Firstly, you have to decide which category you are in. But don’t stress, it is natural to fluctuate between the two as circumstances change.
I’ve broken the categories down into the following. These categories are irrelevant to what grade you are at currently, or how long you have been climbing.
You see yourself as an occasional climber who does other sports/activities too. You may climb once a week, but you don’t feel commited to that either. You see climbing as a fun hobby on the side, not your main focus. You want to improve, but you are also happy staying consistent with your climbing.
You are focused on pushing your limits in climbing. You love the challenge and want to keep improving. You have scheduled climbing and training into your week as it is important to you. You may have set projects, or goals you wish to achieve.
Now that you have decided where you are, then we can decide if ‘just climbing’ is enough for you.
Recreational Climbers: Even if you climb infrequently, you can still be improving (though it may be subtle and slow). At the climbing gym, you could focus on specific areas, which can include the following: working on your footwork, body movement, route reading and your general climbing fitness.
If you tend to choose the same climbs/problems each week, don’t be afraid to try some different climbs that may not be ‘your style’. This will open you up to different types of moves and can increase your body awareness. Try some harder climbs that you know you will fall off. Expose yourself to tricky moves!
If you tend to have long rest periods between climbing, then you can reduce this to work on your fitness. But if you like to take long rests to recover and socialise, you can take this time to observe other climbers and learn a lot from them about how they move.
These are just some ways you can improve by being at the wall and ‘just climbing’.
If you are already doing what I have mentioned above, and you are not happy with your climbing progress, then you may need to reconsider which catergory you are in.
Performance Climbers: If you have chosen to put yourself into this category, then you are willing to put in extra effort and time into your training. Firstly, I do not recommend simply ‘just climbing more’. Yes, increasing frequency can help your climbing, but I believe there are many things you can do outside of ‘just climbing’ that will be most beneficial. With training you are unfamiliar with, please seek for professional advice before starting.
These are some ideas:
Antagonist Training: The best way to deal with injuries is to not get them in the first place. Rather than spend your time doing rehab, you can be doing prehab. Strengthening your finger/forearm extensors, rotator cuff, triceps, and chest can improve stability of your joints. Tools such as the Flex-Ex, Armaid, Rice Bucket, Accupressure Rings, can help too (I have posted Antagonist Workouts below)
Flexibility Training: Join the Yoga bandwagon, or stretch on your own at home. There are many online videos you can follow. Increasing your flexibility can increase your climbing performance as your joints can move through their full range of motion. Not convinced? Last weeks’ blog was ‘To stretch or not to stretch. So jump over to that after.
Strength Training: For some people, ‘just climbing’ is simply not enough to build muscle and increase strength. I have found this to be common amongst the ladies. This is very broad but you can include training with rings, hangboards, specific machines, freeweights, and bodyweight resistance. Get a strength program designed for you that you can add into your week.
Other Training: This can be anything else that you are interested in adding that will help your climbing performance. Swimming, running, Pilates, Crossfit are ways to help your physical strength. In terms of mental strength, you can learn to understand the human body and the muscles/biomechanics involved. This will help your visualisation, goal setting, and mental focus in climbing. This list can go on forever, but please remember how important rest and nutrition is too. Your performance will be stunted if you are not recovering enough or fueling your body with the good stuff.
Please note, there is nothing wrong with going from Performance to Recreational Climbing. Your focus may shift as circumstances changes, so don’t put pressure on yourself. Just remember, climbing is still meant to be fun!
I hope you have found a few of these points helpful. Nip over to Videos to check out some more options.
Take home note: What you are doing currently is absolutely fine if you are happy with your current climbing. Above is what you can add to your weekly regime instead of feeling like you have to ‘just climb more’. Everyone will have slightly different opinions.