Maximizing a Small Home Wall

Can you outline a training regimen for the home-wall climber?

By Rock and Ice | February 2nd, 2010

Can you outline a training regimen for the home-wall climber?

—Julian Katz | Saint Louis, MO

It is a myth that you need tons of space to train. A small homewall can be all you need. It is a myth that you need tons of space to train effectively for climbing and most true connoisseurs favor something small that has been engineered specifically for their own requirements over a commercial facility that never quite hits the spot. If your redpoint project for next season is a 45-move crimp fest, you don’t need me to tell you what to screw onto your home wall.

Before I get too manic about home walls I want to be clear that they must be well made [Read: How to Build a Home Climbing Wall]. In brief, the minimum overall dimensions should be 6 by 8 feet, with the optimal dimensions being 10 by 12 feet. Use a combination of wooden holds and varied, ergonomic resin holds.

Don’t skimp on cost. The holds are the main thing that determine how fun and effective the wall will be. Make sure each area of the board has a variety of different types and sizes so that you can freely set problems or circuits. In terms of angles, you want a wall between 25 and 50 degrees overhanging. Place the wall somewhere dry and airy with good light, as motivation will slacken in a damp, gloomy cupboard-sized space.

In terms of how to train, the first step is to carve your workouts up into strength and endurance. For strength sessions, hard boulder problems are always the way forward. Do some easy movement to warm up and then try problems of increasing difficulty, taking plenty of rest to avoid a flash pump. To add some structure, try switching from crimpy problems on small positive holds to slopey problems on larger rounded holds.

Divide your problems up, as if setting exercises for a weight-training routine. For example, three sets of under-cuts, side-pulls and so on. You can also make up rules to increase the specific training effect of each problem: hold each move statically for three or four seconds, or cut loose with your feet and replace them before making the next move. A weight belt is a useful accessory to increase the resistance for this type of training.

For endurance, long circuits are the key, but you can change your approach depending on whether you are doing mid-length power-endurance (20 to 60 moves) or longer stamina circuits (80 to 150 moves).

For power-endurance the best approach is to pre-plan the circuit so that it is sustained (every move approximately the same grade). For stamina, it is usually sufficient to climb around at random. You will probably need to return to a decent rest to shake out and recover, so include jugs or an adjacent wall at a lower angle. In terms of difficulty, you should train on something that only just enables you to complete a target number of sets, perhaps burning out on the final or penultimate set. Use the guidelines given below as an approximate guide for numbers of repetitions and recovery times.

  • 20 moves x 8-9 sets with 8-min. rest
  • 40 moves x 6-7 sets with 10-min. rest
  • 60 moves x 5-6 sets with 12-min. rest
  • 80 moves x 4-5 sets with 14-min. rest
  • 100 moves x 3-4 sets with 16-min. rest
Don’t have a home wall? Read:
How To Build a Home Climbing Wall

This article was published in Rock and Ice issue 182.

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