by Christopher Schafenacker
January: the worst month of the year on the climber’s calendar. The holiday weight gain is real; lost training days have you out of shape; undone fall projects are distant memories; and spring? What’s spring? It’s so far off you can’t even remember.
Luckily, you wouldn’t be a climber if all this didn’t mean that you’re now doubling down on a training program like never before… or, like, the same way you did last year... Whatever. This year you’re gonna stick to it, though. For real. And here’s how:
1. Get Set Up
In normal times, this would mean investing in a climbing gym membership. These are not normal times, though. While many gyms continue to operate at reduced capacity, this could change as the Covid-19 pandemic evolves. If you’re serious about sticking to a climbing training program, then, you’re going to need a home set up. At a minimum, this means:
A hangboard, preferably made of wood and featuring radiused holds and a range of edge sizes.
Gymnast rings, a TRX, and parallette bars.
Weights, be it a fancy collection of water jug, plates, kettlebells or all of the above.
To truly level up before spring, though, you’re also going to need something to actually climb on. While you could be like the rad folks up in Montreal and suss out bridges, bus stops, and high-ball metro stations to test your skills, you’ll probably get more mileage out of a home woody. Build one yourself if you’re handy or, if you want something durable, safe, and available to session on right now, invest in a professional model like the 40º Rocket Wall XL
2. Identify Goals
Before you can draft a climbing training program, you need to know why you’re training to begin with. “To get stronger” isn’t good enough. Be specific. Is there an iconic route you’d like to put down? A spring getaway on the horizon? Are you amped at the idea of doing a vertical mile in a day at your local gym? Whatever it may be, you need to name your goal, map the skills needed for success, and build a plan to in their pursuit.
3. Have a (Professionally-Designed) Plan
Somewhere some piece of IKEA artwork is preaching that, “A dream written down with a date becomes a goal. A goal broken down into steps becomes a plan. A plan backed by action makes your dreams come true.” However trite, there’s truth here. If you want this to be the year you send “Predator” (5.13b) at Rumney you’re going to need more than a woody and a dream. You’re also going to need a coach.
No matter how many articles you’ve read on how to stay strong through quarantine, build titanium fingers, or gain power endurance in four easy steps, you don’t know how to train unless you’ve invested years gaining specific knowledge. Coaches have done just this and these days they’re more accessible than you imagine. Head over to Power Climbing Company and check out their range of plans; read up on all Steve Bechtel has to offer at Climb Strong; or, ask around and find a local coach willing to design a plan specific to your personal aims.
Not only does having a proper set-up, a clear goal, and a well-designed plan ensure the quality of your climbing training program, it also motivates you to stick with it as each element injects accountability into the process. Start now and come spring you’ll be crushing so hard that next year you’ll need to move to Colorado just to find routes that align with your goals.
Featured Climbing Training Gear
*NEW* 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.
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…
Christopher Schafenacker started climbing in Western MA before moving to Granada, Spain, where he now writes, climbs, and runs education-centered training camps for competitive youth climbing teams.