/ why am I not improving

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andy28th - on 15 Mar 2014
Hi, I have been climbing regularly for about 9 months now and for last 4 months have been training indoors about 4 times a week. I have noticed a huge improvement in my stamina and endurance, but for some reason i haven't been able to climb any harder. my limit seems to be 6b+ on lead and around V3 boulder. Can anyone give me some advice on how to progress?
Jon Stewart - on 15 Mar 2014
In reply to andy28th:

Sounds like the kind of level you may well plateau at if you keep doing the same thing.

So, you could either decide what you want to improve and train that specifically (e.g. fingerboard for bouldering, or redpointing for indoor routes), or you could go climbing outside as much as possible and put to use the strength and stamina you've got from the indoor training. I'd suggest that at this time of year, focusing on getting out and doing some good routes would be more rewarding than trying to get higher grades indoors?
Kevster - on 15 Mar 2014
In reply to andy28th:

Experience counts. That means volume of climbs and attempts.
Most of the fun is in learning and getting better. Enjoy.
MischaHY - on 15 Mar 2014
In reply to andy28th:

Welcome to the plateau. Most folks hit it around 6c, and it takes a while to push through, and change in what you're doing each session. Have a look at a few articles on how to take your climbing to the next level, different exercises etc. My top tip would be to boulder more, the stronger you are in bouldering the more you'll be able to push yourself on the routes.
MischaHY - on 15 Mar 2014
In reply to Jon Stewart:

Not specifically directed at you, but there is no way that someone who is climbing V3 should be going anywhere near a fingerboard. IMO anyone climbing under Font 7b doesn't need to go anywhere near them and will only end up injuring themselves in the long run.
Justin T - on 15 Mar 2014
In reply to andy28th:

Firstly identify honestly what's holding you back. You may need the advice of an experienced friend for this. If your stamina and endurance have increased but your grade hasn't here are a few suggestions:
-Fear of falling / failing is holding you back - you're not actually failing at your real limit on routes but a self-imposed mental limit.
-You're wasting energy by using that extra endurance to climb slower and more statically than you used to (common, and not necessarily bad practice if your ambition is to get fit for trad).
-You haven't actually given yourself enough opportunities to try anything harder - you're going down the wall and doing more routes but at the same grade (common).
As far as improving I'd say the biggest piece of advice I would suggest is change what you're doing. Your body adapts very quickly to whatever you're doing, so keeping to the same routines every time you hit the wall is guaranteed to make you plateau. If you mainly go and do routes around your level try working something a few grades harder instead, boulder, do circuits / 4x4s, or try a session where you try to do twice as many routes as normal. Do routes you know aren't your style. Do some fall practice. Lots of it. Go to a new wall. Do some core work. Fingerboard (carefully). Enjoy!
Jon Stewart - on 15 Mar 2014
In reply to MischaHY:

> Not specifically directed at you, but there is no way that someone who is climbing V3 should be going anywhere near a fingerboard. IMO anyone climbing under Font 7b doesn't need to go anywhere near them and will only end up injuring themselves in the long run.

I'm normally very anti-fingerboard too, because I've seen so many climbers with strength far in excess of their technique and basically it just looks horrible. I find it irritating that they can climb harder than me, but badly. But I think that "not under 7b" is overcooking things somewhat.

Personally, I'd have to train finger-strength specifically in order to climb 7a reliably indoors (I've done scores outdoors but very few indoors), I'd never get to 7b without doing something easily as aggressive as fingerboarding.
Morgan P - on 15 Mar 2014
In reply to andy28th:

6b is about the limit of climbs that don't have much of a technical aspect to them. I'd guess that you need to work on practicing more technical moves like drop knees, gastons, flagging and practicing holding different types of holds (crap slopers, pinches, underclings, sidepulls). Having these techniques in your repertoire should unlock a few extra grades before you really need to start working on a fingerboard or anything like that.

UKC has some good articles on improving:
http://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=3804
MischaHY - on 15 Mar 2014
In reply to Jon Stewart:

Fair enough. Personally I've reached a fair level of consistency bouldering 7b through regular training without the use of fingerboarding, aside from the occasional flutter. It's now I'm starting to look at 7c/+ that I'm seeing the need for specific training in finger strength, amongst other things. I've been very focused on technique for years though, and the strength has only come more recently. Hence my encouragement towards randomised training rather than a blocked approach, at least at his specified level. There's no replacement for mileage.
Morgan Woods - on 16 Mar 2014
In reply to andy28th:

- if 6b+ is your limit then how many 6c and 7a's have you tried?

