Tag Archives: climbing training

Up Your Game with an Online Climbing Coach

kris peters

Thanks to the power of the internet, trainers with years of climbing coaching experience will create a plan just for you. Photo by TrainingBeta.

If you’ve been climbing for a few years, then it’s likely that you have (or soon will) reach a plateau in your climbing ability. Answering the question “How can I improve at climbing?” is a difficult one.

Climbing is a relatively new sport, and theories around training are still being developed. It can seem like everyone you talk to has radically different ideas about what works best, making it hard to sort out the good advice from the bad. Furthermore, a training regimen that works for a certain type of climber, say a boulderer climbing V11, will not work for a sport climber projecting 5.13 or even another boulderer climbing V5. So how do you make sense of it all? A few years ago, your only option was buying a training book and sorting through the theories to design your own plan. However, recently, personal coaches for climbing have been using the Internet as a tool to reach a wider audience.

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The Value of Non-Climbing Training

climbing training

The pros doing some non-climbing “training”. Photo credit: Rock + Run

I used to think that climbing was enough training for climbing. And for a while, it was. A few years ago though, I reached a point where I decided that climbing alone was not enough to reach my climbing goals. I needed to change it up if I was going to get to “the next level”.

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Deadlifting for Climbing

Deadlifts will strengthen your posterior chain to keep your hips closer to the wall. Photo credit: Merrick Ales

Deadlifts strengthen your posterior chain which helps keep your hips closer to the wall. Photo by Merrick Ales

With winter training season in full swing, today’s post presents a reason to hit the weight room in order to make climbing gains. Deadlifts strengthen the lower back muscles which will have a secondary benefit of improving overall lifting form in daily life! While I am a proponent of using all the compound lifts (bench press, press, deadlift, and even squat) as conditioning for climbing, I have found that deadlifts translate the most to climbing. Today, I’ll take you through the how and why of deadlifting for climbing.

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How to Conquer Roof Climbing

Dani Andrada roof climb

Dani Andrada climbs the Great Arch in Getu Valley, China. Photo credit: Sam Bié.

Roof routes can be a lot of fun and more importantly, they make you look super cool. But for many of us, they are confusing, difficult and intimidating. We’re left cursing our weenie arms. Climbing roofs, however, may be more simple than you think! You might not even need those beefy biceps. Here are three tips to help you conquer the upside-down world:

1.  Practice. I used to fall the minute I started a roof. Embarrassed, I avoided them entirely. The result was that I couldn’t climb roofs! Make sure you’ve got a cushy pad below you and don’t fret about falling. If you’re embarrassed, go to the gym at a less busy time when there are fewer bodies and eyes. Roof climbing requires unique movement, endurance and technique. Increasing your core and arm strength will certainly help, but the best way to familiarize yourself with this type of movement and build these skills is to just do it.

Recognize that climbing upside down may also bump your grade down. Start with easier routes. These will have bigger hand holds, and allow you to log time on the roof, which is the goal. If roof routes are too challenging in general, begin with steeper routes and overhangs, and work towards the full 90-degree roof.

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Big Ups to Alex Puccio

Alex happily upping her training game

Alex happily upping her training game

Lately all I can think of is Alex Puccio. Creepy, I know. In my defense, she seems to be everywhere: dominating comps, taking down hard boulders outside, constantly training, and popping up all over my Facebook feed. She’s been on the scene for many years, but recently she seems to be taking the climbing world (even more) by storm. So today I wanted to give some huge props to Alex Puccio for being a totally rad, feminine, strong, beast of a climber.

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Actually Following a Training Plan: Review of The Rock Climber’s Training Manual

Putting my training to the test on Ginseng (5.12c) at Shagg crag, Maine.

Putting my training to the test on Ginseng Route (5.12c) at Shagg crag, Maine.

In the 7 years that I’ve been climbing, I’ve followed exactly zero training plans. It’s not that I didn’t want to get better at climbing, or that I doubted the training plan would work. The factors preventing me from training, any longer than a day, stemmed from a combination of motivation, commitment, and time management…that is, until reading the Anderson brothers’ Rock Climber’s Training Manual: A Guide to Continuous Improvement. Their approach to climbing and training worked for me for numerous reasons. I went from being unable to realistically attempt the crux moves on 5.12s, unable to even make a single move between the rungs on the campus board, and being able to do a max of three 10 lb bicep curls to sending or close to sending my three 5.12b/c projects, loving the campus board, pumping 25 lb bicep curls – all within 4 months. Here’s why the Andersons’ approach worked for me:

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How To Train On The Campus Board


When it comes to training one of the most intimidating tools we can think of is the campus board. We know that this big, imposing board covered in vexing little rungs is an effective training tool, but it can be hard to even know how to begin to use it. So to help us get past our fears, we turn to none other than the fiercely dedicated training machine, Galina Parfenov (and if you haven’t seen this lady in action, check out her training videos to see what we mean). In today’s article, she breaks down the different types of campus board exercises and shows you how to do each one, whether you are just starting out, or already have a campus-board routine and want to freshen it up! Here’s Galina:

Over the years I have gone back and forth between various training techniques and devices—everything from fingerboards, rock rings, systems boards, and even plain old pull-up bars—until finally settling on just one: the campus board. Which, like the lever, screw, pulley, and wedge, is a simple machine, at least where climbing is concerned. Ten rungs. That’s all it takes (just ask their inventor, Wolfgang Güllich, who used the campus board to train for the first ascent of Action Directe, the world’s first 9a!)

