Do you have a strict training schedule for when and how you train throughout the year?
When I was younger I did, however as I grew up and became more aware of my body, how it adapts to training and how important actual rock climbing is to improve performance I stopped following such a strict schedule. I still train hard in various formats and have some systematic approach to each session, but it varies depending on what I feel I need to work on, my mood, injuries, goals, etc...
I do a lot of bouldering indoors, this I would say accounts for the vast majority of my climbing training! I also do quite a bit of fingerboard focusing specifically on key grip types like half crimp and 2 finger pocket hangs, usually on one hand with assistance.
I very rarely train endurance as this is not an issue for me on climbs generally, however I do like to mix it up occasionally by doing laps for endurance training, usually 4 sets of 3 or 4 routes back to back in a session. If I train endurance it is at the beginning of the season to build a base for the year and then I maintain.
What advice can you give to others looking to improve their training routine?
I would say that it is important to become aware of what aspects of physical, technical, mental and tactical training you require to improve. A coach can be a great way of realizing this, especially somebody who knows themselves how to improve and become a better climber.
Training shouldn't be about simply getting stronger, it needs to be practical and specific to the climbing you are going to be doing. Too much of the training we see online and advertised in the media is simple and non-climbing specific. It's of no real use to climbers and there are better ways of training that would make you improve much more rapidly with better more long-term gains.
Endurance: Important for route climbers, especially big wall and multipitches! Long days at the wall bouldering or doing routes are perfect for this. Also doing endurance laps like sets of 4, 3 or 2! However these should not be done too often and my advice would be to start each year with a day or two of this a week for a month and then to gradually lower volume. Don't get caught up in doing it all the time!
Strength: The most important physical trait for climbers in my opinion! In particular finger strength and lock of strength. When I say strength, I mean pure static strength, not explosive power! I would recommend any climbers who have spent more than 3 years climbing and who are operating above 7b to invest some time into maximal finger strength training each week. This is as important for route climbers as it is for boulderers! I made the biggest gains in my climbing after strengthening my fingers through the use of a fingerboard and bouldering intensely.
Power: Every indoor climber over emphasizes training upper body power, in particular explosive moves between big holds on steep boards and doing one arm pull ups... That ability is just not necessary at all to climb hard! Most of the power in climbing comes from the legs, even on steep routes and boulders. Power training in the gym is fun to do, but has very little transfer onto outdoor rocks... I definitely believe that style comes into play here and in some places having more power is useful, but from my travels around the world, I have never found a climb that couldn't be done in an efficient and technical way without using simply brute power!
Shoulder Strength: Saying that about power, having strong shoulders that can stabilize wide moves and keep you strong on the wall is more important and is a close second to finger strength.
Core: Very important as a climber. If you have weak core it will be noticeable on the wall, but climbing is a great core training activity in itself so don't overdo the core when training if you are doing plenty of climbing. A short 5-15 minute routine at the end of a session is probably adequate.
IMPORTANT! The best advice I can give anyone is to remember that you don't need to be strong, fit or powerful to climb hard. Technique and a strong mindset overcome pretty much any obstacle on the rocks and some of my hardest ascents to date have been done when I have been in my weakest state. Injury is usually done in the climbing wall because it is more intense than rock and it's more accessible meaning it is easier to over-train.
Never over-train, always finish on a high, and enjoy climbing forever!!!
What do you think of indoor climbing gyms in relation to climbing on actual rock?
Indoor climbing gyms are transforming the world of climbing by making many climbers stronger and fitter than they have ever been before! The problem lies in the fact that climbers don't get out on rock enough and forget how to climb efficiently on rock. When they don't succeed they blame not being strong or fit and return to the gym to get stronger and fitter, instead of confronting their demons (the rock) and trying to get better!
Most gyms in the world don't make a climber better at climbing; that is an unfortunate fact. However this can change... with good route setting and a well-designed wall and training area, we can have indoor routes that teach as well as train.
More footholds on routes, more intricate sequences, more variation in movement and we can set routes that replicate the complexity of the natural world indoors. Unfortunately it's popular amongst modern setters to jump between jugs and build powerful moves with few options for your feet... The best setters are those that climb on rock all the time and set from their experiences.
Are you able to do a one-arm pull up? How about a one-finger pull up?
I can do a one arm pull up, but not of a single finger. I am much more impressed by people who can hang a flat edge statically... this for me is true strength! One arm pull ups are a party trick that have little relevance to climbing.
How much of being a successful pro climber is due to self-marketing and how much due to actual climbing skill?
Being a pro climber means more than just going climbing. You do have to put some work into marketing yourself as a climber. This can be really fun because you get to work with a lot of cool people in the climbing industry including photographers, videographers and great brands like Edelrid and the cool folk involved with them.
You also have to put some personal work into writing for blogs and magazines as well as keeping social media stuff up to date.
I would say that the success of a pro climber depends on a few factors:
- Achievements - Climbing/First Ascents/Competitions/etc...
- Marketing - Blogs/Articles/Pictures/Videos/Social Media)
- Sponsors - Having a good sponsor to support your career who believes in you and helps you achieve what you set out to do!
On an average week I put in a lot of time into work associated with my sponsors, articles, blogs, videos, pictures, etc... On top of that I also have to find time to train, go climbing, coach, route-set and study!