August 4th, 2023
A climbing plateau is definitely one of the more frustrating parts of everyone’s climbing journey and learning to crush your plateau can feel frustrating when you don’t know where to start.
Every single climber has found themselves exploding in strength and skill when they first start climbing regularly and then, like trying to ride a bike through sand, that growth comes to an annoyingly slow grind. Suddenly it becomes impossible to push to the next level and all that climbing confidence you grew has shrunk back to when you first started.
This experience can feel isolating as you watch other climbers crush the climb you couldn’t seem to crack.
If you’ve ever felt like this and feel like you can’t make it out of your slump, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Every single climber has hit a plateau at least once in their climbing journey and wherever you are in your climbing career, you will no doubt hit yours.
Climbing regularly at your highest difficulty is still a great accomplishment so if you commit to it, you will slowly but surely start to build the strength and coordination to push past your climbing plateau on your own time. But if you want to crush your plateau quickly and push your grade, then we have some amazing classes, such as the Push Your Grade, and easy tips and tricks you can add to your climbing routine!
One of the most important parts of climbing is the warmup. It is so tempting to go straight to climbing and start with your most challenging climbs when you have the most energy, but trust us, it will only burn you out faster, and might even get you injured!
The key to a great climb is to warm up with some gentle stretches. We would recommend stretching your whole body and not just your arms. Climbing is a full-body experience even though it might feel like you are just using your arms.
Here are the stretches we recommend you start with:
Thread the Needle
Start on all fours, hands under hips, knees under hips.
Reach one arm under the opposite shoulder, allowing the upper back to rotate, and follow the movement with your head
Hold for 3-5 seconds and then bring the arm all the way back up toward the ceiling, twisting through your back
Hold for 3-5 seconds and repeat each way 10-20x
Put your arms over your head and with your opposite hand grab your elbow and pull inwards. Hold for 15sec each side.
Alternate 4 times.
This stretch is a great way to stretch your tricep muscles and warm them up to climb
Sit with your legs open as wide as is comfortable for you and without bending your
knees start reaching as far as you can toward the center and hold for 15 sec
Then start reaching for your toes and alternate sides and hold for 15 sec each
Once you’ve stretched it’s a great time to warm up your muscles and get them ready to climb.
One of the things that keeps beginners from progressing a grade is grip strength. Your fingers need to get used to holding your weight and you need to build confidence enough to trust them.
Here are a few warm-ups that will help you gain grip strength before you climb
At G1, we have a fantastic warm-up area in which you can find grip boards and bars for dead hangs.
Start by gripping the pull-up bar or grip board and fully extend your arms until you are hanging. Hold for 15 sec for three reps
If you want to increase the challenge start shifting your shoulders up or doing some slow pullups.
You can always add weight to the hold to make it more challenging or a counterweight to make it easier.
The most important thing in a warm-up is to not burn yourself out so take it slow and easy!
Gradually Build in Grade
You’re finally ready to get on the wall after a great warm-up. But where do you start?
First, start with the easiest climb you can and take it slow. By doing this you are getting your muscles ready to work and not burning yourself out before you hit that project climb.
According to a peer reviewed article by Medicina Sportiva, another method of climbing has proven effective in increasing strength in climbing,
” Michailov developed an interval method, borrowed from the fartlek and represented by alternating repetitions of easy and “difficult” rotes with short rest intervals (Fig. 3) . This method also significantly increased strength endurance and is expected to equally improve the mixed and the anaerobic energy supply. ”
Whether you alternate hard and easy routes or slowly build in difficulty, make sure you rest in between each climb!
Plan your route
When starting out in bouldering, you might be able to start a climb without any planning as low-grade climbs are pretty easy to send.
But as you start building in difficulty, climbs might require more planning to complete. It’s important to plan your route so you aren’t finding yourself stuck at the crux of a climb not knowing where to go.
Start by visualizing where each limb will go and where you will reach next.
If you’re unsure of where to go it’s always a great idea to watch someone else do the climb!
We have some amazing resources you can use for this if there’s no one at the gym you can watch.
You can start by visiting our Instagram where you can watch some of our latest boulders and see how other climbers did it, or sitting back and waiting for someone else to attempt that climb.
Take A Class
Warming up and building your strength will no doubt aid in your climbing journey and help you push your grade, but the secret to crushing your plateau the quickest is by learning from your fellow climbers!
As a member at G1 Climbing + Fitness, you have so many resources to use when it comes to climbing (and fitness!) including our Push Your Grade course!
In this course, you can learn amazing techniques, get in-depth beta on your climbing projects, climb with people who are trying to improve their skills, and have fun doing it!
Our Push Your Grade courses are four weeks long on Mondays at 6 PM MST at G1 Climbing + Fitness so make sure to check it out if you want to crush your climbing plateau and push yourself to the limit!