Ask Crux Crush


Maximizing Your Training Time Without A Gym

Dear Crux Crush,

I’m writing to you because I need help.  My husband and I have an upcoming trip to Thailand to celebrate our first wedding anniversary.  We are soooo excited for this trip.  I own a new small business, and to get it off the ground I’ve been working non-stop, 6 days a week.  I live in Puerto Rico, where we don’t have a climbing gym, so I’ve been climbing outdoors in my free time (which is just Sundays) and I know this is not enough time to improve my skills.  I want to know if you can recommend some basic training that I can do at home during the week.  I’m training 2 days a week in my regular boxing classes but I want to do more climbing-specific stuff so I can be prepared to climb more difficult routes with my husband on our trip.  Do you have any advice for me?

Strapped For Time in San Juan

Dear Strapped,

Um, so first off, we are so jealous that you are going to Thailand, that is AMAZING! What an awesome first wedding anniversary gift to each other – congrats on the anniversary!

OK, so in terms of climbing tips, of course climbing is the best training for climbing, but it’s understandable that there is only so much climbing you can do without a gym, and a work schedule like yours! Luckily, there are some things you can do to build climbing strength without being near any live rock.

First, pull-ups, pull-ups, pull-ups! How many can you do now? If you can’t do any, work on being able to do at least one by doing a reverse pull-up (lowering yourself down from the top of a pull-up position as slowly as possible). If you can do one, work on doing more, and if you’re a pull-up master, then try doing some pull-up variations, like “frenchies”“typewriters”, or even one-armed pull-ups. Try working on this every day or every other day. A pull up bar is a cheap, and a good investment if you don’t have one already at your house.

Secondly, use a hangboard.  If you don’t have a hangboard in the house, this is another great investment. You can do a hangboard workout in 10-15 minutes, 2-3 times a week, and it will improve your grip strength, which will also translate to your climbing abilities.


Breaking Through To 5.11

Dear Crux Crush,

I’ve been climbing for about two years.  I’m a solid 5.10c/d lead climber, and mostly I climb in the gym.  I would love some pointers on how to cross over into 5.11.

Thank you !
Go To Eleven

Hey G.T.E!

Thanks for getting in touch!  As for breaking into 11s, I would say the most important thing is to just climb MORE. If we were talking about breaking into 13s it would be a different story, but for 11s climbing as much as possible is the most important thing. For me, pyramid training really helped. A pyramid approach allows you to enter a gym session with specific goals to target a specific numbers of climbs in various ranges. As an added bonus, you’ll end up climbing more routes per gym session than you normally would. (At least that’s what happened for me.) You’ll start to get really comfortable on routes just below your limit (so for you, low 10s) which will prepare you well for climbs at your limit. Also, having to SEND the route for it to count was huge for me. It forces you to pace yourself and keep a cool head when you hit a tricky section.

The other advice I have is to evaluate whether you have any glaring weaknesses, for example core, upper body strength, endurance, or finger strength.  If you do, you can also target those things directly. For many women upper body strength is an area of relative weakness, and for that, at your level, you could get into a routine of doing some upper body strength after each climbing session. Since we’re on the subject of pyramids today, a very simple thing you could do is a pull-up/push-up pyramid.  So that means do as many pull-ups as you can do, and for every pull-up you’ve done, do a push-up.  That’s one set. Then rest for about 2 minutes max. Do 5 sets.

I hope this helps! Keep us updated!

For more climbing Q&A check out the previous installment of Ask Crux Crush.

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