Time and Rest = Better Grades

I’ve not really got that much reading material down in the crack training cellar. I suppose I like to keep it spartan and without any distractions or excuses from working hard. I have allowed myself one small indiscretion though, and that’s a copy of Climb magazine with a very important training article by Steve McClure in it. Does it prescribe the reps, the rest periods, secret regimes and special exercises for fingers of steel? No it doesn’t – it tells us resting is just as important as training! You can break your body down with a good session, but if you want it to adapt afterwards, you have to let it recover to achieve what’s often referred to in the business as – “Super-compensation.”


Got Super-Compensation? (c) Paolo Sartori

You’d think being a climbing coach would make me good at dishing out this kind of advice to myself and taking it on board. I think I’m probably ok at telling myself, but very poor at listening! In my last blog about returning from Italy to try Gondo Crack I had to do just this. I was burnt out, tired and lacking mojo. I told myself that it wasn’t the end of the world and all it needed was some rest, which probably for the first time in a (very) long time I took. My God, it felt good. And weird. Six days off pottering around on the beach with my family, going for walks and watching TV was my medicine and I was very curious to see the effects.

Well, it’s one week later and I cannot believe the difference. It’s like someone injected a 25yr old me into my body and gave me the most psyched mind for quite some time. After that week off, I came back and had training sessions that went through all previous highs and did a few link-ups that I wasn’t sure were possible. It’s all very well me going on about this to you, but I’m not sure you really care if I suddenly did a 9b+ crack on wood – it’s just fake stuff. What really counts is what you’re going to do now, with this information.

If you look at the last month, did you train/climb more days than not? Did you do a number of back-to-back climbing days? Are you psyched out of your mind to complete your outside project, but suffering from training gains that no longer come or even worse, slightly dip? Well, take a look in the mirror, slap yourself with a empty chalk bag and GO AND HAVE A WEEK OFF! I’d be great if just one person out there tried this and had a positive experience. Let me know…. 🙂


Entering the crux on Gondo Crack (c) Paolo Sartori




6 thoughts on “Time and Rest = Better Grades

  1. I love to take a one week break once in a while. I always do it when I change focus between my seasons of outdoor trad/lead and bouldering comp. It’s my goto when my body feels tired (or injured) from the ongoing effort. I’m always surprised at the effect that it has when I come back.

  2. Tom! I do this regularly! I have a 7 week training regimen… 3 weeks of strength focus (bouldering, campus boards etc), 3 weeks endurance (aka Enduro-Masochism), and one glorious week off.

    Training always feels good, but whenever I can time out a trip outside to coincide with the end of my week off, I pretty much run around and murderflash everything in my way. It’s good for the psyche, and the mojo, and keeps me positively rewarded for the weeks spent training. Nothing makes the benefits of training so evident as the first day back from that week off.

  3. I recently sprained my finger and had to take a week off from climbing. When I got back out there I immidiately got on a hard boulder problem that had been resisting my efforts for a long time, and I couldn’t believe how good it felt. Sent it on my third try of the day, and it felt kind of easy. Taking that week off definately did the trick, and I’m certain to try it again!

  4. I rest for 4 months every winter skiing, and the past 2 years have gone up a sport grade or two by the end of the Autumn, after a summer of climbing.
    I’d be interested to know if you think progress will still be possible the 8’s grade? (obviously slower)
    It works fairly well as I have no injuries or tweeks on return.

  5. Took 3 days off, came back and flashed problems I had struggled on in my local wall, also tradded and felt the benefits, hard to remember to rest sometimes, too much sunshine (and too much psyche for indoors when it rains…)

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