But Sharma Doesn't Train...Or Does He?

It's a common excuse.  "But Sharma doesn't train."  Frankly, I could list hundreds of reasons why you aren't Chris Sharma, will never climb like Chris Sharma, and certainly can't afford to "not train" like Chris Sharma, but instead, I'll just focus on the excuse at hand.

La Dura Dura.  I'm guessing he didn't stick this first try...

But Sharma doesn't train.

Or does he?

Before I get started, I'm gonna go ahead and call bullshit on myself.  This is all speculation.  I'm sure I'll bump into Chris sometime in the next year, and I'll be sure to ask him if I'm right or full of shit.  Until then, you're just going to have to trust me.

If you will, allow me to hypothesize... Chris Sharma, through the course of his normal routine, is in fact training, despite merely calling it "climbing".  Here's how:

We can all agree that it's with some regularity that Sharma bolts or begins working on something that is either at the current cutting edge, or it is next level altogether.  The first order of business in this scenario is to do all the moves and be able to climb from bolt to bolt.  In the case of "La Dura Dura", Chris claims that before Adam began working on it, he had done all the moves, but couldn't link any of them together.  Lets assume that during this phase in a project he spends many of his climbing days linking very short sections of climbing.  Also, it's well known that Chris always has multiple projects going at once, and he likes to skip around from route to route to keep things interesting.  This is precisely why he can constantly "project" but avoid getting stale or plateauing.  Hard bouldering on a rope. A couple of weeks of this and he's essentially just completed a short but effective strength phase.

First Round First Minute. Only 25 moves long.

Now that he's done all the moves and linked short sections, it's time to make bigger links on any of the multiple projects that he has going.  Undoubtedly there are specific cruxes on many of these next level routes, and it would be naive to think that one of the best sport climbers on the planet just immediately begins redpoint attempts.  My guess is that he's done enough of these big numbers to know that his time is far better spent making bigger links, linking cruxes together, and resting on bolts in between short bursts of hard climbing.  Look at it this way, using the now famous "La Dura Dura" as the example again...  this route begins with 15 moves that are 15b/c on their own.  Adam says that he spent 8 weeks on that section alone.  8 weeks on 15 moves.  It's conceivable that with the route in his backyard, Chris has spent even more time on it, though in small chunks.  Assuming that in the early stages he was only linking it in sections rather than immediately getting to the last move, what we are looking at is a bonafide power phase.

It's been 4-6 weeks, maybe longer.  The links are now getting bigger, and pretty soon, real redpoint attempts will begin.  He's now linking big sections.  Completely dialed is the 30 feet of 14c climbing that follows the crux, and it's quite possibly thrown in at the end of the day or as part of the warmup just to keep it at the front of his memory.  More important is that it's well known that Chris has no qualms about trying multiple hard routes in a day.  On the day that he did the F.A. of his 15b "Fight or Flight", he first unsuccessfully tried "Chaxiraxi" (15b), and then later in the day completed the F.A. of the 15a portion of this route, "Chaxi".  On the day that he sent the much anticipated F.A. of "First Round First Minute", he started the day by getting a high point on a project, a proposed 15c called "Perfecto Mundo".  Incidentally, he said of trying "First Round" that day that he may as well try because he would "at the very least get some good training in". These weeks of working in this manner are a more than substantial way to build the anaerobic endurance needed for high end sport climbing, of which Chris is arguably the king.

Perfecto Mundo and perfecto training.

Beyond the idea that Chris Sharma is actually "training" when he goes out climbing are the habits he keeps, which fall neatly in line with the habits of a person who is training at a serious level.  Most recently, he claims to climb 4 days a week during the climbing season.  On his rest days he engages in other activities, be it bolting new routes, hiking to new crags, corresponding with sponsors, working on his house, or just plain enjoying life.  Like I mention above, he jumps from route to route, varying between long and pumpy to short and bouldery.  He's set his life up to be in a place where he can take advantage of good weather and an abundance of steep, hard to climb rock, while simultaneously having a home base and "normal" existence.

These things are not "training" per se, but I assure you that they contribute to the effectiveness of training, which I assure you that Chris Sharma is most definitely doing.