Many people may think of rock climbing as a sport that is only for adrenaline junkies and hardcore athletes. While you don’t have to be an adrenaline junkie, you must practice consistently to get favorable results.
How Many Days a Week Should You Rock Climb? You should climb about 3 days per week. If you’re a beginner, you shouldn’t do more than four or five days a week. As you start gaining strength, you can switch into a two-days-on/one-off or a three-on/one-off.
One factor you should take into account is your rest and recovery when you aren’t training. If you are getting more rest and eating healthy, then you will be able to take on a heavier training schedule.
The Basic Schedule
There will be different training schedules for everybody, but there is a very basic training structure that you can use to derive your own routine.
|Rookie climbers with a rating of 5.7 to 5.9||climb at a maximum of 3 days a week. You could climb more than this if you made sure their second day was very light and specifically based on endurance.|
|Mid-grade climbers with a mid-grade of 5.10 to 5.11||three days a week as a minimum requirement. You should have no problem climbing for four days a week, and you will most likely see a boost in performance.|
|The hardened climbers with ratings of 5.12 to 5.14||climb for 5 to 6 days out of the week to keep seeing results. Keep in mind that this doesn’t mean it should be done all year round, and it should only be done at the high points of training.|
|All climbers should be cycling their days so that they might do an intense strength-based climb for the first day. The following day should be a sort of endurance and power-based day with medium intensity. Lastly, you will finish off the cycle with a lighter day stamina-based exercise.|
If you are really set on getting stronger, then you can even see results by doing one day on and one day off. Remember that rest is more important than the quantity of training when it comes to strength. In the matter of endurance, you just have to put in your time because you can speed through this process.
No matter where you were in the last season, you should always start your beginning weeks with around three days of climbing. After an extended time out of season, your body will simply be unprepared for the stress and recovery you expect it to handle.
As the season starts progressing, you can slowly increase the number of days you train, so you can peak in your performance.
If you have trouble planning out your week for training or you have an inconsistent work schedule, then try to cycle between strength and bouldering with endurance and routes while resting every third day.
Can You Rock Climb Every Day?
You can climb every day but not for a long period of time. This could only be done by the best-conditioned climbers, and the days they do climb could not be too intense. If they’re too intense, they will soon get sore and hurt at the end of the week.
Rock Climbing Ratings Explained
Climbing grades have been determined and measures to easily tell climbers how difficult a climbing route is.
The grades will often change based on where the climbing area is located:
- Sport climbing
The Yosemite Decimal System is used to evaluate the climbing grades in the American system. A class of 1 is when you are hiking, while class 5 is technical rock climbing. The 5 grades range from the easiest of 5.0 to the most difficult in the world of 5.15.
How Does This Grade Vary?
To understand this, you must take a look at something in the Utah desert, which has a reputation for its’ crack and slab climbing. For those in the climbing community that are deeply familiar with this construct and location, it will probably be given a rating of 5.7, a fairly easy rating.
However, if you aren’t familiar with this type of climbing it will obviously be more difficult for you. The climber ratings can be very relative to the community giving them and may not always represent how hard they are for you personally.
In places such as Yosemite or Colorado, the climbing routes were made in the 50s and 60s. The highest grades were at 5.8 and 5.9. Later some technical innovation allowed people to climb harder, so since the historical scale is unchanged, the climbers have changed. The scale doesn’t change to protect the route’s integrity.
What Should I Expect from Climbing Grades?
Many times you can expect a route with a rating between 5.0 to 5.7 to be fairly easy. A rating of 5.8 to 5.10 will be moderately difficult for most climbers. 5.11 and 5.12 are considered hard, while anything above 5.13 is the hardest in the world and should only be attempted by the most seasoned climbers.
These grades only take the difficulty into account; it totally ignores the danger factor. There is another rating for dangers which goes by the same metrics of movies:
A climb that is fairly moderate but has some points where falls could be fatal would be rated a 5.9 R. Local climbers will get even more specific as they attempt to pinpoint the difficulty as much as possible.
