Climb 5.12 by 40: 10 Months to Go

Ah! All of the Christmas cookies I haven’t eaten yet! Even with my new diet staple of at least one Christmas cookie a day for the last 2 weeks, December was a really great month. While the idea that I could climb 5.12 in the next year is still really out there, it doesn’t seem completely out of reach. I am basically two months in with this journey, and I think that my planning and training is going ok so far!

November basically ended the 2020 climbing year for me with an amazing trip to the Red River Gorge in Kentucky with Rob and our friends where I was able to keep building up my foundation of 11a/b climbs. It also left me with some overuse injuries to tend to, which was good and bad. Bad obviously, because it meant I was doing something wrong, or too much, or not enough. Good, because it showed me something I needed to improve. December was all about learning more about training around climbing and starting to lift heavy again.

My plan was to lift 3 days a week. I also wanted to hit the track and trails once a week to run to keep my aerobic endurance up, to keep me sane, and to burn off cookies.

December Training Plan

Here was my brainstorm for December training. I know it looks like a first grader wrote it, but I am taking baby steps to getting more organized. I stopped any heavy resistance training back in September 2020 and opted to do only the body weight exercises I learned from Thrive Fitness during the fall season because I wanted to see how body weight workouts felt and because I was getting lazy about moving plates around. 🙂 I really liked the switch and will definitely keep switching it up in the future. But, for December, I wanted to integrate heavy lifting into my routine again in order to build muscle mass. I can use a few more pounds of muscle!

At the end of December, after taking a 3 month break from lifting heavy, I am happily back to where I left off in September. The weights I had built up to in September were the result of 4 months of work, but it only took me one month to get it back! This table explains it much better:

May 1August 303 Month BreakDecember 1December 31
Squat65 lbs85 lbsbody weight exercises75 lbs85 lbs
Bench Press65 lbs75 lbsbody weight exercises 60 lbs75 lbs
The strength gains I made in 4 months of training only took me one month to get back, after a 3 month break. It only took me one month to get back to my previous numbers! 😀

December Results

The proof is in the pudding. However, the prep time for this pudding is really long though, and I still feel like I am in the very beginning, not sure if I have the recipe right! In the 31 days of December, I fit in 22 workouts. 25 if you include days I just walked for a couple of miles. 🙂 Several December exercises trained definite weakness of mine such as the pull-ups and the ‘rope bar thing.’ Several exercises were geared toward overall strength and several were meant to stave off muscle imbalances with climbing. In addition to this training, I managed 8 runs, I think I did pretty well! More importantly, I’m a bit stoked for January 2021.

Plan for January 2021

See? More organized than December, lol!

I am super excited for January to start. Reach will be open, I will have thoroughly rested my overuse injury, I am 4 weeks into correcting and preventing re-injury, and, as a teacher, I might have my Covid-19 vaccination this month! Noteworthy exercises on the menu for January is more structured hang boarding from Training for Climbing. My hang-boarding routine in December was pretty willy-nilly, I’ve also integrated every leg and core exercise also from Training for Climbing. Oh, and actual climbing! 😀 I want to do 4x4s once a week, project a rope route once a week, and actually warm up well before climbing.

So, the “projecting one rope route a week” is an idea I got from Kris Hampton’s no-nonsense-tough-love-climbing book The Hard Truth (aka, the snap the banana book). He shares that while he was on his journey to climb 5.14 before turning 40 (I know, a little different from climbing 5.12 before turning 40, but whatever) he always went to the climbing gym with a purpose. He never went to the gym just to climb willy-nilly. One of the things he would do, is pick a hard route, one he couldn’t finish, and give it 3-4 burns in a gym sesh. That simple. Warm up really well. Give a project 3-4 burns, and be done. Basically, warm up, 3-4 burns on max effort routes, and leave. 🙂 Sounds up my alley!

Looking Forward

For the immediate future, there are no outdoor trips planned. I am sure we will venture out now and again for bouldering though. That will be interesting! We are 13 weeks out from our first New River Gorge trip of 2021. But I do have some indoor goals: 1. I want to do the hard routes on the narrow slab wall. 2. I want to flash 12s on lead at all angles and repeat them as perfectly as I can. 3. I want to flash V5 on all angles and repeat them as perfectly as I can. We will see how I do! These January goals could likely turn into February goals!

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