How Should Old Climbers Train?

As a subscriber and a 48-year-”old” climber, I would like to know how the old, good climbers train. Have any articles been written on this?

By Rock and Ice | June 24th, 2010

As a subscriber and a 48-year-”old” climber, I would like to know how the old, good climbers train. Have any articles been written on this? How do 55-year-olds train to climb 5.14 and 60-year-olds climb 5.13? I was climbing 5.12c and getting better every year until major shoulder surgery a few months ago. Now, as I resume climbing, I am reevaluating how I approach my training.

I don’t know of any articles on this subject, but great idea! Let’s see if the editors can get one cranked up for the next issue, which just happens to be all about health and training.

You hit the nail on the head when you mentioned that you are recovering from shoulder surgery. The key to climbing hard once you become geriatric is minimizing injuries. When you were 20 you could re-grow an arm overnight, but now that you are a creaking old fart, minor injuries will plague you to the graveyard. Avoid them. Train hard, but modulate and stop before you blow a cable or twang something even more complicated. Knowing when to stop is the tricky part, as your natural inclination is to go to or past failure. When I was 38 I blew out my shoulder and it took two years to get it back. My climbing never fully recovered because I dove back in too fast and furiously, and kept getting hurt and having to recover. It’s a vicious cycle, just like being fat then dieting then bingeing and getting fat again.

For the training itself, I recommend yoga and lifting weights. Both will strengthen your entire body, making you less likely to overdo and injure any particular anatomy. Lay off the crippling exercises like campusing and pull-ups, and instead get on an indoor wall and run moderate laps to keep everything oiled. You may have noticed that as you got older, you powered down but your endurance is up. Use that metamorphosis to kick the snot out of those 40-year-old brats. Gear Guy has spoken!

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