• 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
  • Video Spotlight
    Babsi Zangerl and Jacopo Larcher Send Zodiac (VI 5.13d) on El Cap
    Babsi Zangerl and Jacopo Larcher Send Zodiac (VI 5.13d) on El Cap
    Whipper of the Month
    Weekend Whipper: Alastair McDowell's Los Indignados (M7) Screamer
    Weekend Whipper: Alastair McDowell's Los Indignados (M7) Screamer

    Effective Gym Training Strategies (for Route Climbing)

    By Eric Hörst

    This article was previously published on Training4Climbing.com.

    Carlos Traversi and Kevin Jorgeson flying up routes at Vertical Endeavors, Glendale Heights, IL. Photo: Eric Hörst.When I began climbing over 25 years ago, the climbing season ended with the hounds of winter, and the only “training for climbing” consisted of pull-ups, running, and some free-weight exercises. Fortunately, indoor walls have made climbing a year-round activity, allowing enthusiasts to improve–not regress–in strength and ability during the winter season. (The old method of just doing pull-ups, running, and free weights is an ineffective training strategy for climbers, so don’t travel down that road.)

    No doubt, joining a commercial climbing gym or building a home bouldering wall is the single best investment you can make toward improving your climbing. However, effective indoor training requires you do more than just climb with some friends. There are highly effective practice strategies you can leverage while climbing indoors that will translate to greater economy of movement and climbing ability when you return outdoors in the spring. Furthermore, use of these practice techniques will enhance your learning of skills, improve your climber’s mindset, and increase your sport-specific strength.


    Downclimbing routes
    When leading or toproping indoors, it’s rare that I climb a route to the top and lower off without trying to downclimb as much of the route as possible. There are benefits to this practice beyond the obvious one of doubling the pump. First, in knowing that you plan to downclimb a route, you become a more observant and focused climber on the way up. What’s more, since poor footwork is a leading handicap for many climbers, there’s a lot to be gained from this practice that demands intense concentration on footwork.

    Initially, you’ll find downclimbing to be difficult, awkward, and very pumpy. But that’s the modus operandi when first attempting anything new that’s worthwhile (read “challenging”). As your hold recognition improves and as you learn to relax and fluidly reverse the route, you’ll find downclimbing a route often feels easier than ascending it in the first place. This is because your eccentric (lowering) strength is greater than your concentric (pulling) strength, and due to the fact that by leading with the feet (while downclimbing), you learn to maximally weight them and conserve energy. All these factors make downclimbing a killer drill–one not to be overlooked by any serious climber!


    Speed Training

    When the rock gets steep and the moves hard, there’s no more important strategy than to increase the pace of your ascent. Climbing quickly is primarily a function of skill, not strength or power (we’re not talking about lunging wildly up a route). In fact, the less strength and endurance you possess, the more important this skill becomes.

    To begin with, it’s important to note there’s no benefit to climbing faster if your technique degrades and you botch sequences. Therefore, practice speed climbing on routes you’ve already wired or climbs well below your maximum ability. Climb several laps on the route (rest between attempts), each incrementally faster than the previous. Attempt to climb about 10 percent faster on each successive lap, but back off the accelerator at the first sign your technique is suffering.

    Perform this drill a few times a week for several months, and you’ll find yourself naturally moving faster when climbing onsight or redpoint at the crags. This new skill alone could push your redpoint ability a full number grade higher over the course of a single season–a much greater gain than you’d ever achieve from strength training alone!


    Other smart training drills:

    Here are a couple other drills to incorporate into your training for climbing program:   

    •First Touch – This drill sharpens pre-climb visualization skills and on-route decision-making abilities to will help reduce the number of wrong moves (and wasted energy) when climbing onsight. The drill requires you to use each handhold in the exact way that you first touch it. No readjusting or regripping…unless you fall!   

    •Tracking – Tracking is a type of elimination drill where the feet are restricted to using only the exact holds used by the hands. This difficult exercise develops a variety of important skills, including high-stepping, hand-foot matches, and balanced stand-ups. Use this tracking drill on routes that are two to three number grades below your maximum ability.


    Also By Eric Hörst

    Slowing the Pump Clock

    Projecting 101 - 6 Tips for Sending

    Managing the Fear of Falling


      About the Author:

    An accomplished climber of more than 38 years, Eric is an internationally renowned author, researcher, and climbing coach. Eric is the world’s most widely published climbing coach with six books (and many foreign translations) selling more than 300,000 copies, including his best-selling tome Training for Climbing, and hundreds of magazine and Web articles published. A self-professed “climber for life”, Eric remains active at the cliffs and as a researcher, author, and coach. His website is: Training4Climbing.com

    Reader's Commentary:

    Don't want to use Facebook, but still want to comment? We have you covered:

    Add Your Comments to this article: