Intermediate Climbers: Do You Train in the Gym?

I switched to a new phase in my lifting program on Tuesday. I had almost entirely brand new exercises to learn and perform, including variations on my main lifts. Surprisingly, it was really annoying. The efficient routine I had down pat was all out of whack. I wasted time looking for equipment in the gym, figuring out how much weight to use, and checking the coaching cues for new exercises.

Why was I so annoyed? Change is necessary to progress,  since the body adapts to what you’re throwing at it in the gym. Thinking through my reaction to the change in my lifting program got me thinking about how I train (or don’t) in the climbing gym, and I thought I’d share my strategies in today’s post.

Flickr user wendylix with her spotter, Austin. Photo by Jim Thornburg.

I don’t follow a specific program, but I never walk into the climbing gym without a goal for the night in mind. Here are 3 training tricks I’ve used to give myself direction and purpose in my gym sessions.

These will probably be most useful for intermediate climbers. If I’m climbing 2 days a week, I’ll do one of these sessions one day, and then use the other day for a more chill, have-fun-and-just-climb-with-good-technique sort of workout.

1.  Do 10 routes 5.hard-ish or harder

5.hard-ish should be a grade that you can usually climb relatively smoothly, but which challenges you, i.e. if you’re tired, or unfamiliar with the route, you might have falls. Climb well and focus on your technique, trying to keep a consistent level throughout the session. Aim to complete 10 routes that are 5.hard-ish or harder by the end of the session with no falls. This strategy works well for bouldering or for route climbing. It allows you to get volume while focusing on climbing well.

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