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Scarpa North America Blog

Rock Climbers: How To Stay Motivated Through Winter

Mar. 27th 2014

Do you boulder or rock climb? Have you been watching films, salivating through those epic shots of Yosemite? It may be officially spring, but there’s still plenty of snow on the ground. Alli Rainey, a SCARPA climber and coach, gave us five tips on how to stay motivated throughout the cold months.

It has been bitterly cold here for several weeks and my partner is currently unable to train with me. Since I don’t do winter sports, this could appear to be the perfect setup for a seriously bleak winter spent getting out of shape for climbing. After all, it can be a major challenge to stay inspired when perfect climbing conditions seem far in the future. However, I’ve learned a few key ways that help me keep motivation high.

Visual stimulation

Provide yourself with daily reminders of what you wish to achieve or where you want to climb in the next climbing season. Put a background image of that desired route on your phone and computer. Now, when you want to shirk on working out, take a look at one of your readily available pictures and remind yourself that you’ll be happy that you kept your climbing fitness going when you’re nailing first ascents.

Start small

Make realistic, attainable training goals that you can easily fit into your schedule without dramatically rearranging your routine. Start with a goal of getting to the gym to climb once or twice a week for half an hour, and then work towards honing more effective training once you have a regular visitation pattern established.

Know what needs work

At the climbing gym, focus two out of every three visits on an area that you know needs work – such as footwork, slopers, steep climbing, breathing, pacing, endurance, explosive movements, and so forth. Having a concrete area of focus for each workout tends to yield greater overall results, especially if you work on areas that you know need improvement. Reward this effort with a freeform, fun climbing day every third or fourth visit.

Short training bursts

If you’re busy and don’t have several hours to set aside for training or climbing each week, figure out small ways to incorporate “training bits” into your regular days. Let’s say you’re practicing high-stepping flexibility – spend 30 seconds to two minutes three times a day, every other day, working on improving this climbing-specific motion. Or, if you’re working on basic pull strength or lock-offs – a pull-up bar, rock rings or a hangboard provide an easy way to fit compact workouts into an otherwise busy schedule.

Mind games

Trick yourself into training by telling yourself you only have to do a little. Something is almost always better than nothing (except in the case of overtraining, of course!). The initial impetus is the most difficult part of training or climbing, but once you get going, you might find that you want to do another stretch beyond high steps or another exercise on the hangboard – especially after you start seeing some gains from your efforts.

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