How to Not Train

FORE­ARMS SO VAS­CU­LAR they at­tract sharks. Back mus­cles so ripped you could map them to­po­graph­i­cally. Fin­gers so strong they could crush stone like wet spaghetti. In my seven years as a rock climber, I have not achieved any of th­ese things. Fol­low my five


1 Buy Books

Sure, you could fol­low a sim­ple re­sis­tance-train­ing pro­gram for re­li­able gains like 99 per­cent of ath­letes do in other sports, but you’re a rock climber. That’s not how we do. Some ex­perts would sug­gest you read a climb­ing-train­ing book and then de­sign a plan based on that book. I’m here to tell you that you can get the same sat­is­fac­tion with none of the re­sults by just buy­ing books.

Eric Horst’s Train­ing for Climb­ing is a great place to start. While you’re wait­ing for that to ar­rive, lis­ten to the Train­ing Beta pod­cast. Hear the An­der­son brothers ex­plain their re­search-driven ap­proach. Take Train­ing for Climb­ing out of the Ama­zon box and put it di­rectly on the shelf. Or­der The Rock Climber’s Train­ing Man­ual. Ah, bet­ter: This is clearly the only train­ing book you’ll ever need. Though that Steve Bech­tel guy has some in­ter­est­ing ideas. Hmm, OK: An­der­son bros out, Bech­tel’s Strength: Foun­da­tional Train­ing for Rock Climb­ing in. Or maybe Train­ing for the New Alpin­ism is what you need. Or How to Climb 5.12. Or The Self-Coached Climber. I’ll let you in on a se­cret: It doesn’t mat­ter which books you buy, as long as you don’t read them.

2 Change Pro­grams Fre­quently

Hav­ing not read up on all the lat­est train­ing lore, it’s now time to scrape to­gether a plan based on what is prob­a­bly in those books. Dumb­bell rows. Planks. Hang­board re­peaters at 9 sec­onds on, 2.27 sec­onds off. Go at it with en­thu­si­asm for a week, and then start doubt­ing your­self. You’ve planked twice, and you’re still slip­ping off jugs. There are prob­a­bly bet­ter ex­er­cises. Start over. Squats. Dead­lifts. Max-weight dead­hangs. Hit the iron hard un­til you read an In­ter­net fo­rum on which a bunch of teenagers agree that climb­ing is the best way to train for climb­ing. Bar­bells out. Boul­der­ing 4x4s in. Waf­fle early and of­ten. The trick to not train­ing is to never stick with any one ex­er­cise long enough for your body to adapt.

3 Join a High-In­ten­sity Work­out Pro­gram*

It turns out de­sign­ing and ex­e­cut­ing a train­ing plan is hard. And bor­ing. It’s eas­ier to pay some­one to tell you what to do. You’ve made fun of high-in­ten­sity train­ing in the past, but peo­ple like it—even some nor­mal peo­ple, though their pullups are sus­pi­cious. Eh, you might as well give it a shot. Holy shit, that’s hard! You’ll have to skip climb­ing tonight, but your new reg­i­men is go­ing to get you in shape fast. You should prob­a­bly skip climb­ing to­mor­row, too. You’re go­ing to be sore. And then it’ll be time to train again. Lose in­ter­est in climb­ing and go all out at the box. Set a record for flip­ping a truck tire over the most times be­fore pro­jec­tile-vom­it­ing. Cel­e­brate with burpees and a trip to the ER for rhab­domy­ol­y­sis-in­duced kid­ney fail­ure. * You can achieve sim­i­lar re­sults by run­ning ul­tra­ma­rathons.

4 Get Hurt

It’s good to have you back in the climb­ing gym—you went off the rails there for a bit. To make up for lost time, go all in on the hang­board. One ses­sion per day, no rest days ever. Be­fore the end of the first week, your ring fin­ger will be­come achy, stiff, and ten­der to the touch. Th­ese are warn­ing signs. Ig­nore them. Keep hang­board­ing un­til your A2 pul­ley ex­plodes like a gun­shot, prompt­ing every­one in the gym to duck be­hind cover. Fin­ger per­ma­nently dam­aged, spend the next two years do­ing noth­ing, afraid that you’ll rein­jure your­self if you go near a rock.

5 Re­peat

If you’ve fol­lowed the above steps cor­rectly, you shouldn’t be fit­ter than ever; you should be weaker, poorer, and older. Re­peat the rou­tine for as long as you’d like to be stuck at 5.10, which you might as well, be­cause climb­ing above that grade is im­pos­si­ble. Trust me. I’ve tried ev­ery­thing short of com­mit­ting and stick­ing to a train­ing plan.

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