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  • Writer's pictureTom Vachet

How To Train To Become A Proficient Rock Climber

Rock clmber ascending a face
Ascending The Face

Rock climbing is an exciting and demanding sport that requires strength, flexibility, and technique. It is not just a physical challenge but also a mental one that requires focus and endurance. To become a proficient rock climber, you need to train and practice consistently. In this blog post, we will explore some tips on how to train to become a proficient rock climber.

I was introduced to the sport of rock climbing nearly 40 years ago through friends, and frequent excursions to the many available locations in the Mid-South. Within ten years or so I had expanded my horizons to the Eastern and Western States, tackling rock faces and routes of increasing height, length, and difficulty from the Shawgunks of New York to the Rocky Mountains, to Yosemite in California. My many adventures into wild places also brought me into contact with many pioneers of the sport, creating a wide assortment of friendships. Inevitably there came a point in time where I began to instruct others.

Rock climbing is a sport with inherent risk. I have witnessed accidents and seen friends injured or killed, often from inattention or poor preparation. Those risks can be mitigated through proper planning and preparation.

Build Your Strength and Endurance

Rock climbing requires a lot of upper body strength and endurance. To build strength, you should focus on exercises that target your forearms, biceps, triceps, back, and shoulders. You can do pull-ups, push-ups, rows, and lat pull-downs to strengthen your upper body. But learning how to stay over your feet, allowing your legs to provide support is essential. Endurance can be improved by performing cardio exercises such as running, cycling, or swimming. Climbing stairs or using a stair-climbing machine can also help build endurance.

Improve Your Flexibility

Flexibility is important in rock climbing, as it enables you to reach for holds that are hard to reach and maintain your balance on the wall. Yoga is a great way to improve flexibility and balance. It focuses on breathing, stretching, and holding poses that can help you develop core strength, balance, and flexibility.

Train Your Technique

To become a proficient rock climber, you need to develop good climbing technique. Good technique involves efficient movements and weight distribution to conserve energy and minimize fatigue. You can train your technique by working on specific climbing drills, such as footwork, body positioning, and hand placement. You can also improve your technique by watching taking instruction at climbing gyms, or from professional guides, watching climbing videos, observing more experienced climbers, and practicing regularly.

Keep a Training Schedule

It is essential to keep a training schedule to become a proficient rock climber. A good schedule should include a balance of strength training, cardio, flexibility, and technique drills. You should aim to climb two to three times a week, made more attainable with the numerous indoor facilities available. Supplement your climbing training with additional workouts or activities. Keeping a training journal can be helpful for tracking progress and setting goals.

Practice Mental Toughness

Rock climbing requires mental toughness and focus. I have often said climbing in high places is like a chess game. You need to be able to plan your moves and stay calm and focused when facing challenging or dangerous climbs. To improve your mental toughness, you can practice visualization, relaxation, and breathing techniques. You can also push yourself out of your comfort zone and climb routes that challenge you mentally and physically.

Training to become a proficient rock climber requires dedication, consistency, and hard work. Building strength and endurance, improving flexibility, training your technique, keeping a training schedule, and practicing mental toughness are critical components of becoming a proficient rock climber. With dedication and a commitment to training, anyone can become a proficient rock climber and enjoy the thrill and challenge of this exciting sport.

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