If you're here, you're probably wondering if it's time you started putting intention into your climbing sessions. Or maybe it feels like you've hit a wall in your climbing progress and are frustrated and seeking answers. Perhaps you've just started climbing in the past few weeks or months, but you're obsessed and want to do everything you can to improve as quickly as possible. If you relate to any of the above, you have come to the right place. We're here to discuss when is the right time to begin training for climbing.
First off, there's no golden rule of when any one individual should start training for climbing. You'll read here and there, "oh, six months," or "oh, one year," but there are so many different types of training that it's possible to start training at any point during your climbing journey. The first question you must ask yourself is: how long have you been climbing consistently? If your answer is, 'well, I haven't been climbing consistently, that is the first step. Try climbing consistently (2-5 times per week) and focus on trying to climb as much as you possibly can in each session. That is going to be the quickest and easiest way to improve your climbing ability right off the bat exponentially. If you have been climbing consistently, it's time for question two.
Rate of progression
How fast have you improved since the beginning of your climbing journey? If you feel you've progressed extremely fast since starting to climb, and the rate of your progression has begun to slow, it could be time to introduce some lower-intensity training sessions into your climbing routine. If you've jumped from V0 to V6 in only six months or less, your finger tendon resilience is not quite up to how hard you'd like to pull. Building that resilience in your finger tendons and pulleys takes nothing but time, so it's a good idea to begin your training with lower-intensity activities until you've been climbing for at least six months to one year. Anything less than that, your chance of finger injury through training on a hangboard skyrockets. That being said, if you find yourself in this boat, tread carefully when it comes to heinous crimps during your climbing sessions. You might feel as if you are ready to conquer that crimpy ladder on the 45-degree wall, but your fingers might think differently. Ease into the small crimps over time, and focus on gaining sloper and pinch strength in those early months of climbing. Your fingers will thank you later. Now, this doesn't mean you can't train for climbing! Lower intensity training will suit you better and can include training power endurance, total body strength, technique, or mental exercise.
Identifying your weakness
If you have been climbing consistently for longer than six months or one year and slowly inching your way up the grading scale, you likely have a decreased risk of finger injury during training. You should ask yourself: what is holding you back in your climbing? There are three categories of climbing that could be holding you back. Mental, technical, and physical. The mental aspect is your emotional response and how that affects your climbing ability. The technical part is the efficiency at which you move your body on the wall. That means your footwork, body positioning, ability to read and sequence a route off the wall, and an understanding of your center of gravity and how it affects your climbing. Last but not least, the physical aspect of climbing is what most people think of when they think of training. The physical aspect of climbing is the amount of strength, power, and endurance you have.
Your weakness could be any of these critical categories of climbing. Maybe you keep feeling fearful of climbing above a clip or to the top of the bouldering wall, and you need to focus your training on the mental aspect of climbing. Maybe you get pumped out of your mind after performing powerful move after powerful move on your proj, and you need to focus on your power endurance. Identifying these weaknesses is necessary before jumping into a climbing training program, so you can be sure you are training what is essential to bring your climbing to the next level.
Have you plateaued?
Another vital question to ask yourself before diving into training is: do you feel your climbing ability has remained the same for 3+ months with no improvement? If your climbing progress has been consistently improving in the past few months, keep it your current climbing routine! There's no need to fix it if it's not broken. But, if you have found yourself in a rut of experiencing negative emotions toward a climbing plateau, it's a great time to start incorporating some intentional training into your climbing sessions.