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Not Psyched on the Setting? 4 Ways to Train on Uninspiring Gym Routes

Updated: Jul 24, 2023

by Christopher Schafenacker

getting the most out of your home climbing wall

We’ve all been to gyms where the setting was, uh… uninspiring to say the least.

Maybe the setter moonlights as the youth competition coach, and can’t get enough of those hop, skip, and jump problems. Maybe they climb 8C and genuinely believe us mortals can cut feet on 8mm crimps. Maybe they are the one weirdo out there who actually likes duel-textured feet. Or, maybe, they’re fresh to the craft and really only know how to set one type of boulder.

Whatever the issue, it sucks when the setting sucks…but this doesn’t mean your session needs to suck, too. The following five tips will help you get the most out of your visit to the gym, even if your psych is far from at an all-time high.

4 Tips for Training on Bleh Routes

1. Suck It Up

You don’t want to hear it, but the fact is there’s huge value in working skills outside of your comfort zone. Often, apparently “bad” setting is just setting that doesn’t play to your strengths.

Got steel tendons that allow you to crimp for days? No surprise that you hate big slopers, then. The skillful body positioning required of problems in this style might not be your forte (and thus might not be fun to practice) and yet improvement here is likely what will most benefit your climbing.

2. Break the Rules

If you’re not the typical 5’10”, lanky climber dude, you’ve probably faced setting that is simply impossible for your body.

No intermediate feet? Full-span moves only Mr. Tall Man can actually span? If the intended beta wasn’t intended for you, don’t feel bad about breaking it. Add a foot from an adjacent route; link the bottom and top of two problems to avoid a stopper move; do whatever you need to do to create circumstances that support your training goals.

3. Adjust Your Plan

Training should be structured and specific, so modifying your plan shouldn’t be a habit. Find a new gym (or get your own home climbing wall) if you can’t consistently train the way you want. Most often, we encounter sub-par setting while traveling, however.

Say, for instance, you’re on the road and aim to get a session in at whatever gym you can find. You show up hoping to train max strength on hard boulders, only to discover that everything at your V-limit involves some sort of contorted sequence only the setter can do. The solution? Pivot to doing 4x4s on the more accessible moderates, and don’t stress.

Trying hard is what matters most in a given session, so if you can’t do this with Plan A, switch to Plan B.

4. Set Your Own Problems

Whether it be by taking advantage of your gym’s spray wall or getting set up with your own home climbing wall, the most enduring solution to bad setting is to set your own problems.

Most gyms have a spray wall tucked away in some corner. That steep face cluttered with holds? Yes, that’s what we mean. There, you and your crew can design infinite boulders to suit your needs.

If there’s no such wall where you climb (or even if there is), an alternative, even better solution, is to set a wall of your own. A well-set home wall offers unparalleled control of your training. The catch, of course, is just that you have to set better than those duds at the gym holding you back…


Featured Climbing Training Gear

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.

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 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.


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