Athletes who are serious about rock climbing know how important fitness is to their sport. While the summer months provide plenty of opportunities to stay conditioned (most climbers spend every free chance they have on a route anyway). However, unless the athletes are also avid ice climbers, and they have access to frozen falls, the winter months can be a painfully boring time, where all of the skills and strength that was built up during the peak climbing season can quickly dissipate. These winter climbing fitness tips can help you stay in peak condition, even when you can’t get on the rock.
Start With The Basics
It’s important that you spend some time planning your off-season training, but you need to start with the basics of any fitness plan—most importantly, cardio. If you skip out on cardio work and simply focus on strength training, you’ll look great when you hit the routes next year, but your endurance will be rock-bottom so you won’t be able to tackle the longer pitches. Plus, cardio can help tremendously with your post-workout recovery. Try to get in four cardio sessions a week at the start of your winter workout season, when you’ll primarily be working on stamina. When you move on to working on your power and endurance, drop down to three cardio sessions a week, and only two sessions when you’re primarily focusing on strength exercises.
Focus On Endurance
If you’re lucky enough to have an indoor climbing gym at your disposable during the winter months, you’ve got the advantage of keeping your skills honed better than someone who is forced to use nothing more than a pull-up bar and a few bolt-in hand holds in their garage. However, most gyms will only offer enough wall to get in a single pitch, short sprint. Challenge yourself by doing multiple sets of a route at the gym. It’ll do wonders for your endurance and you’ll be ready for those extra long pitches come next spring.
Tackle Your Achilles Heel
There’s a good chance you’ve got an area of weakness in your skills. Maybe you avoid overhanging routes like the plague, or your jug-holding strength is ten times better than your finger-holding skills. The winter months are a great time to work on those weaknesses. Challenge yourself in the comfort and safety of an indoor gym and you’ll be ready to conquer your “white whale” when the season picks up again next year.