Eric Horst is a climbing instructor who has taught in over 50 countries, written multiple books about climbing and is a regular contributor to publications like Men’s Health, Wall Street Journal and National Geographic Adventure. Having established over 400 first ascents in his 32-year career, he’s the right man to speak to when you want to get into the world of climbing. Here’s Eric’s top five tips, exclusively for WideWorld, for any prospective stone monkeys.
Do it often
For the Beginner to intermediate climber the best ‘training’ is going climbing! Climbing is a very technical sport (much like golf) that takes many years to develop the skills and feel of efficient movement. Thus, climbing three or four days per week is the best training for people getting started.
Make training specific
As skills improve, then fitness training becomes more important. A three-pronged approach is best:
- Training to improve grip strength
- Moderate aerobic training to reduce bodyweight – basically to improve strength to weight ratio – improve stamina, and help speed recovery between climb.
- Do moderate antagonist muscle training that helps maintain balance in the push muscles that oppose the pulling muscles (agonists).
Training grip strength is best done with a combination of hard bouldering (climbing short, strenuous “problems” that don’t require a rope) andfingerboard training. A fingerboard is an apparatus made specifically to train aclimbers grip in different positions.
Keep legs lean
Leg training is largely a waste of time, since rock climbers aren’t limited by leg strength – although mountaineers may be limited by it, and so they should train their legs. Rock climbers want skinny legs without bulk that weighs them down. Some running will help keep the legs fit and thin. Visualize this: ideally a rock climber wants the upper body like a gymnast and a low body like a long-distance runner.
Choosing your shoes
A climber should try on different brands of shoes to see which is most like the shape of their foot. Climbing shoes should fit very snugly, much like a glove for your foot. It really should not be comfortable, or it’s too big! You want a tight, sensitive fit that allows you to feel the rock… and the quality of your foot placement on tiny holds. That’s important!
Want to learn more? Buy Eric Horst’s latest book, Training for Climbing, atwww.amazon.co.uk
Check out his website for more advice on learning to climb:www.TrainingforClimbing.com