This is where the + and – signs come into play. If you have a 5.7+, then it is safe to say that it is closer to a 5.8a, which is harder to climb than a 5.9+.
Some climbing, such as bouldering, uses their own scale. This goes from V0-V16, where V0 is a piece of cake, and V16 is the very hardest. This system also takes into account the muscular moves, foot placements, and difficulty of many holds.
The whole grading system is obviously very subjective, so you cannot always take it at face value. You should always be prepared for the worst, so go by your own ability and find out the culture of the area instead of going solely by the number.
15 Rock Climbing Training Tips
Whether you are training for an important trip or you just want to be a better and stronger rock climber, here are some tips and tricks for you to improve as efficient as possible.
Always remember the words of the climbing legend of the 80s who said that “the best training for climbing is climbing.” If you want to get better at climbing, then you should not run marathons but do a lot of routes and develop your climbing strength through things like bouldering, not lifting weights.
You may actually do more harm than good if you lift weights because you will build muscle bulk that weighs you down instead of keeping you light and agile.
You may not want to start out at the easier levels and instead go straight to the deep end for an extreme challenge. Even if you are very strong and in great shape from other sports, if you participate in this, it is a bad idea.
Climbing requires very specific tendons and muscles, which can be very fragile. Other sports won’t develop these muscles nearly as much as climbing. If you attempt something too extreme, then injuries will easily arise. Make sure you set a slow enough pace to work up these muscles.
3. Look at the Big Picture
There are many interlinking components to climbing, so it is important that you understand how all these different factors relate to one another. This means it is a big mistake to focus on a few areas of climbing instead of being well rounded.
The very best climbers are those that don’t have any weak spots, and you don’t have any weak spots when you train everything as hard as you can. There are three main categories to look at:
- Physical components
- Support systems
Some of these factors may take priority over other ones, even though they are all important. This is because you need to make sure they are all fairly equal, and you don’t drastically lack in any one area.
Say that you have great strength but no technique and your lifestyle if a wreck. This will greatly hinder you, and the extra training in strength will not help you as much as technique training will.
If you are getting too stressed out, then remember to take a step back and get some rest and quality nutrition in your system. Stress can cause many problems, and getting rid of it is a very important skill.
4. Climb at a Minimum of Three Days a Week
Climbing any less than this will make it very hard for you to gain any real increase in endurance or strength. You may get better at certain techniques, but you will not be a great climber if your strength never increases. Three days per week is the bare minimum to increase your performance without risking injury.
5. Practice Consistently
You can take a week off every once in a while, but if you do this too much, you will realize that you aren’t making any gains. Climbing needs consistent and steady practice to be improved.
6. Technique and Skills First
You may have heard many veteran climbers say that you should first learn some skills and techniques before you focus on strength. This is because you need to put down firm roots, so bad habits never form.
Some sections of rock climbing may seem very logical and pure common sense, but don’t take this for granted. Other skills, such as moves for overhangs, are very complex that you would likely never pick up yourself unless shown.
If you want to be a great climber, then you should get a good grasp on all the techniques you are going to be using, so you have great muscle memory down the road.
7. Develop a Good Leading Head
If leading is something that is new to you, then you should try to get as many easy routes out of the way as possible before you start hitting your limit.
Some climbers even suggest that you practice falling on these easier routes to get over a possible fear of falling. Otherwise, this fear can slowly creep into your mind as you try harder routes.
Many instructors suggest the exact opposite, so it should be clear that the suggestion is for indoor climbing, not outdoor climbing, which is what many climbing instructors are referring to.
If you are going to attempt these practices these falls, then you need a reliable partner and a “dynamic belay system.” If you have no clue what this device is then you should not attempt this.
