Train your brain

I’m excited to write a review of Dave MacLeod’s book 9 Out of 10 Climbers Make The Same Mistakes, but I think that in order to do it justice I should probably finish reading it first. Hopefully I can polish it off this weekend; it’s not terribly long and the writing is direct, so it ought to be a quick read. So far I like it a lot. MacLeod doesn’t pull any punches, and it’s very much a Big Picture book on training, which I like.

I decided a few months ago, after wading through a couple of different tomes on climbing training, that I haven’t reached a point where I’ll benefit much from a fancy regimen. When I was lifting in college, I can remember people who would spend all day on the internet trying to figure out how whether they should drink their protein shake before or after their workout, but never squatted and spent all their time doing preacher curls in front of a mirror.

The amazing Lynn Hill on Little Twin Owls, 11a.

That was how I felt, reading all these books on training. That I was missing the forest for the trees–lost in the details, I was trying to compensate for basic flaws like fear of falling by creating some ass-kicking hangboard workout. I decided to chuck all the training books out the window, at least for the moment, and just focus on getting out as much as possible to work on technique. At the same time Juan came along and convinced me that, really, I should just be leading all the time and generally avoid top-roping. He’s a persuasive guy. Getting out a lot, leading a lot, and falling a lot did wonders for my climbing, far more than any of my abortive attempts at complex gym workouts ever did.

Based on the first few pages, I think MacLeod is speaking precisely to my experience: he’s placing a strong emphasis on addressing weaknesses (usually mental or technical) rather than specific physical training regimens. I’m not very far into the book though, so I could be wrong here. I’ll write more later.

Regardless of whether that’s what MacLeod is ultimately driving at, I’d like to ask a question of all you climbers out there. I get the impression that most of us weekend warriors, who try to do most of our climbing outdoors, don’t even have the option of engaging in many exercises proscribed in training books since they all but require you to be in a gym. ARC training, which requires you to hog a route for upwards of 30 minutes, is a good example.

So: I’m curious if anyone I know has instituted a physical training regimen for climbing and seen noticeable results from it? I’m especially curious if anyone has periodized their training in a season where they were getting out nearly every weekend.

By the by, if you dig around on MacLeod’s site, you’ll see that he has a frequently updated blog dedicated to coaching topics. Really interesting, and it doesn’t get many comments, which is strange. I’m going to start reading it regularly and trying to comment, and if anybody else finds it interesting, I suggest you do likewise!

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