I've recently become quite interested in climbing, and I have been frequenting a local gym. As I become more serious, I'm curious how to most quickly improve.

For example,

  • Should I focus on improving strength or technique?
  • What is the best way to go about such improvement?
  • Are there any essential books or reference sites?

Any advice is appreciated.

  • Top-roping? Leading? – Ben Crowell Dec 9 '13 at 1:49
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    Voting to close as too broad. The answer to this question would really be a book. A question with a more reasonable scope would IMO be more focused on a specific grade (say YDS 5.7-5.8), a specific style of climbing (say lead-climbing in the gym), and maybe even a specific difficulty (e.g., arms getting too pumped on overhanging routes). – Ben Crowell Dec 9 '13 at 3:39
  • For books just search Amazon. – Kai K. Dec 9 '13 at 9:02
  • Work on your finger strength training first, then on your technique, then on your core strength, and then very last you can work on your general fitness. – theJollySin Dec 9 '13 at 19:07
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    Finger boards are key. If you follow a plan, and are careful to not over-train or hurt yourself, fingers boards lead to Fast Gains. Be careful and be smart. But finger boards are key. – theJollySin Dec 10 '13 at 21:21

You should always focus on improving the technique instead of strength - you will gain strength automatically while you are climbing. To climb better just climb.

The same goes with overhangs, the more you climb the better you'll get. Of course its inevitable to think of gyms as a source of strength training but bouldering should suffice to help you get stronger.

Running will allow you to gain more stamina, but long routes can do the job too :)

Start with the easiest grades and move to harder grades, when you find that you are feeling a specific grade easy. I can suggest a good blog which is written by a good old climber named Stevie Heston. Learn from more experienced climbers to gain good footwork as it is far more important than strength.

When you start to lead, you will enjoy climbing at a new level.

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    +1 And I'd also recommend leaving the gym and going out to a natural rock; and if possible try different type of rocks. – Roflo Dec 9 '13 at 14:50

Okay, this is a BIG question. One short post on the internet will not give you everything you need. To that end, I suggest reading some climbing training guides. I have read a few, and find this one to be the best.

That being said, in my experience, the important points to hit are these:

  1. Technique. Climb whatever style of climbing is hardest for you. Are overhung sections hard? Look on YouTube, get your footwork right. Practice the technique until overhung is as easy as slab. Study. Practice. Review. Repeat.
  2. Finger Strength. Train your fingers. Finger boards hurt, and are dangerous, but are also the fastest way to see quick gains in your climbing. Be careful!
  3. Core strength. Planks, Side Planks, Levers. These are important. Sit-ups and Crunches are useless.
  4. General fitness. Get flexible. Work on your upper body strength. Drop your excess body fat.
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  • I certainly agree. But it's a great starting point. And it seems that others have similar mentalities. Thanks for the answer! – bhekman Dec 10 '13 at 9:01
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    Let's get started. Work on your crack-climbing technique. Tom Randall and Pete Whittaker are the experts: Episode 1: vimeo.com/40346006 Episode 2: vimeo.com/40353764 Episode 3: vimeo.com/40367819 Episode 4: vimeo.com/40358544 Episode 5: vimeo.com/40654007 Episode 6: vimeo.com/40733001 – theJollySin Dec 10 '13 at 21:16
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    @bhekman I forgot to mention the mental game. ESPECIALLY if you want to climb outdoors. Work on your fear. Put some serious effort into maintaining focus when you're in a tenuous position or are very tired. The more effort you put into this, the better you'll climb. – theJollySin Dec 13 '13 at 21:36

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