Slowly work your way up and fall with the clip attached above you. If you aren’t sure how this works exactly, then try looking at some “drop clip” videos, such as this one.
If you are deathly afraid of falling on these smaller routes, then you will get really scared on bigger ones, which will limit you from being a great climber.
8. Work on Your Conversion
Climbing indoors is fairly different from climbing on real rocks outdoors. It will be much harder to convert your skills indoors to the outdoors if there is no crossover.
Try to experience climbing every type of rock as much as possible to broaden your experience. This is, of course, assuming that you don’t want to be an exclusive climber, but you want to climb all sorts of locations.
Remember not to get ahead of yourself in these environments and to stay well within your comfortable grade before you know what to expect.
9. Get a Good ‘Warm-Up Instinct’
It is imperative for you to get a good warm-up routine established so that you can avoid as many injuries as possible. You should try some light jogging to get your blood moving and your body temperature rising.
Next, try some more dynamic exercises such as finger clenches, hip circles, arm swings, and leg swings. After that, do some traverses and let them become harder and harder as you progress. Be careful not to get a “pump” this means you shouldn’t feel much constriction in your muscles. You need to get a few minutes to rest in between these to avoid the pump.
Now you can start climbing but start with the easier grades so that you don’t hurt yourself. It may take 45 minutes before your body is ready for some higher grade routes.
Climbing requires a great amount of discipline and body awareness, so be careful that you don’t rush anything,or you may hurt yourself or just climb really poorly. Keep your body adjusted to a routine, so it knows what to expect.
10. Put Endurance Before Strength
There have been endless times where beginners leap directly to the boulder walls and become injured shortly after. Bouldering is the highest echelon of climbing; it is the most intense.
As with any sport, you need to have a good endurance framework established to strengthen you up before you attempt the most difficult trials.
What this effectively means is that you should do climbs that are well below your limit that you can master before you do climbs where you don’t know the techniques and the strength required is above you.
You should also make sure that you rest for about five minutes between each climb to keep your arms from gassing out. Some climbers recommend doing double or triple laps of some of these easier routes to prepare you for the longer routes outside.
11. Separate Routes from Bouldering
Many beginners will tend to mix and match routes and bouldering. If you work on each of these separately, it will give your mind and body much better results. Try to shoot for one bouldering session a week and two route sessions.
When you start bouldering, it should be all about mileage and technique. You will experience many different forms and inevitably develop them. The most important thing you can do while bouldering, in the beginning, is experiencing the full range of different angles, holds, and moves.
Pay particular attention to the rounded and sloped holds so that you get specific practice because these are usually the harder ones to get used to.
Experiment around with different methods until you find ones that work best for you. You can sometimes mimic what you see others doing, but be careful not to copy somebody with a poor technique.
13. Training for Supportive Strength
When you want to enter the next level of climbing, you should start some of this training using a fingerboard or pull-up bar. The kind of strength you develop from this will allow you to turn up your climbing volume, and you can then try out steeper climbs.
With these bars or boards, you should attempt two-armed pull-ups and dead hangs (half-crimp grip). Make sure you are sufficiently warmed up before this training because it could result in more injuries.
14. Try to Avoid High-Intensity Training
Since your climbing muscles and tendons are very fragile, this type of training can easily cause damage to not only your body but your technique as well.
15. Keep Doing General Fitness
If you are starting to climb from a background that is rooted in sports and fitness, then you may not need to worry much about general fitness because participating in these will keep you fairly balanced.
Don’t get carried away with fitness training because climbing is the priority, but you should still do some push-ups, planks, squats, and stretches when you can to keep the rest of your body in good shape.
The times you go rock climbing will vary throughout your time climbing as well as what you do on these days. If you are a very casual climber that doesn’t get very intense climbing in, you will probably be able to go more often, even though you won’t improve as much.
Never overestimate the durability of your climbing muscles and tendons because one injury can take you out of climbing for a fairly long time just because you weren’t able to take a rest day.