I spend a lot of time at climbing gyms. I mean, it is what I do really, so I guess it is no surprise, but I reckon I clock up close to 40 hours at gyms around Melbourne every week, setting, climbing coaching, and I see lots of people come, climb, sit, and go.
These days, everyone complains about how busy they are, and I am definitely no exception. I may spend a lot of time at the gym, but the amount of time I really get to train is actually pretty limited. An hour after coaching, a couple hours after setting, I squeeze it in where I can. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely have more time than the average person working the 9-5, but I do understand working around a busy schedule, many of the top climbers I train are in year 12 and are majorly overloaded with study (not saying they do it… but anyway).
So, with my bouldering workshop coming up, I have been thinking a lot about how you can make the most of your time at the gym, especially if it is limited. There are heaps of blogs and articles that walk you through training, how to get stronger, how to climb longer, but where do you start, how do you know what to do!? Well, here are 3 things I think can really max out the benefit of your time at the gym.
1. Warm Up Properly
I have seen people walk in, put their shoes on and jump on their project….. I have also seen people, walk in, climb 1000 laps of easy climbs before they try anything hard. Both are bad and will significantly decrease what you actually get out of your session.
Know yourself, experiment a little with your routine and get it right for you. A good system is to start with a little cardio (maybe ride to the gym if it’s not too far!?) then do a few easy climbs and finish with a few hard moves and some dynamic stretching. Deep static stretches actually reduce the amount of power your muscles can output, so save that for after your session.
No one is exactly the same and neither are your ideal warmups, figure it out and make it a ritual!
2. Set Goals
What are you training for? What do you want to achieve? “Climbing strong”, or “getting strong” is not enough. Be specific about these goals, know where you want to go, otherwise it is impossible to get there!
Too many times do I have people come up to me and ask how to “get strong”. My answer is usually what do you want to get strong at? 1 armers? Squats? Front Levers?? I have news for you, being able to do an inverted iron cross, or a 5 minute front lever is great and will definitely put you in the ‘strong’ class, but if you want to climb that super technical slab climb you are in love with (god knows why), it’s not gonna help you!
3. Work your weakness
This one sucks. We all hate it, because it can turn what looks like the worlds best climber into a bumbling newbie. Sure, you can climb steep hard moves all your life, but if you really want to improve you gotta work those slab problems. Figure out what you suck at and do it until it’s easy. This is the ultimate advise, because I guarantee it works every time.
And figuring out what you suck at is easier than you think….
Lets say you are trying a boulder and you keep getting to the crux, a slimy open hand pinch with a cross through. Get your friend to film you in slow-motion and watch it. Look at why you are falling off. Are you letting go? Can you just not do the move? Does your foot pop off? Pay attention to the details and ask yourself exactly what happens. Do this for 4 or 5 problems and find the pattern. Try and be specific and direct, sure, if we want to, we can say we are weak at everything, but try and pick the biggest one – Here are a few of the main ones to get you going:
- Weak arms, just can pull in or lock off
- Weak fingers, can’t hold on when others just can (be careful here, make sure you pay attention to hand positions! If you don’t know what I mean, ask someone!! Or me…)
- Weak Core, Just can’t get your feet up to where your hands are!
- Poor flexibility, can’t get a leg up….?
- Poor footwork, you just can’t keep your feet on, or your foot slides off.
- Poor Route Reading, get lost or confused and waste energy figuring it out.
For me, it’s resistance. Put me on anything more than 8 moves long and I get pumped. Easy fix, climb longer hard climbs……. but then I am allergic to ropes (joking, but still)…..
Hopefully, this helps you busy workers out there!…… Alternatively, you can always quit your job and live at the pines at Arapiles, Climbing every day and eating out of the IGA dumpster……… That will get you strong!….. Or sick…….