Are you ready to start training for the fall climbing season? Believe it or not, a full climbing training plan that peaks in October (prime Red River Gorge season) starts in July. As training season approaches, we sat down with FA’s resident training fiends at Redpoint Training, Jayme Novotney and Branden Lacour, to ask a few questions about training for climbing and the Redpoint program. Enjoy!
If you’re interested to start your own training journey, the Redpoint Coaches are hosting Intro to Climbing Training workshops at each FA location (Avondale, Uptown, Humboldt Park, and Block 37) this month, and Redpoint Assessments are only $49 now through June 30th.
How long have you been training?
Jayme: 10 years
Branden: About 4.5 years. I started training for climbing as soon as I started climbing, which isn’t typical. That’s just how I work in athletics. I’ve always been competitive with myself and want to get the best out of myself.
How long have you been coaching with Redpoint?
Jayme: 1.5 years
Branden: The same, we started Redpoint together.
What do you enjoy about being a Redpoint coach?
Jayme: Seeing my clients create goals, work toward those goals, and ultimately achieve them.
Branden: I get really psyched when my clients get those “Aha!” moments.I really do love sharing all of the training knowledge I’ve gathered and seeing it get put to good use by others.
At what point in a climber’s progression should they consider adding climbing training to improve their climbing ability?
Jayme: Adding climbing training or any type of organized plan will be beneficial to anyone, whether your are just starting out or have been climbing for a number of years. Organizing and structuring your climbing will help you gain strength, build endurance, and achieve your goals.”
Branden: I go back and forth on this one.In the beginning it’s important to just climb a lot to learn how to properly climb, and learn how your body moves on the rock. However, I do think that training for those people should include mostly technique work, with maybe a little bit of supplemental climbing training. Your body will naturally get stronger when you mix a bit of bouldering and roped climbing in during the early days.
When it comes to serious training, I’d say 1 to 1.5 years depending on your body (ie past injuries, tendon durability, etc.) and your personal tolerance for training.
When in the year should a climber start a climbing training plan?
Jayme: The best time to start a training plan is 10-16 weeks prior to a goal route or trip. I recommend someone choose a location or a specific route, build a climbing plan that will build strength needed to achieve that goal, and stay focused on that goal throughout the training.
Branden: What Jayme said is the general goal here. It just depends on what your goals are. Training for a bouldering project involves shorter training cycles because you can shorten the endurance phase. You can really start at any time though – don’t let that hold you back. Just have a plan on how you will switch into a main training plan once you get to the proper point. You can always ease your way in this season and then start a full 16 week training plan next season.
Why do climbers need a climbing training plan?
Jayme: A training plan becomes most beneficial to a climber when life gets hectic, the stoke for climbing wanes, or injuries have been common. Following a plan is a reliable way to keep on track, tell a friend you can’t go have that extra beer, and keep you from attempting that last move one more time when it’s like to cause an injury. You will have a plan in place that you can fall back on without worry or wondering what you should do next.
Branden: Training plans are good for people hitting plateaus, for anyone looking for consistent growth, and for people with limited time but who want to continue getting better. Training forces specific adaptations in climbing specific muscles. This increases gains a bit quicker than just going to the gym and climbing whatever catches your interest. Both methods work, but specificity is the rule of growth in increasing the adaptation response, and that’s where specific training practices come in handy!
What are the important elements of a climbing training plan?
Jayme: I think the most important part of any training plan is a goal. Long term goals and short term goals are both beneficial to a climbing plan. The next important element is the commitment you’re willing to give in order to achieve those goals. The last element is knowledge and experience with building a training plan.
Branden: Having goals that you are excited about and that are tangible, like a trip out of state to a climbing area, a specific route, or a hard boulder – something that gets you stoked. Often times having a number grade you want to hit is not enough to really motivate you.
Once you have a goal, you need to have a plan that you will actually follow, so the plan has to be something you can commit to. The plan should be targeted based on your areas for growth as a climber – the climbing-specific strength that needs to be developed, the energy systems that need to be optimized, and the technique that makes you an efficient climber. The actual training comes last, and when you get started, it’s important to remember: you will get more gains if you train consistently for 3 days a week at a lower level the you will training once a week at the epic beastmode level. Set yourself up for success – consistency is key!
Can training for climbing be fun?
Jayme: YES! There are definitely different types of fun. There is the immediate fun of seeing improvement and sending that boulder problem that has been just out of reach for years; there’s also the type of fun that is delayed.The type when you’re willing to make sacrifices early on in order to see the fruits of your labor down the road. Personally, I have grown to love the work that goes into a training season in order to feel like I’m floating up my goal route.
Branden: Yes it can. Although like Jayme said, sometimes you have to suck it up if you really want your goal. That being said, climbing is supposed to be fun, so I like to mix it up a bit and make sure I’m mentally staying psyched by breaking some hard training up with some fun bouldering/ roped sessions.
What is unique about the Redpoint program?
Jayme: The unique thing about the Redpoint program is that the program can adapt to you. If you want to be extremely dedicated and follow a strict plan, that can be designed for you. If you want to climb for fun, but also continue to see improvement, that can also happen. Wherever your climbing is, whatever your goals are, we can give you some structure and teach you the workouts to see improvement and achieve your goals.
Branden: Redpoint is extremely personalized, and you have a wealth of training information between the two of us coaches. The coaching you get is really at a crazy price right now as well. In popular climbing areas, programs like this usually cost double the regular amount we charge.
Why should an FA climber get an Assessment?
Jayme: By getting an assessment, we’ll be able to see your strengths and your weaknesses. We will reinforce the strengths and improve the weaknesses. By doing this, your overall climbing ability will increase. You will also learn how to climb in safer body positions that decrease stress on the body, thereby increasing the time you are able to spend on the wall. I am not a professional climber, but I see myself climbing well into my senior years. Keeping my body in shape and decreasing stress on my body will keep me climbing for as long as I’m around. My hope is to keep others climbing injury free for as long as they want to.
Branden: The value is through the roof. You learn a lot just by hanging out with us, save time from having to do all your own research, and get an experienced perspective into your climbing/training. And you walk away with a personalized, actionable training plan!
Anything else you want the FA community to know?
Jayme: I’m able to achieve my goals in coaching by clients achieving their goals in climbing. I hope to help you reach your goals as well.
Branden: For some, training isn’t needed, for others, it isn’t wanted, but for the vast majority of us mortals, a little focus and effort goes a long way. You’d be surprised the gains you can make in your climbing through purposeful training. It isn’t always easy, but when you are climbing at your best, that kind of joy really makes all of the effort worth it. I recently sent my first 5.13 this season, and boy, that kind of accomplishment really keeps the psych high.
Some photos courtesy of Brandon Lacour’s Instagram feed. Follow him @themidwestclimber.