People always expect and want immediate returns when they begin a climbing training or weight loss program, but changing your body takes time. Neither a successful lifelong diet plan nor an effective rock climbing fitness program will result in instantaneous weight loss or immediate improvement in your rock climbing ability. Discover ways to handle this disappointment and push through plateaus while staying committed to improving your diet and/or climbing ability.
Creating and Implementing an Effective Diet and/or Climbing Fitness Plan
Exactly like a successful diet plan gives you a recipe for lifelong weight loss success, a smartly designed climbing fitness program will take a long-term perspective. The program’s core should aim to target your areas of greatest weakness in climbing, while also maintaining and pushing forward the other areas critical to climbing improvement and success. An effective climbing fitness program will also take your lifestyle limitations into account.
Once you have a workout and/or diet plan in place, the keys to success are consistency, persistence, and patience. The plan will only be effective if you’re diligent about following through and intelligent about when and how you train, along with what you eat. Don’t train when you’re too tired, but don’t make excuses when you’re not. Understand that some parts of working out will likely be dull or repetitive. You may not see the results you want for months or even years.
Dealing with Disappointment and Mental Distress
Starting a weight loss program and starting climbing training are similar experiences — you’re excited about the prospects of improving your fitness levels and committed to the new diet or training program. You dive in with gusto and enthusiasm, working hard and staying dedicated. But when two or three weeks pass by with no major weight loss or significant climbing gains, you find yourself wondering, “What am I doing wrong? Why isn’t this working?”
This is the crucial time in any body-changing program. You have to go into the diet and/or fitness plan with the understanding that your mind will likely always be way ahead of your body, and that your body is going to need time to catch up to your expectations and goals. Prepare yourself by being willing and ready to make a commitment of three years rather than three weeks at the start of the program.
Don’t expect immediate or even medium-term dramatic changes in your weight or your body’s climbing ability level. Know that dramatic changes in weight and climbing ability are the exceptions rather than the rule. Instead, focus on the process, understanding that this endeavor is a long term one that may require years of effort to achieve what you want.
Set short-term, realistic goals to help keep you on track. For weight loss, a half-pound to 2 pounds per week is realistic, though much less than most people want. Likewise, for climbing, your training and fitness goals should reflect your current ability level. If you can do one pull-up, make it a goal to do two. If you can dead-hang for 10 seconds, aim for 15. If you can onsight 5.10a, aim to onsight a 5.10b in the next year.
The key in all of this is to keep your immediate goals realistic and attainable. You have to go in with the understanding that while it’s perfectly fine to want to lose 50 pounds or climb 5.13, these goals will take much more time than losing 5 pounds or climbing 5.10d (for the 5.10a climber). Realize, too, that even those short-term goals may take longer than you think or expect they should.
Handling Weight Loss and Training Plateaus
The correlation between dieting and climbing training continues into the arena of plateaus. When you experience a weight loss plateau, it can be tempting to toss in the towel and give up on the healthy diet plan altogether. Likewise, when a climber gets frustrated with a training plan, it’s tempting to just give it up and decide that training doesn’t work.
When you feel like you’re plateauing, you must first ask yourself if this is truly the case. How long have you been trying this training or diet program, and have you honestly been consistent? Or has boredom or lack of interest led you to sneak in special treats, shirk on workouts, or demand that you constantly mix up your fitness program instead of focusing on your weaknesses?
The best climbing training for a person sometimes require the repetition of dull exercises, which to be effective must be performed consistently with maximal effort. Consistent submaximal effort combined with a lack of consistency in the training program will not yield the desired results, just as halfhearted adherence to a diet plan will not yield the desired weight loss goals.
A true plateau in weight loss, climbing, or climbing training often comes from a lack of understanding how to effectively lose weight (cutting calories while increasing caloric output is the gold standard) or how to recognize one’s own climbing weaknesses and train them effectively. If you’re truly dedicated to your weight-loss and/or climbing fitness program for six months to a year, and no discernible changes occur, you probably do need to adjust your plan.
For weight loss programs, adjustments usually include cutting calories and/or improving quality and quantity of workouts, while for climbing training alone, the latter is generally the rule. You’ll want to reevaluate your climbing weaknesses and the program you’re using to train them. Make sure you’re exerting maximal effort in your workouts, resting appropriately, training with enough consistency, eating for recovery, and addressing your true areas of weakness with exercises that have been proven effective.
Climbing Training and Weight Loss – Both Take Time
Whether you’re trying to lose weight or train to improve your climbing ability, both require a serious time commitment. Start with a well-designed climbing fitness or diet plan, and limit your expectations. Don’t set a deadline. Tackle the program as a lifelong pursuit. Be consistent, persistent, and patient. Use realistic short-term goals to mark your progress. Know that plateaus are part of the process. Push through them with persistence, using them to reevaluate your program and redirect it as necessary.