How to Train Optimally…and Become a Maximum Climber

Young German rock star, Alex Megos, crushing at the Dark Side, Red River Gorge. Hörst photo.

Young German rock star, Alex Megos, crushing at the Dark Side, Red River Gorge. Hörst photo.

The pursuit of maximum climbing—whether you define it as realizing your climbing potential or maximizing your climbing experience—requires a long-term, disciplined effort to train optimally. While some climbers confuse optimal training with maximum training, you surely understand that the narrow-minded train-till-you-drop approach will not lead you to the promised land of your goals.

Optimal training is rarely about doing more training, but instead a matter of doing more of the right kinds of training. For a beginning climber, the right kind of training is usually to simply climb on a regular basis in order to maximize learning of climbing skills, both technical and mental. For an intermediate climber, however, right training must integrate frequent climbing of a challenging variety with supplemental physical- and mental-training exercises. At the elite level, optimal training becomes a most complex endeavor of identify and eliminating subtle performance defects and constraints in each area of the performance triad (mental, technical, and physical). Ultimately, then, this final stage of the many-year maximum climbing journey is mostly about stripping away the things that are holding you back, by eliminating technical inefficiencies, disengaging from distractions, overcoming fears, breaking counterproductive habits, eliminating the pressure to perform, reducing time wasted on low-value activities, and constantly refining your training to get the most out of every minute you spend in the gym.

If it’s beginning to sound as if I’m promoting intense pragmatism as a virtue, then you are reading me correctly. What you think and do, each day of your life, changes both who you are in the present and who you will become in the future. To not live each day in a very pragmatic way would be a form of self-sabotage.

You must assume the mind-set of a sculptor whose work of art is never completed. From your first day to your last, you are refining skills, increasing efficiencies, and defining your form as an individual. This is a mindful process, but also a sort of secret journey within that both plumbs the depths of your being and explores beyond the margin of what is known. Doing so can be a wonderful lifelong endeavor, if you choose to become a climber for life. One of the many beauties of climbing is that with advancing age come wisdom, efficiency, and a more thoughtful approach to climbing that all make the process even more sacred, gratifying, and profound.

Your journey toward maximum climbing is ultimately self-directed, yet you can accelerate the progress by leveraging the wisdom learned from this web site, other high-quality resources, and sage partners alike. To learn more about my maximum climbing program visit