Its no secret that progression is one of the things that draws people to rock climbing. While grades are subjective we love to be able to quantify our ability and list it as number or letter.
Progression not only allows us to assign a value to our climbing but also give us clear cut goals on what to strive for next, we finish one grade and its straight into trying the next. Forever repeating the cycle of impossibly hard – okay this might be doable until we hit that send train.
Factors Of Progression
Climbing is a multifaceted sport and there are many different factors that will affect your climbing progression.
The single biggest set back to your climbing ability is usually an injury small or large can put your climbing back weeks or even years depending on the severity of the injury.
To prevent injuerys we reccomend you:
- Static Stretching & Antagonist Exercises – Climbing often has us performing the same motions again and again in attempt to get the pink one in the corner at the gym. This can leave our muscles tight and our antagonist muscles weak. Performing daily stretches or taking part in antagonist exercises a few times a week and work wonders for climbing injury prevention.
- Warning up – Warming up before climbing is incredibly important and I can attribute nearly all of my minor injury’s in climbing are thanks to a poor/no warm up before trying a hard route. Stretch and warming up correctly will warm up joints and tendons along with get blood flowing round your body will will massively decrease your injury rate.
- Listen To Your Body – The phrase “No Pain No Gain” is thrown around fairly often and while climbing at your grade should be hard work it should not hurt you. If you are repeating a move over and over again or just trying something really hard and something starts to hurt stop immediately and get some rest.
- Practice Good Technique – Learning basic footwork and some general rules of thumb when it comes to climbing such as hips close to the wall, straight arms and pushing with your feet and all help reduce injury rates by making you fall off alot less.
How Quickly You Learn Climbing Techniques
Its been proven time and time and time again and I’m sure you will have felt it in your own climbing is that when the correct techniques are applied some moves can go from impossible to incredibly easy.
Learning climbing techniques and how and why to implement them into your climb can make all the difference to your progression. The earlier you become aware of these techniques the earlier you can start to understand and practice with them.
Popular British climber Neil Gresham has a great set of masterclass videos demonstrating techniques and talking about them in depth.
This series is a great way to brush up on your understanding of techniques along with learning some new ones and I honestly recommend the series to any beginner or intermediate climber.
In climbing its sometimes stated that you are only as strong as your weakest point. This is why targeting your weaknesses is a great way to improve your climbing. Climbing weaknesses can come in many forms as there are many different factors to climbing.
- Body Strength
- Hand Strength
- Tension Movements
These are the more popular weak points of climbers but it will vary from person to person. Tackling these weak points will lead to huge improvements to your climbing and this type of training can also help prevent injury as your targeting your weakest point.
Nutrition and Sleep
These two are often overlooked when it comes to climbing but both are equally important in your training. Sleep is where all your muscles repair and grow to allow you to come back to the wall fitter and stronger than last time. Climbing at its core is an extremely physical sport and it requires adequate rest in order to allow your body to recover.
In order to ensure your body performs to the best of its ability, it needs the correct fuel to run. While Brad Gobright might run on donuts the rest of us don’t, If you want to perform your best while on the wall it’s important that you put the correct fuel inside your climbing machine. A well-balanced diet can help you move up the climbing grades much faster than a poor diet it will allow you to recover faster and lead to great muscle growth.
How Long Should It Take Me to Reach X Grade?
You see this question a lot on Reddit or other climbing forums and you get a large range of responses. Some people reach V4 after 2 weeks of climbing, others it can take 2 years. I think the important thing to realize is climbing grades are subjective and change from gym to gym and even some outdoor routes can feel wildly different when given the same grade.
What I’m trying to say is it can be easy to get caught up in the grading system quantifying your climbing value and trying to improve that value. We can often get so caught up in this that climbing is no longer fun and more a chore that we work at. It’s important to be mindful of this when trying to improve and always try and keep your climbing fun.