The #1 Reason Why Your Climbing Training Doesn't Work

Do as I say, not as I do. I wish those instructions actually worked, but they never do. Fact is, I train hard. I train smart. Most of the people I work with do the same, and I'm not shy about telling them that if they are taking shortcuts, they are only hurting themselves. But here's where it goes wrong... wrong for them, but right for me, that is. I don't climb outside locally during training season.

At 90 degrees with 90% humidity, I'm going to stay in the gym. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

That doesn't mean that it's right for you. More than likely, it isn't. Most of the people I work with have only been climbing seriously for a few years, and they all stand to gain a wealth of experience by grinding through the heat of a summer or suffering through snowy, freezing days. I've climbed thousands of routes outside, in every condition imaginable; they've climbed 30 or 40 routes TOTAL.

You  CANNOT shortcut experience, and you don't get climbing experience in the gym.

I see it over and over again: a climber trains hard all summer long, never touching rock until the prime season arrives. They go outside for ONE day, and send me a frantic email on the way home.

"It didn't work!!!!  I fell on a 5.10!!!! I can't believe it.... I trained so hard but I got WEAKER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

It takes me a minimum of a few routes to get back into real rock mode. That's after thousands of routes of every style - slabs, faces, steep caves, roofs, cracks, corners, roof cracks, offwidths, chimneys, sport, trad, runout scary headpoints, etc., etc..

You've got 40 routes under your belt? Expect about four or five days AT LEAST before you get comfortable, and that's only if you've ever been comfortable to begin with, and if those four or five days happen in the span of a couple of weeks.

40 routes on your all time ticklist and you only climb outside twice a month? Expect to spend half of your season getting comfortable. In fact, you shouldn't have a "season," you should just go climbing EVERY CHANCE YOU GET, ALL YEAR LONG.

Put simply, the wider the base of your pyramid, the less chance it has of toppling over.

I know lots of 5.12, and even 5.13 climbers, who skip the less than desirable days, and because they are climbing 5.12 or 5.13, it seems they've been successful anyway. Not so. It's not uncommon for those climbers to spend their first two or three attempts on a route just getting the jitters out. Let's say those two or three attempts take up a whole day, which isn't a stretch. Over the course of a season, even if you're the type that sits around most of the day, that's at least 10-12 attempts.

That's 5 or 6 days of prime temps that you've WASTED.

Here are the facts. No amount of training will make you comfortable in a performance. Not for a job, not for a musical, not for climbing. You MUST spend time in the actual arena to become comfortable in that arena. There are no shortcuts.

Experience trumps training. Every time.

You know that girl who never trains, but always seems to out climb you, without even trying hard? The one you burn off in the gym and spray beta at because your ego demands you assert your dominance? You know why you don't see her in the gym on the weekends during the training season? It's because she's outside, getting experience.

You're getting stronger, but she's getting better.  

God forbid she discovers training! Your poor little ego wouldn't stand a chance.

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