Tactical No-Brainers: Easy Decisions to Help Promote Performance Improvement (B)
Stack the odds in your favor when you’re climbing and training by paying attention to the following tactical areas (some which I’ve discussed in previous entries, and some which I’ll discuss in greater detail in future entries):
- Stopping While You’re Ahead. Don’t climb yourself into the ground, especially if you’re planning on multiple climbing days in a row or have very few rest days planned in the next few weeks/training cycle. Climbing until you can’t hang on anymore, even on easy routes, isn’t the most efficient or effective way to get better at climbing. Instead, stop when you aren’t able to put quality efforts in on harder routes anymore, or when you start to feel your technical abilities deteriorating (training bad technique isn’t smart!). Warm down on an easier pitch or two or three, or just with the hike out and some stretching. You’ll recover more quickly and probably will improve more quickly by being a little more conservative on this front.
- Resting Enough. I’ve talked about this before. Resting is probably one of the most overlooked and underused/misunderstood keys of implementing a successful athletic training program. Not resting enough can make you never recovered enough to climb at your peak levels. No matter how hard you may already be able to climb while carrying a huge load of accumulated fatigue, you would likely be able to climb even harder if you learned how to rest more effectively and to periodize your training/performance schedule (remember – athletes can only hold true athletic peaks for a maximum of two to three weeks). By resting enough, I mean all aspects of resting – from the rests between efforts, to sleep, to rest days, to maximizing your recovery on rest days. Read Ways to Improve Your Sport Climbing/Bouldering (5): Resting (EASY-MEDIUM) and Ways to Improve Your Sport Climbing/Bouldering (6): Promoting and Maximizing Recovery (EASY) for more on this.
- Stress Reduction. Stress can negatively affect athletic performance and recovery, both. If you’re traveling to an overseas climbing area, for example, the stress from the journey can cause you to underperform or feel more tired than usual. Take this into account and allow yourself the time and space needed to adjust (if you have time), or cut yourself some slack by adjusting your outcome expectations (if you don’t have time). Normal life stressors can definitely impact your climbing training and performance as well; if you had a particularly difficult day at work or just argued with a loved one, you might find that climbing or training is exactly what you need to blow off steam, but you may also find that your performance isn’t the best, depending on who you are and how you handle such situations. Keep in mind that some people perform better than others in self-imposed stressful situations (i.e. competitions or redpoint/onsight pressure); you can work to improve your reaction to such situations by conditioning through repetition as well as developing mental tactics that you can draw upon whenever you find yourself in a climbing-induced stressful situation (more on this in the next series).
This multipart series of blogs and articles starts here, in case you have to catch up – you’ll also find a full table of contents, complete with links, in that entry. My designation of each area as “easy,” “medium” or “hard” is purely subjective. I’ve arrived at the designations from my personal experience garnered from 20+ years of climbing along with observations I’ve made as a climbing coach/certified personal trainer. You may find some of the areas harder or easier to change. You also might not agree with me or my take on things. That’s fine – feel free to take it or leave it as you wish! Also, remember that the information I provide here is purely offered as advice and that no exercises or training program should be undertaken without receiving medical clearance from a healthcare professional.
One other caveat: As will be true for all of the entries and articles in this series, if you’ve already mastered or maxed out the topic at hand to the best of your ability level, you’ll reap far fewer benefits or none at all from my suggestions – good for you that you figured it out, but sorry I couldn’t help you out more. Happy climbing and training!