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How to Climb Harder: Train Harder

Is climbing the only way to get better at climbing? Unless you’re a child prodigy, probably not.

climbing better

If you’re a climber, you’ve definitely heard this urban legend unique to those who like to manically climb non-stop to accomplish their climbing project goals:

“So-and-so is a practically a pro-climber…. he/she climbs V10s and they say that the only way to get better at climbing is to climb,”

While climbing a lot will improve your technique (which is important), unless you are preternaturally talented (see Ashima Shiraishi, who does not train), you are only going to get so far before you drop knee your way into a plateau. Muscle memory, and experience on the wall is foundational but getting into peak physical condition is the key to the next level.

Nutrition and training will up your climbing game. Athletes don’t simply practice their sport over and over to progress; they train rigorously, focus on certain muscle groups and functions, build endurance and increase sport-specific power by exercise, usually with a personal trainer. Climbers who train can similarly build up their general athleticism, saving their skin in the process, and use their improved physical condition to climb harder.

Alex Puccio, one of the top boulderers in the game, works extremely hard to accomplish her goals. She trains extensively with a Personal Trainer. Her active Facebook page shows her training non-stop, doing one-handed pull ups, running, box jumps, leg curls, and more. She’s featured in this EpicTV video on the subject:

The sheer amount of power and strength is evident (in addition to her obvious mastery of technique and skill). Sasha DiGiulian, Paxti Usobiaga, Daniel Woods, and many more of the top athletes in our sport all have personal trainers. Just about every professional athlete in Basketball, Football, Swimming, Golf, Snowboarding, and beyond have personal trainers helping them hone their strengths and weaknesses into a machine built for success.

The next time you hear that climbing more is the only avenue to climbing harder, watch Alex Puccio do a one-handed pull-up and remind yourself you weren’t born a child prodigy. You need to train. And you need to train hard. And you need to train specifically for your body*, for it’s strengths and it’s weaknesses. 


PRO-TIP: Did you know that doing pull-ups it’s nearly useless to your body when it comes to climbing? Other exercises involving shoulder cage strengthening and mobility matter far more.

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Stay tuned for more fitness, personal training tips and tricks on how training can help you climb harder.

Interested in personal training at our Brooklyn location? Contact Luke@BrooklynBoulders.comfor private instruction as we develop our program there.

*Note: Climbing involves all of the major muscle groups, so our trainers suggest a comprehensive program of strength exercise, including muscles of the legs, torso, midsection, arms, neck and forearms. Interesting note: forearms are not normally considered a major muscle group, but grip strength is particularly important for climbing hard.