How to Stay in Peak Climbing Shape While Traveling
by Christopher Schafenacker
Climbing trips are bad for your climbing. Or, at least, they are bad for your ability to hit peak performance while climbing. The simple reason is that, while technique and head game often improve as you spend weeks camped out at some far-off crag, strength and power suffer. Eventually, if you want to continue ticking breakthrough grades, you’ll need to head back to your home woody to top up what has been lost. However, a little bit of strategizing while on the road will go a long way in slowing the leak and allowing you more days of crushing than would otherwise be possible. For best results, consider the following three interrelated factors.
1. Play Hard, Rest Hard (and Eat Well)
When on the road, what you do off the wall is just as important as what you do on it. It’s all too easy to crack a cold one upon returning from a long day of trying hard, and yet doing so won’t help your performance. Instead, before hitting the sauce, whip up a simple, nutritious meal loaded with protein and carbs, rehydrate, and give your muscles a chance to recover from the abuse they’ve just suffered. Then, if you must, get after that brewski.
Rest is another easily overlooked aspect of performance maintenance. Nonetheless, studies show that a single night of poor sleep dampens performance for at least a week! If you’re serious about crushing, you’ll want to avoid those fireside benders.
Good eats and good sleep allow you to climb hard, and—if you want to maintain fitness—that’s exactly what you need to do. However fun cruising vacation grades may be, doing so won’t keep you strong. Instead, if performance is your goal, you need to prioritize trying really hard when you go out. This doesn’t mean squeezing in twenty pitches and wearing your tips thin; on the contrary, it means putting in a quality burn every time you hop of the sharp end (and then stopping when quality lags).
2. Variety Is the Spice of… Power
With the pandemic waning and climbers nationwide suffering climbing trip withdrawal, many folks are heading out on months-long tours of the nation’s crags. Those who wish to perform at peak levels the entire time need to periodize their climbing in the same way they would their training. This means that if you’re going to spend two weeks jug hauling up the power endurance test-pieces of the Red, you would be wise to follow this with a stint of bouldering at Horse Pens before, say, heading north to project at Rumney. Alternatively, you can achieve the same by choosing projects in different styles at different points in your trip.
3. Arrive Prepared
Every climber’s road trip gear list should include not just climbing basics and a change of underwear, but a couple of choice training tools for rain days and active recovery. Throw a portable hangboard, like the Maverick, and a well-designed pinch block into your pack, and you’ll have everything you need to maintain finger and core strength. Beyond stretching and an easy hike, add a few easy hangs and pull-up sets to your rest day routine, and you’ll recover better. On rain or travel days, go hard on the hangs, leg lifts, or front levers…and you might just turn the decline around and actually gain strength while on the road!
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…