5 Surefire Ways to Improve your Climbing

Andrew Kornylak
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Every climber wants to be a stronger climber. It doesn't matter what grade you currently climb, there is always a desire to move up to the next level and hopefully stay there; to eventually move on to the next grade and so on. It takes a lot of patience, commitment as well as professional advice to figure out what will actually work and to avoid any injuries. This list is not a training program or a specific hangboard workout promising V10s. This list is to the point and focuses on improving your entire climbing process. I sat down with Personal Trainers Adam Macke and Al Smith as well as professional climbers Wills Young and Lisa Rands, climbing coaches at High Point Climbing & Fitness, to ask their opinions on the topic.

1. Get a gym membership

Developing a regular schedule of climbing workouts will greatly benefit your outdoor climbing and is a necessity if you want to see steady improvement. The gaining popularity of climbing gyms in recent years has made it convenient to work on your climbing strength and technique. A good climbing gym also typically has strength training equipment as well as hang boards and campus or system boards.

2. Get a trainer

Sending your project requires strength, endurance as well as good technique. It's difficult to develop technique while lacking a solid foundation of strength. Climbing with muscle imbalances will lead to overuse injuries. A trainer can help you identify and properly train those areas where you most need it to move forward in your climbing. Personal Trainer Al Smith explains the benefits of training with a professional, "Unfortunately it's much too common to do strength exercises incorrectly, thus negating all of its benefits, also putting yourself at risk of injury. To have a trainer assess, guide and teach proper form, you instead reap maximum benefit from your efforts."

Lisa Rands instructing a young climber at High Point Climbing and Fitness
Lisa Rands instructing a young climber at High Point Climbing and Fitness Sofia Bunger

3. Get a climbing coach

Seeing a specialist in the sport you're trying to excel in is one of the best things you can do for your climbing. A great climbing coach watches you as you climb and gives you direct feedback on your technique. That coach can address your weaknesses and show you better and more effective ways to move. Lisa Rands, professional climber and Coach at High Point Climbing School, offers her thoughts, "An excellent coach will recognize flaws in technique and training that are limiting a climber's ability to reach his or her goals. A coach will give experienced climbers the motivation and confidence to change bad habits. For others, having a coach they can trust simply allows them to work out safely and efficiently."

4. Get an M.A.T. assessment

Sofia Bunger

Figure out what is not working. "Flexibility is a derivative of strength. Muscle tightness is secondary to muscle weakness. A limitation in motion is an indicator that one or more of the muscles that cross that axis cannot contract efficiently." Muscle Activation Technique (M.A.T.) is an effective way to assess and address weakness in your body. Certified M.A.T Trainer Adam Macke explains why this technique may be beneficial to you: "From the first day we started climbing we slowly learned recruitment patterns that improve control over our center of gravity as well as strengthen our limb movements. Unfortunately throughout our climbing career we often find ways to disrupt these ideal patterns. Once disrupted our brain and our bodies become experts at compensation and substitution. This compensatory pattern will become habitual as long as the pattern continues to be reinforced. Without addressing the weak links in isolation, one will never climb to their potential." An M.A.T. assessment will help in identifying weaknesses and ultimately improve your climbing as well as your over all well-being.

5. Climb

While training for climbing is necessary to improve, it is just as important as actually climbing for the pure enjoyment of it. Climb something outside every week. Get out to different crags and boulders and find projects that will feed and inspire your training indoors, and most of all, have a blast doing it.

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