Train like a Pro Climber

A 5.9 climber recruits the best climbing coaches in America to see if he can jump two number grades in two months. Here’s what he learned.

“I should feel some muscle here, but there’s nothing,” said Kris Peters as he squeezed my rotator cuff and looked me up and down like a judge would a state fair cow. “And I can tell your fingers are going to be a weak link just by looking at them. We’re going to spend a lot of time on those.”

I’d just come to Movement Climbing + Fitness, a couple blocks away from my Boulder, Colorado apartment, for my first meeting with Justen Sjong and Kris Peters, a coaching and training duo formerly working together as Team of 2 (Sjong now coaches on his own as The Climbing Sensei). Their assessment of my potential began, unbeknownst to me, as soon as I walked in the door. My physical attributes adequately scrutinized, Sjong noted that my body language suggested I was timid and reserved. Not ideal for coaching. All this in the first five minutes. I was about ready to quit climbing forever and go put a buffet out of business.

But this unbiased assessment is why I’m here. I’ve never been a good rock climber. After five years at the sport, I still found myself getting sketched leading 5.9 sport routes outside and failing on V3 boulder problems in the gym. It’s not for lack of trying, though. I’ve gone through periods where I’d pull plastic four days every week. I’ve taken classes on technique. I’ve read nearly every book on training and put in my time doing pull-ups, deadhangs, and planks. But my anarchic, inconsistent routine seemed to be getting me nowhere. At 30 years old I’d plateaued at average, so I began wondering: What if I got serious about climbing? Like really serious. Not just scanning the gym for the newest 5.10 to try, but truly giving it everything I had. What if I trained like a pro? I decided to seek the help of the same people who work with Daniel Woods and Alex Puccio, dedicate myself to their program, and see how far I could get. The goal: redpoint a 5.11 outside in two months. But first, we’d have to find my missing shoulder muscles.

You can read the full article here:

Train Like a Pro | www.climbing.com

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