to Font? Easy if you're in Kent.
> Just a thought - have you considered weekend trips to Font? Easy if you're in Kent.
Now that is an excellent point. If there's one thing that's bound to improve your climbing, it's climbing in Font.
And living in Kent you could easily be there by 11pm on a Friday night.
If it's a weakness train it, if it's not, train another weakness. That's all I'm trying to say (and the advice I've been given). I'm not suggesting everyone takes up yoga but it has produced clear and surprising benefits for a minority in climbing (and on focus as well as flexibility). IMHO stetches should be in any training book as they should be a standard part of any warm down and because they can be done wrong and cause injury.
Even if I had the time and patience for a warm down they wouldn't be in mine
You are all however missing the importance of it in regards to training. Ok so you are climbing amazingly and can touch your toes. Stretching also promotes speedy recovery meaning on day 3 you can climb harder, it also prepares the muscles to avoid injury.. also you are all stretching without realising it during your warm up climbs etc. As for specific flexibility training like yoga, yoga is also about breathing balance and meditation (state of mind) whilst in strenuous positions, both of which are important in climbing.
Then there is that move, the one that is out of your flexibility range, maybe a head height heel hook on crimps where all the power for the next hold comes from that leg. You might be able to pull it off, even if it does hurt for the few seconds it takes to execute the move. What are the chances of a serious injury eventually, quite high ids say.
It doesn't promote speedy recovery and it doesn't prevent injury.
> It doesn't promote speedy recovery and it doesn't prevent injury.
You're right about this ^ but:
"Flexibility helps more than one would think. It is not so hard to improve it, 5 minutes a day is enough."
from Adam Ondra http://www.mountainsandwater.com/2012/03/interview-with-adam-ondra.html
It's not about making impossible moves possible, as someone else said above you don't know how much it helps until you have it. Can be done during fingerboarding or circuits.
To the OP, build your own small wall, or get a fingerboard. If you're time starved you're far more likely to have a quick blast if it's in the house with your weekend outdoors as motivation, (and it's not so different from going to a gym, you can get to enjoy it for it's own sake)
'kinell. All right, here's a fact for you.
"It is deeply controversial whether or not stretching promotes athletic recovery and many sources can be found on the internet stating 'authoritatively' both that it does and that it does not."
Yes I wish they would, and not regurgitate others opinion as fact. There is much debate on stretching for injury prevention, especially when done pre sport as part of a warmup.
Now for a link to something actually research based rather than plucked from the net........ http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/15233597/
Awesome. No doubt you've read the below then.
General comment: yoga isn't about flexibility. If you want more flexible hamstrings, just stretch your hamstrings.
I've found that yoga helps me to climb significantly above my general level of climbing in some very specific circumstances: most of all, in very slow balancy moves requiring lots of body tension and muscle isolation; bridging (part body tension, part flexibility); and heel hooks (mainly flexibility).
Overall, I'd say having a big background in yoga is directly helpful on less than 5% of routes / problems. The main help is body tension.
However, to develop that skill in yoga will take at least a couple of years of dedicated practice -- good teacher, several times a week.
In other words, it's a totally inefficient way of becoming a better climber. Much better to develop the body tension / bridging etc. stuff just by climbing.
But I would highly recommend six weeks of yoga classes as part of a break from climbing to deal with overuse injuries.
There is another advantage of Yoga for climbers.
Because climbing is such a narrow sport it can, if left uncorrected, lead to strength imbalances and postural issues which can cause injuries notably to the elbows, shoulders and back.
Yoga is one way to address this. Weights and specific stretches (yes)are another.
It might also help towards becoming less wound up on UKC.
Sack off stretching/yoga and just do lots of pull-ups, deadhangs, leg raises, dishes, planks and pressups.
Quoting an internet article which is basically opinion isn't "doing research"
Agreed, great point! I guess it can't be stressed enough that the best way to improve is to climb, and you can't climb if you're injured. Yoga is great for postural issues, especially the stooped boulderer look, and judging from my partner's experience with remedial yoga, very good for elbow & shoulder overuse injuries. For example, the standard stretches for elbow tendonitis are something you do all the time anyway in yoga, likewise scapular stabilisation exercises.
Personally I also do a fair bit of resistance exercise for forearm extensors (I got these rubber band things from Ironmind which are great), I think it would be hard to replicate that with yoga, and it's such an important counterbalance for climbers.
Of course, there's also the campus board. Especially one handed, so when you injure one hand, you can switch to the other.
YES! Awesome idea! I'll get right to it...
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