You log seems to be full of easy trad which is fine but it won't help you climb harder. so:

- get out more
- try harder stuff
- be prepared to fail
- climb with people climbing harder than you
- differentiate between onsighting and red pointing and employ the right tactics for each
- get a clip stick
- get some decent sport draws
- if based in england then get down to portland....6b to 7a is well catered there
- keep in mind if you can do v3 comfortably you can do the moves on 90% of routes up to 7a (some may just have a lot of v3 moves)

and remember it's early days!
Jonny2vests - on 16 Mar 2014
In reply to MischaHY:

> Not specifically directed at you, but there is no way that someone who is climbing V3 should be going anywhere near a fingerboard.

Wow. You don't accidentally mean campus board do you? I'd agree with you then. Fingerboards aren't just about fingers, you can get some pretty mellow fingerboards.
David Kay - on 16 Mar 2014
In reply to andy28th:

I've put up a beastmaker 1000 this year and found the training app useful. The holds you start out on are quite low risk too, but to complete a full set is bloody hard work for me. I haven't used it as much as I'd hope though so maybe I just need to get on with it a bit more...

David
Dandan82 - on 16 Mar 2014
In reply to andy28th:

A lot of this is very good advice, at your level my top tip would be to climb with someone better than you.
If you try a hard route and fail, it can feel impossible, you've no idea where you went wrong or how to solve the problem.
If you watch someone else cruise up it, it suddenly doesn't seem too bad, you can spot that they used this foothold instead of that one, turned their hand this way on a particular hold etc, just the mental advantage of seeing that it is possible will make a huge difference.
Also as a reltive beginner you should pick up a lot of technique tips from better climbers, suck it all in!

As an aside, climbing with people better than you is always a great tool for progression no matter what your level.
LeeWood - on 16 Mar 2014
In reply to andy28th:

Yes, tell us whether you can take the falls OK, this is an important limiting factor. How secure do you need to feel in a limiting move? When you frequently perform moves which in retrospect put you 'right on the edge' (and further evidenced by occasional falls) then you'll have confirmation of positive mindset.
MischaHY - on 16 Mar 2014
In reply to Jonny2vests:

No, I meant fingerboard - specifically the small crimps and other tendon-stressing holds. Obviously jugs for pull ups etc aren't going to be included in this.
Jonny2vests - on 16 Mar 2014
In reply to MischaHY:

Yeah, well I just think there's just as much chance of getting injured on a fingerboard as there is with indoor climbing in general.
Fraser on 16 Mar 2014
In reply to andy28th:

> ...for last 4 months have been training indoors about 4 times a week.

Have you actually been 'training' or have you just been climbing 4 times a week? There's a big difference.

My two tips would be:
- get a copy of The Self Coached Climber
- try harder
stp - on 17 Mar 2014
In reply to Fraser:

Yeah agreed. Performance Rock Climbing is also very good.

'Try harder' means getting on harder routes like the 6c's first and keep on trying them until you get up them. Don't go round jumping from one route to another like some people do. Each time you fall off try to figure out why you came off where you did. Don't answer with not enough strength/endurance. You need to figure out better techniques, rests, semi-rests, best way through the crux etc. Were you worried about falling and losing focus for instance? Failure is a great teacher. And pushing yourself harder will make you stronger both mentally and physically.
rurp - on 17 Mar 2014
In reply to andy28th:

I stuck at 6b+ for 18 years having got there in 2 years.

Didn't fall off anything in those 18 years.

I read the rock warriors way and fall off more now, that got me to 7a climbing on average once a week. No stronger but different approach

Don't be tempted to think doing the same and having more experience will make the grades flow!
planetmarshall on 18 Mar 2014
In reply to MischaHY:

Not necessarily disagreeing with you, but while in a workshop with Dave Macleod he identified a specific weakness I had with grip strength and so I bought myself a Beastmaker - I figured that he probably knows what he's talking about.

I don't think that you can necessarily make judgements about what people may or may not need to train to overcome that plateau. Maybe it's stamina, maybe it's power endurance, maybe it's grip strength.

To the OP, you may have reached the peak of what you can achieve by just climbing. You might make gains by trying to identify your weaknesses and taking a more systematic approach to training.
nniff - on 18 Mar 2014
In reply to andy28th:

As a bit of a guess, with not much to go on, I'd say that your strength and stamina have improved by virtue of putting the effort in, but your technique is probably lacking. Watch very carefully how people climbing harder than you move and then go and imitate it. Avoid studying a beast who just stays still and drags the route down towards him - look at someone who makes it look effortless. Watching a good female climber is often instructive, and whilst the overall style may not suit, the cues from the way they move should help significantly.

