Tag: Climbing Training


Climbing Coaching Pays Off

Here’s some recent feedback from a client:

“Have just come back from a memorable week in Switzerland and Italy. I recall that when I first came to you for lessons, I was looking to improve my climbing grade a little and climb in a more calm and controlled manner. Delighted to say that I’ve done just that on the beautiful Via Schubert, aka Route of Friendship in the Dolomites:


I remembered all the stuff you told me about resting whenever possible, not charging ahead until I’m exhausted, breath control and keeping arms extended. Delighted to say that I enjoyed the whole thing, with no gibbering or falling off to speak of. Your coaching undoubtedly paid off – thanks.” – Isabel

It feels great to help people enjoy a good adventure. Thanks Isabel!


Climb Easy To Learn Well.

Today I was teaching an indoor beginner’s class who had learned the basics and were back to consolidate their skills before going it alone. Normally I exercise a good deal of control over route choice, encouraging beginners to climb something that will leave them the space to learn good climbing technique. For some reason, I don’t know why, I gave them complete freedom to choose their routes today. As so often happens, the lure of progression into bigger numbers and steeper climbs attracted everybody away from easier moves. Instead of repeating the basics many times, building an awareness of their centre, focusing on footwork, using legs for upward movement, arms for position, hands for balance and getting to know their range of movement, the group spent a lot of time pulling hard, getting tired, hanging on the rope, performing fewer moves and learning less. The experience has definitely ingrained my belief that climbing easy is a great way to learn the basics of good technique and movement. Get the basics right and then apply strength, power and determination to hard climbs with good technique.

Here is a great video of Jonathon Siegrist using a wide range of techniques with clinical precision. Whilst most of us can only dream of climbing this hard, we all have the ability to to widen our range of techniques and learn to move with precise efficiency that will, inevitably, help us to climb harder in the long run…



Barefoot running and training for climbing.

Today was a day for barefoot running, indoor climbing, yoga and a few rounds on a punch bag.

It’s been a few weeks since I was last running barefoot and I found myself wondering why I had left it for so long. As usual, it felt great to be running free from footwear hindrance and fully connected to the ground. Some time off may have been a good thing because I managed to run the three miles to the climbing wall and back again with more ease than ever before. The skin on the soles of my feet took a while to readjust to the rougher sections of pavement and tarmac but everything else felt that little bit stronger. Whilst my pace is still very slow on rough surfaces, smooth paving stones are much faster and there is a 1.25 km stretch of grass on the route that gives a wonderful opportunity to really turn on the speed and fully open up the lungs. Here’s a link to a well explained video on barefoot running style. This can be applied when running in minimal footwear too:


I had some downtime during my shift at the climbing wall and enjoyed getting onto the almost empty bouldering wall with no particular agenda, other than to relax, stretch and stay off the floor for a long time time whilst simply savoring the movement. Tired arms from chin ups and a session of steep bouldering and routes the day before made sure I stayed on vertical and just slightly overhanging walls, with plenty of hands off rests in corners and on volumes. Aside from an all-over stretch and the pure pleasure of climbing movement, my hips, thighs, calves and toes got a great work out by staying in the rests for a long time, often on small footholds. It struck me that this type of session is excellent training for trad climbing and a good active rest for arms that need some recovery time.

Resting in a wide bridge on small holds is great practice for times like this...

Straight after climbing, I stayed as long as I could in a hand stand, with the help of a wall to support my feet. Focusing on slow, deep breathing whilst extending fully from my hands to the soles of my feet gave antagonistic muscles in my arms, back and shoulders a great work out and unwound the tight spots that develop with lots of climbing. This was followed by a back bend – not as bendy as the one in this photo but a brilliant stretch for tight shoulders and more great work for antagonistic muscles:

A great stretch for climbers' tight shoulders!

Back bends tend to leave my lower back feeling quite tight so I finished with plough pose to stretch it back out again. It’s really important to roll your shoulders back and down so that they are supporting your weight instead of your neck:

Halasana or Plough Pose

With a little more downtime later in the day, I nipped upstairs to the gym and spent a while punching and kicking a heavy bag. Climbing pulls so much energy from your hands in towards the centre of your body that it feels really good to unleash it in the other direction. This is another good way to work antagonistic muscles and high kicks are a great way to work on hip strength and flexibility.