Climbing to become better

When I started climbing again after a two year break (did lots of skiing instead) I was of course shit at first. The basic technique is there, but my body’s forgotten how to do fine control of a lot of muscles I use to climb up the wall.

I don’t climb to be the best climber. I climb because it’s fun. It’s the same with skiing. That being said, I do enjoy being good at something. To clearly define what good is can be quite hard, but I knew I was not good coming back to climbing. Something had to be done.

I usually only have time to climb for about an hour. But no matter how much time I have, I divide my climbing session into 3 sections. A warm-up, a challenge, and a reinforcement. This way I hope to reach a level of climbing that I will enjoy more, since I wont fall of the wall thinking:

I used to be able to do that.

I use this technique to learn new things, and I think it’s applicable on learning new as well as old things in general.


I start by climbing routes and problems I will be able to do pretty much without thinking. Sometimes I will do new routes, sometimes simply climb something I’ve done before. The idea is that I want to get in the right mindset, to switch my body into climbing mode if you will (I’m usually coming straight from work, so I’m in working mode).

The warm-up doesn’t always have to be super easy. As long as I do something that I can easily get absorbed into (and that is related to climbing).


This is where I start doing routes and problems I haven’t done before. I’m essentially doing some kind of project that forces me to learn something new.

While climbing any project I want to fall of the wall.

A friend once told me that he aimed for a 70/30 success ration when trying to learn something new. That is that 30% of the time he would actually succed, and 70% of the time he would not. It’s an ideal check to see if you’re challenging yourself enough.


In the reinforcement section I will again climb routes I know I can do. Important here is to not lower my level to much. I will try to redo climbing projects that I’ve managed to do before, but might have struggled with, or climb routes of a grade that I should be able to do, but where I don’t see an immediate easy way to do them.

If I have a lot of time, I might go back to work on my climbing projects after climbing some easier routes. Switching between challenges and reinforcement every 20 minutes or so.

As I become better at climbing again. I more and more just climb what I find fun (either for the challenge, or because of some interesting move). This is when I’m back at a level I find to be good enough to just enjoy my climbing again. Time to time I will make efforts to become better, and then come back to my three step learning:

Warm-up, challenge and reinforce.


Leave a Reply