The answer will more than likely lie in your feet and hips by the way, aided and abetted by your shoulders.
jkarran - on 18 Mar 2014
In reply to andy28th:

I've never reliably got past V3 in over a decade of climbing, sometimes obsessively, sometimes occasionally. I do tick the odd harder problem but V3ish is about the limit of what I can reliably do in a few goes outdoors and has been for as long as I can remember. To be honest I think it's about the point where problems get hard and it's not really holding me back in other areas.

As for stuck at 6b+ on the routes... sounds familiar :)

I'd suggest changing what you're doing... Maybe get on harder stuff earlier in the session so you're not drained. Learn to redpoint and work everything on lead learning to fall in the process. Learn to push until you actually fall rather than resting. Learn to climb pumped, really pumped. Then learn to rest effectively between routes and on them so you aren't getting so pumped. Climb faster, be more decisive and dynamic, this requires a slightly devil may care attitude to falling and failure but it can also get you up stuff that would be too draining to climb in a more conservative style.

Most of all, keep at it, experience is invaluable in quickly solving problems on the pointy end or while working the moves

jk
RockSteady on 18 Mar 2014
In reply to andy28th:

How much time do you just spend trying stuff 'at your limit' i.e. 6b+/V3? I bet that's your main focus in every session? 4 sessions a week this sort of thing just starts to wear you down.

I'd recommend splitting the types of session you do. One type where you spend more time doing loads of climbs below your limit (5+/6a or V1ish) and doing as much as you can in a session. Then another type of (shorter, low volume) session trying stuff that's way above your current limit. Your measurement of progress in those 2 types of session is (1) how many climbs can you do in a session; (2) can you improve from not being able to do a move to being able to do it.

Some people find this boring, but it's still just climbing, but in a different way with a different focus. Try this for 6 weeks then try a 6c. Bet it will go easily.
Cragrat Rich on 18 Mar 2014
In reply to andy28th:

> Hi, I have been climbing regularly for about 9 months now and for last 4 months have been training indoors about 4 times a week. I have noticed a huge improvement in my stamina and endurance, but for some reason i haven't been able to climb any harder. my limit seems to be 6b+ on lead and around V3 boulder. Can anyone give me some advice on how to progress?

Start routinely attempting the next grades up from what you currently call your limit.
First by using rests, then by half at a time and finally going for the full lead one session when you're reasonably fresh.
Same applies to bouldering.
It's very difficult to progress in climbing by only climbing things you CAN climb!
Ramblin dave - on 18 Mar 2014
In reply to planetmarshall:

> Not necessarily disagreeing with you, but while in a workshop with Dave Macleod he identified a specific weakness I had with grip strength and so I bought myself a Beastmaker - I figured that he probably knows what he's talking about.

Yeah, I did a class with Neil Gresham (total overkill for a bumbly like me, but it was a nice birthday present!) and he recommended that I try a bit of fingerboard work.

On the other hand, although I'm in about the same place grade-wise as the OP, I've got there by climbing not very intensively for a long time, which has probably left me with reasonable technique but not much grunt. Climbing four times a week for less than a year has probably left the OP with about the opposite, so fingerboarding might be less help.

Going in the opposite direction, it might be worth looking at a basic technique coaching session. Not necessarily Gresham / Macleod / similar - you might find that a local wall does a reasonably priced intermediate level session that'll be enough to get you thinking more about how you can move better. You can get the same thing by climbing with, watching, and talking to better climbers but it can be nice to have someone spend an hour or so spelling it out to you.
Kirill - on 18 Mar 2014
In reply to andy28th:

In my opinion, you're already doing something right as you managed to reach such level in just 9 months. For comparison, I've been climbing for about 7 years. I climb routes at about 6a+ on a good day and can do boulder problems at V0+.
Alun - on 18 Mar 2014
In reply to MischaHY:

> Not specifically directed at you, but there is no way that someone who is climbing V3 should be going anywhere near a fingerboard. IMO anyone climbing under Font 7b doesn't need to go anywhere near them and will only end up injuring themselves in the long run.

The best advice ever. I don't go near the bloody things, far too much potential for injury.

To the OP: You're going climbing indoors about 4 times a week. I'm guessing that you're just doing the same thing, week in, week out. So mix it up. Spend a month just bouldering on really really steep stuff. Go twice a week, instead of four times, so as to make sure you're properly rested. Then, next month, skip the bouldering and just try to redpoint one or two routes which are 'just' too hard for you. Then, the month after, just do continuous laps on easier routes. Then, back to bouldering etc.

