Wake up. Eat Breakfast. Climb. Lunch at work. Train. Eat Dinner. Read. Sleep. Repeat.
This is a regular day for me. I literally eat, drink, and breathe rock climbing, and as a result, I see progress in my everyday life. I’ve heard many times over, “man, I wish I was better,” or “how do I get stronger at rock climbing?” The first thing that pops in my mind, but I rarely ask the question, “do you have what it takes?” There are so many aspects to consider when looking to increase one’s climbing ability: nutrition, technique, arm strength, footwork, finger strength, coordination, core tension… and the list goes on. Just looking at the multitude of training areas is intimidating and many people become mentally defeated at this point. Without even trying, people decide it is too hard or have excuses for not pushing themselves. When it comes down to it, it isn’t the people who are already strong that have what it takes, but those with passion, those with determination, and those who can push themselves in spite of setbacks or failures. In reality, everyone has what it takes to become a stronger, better climber, but don’t know where to start.
There are only a couple things you need to do to be on the way to becoming a better rock climber.
Step One: Be positive. Start your day with positivity and you have a higher chance of succeeding in your day to day tasks. Personally, I like to listen to motivational speakers like Les Brown. My mood feeds off of the energy and the motivation that these speeches provide. Find a routine that keeps you positive about your day and practice it every single day.
Step Two: Determine one aspect you want to improve on. In many cases, people will become motivated to change their life and try to take on too many changes at once. This usually leads to becoming overwhelmed and loss of motivation. To avoid this, we pick one single thing to improve, and we can add on later. For example, we will start with nutrition. Maybe on day one, replace one unhealthy meal, with a healthier option. Once all of your meals are healthy, then move onto more advanced nutrition goals. Don’t take on too much at once, or you’ll become overwhelmed.
Step Three: Think about what you want to improve on every single day. Even if you forgot to do it, as long as you think about what you want to accomplish. Want to start brushing your teeth in the morning? Try to commit to brushing your teeth every morning. Until you’re in the routine, you will forget sometimes, but as long as you remember and remind yourself at some point in time, you’ll begin to fall into the routine. It works the same way for anything related to self improvement.
Step Four: Commit to your decision. If you want to succeed in anything, do not let exterior influences sway you from your decision. Sometimes this means sacrificing time for other activities. It’s all about priorities.
Climbing was never my first priority until recently. I always prefered a relaxing life. Sure, I worked at a climbing gym, I’d go outdoors occasionally, and I climbed probably five times a week, but I never had the drive I have now. Instead of waking up early to go work out, I’d prefer sleeping for an extra couple hours. I’d go home and play video games for hours on end until my brain hurt. I’d cut a workout short just to go hang out with friends and in the process, my diet was horrible. I realized that if I wanted to improve my climbing ability, I would need to sacrifice some of the activities I like doing outside of climbing, so I could succeed to my fullest potential in rock climbing. Now I’m not telling you to drop everything to start training for rock climbing, but maybe next time you have a choice between doing something beneficial for your climbing and doing something that might not help you in that direction, consider your priorities. There are many relationships that I have lost, both social and romantic, because of my chosen priorities, and that is probably the most difficult decision to make. It just depends if you are going to prioritize your relationships over your personal development.
With enough passion and determination, anyone can be a great rock climber, but without commitment, you’ll find yourself hitting plateaus. If you want to push yourself to become a better climber, there is not an easy fix and you may have to sacrifice time spent doing other things. As difficult of a decision as it is, pushing yourself to do something you truly love yields satisfaction like no other.
I only have one question for you. Do you have what it takes?
John Bates Amateur Professional Rock Climber