by Christopher Schafenacker
Dirtbag ethics run deep in climbing. Got a hole in your puffy? Duct tape it. Need a haircut? No, you don’t. Too poor to eat but too psyched to work? Cat food. Can’t afford both rent and a car? There’s a van for that. Want to improve but unwilling to pay for a training plan? AI’s your answer. Sort of.
The best way to become the best climber you can be is to climb as much as possible. This takes time, though. And time is money which means unless you’re trust-funded, you need to skinny down your expenses to bulk up your climbing. Spend less, work less, crush more (t-shirts, anyone?).
According to this logic, it’d be ridiculous to pay for coaching when you’ve already foregone living in a house and eating human-grade food. This is doubly true when ChatGPT can generate a free climbing training program at the click of a button except—yes, there has to be an except—AI generated training plans are a lot like living on Whiskas. Cheaper, yes, but a paltry replacement for the real thing and probably not good for you in the long term. Here’s why.
Limitations of AI Training Programs
Go plug “build me a finger strength training program for rock climbing” into ChatGPT and you’ll get an impressive, periodized plan that includes instructions on how to build a foundation, train strength, power, and, after seven weeks, power endurance. The software will recommend hangboard, campus board, bouldering, and antagonist exercises and will politely remind you to warm up properly for each session. Before it offers up any of these goodies, however, it will insist in bold font (or, at least it did for the author) that you “consult with a professional climbing coach or trainer” before starting any training program—and it’s not wrong.
Every exercise that ChatGPT recommends is useful and the structure in which the exercises are embedded will work for someone. The problem is the software says nothing about why or when the exercises it recommends should be used and even less about whether its proposed plan is suitable for your specific needs. That’s a big issue because training is nothing if not specific.
Now, the above isn’t meant to say that AI generated training programs are useless. If you don’t know a lot about training, the recommendations the software generates will save you time building a macrostructure for your plan. And if you’re familiar with the protocols it suggests, you can mix and match easily enough to engineer something pretty personal.
The catch, of course, is that you only get to a point of knowing a lot about training if you’ve previously worked with a professional coach or trainer (or happen to be one, yourself). Hence ChatGPT’s cautionary note and the conclusion—No, AI generated training plans are not the future of training for climbing, just a useful tool… for now.
Featured Climbing Training Gear
Maverick: The on-the-go, bring it anywhere hangboard. On a family road trip to keep your fingers in shape. We like to bring this to the crag with us to keep our fingers warm—without losing skin on mediocre warm-ups—at that steep, thuggy sport crag.
The Rocket Wall: Available in 6’ and 8’ widths, it’s been tough for us to keep up with the demand for this innovative home climbing wall solution. Slightly overhanging, the Rocket Wall is big enough to set routes on, or to build a systems board.
The Rock-Stah: Our handcrafted version of a traditional hangboard, with curving crimp rails to help alleviate unnecessary strain on your pulleys. Because ain’t no one got time for a finger injury…
The Rocketeer Wall: our free-standing adjustable solution for those who can’t mount a hangboard anywhere in their home or apartment—or who are limited on space. The Rocketeer gives climbers the additional option to set specific climbing holds. Recreate the crux holds of your proj and get ready to send, bruh.