Over the next few weeks I will be sharing training posts from Chicks Climbing and Skiing. We begin this series with an 8-Week Basic Rock Climbing Training Program. ~MC
Over the years I’ve taught hundreds of women to climb.
By far, their most common “fear,” or concern, is: “I’m not strong enough.”
The truth is no climber was strong for climbing when they started.
Climbing makes you strong. Anyway, not being a “thug” can be an advantage because it forces you to learn good technique, which will get you further than strength any day.
So, practice! Get some good coaching to learn great technique, and then add some strength and you’ll be off to a fantastic start.
Following is a weekly schedule. After that each day is broken down with more specific suggestions, including details for a basic strength-training workout.
If you’re a new climber, avoid climbing on back-to-back days unless you must for scheduling reasons. The following schedule is “ideal” but move days around, as you need, for the “reality” of life.
Most gals need to work on flexibility. Try to squeeze in a yoga class and do a little on your own.
Keep a climbing journal. Track the difficulty and style of the routes you climb: i.e. steep or technical. This way you will remember where you started. It’s easy to lose perspective because there’s always someone better.
Monday – Yoga or Active Recovery
Tuesday – Climb
Wednesday – Aerobic + Yoga
Thursday – Climb
Friday – Rest
Saturday – Climb (Outside, if possible)
Sunday – Strength Training + Aerobic
Let your muscles recover from the busy weekend.
Yoga or Active Recovery: 45 – 60 min easy walk, jog, bike, hike or other. Stay aerobic which means easy conversational pace, the kind of pace where you and a BFF could sort out a plan for world peace.
Warm up—pick an easy route for you—you shouldn’t get pumped, or not very pumped. Let’s say, for you, that’s 5.7.
Then try this grouping with a total of 7 – 8 routes:
1 x 5.7
2 x 5.8
2 x 5.9
1 – 2 x 5.10
1 x 5.8 (cool down)
The hardest route, or peak difficulty, in this case 5.10, is a climb or grade where you have to hang to figure it out. In other words the route SHOULD take you more than one try. At first, pick routes that are your style. Do not move on because you couldn’t do a route.
Instead, use the route as a teacher. Work the moves, memorize them, and then complete the route. This may take more than one day. That’s ok. You are building the strength to climb at this grade. Once you complete your “training project” pick a few new routes to accomplish.
Note: start at and attempt whatever grade is appropriate for you, easier or harder.
The goal over the 8 weeks is to complete as many routes that are hard for you (routes that force you to fall or hang) AND increase the number of attempts you make on routes of that difficulty.
The key is to consider both goals. If your projects are too difficult, you’ll have many attempts but no completions. If they are too easy, you’ll have lots of completions, but no attempts.
Balancing these two goals, you will learn technique and build strength/endurance at the same time. If a route is too hard, technique falls apart. If it is too easy, you won’t have the opportunity to use new movements.
By the end of the Chicks 8-Week Rock Climbing Training program your gym session may now look like this:
1 x 5.8
1 x 5.9
2 x 5.10
1 x 5.10+
1 x 5.10-
1 x 5.9
1 x 5.8
Chicks Climbing was founded in 1999 by Kim Reynolds to empower more women through women’s ice climbing programs. Her vision lead to the creation of Chicks with Picks, which offered the first ever women’s ice climbing programs in Ouray, Colorado.
Chicks Climbing & Skiing is now owned by five mountain lovers and experienced guides: Kitty Calhoun, Dawn Glanc, Angela Hawse, Elaina Arenz, and Karen Bockel. Our vision is to empower women through mountain sports, develop community and foster environmental stewardship.
We do this through low ratio group instruction led by the most qualified female guides in the country. Chicks Guides will teach you skills and best practices for rock, ice and alpine climbing, as well as backcountry skiing. You will be leading the way in no time.
The Women's Outdoor News, aka The WON, features news, reviews and stories about women who are shooting, hunting, fishing and actively engaging in outdoor adventure. This publication is for women, by women. View all posts by The WON
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