Get started

So what is training anyway?

Climbing training is a systematic, disciplined approach to improve climbing performance. I hear a lot of climbers say they are “training”, but if I probe them about the specifics, there aren’t any. They just “climb” or “boulder” every other day, or when they have time.

That is not training. Training is a pre-meditated routine that is planned intelligently with the hope of attaining some tangible goal. It should be designed deliberately to transform your body towards what ever end you have in mind, then it should draw from the body of knowledge available by using specific exercises to create the gains that are desired.

~ Mike Anderson in “The Making of a Rockprodigy”.

How to use BettrClimbr.com?

First have a read below for a general introduction to what is training (5-10min). 👇👇👇

Now, the top menu has 4 different sections:

  • Themes which are comprised of 13 different items: you can explore each one according to your need.
  • Inside each themes, you will find playlists which are a set of exercises that you can do in the gym, at home or at the crag. Each playlist has a specific goal (eg. Warming up, training power endurance on a fingerboard…), difficulty and estimated time to achieve.
  • Playlists are collections of individual Exercises arranged in a given order. The order in which the exercises are presented should be the order in which you perform them. You can access all exercises in our database and filter them according to your needs by using the main menu.

  • Resources are websites, books and videos that you may want to watch to increase your knowledge about training or climbing

Why train?

Simply climbing routes will only get you so far. Unless you’re a freak of nature and you’re siblings are all chimpanzees, comes a time when you’ll need to train in order to climb harder grades.

This is because climbing random pieces of rock is not enough for your body to adapt – only specific training can push your body to a physical limit, and it’s only by reaching this limit that your body (and tolerance to pain) will change!

When should I start training?

Although this is quite controversial, most would advise that you wait at least 2 years before starting to train specifically for climbing. Of course, this will depend on a lot of factors such as your age, level of fitness, previous experience in sports, motivation etc. So why this 2 year buffer period? It certainly has to do with how fingers adapt to holding your weight off of 10mm edges. The tendons in the fingers are under huge pressure when you start climbing, especially if your BMI (Body Mass Index) is high, and they will need a fair bit of time to adapt. Of course you can start training right away but just be extra careful with finger training!

If you are new to climbing, the fastest and most durable gains you can achieve are simply by climbing anyway. A good rule of thumb is that:

  • doing 1 session a week will maintain your level
  • doing 2 session a week will steadily improve your level
  • doing 3 session a week will quickly improve your level
  • doing more will lead to fatigue, injury and probably a drop in motivation. Keep it fun!

You may also want to add some none-specific training to your routine such as core, legs, aerobic training and antagonists training – especially if you are out of shape.

For most people, specific training should come into play when you have hit a plateau but still want to improve. Yet, early on, optimising how you climb (technique, variety of problems, length of session but also who you climb with, what you do before and after…) will break your first plateaus much more efficiently than any training could. You might not even need training!

If you’re young, start training with low intensity exercises (ARCing, non-weighted hangboarding, interval climbing…). As Alex Megos puts it :

“For year it was definitely important not to climb at my limit all the time. I never climbed at my limit until recently and that was maybe the reason why I could keep my high motivation.” – Alex Megos in Gimme Kraft

Finally, if you’re an adult only start to train when you are confident about your climbing technique and you are sufficiently committed to discipline.

How to train?

Keep in mind that there are two types of training you can do

  • Non-specific training is any sort of physical activity: running, swimming, boxing, skiing, cycling…
  • Specific training means developing the skills and knowledge that relate to specific useful competencies (eg. climbing).

Both are useful, but as you become a better climber, your focus will move from the first one to the second one

Set goals

There’s no point in training just to train. That’s called CrossFit. Training for climbing is hard and is a lifelong journey so you will need goals to keep your motivation high.

You need 2 kind of goals:

  • A short-term goal: “I want to climb two V10 problems in a month” or “I want to on-sight a V9”
  • A long-term goal:  “I want to climb an 8a route on my winter trip to Mallorca” or “I want to climb Lord of the Thais and the Totem Pole.

Setting a goal is only half of the work though. Now you need to achieve it! There a few simple rules that will help you do just this:

  • Give something up: is it scrolling endlessly, watching TV, eating junk food or chatting at the gym for most of your sessions?
  • Be specific when setting a goal: “getting stronger” is not specific enough
  • Tell your friends: tell your colleagues, tell your bros, your husband, say it on Facebook, write it and frame it on your wall… This will make you accountable to others.
  • Set intermediate goals you can actually achieve: in other words, think about your end goal and make a plan of every steps needed to make it happen (eg: I must master rappelling, I must master crimping on long overhanging routes, I must master my mental when pumped…). Then getting to your dream goals becomes much more manageable.
  • Set a timeframe: be very clear about when you want to achieve your goal(s). Put in in the calendar!

Focus 

The biggest mistake you can do is think that you can train everything at the same time. This is a myth. You should focus on a few (2-3) areas of improvement at a time to see any result. Be specific about what you want to train and you will make very noticeable improvements. For instance:

  • “I would like to train my flexibility do be able to do a full split”
  • “I would like to train my forearm endurance to be able to hang for 5 minutes without shaking my arms”
  • “I would like to train my head game so that I’m not afraid of falling anymore”
  • “I would like to onsight harder boulder problems”.

