Identifying and Working Weaknesses

In an effort to tackle this topic, I've decided to start by listing some of the major aspects of climbing fitness and movement that you should think about when identifying your strengths buy dihydrocodeine online uk and weaknesses. Go through this list and make your own list of the specifics that are most challenging for you. Spend time each week tackling two or three of the areas where you know you need improvement.

  1. Types of holds - jugs, crimps, slopers, pinches, pockets. Don't avoid the types of holds that are most difficult for you. If you feel weak on slopers, for example, go straight for the new sloper route next time you're at the gym. Your ability to improve on a route like that is based mostly on your expectations. Set the grade aside, and view the route strictly as "training". Your goal should be to learn something about how to climb on slopers, not to send the route.
  2. Types of movements - static moves, dynamic moves, deadpoints, lock-offs, cross-throughs, drive-bys, heel hooks, drop knees, turned-out moves, backsteps, flagging, toe hooks, bicycles. Create short sequences for yourself and your partners that use one or two types of movements, and repeat the sequences several times. Make the moves harder by taking away intermediates, making footholds smaller, or making the moves more out-of-balance.
  3. Specific angles - slab, varying degrees of steep, aretes, dihedrals, roofs. Create drills on the angles that are most difficult for you; challenge yourself to the newest route on that angle in the gym - even if it's intimidating, remember that when you're training a weakness, you must adjust your level of expectation.
  4. Body tension - core strength and coordination. One way to look at body tension is the ability of your core to connect the actions of your limbs. It's the link between upper and lower body. It's the ability to keep your feet on the wall when you're extended, or to control a swing and kick your feet back on with accuracy. We often need body tension most when either the terrain is very steep, or we're at full extension (meaning we can just barely reach the next hold). So train these two aspects of climbing specifically: give yourself drills on steep angles, like taking two holds in your hands, and walking your feet across a sequence of footholds without letting them fall off. Then use the same hands and feet, but this time intentionally cut your feet loose between every foot move to practice controlling the body when you're feet aren't on the wall. The smaller the hand and footholds, and the farther away they are from each other, the harder this drill will be.
  5. Footwork - foot matching/switching, foot positioning - using primarily the big toe (as opposed to the middle of the foot), position of the foot in relation to the ankle. Remember that our footwork is at it's worst when we are tired, so that's the time to focus on it even more. Next time you're feeling very pumped and are struggling to stay on the wall, focus in hard on your footwork - a little more accuracy can help you hang on for a few extra moves.
  6. Overall fitness - body weight, strength-to-weight ratio, cardiovascular fitness (see Endurance Training - Part II), strength (upper body, core, legs/explosive power), power endurance. Improvement in your climbing will come from your overall fitness as well as specific movement skills.

In addition to the above specifics, here are some general recommendations for working on weaknesses and improving your climbing:

  1. Identify and work your weaknesses. Some of our weaknesses are obvious to us already. Some are not so obvious and will require deeper self-reflection and/or outside observation from others. Spend at least 3-4 hours per week specifically training the aspects of climbing you find the most challenging.
  2. Identify your best method of learning. Some people are visual learners, others are more cerebral and like to have things explained to them. If you are a visual learner, start spending more time watching other climbers and trying to identify what makes them succeed or struggle on different types of movement. If you like to analyze things, think them through, and have them explained, start asking your climbing partners how a move "feels" to them, or ask them to watch you and tell you what you're doing differently. Either way, begin to pay more attention to the subtle aspects of movement - where a climber places her flagged foot, where the hips are positioned, how much bend is in the arms.
  3. Climb with climbers who are stronger than you. Learning from others can be invaluable. It's so important to have at least one partner who is a little better than you to give you a challenge. You won't benefit from this however, if you are overly competitive or resentful of this person. You really do have to set aside your ego and try to observe what it is about that person's climbing that makes him/her so strong. For example, if your partner is a little taller than you, it's not productive to assume that he/she can always climb something quicker just because of his/her height. Look at the things this person does well in their movement and training practices that can help you.
  4. Climb with men and women. Most of my training partners over the years have been men. I'm assuming that this is in part due to the fact that climbing has for many years been a male-dominated sport (in terms of numbers). More and more women are climbing now, and the scales are tipping, which I find really inspiring. As I am able to have more female climbing partners that share my intensity and addiction to training and improving, I see the significant benefit of climbing with other women. We often share a common mental approach to climbing and analyzing movement. We are often shorter than men, have to work harder to maintain upper body strength, and thus find similar solutions to getting through hard moves and sequences that differ from those of our male climbing partners. We also tend to be very nurturing, patient and supportive of each other; I love climbing with other women for all of these reasons. However, I still believe that climbing with men regularly is extremely beneficial as well. Most of the men I've climbed with have a level of intensity (many of them describe it as "getting angry") that not many of my female partners have had. They are taller and physically stronger than me; they can reach and power their way through moves that I struggle to do. Initially I responded to this by feeling that they had so many advantages, and that everything was just easier for them. I soon learned though, that I could find sneaky beta to get through a sequence, or that I could build and use my power just as effectively as they did. I've found that my climbing improves when I am able to learn something from each of my climbing partners, and can strike a balance that includes patience and persistence, aggression and intensity.
  5. Seek professional instruction. If you have access to a climbing coach or trainer that offers personal instruction, and you can afford to do it, commit to at least a few sessions with that person. As a coach and trainer myself, of course I advocate this! But the truth is that I do what I do because I really believe that I am offering a valuable service and I love the opportunity to help people. I can't tell you how beneficial it can be to have a qualified instructor observe your climbing and give you honest suggestions about training and movement that will help you to improve. Someone who has a good understanding of biomechanics and climbing movement skills can help you to significantly speed your progress, regardless of your current level of climbing.

All of the truly strong female climbers I know are very positive about their climbing. They welcome every challenge that comes their way, and they see every hard move as an opportunity to improve their own abilities. Don't ever be discouraged that you are short, that you have small hands that can't fit around that huge sloper, or that you don't have the strength to muscle your way through something. There is almost always a solution, and when you work hard enough to find it, that solution will bring with it so much more benefit than the completion of a single move.