• Coming Back From Injury
  • Get Trip-Fit Fast
  • Systems Wall and Symmetrical Training
  • Coaching Climbing - How To Train Juniors with Care and Caution
  • Grip Trainers - Gimmicks, or Worth the Money?
  • Hangboarding for Endurance: Not Just for Power
  • Simulation Training: How to Do a Move You Can't Do
  • Planning a Year's Climbing
  • Portable Training Rigs - How to Stay Fit on the Go
  • How to Keep Your Job and Family and Still Climb at Your Limit
  • Suspension Training for Rock Climbing
  • Eat Fat, Climb Harder - The Ketogenic Diet
  • Witness the Mental Fitness: Set Thought Aside to Improve Performance
  • Mental Training Made Simple
  • Counterintuitive Climbing Tips to Change Your Game - Part 2
  • Endurance Training Tips for Winter
  • Five Counterintuitive Climbing Tips to Change Your Game - Part 1
  • Staying Power - How to Last All Day at the Crag
  • Attack and Defend - Tips for Effective Resting
  • Change Up - Plug the Gaps In Your Strength Training This Winter
  • Training While Injured
  • The Hard Way, Easier: How to Cope with Redpoint Nerves
  • Climbing Literacy - Get Better Instantly by Reading Routes
  • The Numbers Game - How to Use Your Age to Your Advantage
  • Injury-Free Bouldering: 15 Tips to Keep You Healthy and Strong
  • Injury-Free Boarding: 14 Training Tips to Save Your Fingers
  • The Truth About Caffeine and Climbing
  • Pushing Past Your Training Plateau
  • Five Strategies to Sharpen Concentration and Climb Better
  • Five Ways to Get Better Without Training
  • Beat the Burnout: Only Ondra Should Train Like Ondra
  • Effective Gym Training Strategies (for Route Climbing)
  • Should You Add Weight or Use Smaller Holds on a Hangboard?
  • Map Out a Plan with the Radar System
  • Managing the Fear of Falling
  • Projecting 101 – 6 Tips For Sending
  • Slowing the Pump Clock - Three Strategies to Prevent the Pump
  • Training on the Go
  • How to Train for Compression
  • Nutrition: Eating Your Way to Better Climbing
  • How to Dyno
  • General Conditioning for Climbers
  • Transitioning from Gym to Crag
  • Staying Strong to Perform Your Best All Season
  • How to Lose Weight for Climbing
  • Building a Better Climber: Final Phase - Peaking
  • Building a Better Climber: Phase 7 - Power Endurance Training
  • Building a Better Climber: Phase 6 - Endurance II
  • Building a Better Climber: Phase 5 - Strength and Power II
  • The Training Effect - Steve House and Scott Johnston
  • Training for Climbing: Injured? Train Your Core!
  • Building a Better Climber: Phase 4 - Power Endurance
  • Building a Better Climber: Phase 3 - Strength Training
  • Building a Better Climber: Phase 2 - Low-Intensity Endurance
  • Building a Better Climber: Phase 1 - Conditioning Phase
  • Gain Confidence by Learning Not to Fear Falling
  • Get Better When You Are Scared and Pumped
  • Never Get Pumped Again
  • Gutbusters - Core Exercises for Rock Climbing
  • Rest ... or Else
  • The Intuitive Approach to Training
  • Free Climbing Tips: Why Get Stronger When You Can Get Better?
  • Crank Like a Russian - How to Power Train for Climbing
  • How to Mentally Train
  • Boost Power With Eccentric Training
  • Tips for Better Onsighting
  • Should You Lose Weight or Get Stronger?
  • Is Protein Important?
  • Getting Strong After a Layoff
  • Does Running or Biking Improve Your Climbing?
  • Training While Hungry
  • How To Use Microcycles
  • How to Improve Slab Technique
  • How to Unlock a Crux
  • How to Use a Hangboard
  • Using a Weight Belt For Training
  • Training During Pregnancy
  • Maximizing a Small Home Wall
  • How to Stay Psyched
  • How to Prevent Bonking
  • Best Ratio of Resting to Bouldering
  • The Importance of Finger Strength
  • Regaining Confidence After a Fall
  • Overcome Anxiety and Send!
  • Maximum Training in Minimum Time
  • Dynamic vs. Static Stretching
  • Do Forearm Trainers Work?
  • Ultimate Strength
  • The Secrets of Warming Up
  • Periodized Training For the Year-round Approach
  • Resting the Perfect Amount
  • How To Recover On Route
  • Does Creatine Work?
  • Recovery Supplement Truths
  • Euro Training Secrets
  • Can Old Guys Get Stronger?
  • Training With an Injury
  • How to Beat Fear
  • How Often Should You Rest?
  • Warming Up Without Warm-Ups
  • How to Develop Sloper Strength
  • Beating the Lactic Acid Pump
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    Attack and Defend - Tips for Effective Resting


    Austria’s Anna Stöhr demonstrates proper resting form on a poor hold at Margalef, Spain. Photo: Bernhard Fiedler.There is no escaping the pump , but many climbers are too quick to blame a lack of endurance for their aching forearms. In reality, missing rests and poor mid-route recovery strategies are more likely causes. It is easy to become absorbed—by the sequence, placing protection, etc. You can forget to switch on the “separate brain” that deals with resting, and neglect to think about flushing out the pump until too late. Conversely, your aim should be to take every opportunity to prevent it setting in, rather than waiting and trying to cope.