Keep track of your progress

This will only cost you a pen and a notebook and can make a world of difference. Keeping track of what you do will not only motivate you but also help you fine-tune the type of training you need, the periodisation and so on.

What to train?

Specific to climbing

Technique and balance > The ability to move, breathe and rest efficiently.

  • Trained with long, very low intensity sessions targeting specific movements
  • Best tools: a climbing wall where you can traverse or easily go up and down
  • Avoid: thinking technique can be overcome by strength. Both are important.

Finger strength > The ability to grab and hold in any grip position.

  • Trained with finger-specific drills of varying length and intensity
  • Best tools: hangboard (+ accessories)
  • Avoid: over-loading fingers if you’re just starting

Endurance > The ability to remain active for a long period of time 

  • Trained with many repetitions at varying intensity with few rests
  • Best tools: climbing days/trips where you climb often
  • Avoid: rushing or going for hard sequences

Power > The ability to recruit maximum muscle strength in short bursts of time.

  • Trained with few repetitions at maximum intensity
  • Best tools: short cruxy boulders and campus board
  • Avoid: training for power when you’re tired. Listen to your body and stop before getting injured.

Power Endurance > The ability to sustain intense efforts without resting.

  • Trained with long repetitions at high intensity
  • Best tools: boulders, climbing wall, treadwall…
  • Avoid: N/A

 

Non Specific to climbing

General fitness > A general state of good health, usually as a result of exercise and nutrition.

  • Trained with regular physical activity and a balanced diet
  • Best tools: sneakers, lean protein and water

What do I need to train?

Time

Time is free but it’s priceless. Depending on your life situation, getting enough time to train properly can be daunting, frustrating or not an issue at all. If you can’t seem to find enough time, you might need to reconsider the time spent in the gym (or outdoors) and find ways to be more efficient: climb more during your session, plan what you will train on instead of randomly climbing any problem, identify and focus on your weaknesses and tackle them one session at a time, train at home, cycle to work or to the gym to spend less time warming up…

It might be that you you don’t have enough time because you’re doing too many (non-professional) things: is playing video games or watching that new season of GoT really helping you getting better at climbing? And if watching TV is your thing, why not train while watching it? Getter better at something usually means giving up on other things so start making choices!

As far as work goes, we all have our challenges but just remember that the capitalism deal is to work in counterpart of having time for yourself and the means to live a decent life. If you’re not finding this balance, change job!

Motivation

If you’re getting to the stage where you feel you should train, motivation is probably not a problem. But training is hard and can take a toll on your spirit. Make sure to set micro goals that you can actually achieve and acknowledge your wins, however small they may be.

Feeling down? Take some time off and do something else! Change your routine, climb we different people, go do an easy multi-pitch, climb in a area you don’t know, in a style you don’t know. Or just take a step back and go do some surfing or something. 🏄‍

Tools

These are the essentials:

  • A yoga mat. Think about getting one to train at home or in your gym if there are no mats provided.
  • A timer. Take one with an interval timer so that you can set it up to time your reps on a hangboard. There are also apps for that.
  • A notebook to keep track of your discipline.
  • Training shoes.
  • Plenty of water to keep cool and the muscles going.
  • Raw nuts and fruits to fuel your effort. High sugar snacks (eg. Cliff Bars) should be avoided unless you are training for 10h at a time.

Nice to have if you’re serious about training:

  • A fingerboard. If you can’t attach it to your wall, just make a freestanding one!
  • Elastic exercise bands such as Thera-Band.
  • Wooden rings that you can attach to anything.
  • Dumbells for weighted exercises (just put it in a back pack if you plan on doing weighted dead hangs).

How often should I train? When is the best time?

You should train on something at least twice a week to see perceivable progress in the long term.

If you’re working on muscle groups that are already tired, you’ll risk getting injury. For this reason, and unless you’re a mutant, train hard on your none climbing days. For instance, a typical training week could look like this:

V4-V6 climber

  • Day 1: 2 hours of bouldering
  • Day 2: 2 hours of training focusing on core and flexibility
  • Day 3: 2 hours of bouldering + 1 hour antagonists
  • Day 4: 1 hour of cardiovascular training and flexibility
  • Day 5: rest
  • Day 6: performance climbing day
  • Day 7: 1 hour of core training

Take a week off every 5-6 weeks.

V8-V10 climber

  • Day 1: 3 hours of bouldering + 1 hour of antagonists training
  • Day 2: 2 hours of training focusing on core and flexibility
  • Day 3: 3 hours of bouldering + 1 hour of antagonist training
  • Day 4: 2 hours of cardiovascular training and flexibility
  • Day 5: rest
  • Day 6: performance climbing day
  • Day 7: rest or ARCing + 1 hour of flexibility

Take a week off every 5-6 weeks.

Working on a project you want to send? Try starting training for it 6 weeks before your attempt (including a rest week) and make a plan that will optimize your chances of sending!

  • What is specific about the route/problem?
  • Which one of my weaknesses can I work on to improve my chances?
  • Do I know enough about the problem/route so that I’m capable of (partially) visualizing it?
Contact Us

Send us an email, we'll try to reply in less than 24h.