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Climb Harder As A Weekend Warrior

Author: Amanda Ellis

April 04, 2018

Most of us have been there before: the car’s still only half unpacked from the weekend, the grocery list includes freeze-dried food and trail mix, and when you drive to work Monday morning, dirt from the crag still dusts the car’s surfaces. It’s the way of the weekend warrior. And it’s super fulfilling—but maybe it feels like it’s stunting your climbing progress. Like, you could pursue higher goals if you just had more free time. But don’t quit your day job or abandon your family yet! We got the scoop on how to get the absolute most from your weekday training from Kris Hampton—climbing coach, podcaster and owner of Power Company Climbing—who knows a thing or two about climbing hard while you still have a day job. Here’s what he said.

The no. 1 way to see progress: Actually plan and schedule for it, like you do your “regular” life.

“If you wait to find time, you never will. Put your gym time into your schedule, along with family time and everything else. Explain to your family the importance of what you’re doing, and I’m betting they’ll be more willing to help out. Have your weekends planned and partners who are on board. And, like I said, rest. Get enough of it. Eat well. Do your best to mitigate the stress of real life before it even happens. I know all of that sounds difficult, but it really all plays into itself. Find a rhythm or routine, and it can all seem easy.”

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The most crucial aspect of weekend-warrior training might surprise you.

“Training effectively has to be individualized, but I’d say that the no. 1 component, and no. 1 hardest to implement, would be getting enough rest. When it comes to training, more is rarely better. High-quality workouts and deliberate movement practice are a great start to making sure you aren’t getting too fatigued.”

Because the weekend-warrior lifestyle can get really intense.

“To be the most effective version of weekend warrior that you can be, there has to be a high level of both passion and dedication. That’s part of what makes the weekend warrior so dangerous. We love what we do and will find just about any way to get it done. We don’t have the luxury of coming back tomorrow, so now is the time.”

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It’s possible to make huge leaps in grades—even if you’re a working parent.

“I began climbing at 20, and spent most of my 20s climbing cracks, which beyond the mental game, did very little to prepare me for the sport climbing I’d take up in my 30’s. At 30 years old I had a 7-year-old daughter and a more-than-full-time career as a mural painter, and decided that I wanted to climb harder. I dialed in my schedule and training methods, and at 33 years old climbed my first 13a, a grade I had set as my “big” goal. Not knowing what “big” goal to set next, I decided on 14a, a grade that seemed mythical when I began climbing. Seven years and 65 5.13’s later, and I climbed Transworld Depravity, a 120-foot 14a in the Red River Gorge.

“At that point I was battling a nagging shoulder injury from overuse at work, and a fall on the ice resulted in needing a full labrum and rotator cuff repair, as well as a relocation of the bicep tendon in my right shoulder. After a six-month recovery I was cleared to climb on October 1st, 2015. On January 3rd, 2016, just three months after starting over, I climbed my first V10, feeling stronger than ever. I’ve followed that with several other V10’s, and after spending the last nine months focused on the business, I’m looking to get back into sport climbing shape in my new home of Lander, Wyoming.”

Be purposeful with training—here’s one way.

“I’ll give you the template for a bouldering session, which we often ask sport climbers to do as well. We always start with specific movement prep to get the body ready to move the way climbing demands. We then spend roughly 30 minutes on easy problems at several angles, and use this warm up time to work on very specific movements or styles that are challenging. For instance, if you are a slow, deliberate climber like I am, spending your warm up time getting better at moving with momentum can make a giant difference in your climbing.

“After we’re feeling ready to go, we like to move to an exercise we call Perfect Repeats. To do a Perfect Repeat you choose a challenging problem and climb it 3-5 times, aiming to improve one aspect each attempt. Those changes can be in beta, not readjusting your feet, subtle shifts in body position, pace of climbing, or even how you breathe. This exercise not only builds good habits, but it improves the awareness that will allow you to make faster decisions on difficult routes or problems outside. Quick decisions are something the Weekend Warrior can’t live without.

“After the Perfect Repeats, we move into the focus of the session, whether that’s 30 minutes of practicing extremely difficult moves or higher volume climbing. A few very easy problems done perfectly and with a good rhythm will serve as a cool down, and you’re done before you get too wrecked.”

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To stay balanced, lean on gratitude.

“It might sound cliché, but enjoy yourself and be grateful that you get to go climb rocks. Find the fun in training. Look for the tiny successes and learn to revel in them. Remember, the spectre of failure is what makes this all so alluring, so don’t be too hard on yourself when you don’t reach all of your goals. My goal was 5.14 by 40. I missed it by 21 days. Honestly, it wouldn’t have really mattered if I hadn’t ever done it. What matters is that I know I did everything I could to get there.”

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Power Company Climbing started as a blog for Kris to share his own training journey. It blossomed from there into a group of coaches who train adult climbers and work with youth teams to help them learn more effective ways to improve. To continue his own education, Kris was having in-depth conversations with high level coaches and athletes, which he now records for his podcast, The Power Company Podcast.

Amanda Ellis

Amanda can be found writing about the outdoors or playing in it, whether it’s adventure climbing in her North Carolina home or seeking out superior granite cracks. When she’s not writing or climbing, she’s skiing, surfing, or searching for the wild horses that roam the Outer Banks. She won the American Alpine Club’s ‘Live Your Dream’ grant to climb Bugaboo Spire in 2016 and since that experience has made her life goal to complete the most scenic alpine routes in the world.