A quick reflection on ‘training your climbing weaknesses’. There are many great books out there dedicated to training for climbing weakness and equally, there are many great climbing coaches. Each has their own specific take on what will bring your climbing to the next level. Some coaches are better at improving your climbing technique, whilst others will focus on increasing your strength for climbing. Every coach has their own style and manifesto.
However, one aspect that all coaches will agree on is that to you should really improve your climbing weaknesses. “Train your weaknesses!”. I hear it touted all the time. Nearly as often as “improve your footwork”, but that’s a different days work.
What does “Train your weaknesses” mean?
So what is it exactly that is specific to training your climbing weaknesses? It can be as simple as realising you aren’t good at slopers and from then on make an effort to climb on slopers more often. Simple to identify, maybe not so simple to address perhaps.
You see, that’s the problem with weaknesses, they show us up, make us look bad, make us feel bad. They create doubts and when the mind doubts, the body suffers. Id imagine there isn’t a single climber who hasn’t suffered from a negative emotional state which affected their performance. And working your weaknesses is a sure fire way of inducing a negative emotional state whilst climbing.
So where do we go with that? Well, even recognising this negativity exists is crucial to improving.
For me, endurance has always been my kryptonite. Ive always been relatively stronger at bouldering than I have been on routes. Now initially you could put this down to a lack of mental strength, inefficiency on route or lack of intestinal fortitude. Really its down to the fact that I boulder more often than I get on routes, thus, Im relatively better at bouldering. Its clear and always has been, that I have to specifically target those bulging overworked forearms. But I don’t.
And herein lies the main problem with training your climbing weaknesses. We all know what they are, but are we willing to actually address them in a meaningful way? Well, this year I am. Not I will, not I might, but I am.
Its as simple as that. Its making the effort to train on long pumpy routes and failing, instead of hitting the bouldering wall. Its making the effort to work the fingerboard in the shed, when the fires on and the house is warm inside. Its writing a plan and sticking to it. Its all these things and more and its working. My endurance is increasing, the chains rattle in agreement and the stopwatch doesn’t lie.
Beating the stopwatch however is not my end goal, this isn’t athletics and im no sprinter. To stick with the analogy though, training needs to be more like a marathon, because nothing worth achieving comes easy.