Training at the FlyCave
Climbing is one of the most complex sports involving a seemingly endless amount of inter-related components and to be a great all round climber it’s a mistake to focus on just one or two areas.
The best climbers are the ones who don’t have weaknesses and who make every attempt to keep all the balls in the air.
Give thought to skills such as your mental performance, technique and tactics and the physical components such as specific strength, endurance, flexibility and general fitness. Let’s also not forget about the food you eat and the amount of it! This has a massive impact on all the above.
Also remember that whether it’s indoor or outdoor climbing, it’s not enough to climb only once or twice a week as this won’t be enough to improve your strength and endurance. Three sessions a week is the benchmark which maximises your improvement rate, while also giving you plenty of time for recovery. This, coupled with general fitness training, flexibility sessions and watching what you eat will help focus you to become a better climber.
The Fly Cave has been a great training facility through the winter and now into the spring, helping build my endurance and general strength and conditioning. We’ve now built a 40/45 degree ‘woody’ specifically to build on the strength element of our training and also to build up more power.
Leo on the new 'woody' down the FlyCave
Now the days are getting longer and the weather’s better we’ll hopefully spend more time outside helping focus on elements such as tactics and the ‘mental performance’ side of climbing.
A winter icefall climbing really helps with the ‘mental’ side of things but there is nothing like getting back on the rock to help pull all this together. And, with a great base of the indoor training over the last few months in the FlyCave, this should be easier!
It doesn’t matter what element of climbing you’re enjoying at a particular time. All the elements need a foundation of training building on these key components, and then time spent actually doing it! And don’t forget, it should be fun! Practise the elements of climbing that you enjoy and not the ones you feel you should!
I remember Miguel Indurain, the famous Spanish Tour du France 5 times winner in the 90’s, being interviewed about turning professional and being told that “Isn’t it great that you will now be able to train twice as hard now you’re a professional”. Indurain’s reply was “Yes, it’s great that I’ve now turned professional but it means that I can now train less!”
Leo warming up on the blue circuit down the Flycave
Keep the training to a minimum of three sessions a week and keep the sessions focused on what you want the outcomes to be. As I’ve got older I train one session fewer a week, my sessions are a little shorter and much more focused and I’m actually climbing better.
Also remember to keep it fun! Chop and change your sessions regularly and try different things. Mix up your climbing partners and don’t get stuck in a rut, feeling like you are climbing well and feeling strong, when much of it is just ‘muscle memory’. Some great sessions can be following someone else’s routine/session and although this may seem a little easier at first glance, without any muscle memory it can be a great session, and you will feel a massive benefit!