Off-route tactical changes might help you in your efforts to bust through a plateau. Consider adjusting variables such as your warm-up protocol, amount of rest between efforts, project attempts per day, and being attentive to proper hydration and fueling. Read on for pointers in how to revise your approach in each of these areas to help facilitate faster sending.
While warming up is necessary for peak performance no matter who you are, experimenting with changing what you do to prepare for your project efforts can make a difference – particularly if you are a climber who likes to climb lots of pitches to warm up, or conversely, one who shirks the warm up entirely. People who say they don’t need to warm up are risking injury and underperformance – this is basically just like saying, “I’m too lazy to figure out an intelligent warm-up protocol that works for my body.” Bodies function better with a warm-up; warming up makes muscles more elastic, speeds up reaction time, and allows for better nutrient transport to and waste removal from working muscles, among other benefits.
But – you can also warm up too much and undercut your performance, as a recent study demonstrated, an interesting read on perception vs. reality in warm-up protocols. Of course, everyone’s ideal warming up routine will not be exactly the same, since different bodies function differently. But playing around to figure out exactly how much of a warm up and how hard you need for optimal performance can help you send, and being aware that the right warm-up for you might vary depending on your project, too (meaning that when you tackle a new project, your old warm-up routine might not be ideal for your new project).
In a similar fashion, knowing how long to rest between attempts at a project route can be the difference between a send or a fail, as can knowing how many attempts to give per day. This really depends on the route and on you as a climber, and again, it is up to you to figure out the ideal amount of resting time between efforts to give you the best chance to send. For me, an hour off between go’s is usually standard for a hard effort.
For attempts per day, mine can vary from one to four, as this has to do with the style of the project and how hard it is for me. My general rule is that if the moves start feeling inordinately harder than normal or I start flailing on moves I can usually do, my efforts for the day are over, no matter what I thought I might be able to do that day. Another more subtle aspect to be aware of is that the first time you link through moves that you haven’t done before – say taking the route from three hangs to two hangs, or two to one – you have increased the intensity of your effort, and you may be unable to repeat such an effort that day even if you’re used to giving more than one burn per day. You may also need more days off to recover fully from this increased intensity. It’s your responsibility to understand this effect and to make the most of it – with full recovery, your body will be more likely to be able to repeat or even surpass that effort on your next day on the project.
Getting into great detail about what it means to hydrate and fuel properly is way beyond the scope of this article, and I’ve written about this in detail before. Suffice it to say here that you should be attentive to regularly sipping small amounts of sports drink containing 6 to 8 percent carbohydrates throughout a day of difficult efforts, as well as making sure you refuel right after each difficult effort with a small amount of well-tolerated solid food – not right before! Feeling actively hungry or thirsty during a climbing day is best avoided, as is feeling overly full/gassy or being waterlogged from drinking too much at one time. Dehydration can result in a serious performance deficit, as can underfueling. Make sure you’re supporting your body’s efforts by staying comfortably hydrated and fueled throughout each climbing day.
Summing it up – if you’re plateauing on your project, on the days when you’re out there trying it, consider employing the following tactical changes: Change your warm-up protocol. Rest more between burns. Do fewer burns. Eat/hydrate more appropriately.
Next Up: Plateauing on Your Climbing Project? Try This! Suggestions to Help You Send (3): Tactical Changes (On-Route)