That being said, a person who has been climbing for less than two years should not be using a campus board. They shouldn’t really be training, other than maybe a few pull-ups here and there. The first 18-24 months or so should be dedicated solely to climbing and training by climbing, until your tendons can handle the additional pressure of campusing. This also applies to youth.

Here’s a checklist to help you decide if campus rungs are right for you:

  • I have been climbing for at least 18 months.
  • I am at least 16 years old.
  • I have not recently had reoccurring pain in my fingers, elbows, or shoulders.
  • I have plateaued.
  • I want to get STRONG!

Check them all? Then refer to the list of campus board exercises below! I’ve provided modifications for beginner and advanced. If you aren’t sure which you are, start with the beginner exercises and move to advanced if you need more of a challenge.

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A Stronger Climber’s Core in 20 Minutes

sahsa core

You better believe she’s got a core of steel (Photo from Sasha’s Facebook page)

Sure, a strong upper body and all-around flexibility will make you a better climber, but what ties all of that strength and flexibility together is a strong core. To be clear, I’m not just talking about having strong abs. In climbing, we really don’t use our abs in isolation, so while doing crunches might give you a sweet beach-bod, it won’t do a whole lot for your climbing. Your abdominal muscles are part of your core, but as a climber it’s best to strengthen your pelvis, lower back, hips, and abdomen simultaneously. That’s why each Thursday at our weekly ladies climbing night we do a core circuit that leaves us feeling totally spent and satisfied knowing that we’re becoming stronger climbers because of it. We’ve taken our cues from climbing coaches and trainers (especially Steve Bechtel) and other core-intensive sports (read: several of us are ex-gymnasts) to create a 20-minute circuit that can be done with a group of friends or when you’re flying solo. We recommend doing the circuit twice a week, and if you’re on a periodized training program work it into your power or power endurance phase. Now let’s get to the details:

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Climbing Training: Power Endurance


Vian Charbonneau (on Divine Fury 5.14b) has serious power endurance

It’s winter, and unless you have some awesome climbing trip planned or, unlike us, you live in warmer climates, winter can be a time when it’s hard to maintain motivation. Your project is covered with snow, you’re stuck in the gym, and have an overwhelming urge to drink hot chocolate and get cozy on the couch. Luckily for us, our favorite mean and lean trainer Jackie Pettitt from MetroRock Climbing Center, founder of Granite Girls Climbing School, brings us a power endurance workout to get you out of that rut!

So what is power endurance exactly? Jackie explains, “Unlike endurance, where you have a manageable pump, in training power endurance you will become very pumped to the point of possibly coming off the wall. Power endurance is the ability to do many difficult moves and not get pumped”. So in essence we are training both power and endurance simultaneously, to get us to that place where we can push through the dreaded pump. What climber doesn’t want that skill? Here Jackie gives us a killer workout to help achieve just that. 

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How To Deal When You’re On The Injured List

Learning how to climb with one foot.

Learning how to climb with one foot is kind of like learning to climb for the first time.

The worst part about being injured is not the pain, but the mental game.  I have been at times overwhelmed, in tears, thinking about the setbacks, how long it will take me to get back to where I was, and how much I just plain miss climbing, and the climbing community.  I was just starting to get super psyched on bouldering outside. That was new for me and it felt satisfying.  Then I made one dumb mistake doing something I’ve done a hundred times.  I just needed to jump 2 or 3 inches further back and I would have been fine.  Instead, as I was jumping off this problem, my left foot didn’t land completely on the crashpad, and it hit part of the boulder.  In a second, my ankle was fractured, and my life was very different.

I’ve never had an injury before.  As you may recall about me, I’m the “newb”.  I have never really been athletic in my whole life, very much the city gal, and certainly have never injured myself (unless you count, like, breaking a nail as an injury).  So, having no idea what I was in for, for the first week, I was surprisingly positive.  I watched Courtney Sanders’ video about training with her ankle injury a bunch of times, and read up about training while injured online.  There are a number of inspiring stories like this one, or this one, or great tips, for example from pro climber Steph Davis on how to train when you have to stay off one leg.  And from Evening Sends on how to not be annoying about being injured. Having armed myself with knowledge, I was feeling upbeat, and thinking to myself that this was going to be a great opportunity to focus on other aspects of fitness, and that I would get back to climbing, barely missing a beat.  Well, I’m here to admit that isn’t exactly how it’s been going.

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