    Climbing gyms do not provide the best environment for learning to rest—unless you think outside the box. Indoor routes are usually short and sustained, with all the moves at a similar level of difficulty and few or no rests, which means that it is usually more efficient to sprint for the anchors than shake out. Rock routes are often much longer, and the difficulty of the terrain will fluctuate, with hard sections followed by worthwhile rests. The secret to success is to adapt your pace and climbing style to the intensity of the climbing: essentially to speed up when it’s hard and to slow down when it’s easier. The key to mastering the endurance style lies in spotting rests and effectively utilizing them.

    1) Finding Rests

    Sometimes you have to deviate from a natural climbing sequence in order to locate “hidden” rests. This may require using the holds in a different sequence or side stepping to find a more comfortable position. This is especially common on complex, three-dimensional rock such as limestone with tufas and stalactites. Look out for knee bars, arm bars, chimney rests, body braces and so on. Consider changing your grip, such as hooking your entire arm over protruding holds.

    2) Types of Rest

    After arriving at a potential rest, quickly assess how good it is in order to help you decide how long to stay there.

    • Good rests: At a ledge or comfortable bridge position with good footholds, for example, stay as long as it takes for pulse, breathing and forearm pump levels to return to resting levels. The goal should be a full recovery.
    • OK rests: On merely adequate rests such as stems with poor footholds or a knee bar that still requires leg strength and body tension to maintain, the climber should spend long enough to reduce pulse, breathing and lactate levels as much as possible, but not so long as the legs and/or core become excessively fatigued (eg: 2 -10 mins). The precise time spent resting will be subject to fitness levels and the exact nature of the rest.
    • Poor rests: A poor rest might be a jug or jam with reasonable footholds but without a stem or knee bar. Recovery times might range from 30 seconds to 2 minutes, again, subject to fitness levels and the exact nature of the rest.
    • Minimal rests: On very sustained routes with no obvious rests, it is still necessary to shake or even flick each hand quickly and intermittently. Do this if you find one hold or position that feels slightly better than the other holds or positions. This should take anywhere between 2 and 30 seconds, depending on how good the holds feel.

    3) Recovery Technique

    Always shake from a straight arm unless it’s a very quick flick, as shaking from a bent arm defeats the purpose. When shaking from good holds on a steep wall, you may need to change feet every time you change hands in order to maintain balance. Keep your center of gravity directly below the arm you are hanging from, as if suspending a weight on the end of a piece of string. While placing or arranging protection on trad routes, keep swapping hands and shaking out. Make sure your chalkbag is easy to locate (tied-on bags are preferable to clipped-on, since they will slide and be more accessible). Keep the body as still as possible and try to relax all muscles that aren’t contributing to keeping you on the wall. Avoid vigorously shaking the arm, which can create instability in the body and waste energy. Breathe slowly, deeply and regularly. Climb easy sections of the route at a slow, steady pace with great attention to technique.

    4) Advanced Pump-management Strategies

    One of the best sport-climbing tips is to swap the pump from arm to arm by deliberately tiring one arm in order to freshen the other before a clip or a hard pull on a small hold. For example, if you need to hang on with your left hand in order to clip with your right, then shake your left hand before making the clip. Think ahead and resist the temptation to reach for the clipping hold as soon as possible. Note that this is highly counter-intuitive for most climbers! The fear of pulling up the rope when pumped will stop us way before the point of absolute failure, and with this method you can climb further into the pump zone. Another advanced tip for redpointing is to find the latest possible opportunity to shake an arm for a specific move. For example, if it’s a right-hand pull, then shake your right hand from a position as near as possible to the move, even if it is three or four moves beforehand.

    5) Bouldering Versus Routes

    Boulderers who get into routes often find that they become extremely pumped, but movement style is often more responsible than lack of endurance. Boulderers are trained to pull as hard as possible, whereas endurance climbers are always attempting to do the exact opposite. To do well on hard sport routes, you need to have plenty of power, but boulderers who wish to make the conversion should drop the grade and do laps on really easy routes in sets of three or four, while focusing on relaxing and conserving energy.

    WATCH Systems Training with Alex Johnson

    This article was published in Rock and Ice Issue 199 (January 2012).

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