• 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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    Simulation Training: How to Do a Move You Can't Do


    The author made a simulation at home of the iron-cross crux of his <em>Freakshow</em> (8c/5.14b) at Kilnsey, England, and when he returned five months later the move "felt straightforward." Photo: Lukasz Warzecha.If you can do all the moves on a project, it’s usually just a matter of time before it goes down. Stopper moves, though, are another thing entirely. A move you cannot pull is a barrier, and the main reason climbers throw in the towel on hard routes.

    It takes time and dedication to build the strength to make impossible moves feel possible, but with specific training, you’ll be amazed at what you can achieve.

    In the winter of 1991 the young Scottish climber Malcolm Smith launched an audacious campaign to make the second ascent of Ben Moon’s historic power route Hubble, the world’s hardest sport route at the time and possibly the first 9a/5.14d. I was Malcolm’s housemate in Sheffield, England, at the time. Having made a recon in the autumn, he realized that he needed a specific type of strength for the crux undercling move, so he built an exact replica of the move in our cellar. He then developed a system of holding the position statically and adding weight to his weight belt in small increments each session. He combined this plan with some heavy isometric dumbbell curls (holding the dumbbell statically). Not only did the program enable Smith to build precisely the type of strength required, it also helped him attain a rare level of mental focus and confidence. Sure enough, in the spring he made quick work of the route.

    To my knowledge, Malcolm was one of the first to coin the technique of move simulation or refine it to such a high level. He attributed his success on Hubble to hard work and strategy rather than talent. To me, this is one of the most inspiring training stories, proving what can be achieved if you’re prepared to dig deep.

    Over the years I have used variations on Malcolm’s method to train for diverse stopper moves.



    Use a bouldering wall with a generous covering of holds to set your replica problem. Home facilities may be preferable to commercial gyms, as you can move holds to create exactly what you need. The difficulty of your replica should depend on how hard you find the actual move on the project. A good rule of thumb is to start with it fractionally easier (say half a V-grade), then use weight to make it more difficult.

    Work within two variations. One method is to practice the moves. The other is to hold static positions throughout the move (calibrate so that you hit failure between three and eight seconds).

    Add a quarter pound every second or third session. You’ll be astounded at how you can go from not being able to do the problem at the outset, to completing it several times with a hefty weight belt. Once you reach this stage, try linking several moves into it.

    Include support training. Supplement with relevant exercises on the fingerboard, campus board or rings. You can do these on a different day or combine them with the boulder sessions.

    After warming up, do some deadhangs where you focus on the hand grips you need. Or, if the move involves a powerful, dynamic slap, do a few maximum recruitment campus ladders.

    Move on to the replica problem and, if relevant, finish with arm work such as lock-offs or offset pull-ups on a bar, or core work such as leg raises, front levers and the rings. You won’t need to do all these core exercises: Cherry-pick the most relevant ones.

    These tactics may sound extreme, but they can work for anyone who really wants to explore your true limits in climbing. The results are even sweeter when they’re hard-earned!


    Britain’s NEIL GRESHAM has been training and coaching for two decades. In 2001, he made the second ascent of Equilibrium (E10 7a/5.14X) on Peak District gritstone, and last year established Freakshow (8c/5.14b) at Kilnsey, also in the U.K. On October 13, 2016 he made the first ascent of Sabotage—an 8c+ (5.14c) extension to Predator (8b/5.13d) at Malham Cave, North Yorkshire, England. Sabotage is Gresham’s first climb of the grade.


    This article originally appeared in Rock and Ice issue 237 (October 2016).

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