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Setting A Realistic Rock Climbing Goal for the New Year

by Christopher Schafenacker

getting the most out of your home climbing wall

For most climbers in North America, winter is the off-season. It’s the time of year you hang with all your friends at the gym, train, and, ideally, get a little better so you can climb a little harder in the spring. Every climber has at some point made a climbing-related New Year’s Resolution—and if you haven’t, this could be your year! But all too often these promises lack depth. Everyone wants to climb a grade harder than they did last season; all climbers have vague aspirations about “improving.” Not that many actually have a plan detailing how they hope to get there, however.

New Year’s Resolutions that revolve around sending a specific grade, executing a particular exercise, or ticking a single route are more likely to deliver frustration than performance. A myopic focus on an arbitrary measure of ability blinds you to the wider constellation of skill-building needed for real improvement. You might get really good at climbing that single climb you’re so motivated to tick, but you won’t improve much as a climber in general—and that’s in the best-case scenario. In the worst, you won’t even send and you’ll waste a bunch of time that could have been more productively spent.

A better brand of New Year’s Resolution is one focused on process. After all, while you can’t control whether you tick a given route or reach a particular grade, you can control all the steps you take to get there. When you shift your measure of success toward whether you’re sticking to training goals and investing full effort, you set yourself up to celebrate wins you can actually be sure of achieving. Here are two ways to do that.

Two New Year’s Resolutions that Yield Sure Results

1. Plan Your Training

Some people thrive on structure. If you’re one of them, promise yourself this year that you’ll make (and follow) a training plan. Break the off-season up into blocks. Dedicate different periods to different types of training (i.e. hypertrophy, maximum strength, and power). Plan out each week. Draft a schedule for individual days. Pencil in time, rep., and resistance objectives. Go nuts and even make themed playlists. Let your inner lunatic free and then delight in actually following your plan.

2. Give Your Best Effort

Some people don’t thrive on structure (*raises hand*). They shudder while reading the above paragraph and will achieve little more than constant guilt by trying to follow a strict plan. If you’re one of these, a better New Year’s Resolution might be to simply try really damn hard every time you climb.

Improvement comes from exposing your body to new stimuli. You won’t ever increase your maximum strength if you don’t ever try to push beyond it. Doing so is not that easy, however. Truly trying hard means warming up properly, carefully choosing the problems (or exercises) to focus on in a given session, and mustering enough self-control to rest between attempts so you can truly go a muerte. That, and it means organizing your climbing days in such a way that every time you go out, you’ve got enough gas to go all out.

Yes, this means a little bit of planning but not nearly as much as if you choose option one as your New Year’s Resolution.


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.


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