And go climbing outside as much as possible, it'll teach you better footwork and balance.
andy28th - on 18 Mar 2014

Cheers for all of the responses. After reading all of the comments the general theme seems to be that I need to attempt more routes above my grade.
I must admit that some sessions I don't really push myself and I will climb routes I know I can do. I will put what a few of you have said into practice and I will try to attempt and work a few problems or routes that are above my grade to help push me out my comfort zone. The reason for my training is so that I can enjoy trad climbing more during the summer, as last year my climbing ability was my limiting factor. Cheers for the advice.

don't worry I only use the finger board to do a few pull ups on the jugs at the end of a session
I'd rather be climbing - on 18 Mar 2014
In reply to andy28th:

I've found that I've hit a plateau at Bouldering Font 6c/7a. I have the benefit of being able to climb with climbers who are better (faaar better) than me, and it's pointed out that, for me, it's not strength that's the problem (I can hold a 1 arm lock off on both arms, and crimp fairly well), but flexability.

I can't open my hips up very well, to get tucked into the wall, and find long reaches for foot holds; making high steps; and rockovers from anything above hip height a real issue.

Perhaps this is something you can look at too, as it's something that I think often gets overlooked, and I've noticed that I am getting closer to the ones I normally fail on as I am getting more flexible.

Pilates could be a good starting point, as it will improve your core strength for those hidious 45 degree overhangs.

Steve.
Juicefree - on 18 Mar 2014
In reply to andy28th:

I'd suggest joining UK Bouldering for some good advice.
ads.ukclimbing.com
nniff - on 18 Mar 2014
In reply to andy28th:

Well, if you're into trad, 6b+ means you've got enough strength and technical ability for UK 5c. You'll probably need to work on your ability to see what needs to be done, given that the routes are inconveniently not colour-coded, plus the small matter of staying safe and keeping your wits together.
R2B on 06 Apr 2014
In reply to andy28th:

Hi mate,

My advice would be be to surround yourself with climbers that are better than you, stronger more technical and with lots of experience. You'll learn just by listening to them talk about routes etc, Also watching them climb will give you an idea on things you could be missing.
Plus you'll more thank likely make some great friends in the process.
althesin on 06 Apr 2014
In reply to andy28th:

You need to change your name, andy28th????
Try Andythebestclimberintheworld,
then believe it.
;-)
Byronius Maximus - on 06 Apr 2014
In reply to andy28th:

You mention that you notice a big improvement in you stamina and endurance, which is great, but what about your technique? Do you think you are actually climbing with better technique than when you started out, or do you think that the improvements in grades you've made has mainly been down to your improved fitness?

I had a similar problem to you at around the same grades (along with most of the rest of the climbing population!) and found that the thing which made by far the biggest difference to my climbing was technique drills; so I'd do focussed activities at an easy grade, usually on a traverse wall that purely looked at improving my technique. Things like side-on climbing, flagging, drop-knees etc. Initially, I would spend entire sessions just doing this and once they became ingrained, I'd just use them as part of my warm up.

I won't try to explain the drills here because it would take too long to explain, but I'm sure you can find some with a bit of Googling (or, alternatively, buy Self Coached Climber, which was a massive help to me). The big one I always remember is to always, without exception, climb with silent feet.

Different things work for different people, so there will be loads of different answers to this and, as pointed out by other posters, you need to know what your weaknesses are to really make big gains, but I found that this is what worked for me when I hit the same sort of plateau you mention.

I hope that helps; remember that challenges like this are to be enjoyed so have fun and good luck!
johncook - on 06 Apr 2014
In reply to andy28th:

Not had time to read the whole post so apologies if anyone else has said this.
In my experience, myself and friends and acquintances, you can get to approx 6b/+ indoors on strength, with minimal technique. Above this grade, although strength is important, technique becomes the over-riding need.
Get some technique coaching.
Watch/climb with climbers who are consistently doing harder routes, often on-sight and observe their techniques.
Climb until you fall off at whatever grade is just above your upper limit, especially in the safe indoor environment. When you start getting up this grade, move it up a notch.
AlanLittle - on 06 Apr 2014
In reply to johncook:

> Watch/climb with climbers who are consistently doing harder routes

This. I was stuck at 6b-ish for a long time, then started climbing regularly with somebody who redpoints 7c. In exchange for dutiful belaying sessions I get:

(a) the assumption that harder routes than I would previously attempt are perfectly normal and ok

(b) real time technique coaching on said routes. "Left hand in the pocket, go for the pinch with the right. Oops. OK, you need your foot higher. No, don't try to clip from there it's too strenuous, go to the better sidepull first". Etc. Sooner or later I'll (hopefully) start figuring these things out for myself, but remote control/ blind obedience is a start.

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