Climbing Training

Austin Haedicke bio photo By Austin Haedicke Comment

Once upon a time I recall my younger climber self scouring the interwebs for information on training for climbing. What I could only see in retrospect though is that my meticulous number crunching and planning was mostly in vein. That is not to say it wasn’t a good habbit to get into, but at that training age I would have benefited just as well from any climbing related activity.

A photo posted by Austin (@savagezen) on

Only after a couple years of just climbing as much as I could and some non-organized training spurts did I re-examine the ocean of literature online and in a few books. What you can’t tell from the picture above is that there’s 16 lbs. added to my harness and that I nearly completed 6 reps of 10 on / 5 off repeaters. That was the end result of a 60 day training period.

A photo posted by Austin (@savagezen) on

I’m an extremely average climber so the point of this post isn’t to have the beat all, end all, best beyond others training plan. It is just to say that there is a lot to be said for actually following through on a plan you’ve made for yourself. How many of us have fizzled out on a training plan a month in after being super stoked the first week or two? I’ve done it many times.

The trick for me was to have a plan, that would meet my needs, but be as simple as possible (to ensure follow through). The above picture was my training log that I taped to my refrigerator as a daily reminder. It was encouraging to have a view of the big picture and helped me keep on track (specically with dietary things). Also, actually doing it the old fashioned way with pen and paper felt more encouraging and rewarding than a smartphone app or a spreadsheet (thought I have one of those too).

Also by keeping this kind of record, regardless if training progress translates to sending progress, morale is riding a high streak going into the fall season. I also have neat statistics about my traning habbits. Such as:

Task Days Achieved Days Possible
30g Protein w/in 30 min of waking up 53 60
30g Protein w/in 30 min of workout 26 60
30g Protein w/in 30 min of bedtime 55 60
30 Days climbing or training 32 30
Overall nutrition compliance 88.2%  
Overall program compliance 91.2%  

And also to gauge my progress (relative to the holds / workout used throughout):

Time Period Work / Rest Days % Strength Gain
Days 1 - 30 1.31 33.05
Days 31 - 60 0.88 5.42
Days 1 - 60 1.07 40.26

You can see that there’s nothing special here. I had 3 yes / no daily nutrition goals, and one overall variable training goal. My initial expectation was 75 - 80% compliance, which I think is a fair guess if you’re giving yourself an honest assessment from the get-go. Now I’ve moved on to something a bit more complicated that builds on the previous data. I’ve got 1 binary nutrition goal, 2 variable nutrition goals, and 3 variable traning goals. 50% more goals is probably at least 50% more complicated, so we’ll see if that translates to 50% less compliance (or the inverse, improvement in dedication at same compliance percentage!)

Going forward, here are some of my favorite articles from around the web for creating a complicatedly simple and effective training plan:

DISCLAIMER:  The 40% statistic comes straight from my training data and was evaluated based on sum bodyweight units per hold. Using 5 holds, a 
sum of 5 means I  complete every set at bodyweight.  Adding 10% bodyweight to each hold would result in a sum of 5.5; a 10% increase.  As you 
can see in second picture I was not even completing some sets at bodyweight (e.g. 2/6), but by the end of 60 days was adding 
almost 12 lbs.  Of course, this does not mean I climb a 40% higher grade now, it means that on this workout with these holds, at these angles, 
I am 40% stronger.
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