3 Reasons to Train
Winter season is upon us; the days are short and weather is wet here in the Pacific Northwest. This weekend you'll see Team SW/AG doing endless laps in the gym in preparation for the start of a new training cycle. With new goals to achieve and the encouragement of a successful post-season to keep us motivated, we'll be gliding through different training phases with the ease of a juggy warmup route.
We are far from professional athletes but we certainly try and train like them. Contrary to popular belief, that doesn't mean we impose on ourselves ridiculous feats of strength not meant for mere mortals. It doesn't mean hours and hours training in the gym every other day. What normal person with a family, or a job(s), or a life outside of climbing has time for that anyway? It just means we're dedicated. We have reasonable goals with workouts that compliment them. We simply follow the calendar, try to work a little harder than the cycle before, and enjoy the results.
The first keyword in the previous paragraph is “dedication”. When you lock in on a reasonable goal, training (even at a beginner level) will require some sacrifice; instant gratification will not always be in reach. You’ll learn to look at your climbing environment through different eyes. The gym will be more than just a place to come in and socialize between attempts on hard boulder problems. You’ll be free of confinement to the rules of tape or colored holds. Instead, the gym is now a place filled with all the necessary tools to reach a higher objective. You’ll get every penny’s worth out of your membership.
The second key word is “reasonable”. Most of the time I see training programs for climbing fail because the goals are unrealistic or unclear. Both will kill motivation and motivation is the fuel you need to drive your dedication and see your training through to the end.
In our training cycles our progress comes in increments, but it is steady, forward moving, and relatively injury free. We see quantifiable results week by week and still have time for jobs and life outside of climbing. We even design the training so we get outside year round and keep in shape mentally and physically for outdoor climbing.
It takes roughly 4 months for my team and I to get in top physical condition for approximately 4 weeks of peak performance.
A third of a year for a month of payoff may hardly sound like a sacrifice worth making until someone you know comes in fresh off a season of inspirational climbs and the completion of a difficult project that you aspire to climb someday. That energy is infectious and you'll crave it. With the right goals and training, you can earn it for yourself. Below are 3 reasons why taking a chance on a training program might be worth the sacrifice. You may be surprised at learning how a reasonable training program can be worthy of your investment.
1) Training provides focus. When you have a clear objective you can construct a well designed plan to meet your goal. Every time you pull into the parking lot you'll have no question about what to do as soon as you walk in the door or head to a climbing area. Every training day will have a clear start and finish and you'll have immediate feedback. True, if you decide to dedicate yourself to a training cycle you may lose some of the social benefits that come with just dropping in to the gym to hang out with your friends and climb. This is temporary however because when you reach the end of the cycle and it's time to put the training to work, it will be time to plan those road trips with friends to go and send your projects. This will be your time to shine and it will be well worth the effort.
2) Training provides effective time management. Even if climbing is of the highest priority, for most of us every-day people, there will be many other important things vying for our very important time. Things like jobs and work trips, families, significant others, pets, bills, social obligations, hobbies, and countless other unforeseen things that require our attention need to be addressed daily. If you still want to progress in your climbing and make the most out of your time, a training program can be a great asset. It's been my experience that a well designed workout can be completed in about 1.5 to 2 hours for endurance and 1 to 1.5 for other phases. This, of course, is dependent on your ability to stick to reason #1, Focus. Come in; do what is scheduled on your calendar; get out and on with the rest of your day. I've seen the average climber (myself included) come in for a leisurely 3 hour climbing day in which actual climbing time took up about an hour while the rest was spent on socializing. Believe me, if you come in for 1.5 hours of dedicated training, you'll be glad to go home and rest and/or be hungry enough to meet up for a nutritious dinner with your friends or family.
3) Training provides real results. Results are what make all the dedication and the sacrifice worth it. With each passing training phase you should be able to see the results of your efforts as they come together for you to do the previously unattainable. Results will reveal themselves in many ways. Among them will be improved technique, psychological mastery, and the ability to critically think of solutions in moments of high stress. This translates to moving in a smooth, uninterrupted flow; working through cruxes, top-outs, and run-outs with precision and confidence while enjoying the experience.
Of course, results are contingent on a sensible program and your ability to dedicate yourself to said program. People often think that unrealistic amounts of natural talent are what must be possessed to achieve hard climbing; that you need to be a sponsored athlete, living in a van on a diet of kale and magnesium carbonate. Yes, talent can definitely speed things up but training can make up for the lack of natural talent and the only thing required is your dedicated time; that's the big secret. If you're not in a rush to climb the next 5.15 and you can't afford to quit your job even if you wanted to, then a time-managed program will have you making slow but steady gains on your schedule.
I have never thought of myself as being a particularly strong or talented climber. The truth is, there is nothing that special about my natural abilities. Yet I've found myself clipping the chains on (what some consider) respectable routes for mortals in the US and other countries. I solely attribute much of my success in climbing to my stubbornness and willingness to see through cycle after cycle of training. It suits me and my busy schedule. On top of running AntiGravity Equipment, being a full time interpreter, a boyfriend, a friend, a trainer, a training partner, a guide, a brother, a son, and attending countless other work and social engagements, I can still train for climbing 4 days a week, do two days of conditioning, and still find the time to crush a project or two every season. It just comes down to dedication and a focused, time-managed, result-driven training program.
Sometimes it's not so much a question of dedication but a question of how to get started. Books and videos can give you an idea but if you've never trained or know little about how to build a program, some experienced help can come in handy; you'll avoid injuries, preventable setbacks, and you’ll have the convenience of being able to ask questions.
It can also be difficult to have an objective view on your own performance especially in areas of weakness. Someone with professional experience can help point out deficits in technique or steer you away from potentially unnecessary and harmful training exercises.
Getting into training can be quite a task just in the research alone. Before you even get on the wall you can lose inspiration with all the (often dry) literature out there from proffesional coaches and climbers. The trial and error can take quite a toll before you hit a good stride.
If you are interested in a program, tell us a bit about your goals using the form below or drop by for a visit if you’re in the Portland area. We have tons of experience in different styles of training and you’ll be surprised at how affordable they are. We’ve helped many climbers hit the ground running and part of our success lies in the fact that we’re relatable because we’re normal 9-to-5 climbers just like you. We'd be glad to talk with you and point you in the right direction.