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Hands or feet?


Original Post
Anthony McGlynn · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2018 · Points: 0

I seem to be at a standstill in my routes. I am currently gym climbing in an effort to improve for some outdoor trad and sport. I'm relatively new to climbing, only about 6 months of experience, and have progressed from 5.7s to 5.9s in my gym in the first month but am stuck at 5.9 since. I've heard from some of the locals at my gym that our routes are sandbagged a little and should actually be rated one or two grades higher than they are but me being green as cut grass I couldn't tell you what they should be. Ive never had a problem with my grip in the past, 10 years heavy judo and brazillian jiujitsu experience as well as motocross and construction work for my whole life, nor have I had problems with it climbing up until 5.9 or 5.10. I am inclined to blame my grips but I already do a ton of grip training so I don't really see room for more. I did notice however on recent routes that my toes and feet are starting to burn out and I spend a lot of time on the wall resting my feet and subsequentally my hands burn out. Legs are good its literally just my feet and toes. Is this a thing? Has anyone else experienced this? Is there a training solution other than just climb more? Am I making excuses and I just need to admit I have a weak grip?

Brad Johnson · · Charlotte, NC · Joined Jul 2017 · Points: 0

Are your shoes sized right?  You don't need 2 sizes down in a gym.  I've never heard of resting your feet, so I would start there. 

Anthony McGlynn · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2018 · Points: 0
Brad Johnson wrote: Are your shoes sized right?  You don't need 2 sizes down in a gym.  I've never heard of resting your feet, so I would start there. 

They're tight but not 2 sizes down. My toes curl a bit but they're not normally painful just wearing them while i belay. I have no problems keeping them on the whole time I'm there. So I don't think so? 

Larry S · · Easton, PA · Joined May 2010 · Points: 840

Given your climbing experience, it's likely you're relying heavily on strength over technique.  In which case, pay special attention to how more experienced people are climbing and ask them for their feedback on how to make particular moves that might be stopping you - in particular pay attention where their center is in relation to the holds (3 dimensionally - how far from the wall as well as up/down - left/right), and how they'll flag/backstep, press, etc to move efficiently.  Also, some basic hangboarding work can help if it is a strength thing.  Metolius has a simple 10 minute hanboarding sequence on their website to get you started... https://www.metoliusclimbing.com/training_guide_10_min.html

I'm sure others with more of a training background can chime in with more / better info; and i know there is good literature out there on the subject.

Anthony McGlynn · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2018 · Points: 0
Larry S wrote: Given your climbing experience, it's likely you're relying heavily on strength over technique.  In which case, pay special attention to how more experienced people are climbing and ask them for their feedback on how to make particular moves that might be stopping you - in particular pay attention where their center is in relation to the holds (3 dimensionally - how far from the wall as well as up/down - left/right), and how they'll flag/backstep, press, etc to move efficiently.  Also, some basic hangboarding work can help if it is a strength thing.  Metolius has a simple 10 minute hanboarding sequence on their website to get you started... https://www.metoliusclimbing.com/training_guide_10_min.html

I'm sure others with more of a training background can chime in with more / better info; and i know there is good literature out there on the subject.

I honestly do feel like I am just muscling my way through the routes I fail on. And I have sent 9+ and 10s with good beta from other climbers. 

Kelley Gilleran · · Sacramento, Ca · Joined Sep 2012 · Points: 2,710

Go to the bouldering area at your gym for a month then go back and try the .9s and .10s

Robert Hall · · North Conway, NH · Joined Aug 2013 · Points: 16,338

What happens when you fall?  Do your feet slip off? ...then look to improving footwork  

 Do your fingers fail? ....then look to grip strength.

  Do your forearms "flame out", then improve those.

I too have never heard of "feet and toes" burning out.   Yes, there's "sewing machine leg (foot)" but that is more calf strength than "foot or toes".  

Disclaimer:  I'm not a gym climber, so what do I know?

Adrienne DiRosario · · Troy, NY · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 0
Anthony McGlynn wrote:

I honestly do feel like I am just muscling my way through the routes I fail on. And I have sent 9+ and 10s with good beta from other climbers. 

The beta may be good but not using it correctly will force you to muscle your way through. For example, you may be putting your foot where it belongs but are you using the correct part of your foot? Are you climbing the wall like Spider-Man or are you orienting your hips properly? Take a technique class if you can before bad habits become cemented. 

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 210

1) Finger strength will always be your weakness, but it isn’t stopping you from climbing 5.9.
2) Technique is your greatest area of possible improvement.
3) Your gym’s grades sound about right.  The reason why everyone is saying they’re sandbagged is because soft grades have become the norm and people expect to climb 5.10 in a month.  This isn’t realistic.

mark felber · · Wheat Ridge, CO · Joined Jul 2005 · Points: 26

Plateaus are part of the learning process. If you're plateaued at 5.9, spend lots of time on 5.9s, trying to move as smoothly and efficiently as possible.  Having to rest your feet is unusual, most people overuse their upper body. It sounds like you're using your feet more than the average beginner, which is a good thing. Based on your description of yourself, I seriously doubt that you have a weak grip, and climbing more sounds like a pretty good training program to me.

Based on your description, your shoes are probably just about right.

It's pretty unusual for a gym's ratings to be sandbagged, but I wouldn't worry too much either way. If your gym's ratings are sandbagged, you'll be climbing that much harder when you go to another gym, or outdoors.

Anthony McGlynn · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2018 · Points: 0
Kelley Gilleran wrote: Go to the bouldering area at your gym for a month then go back and try the .9s and .10s

I was considering this. My brother really likes to boulder but I really like top roping.. I'll just have to spend some time over there. Thanks!

Kelley Gilleran · · Sacramento, Ca · Joined Sep 2012 · Points: 2,710

Trying boulder problems at your limit will give you no choice but to develop technique. Footwork, body placement, and core strength are key.

Xi Yin · · Cambridge, MA/traveling · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 35
Anthony McGlynn wrote: I seem to be at a standstill in my routes. I am currently gym climbing in an effort to improve for some outdoor trad and sport. I'm relatively new to climbing, only about 6 months of experience, and have progressed from 5.7s to 5.9s in my gym in the first month but am stuck at 5.9 since. I've heard from some of the locals at my gym that our routes are sandbagged a little and should actually be rated one or two grades higher than they are but me being green as cut grass I couldn't tell you what they should be. Ive never had a problem with my grip in the past, 10 years heavy judo and brazillian jiujitsu experience as well as motocross and construction work for my whole life, nor have I had problems with it climbing up until 5.9 or 5.10. I am inclined to blame my grips but I already do a ton of grip training so I don't really see room for more. I did notice however on recent routes that my toes and feet are starting to burn out and I spend a lot of time on the wall resting my feet and subsequentally my hands burn out. Legs are good its literally just my feet and toes. Is this a thing? Has anyone else experienced this? Is there a training solution other than just climb more? Am I making excuses and I just need to admit I have a weak grip?

Do you go to Rockville in Trenton?

J Squared · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2017 · Points: 0

what shoes are you wearing?  are they your first pair?  

beginning climbers are basically guaranteed to not find perfectly fitting shoes...
it's probably time to try on more kinds.    you just never know how good a fit can be until you have that Goldilocks moment.

Eric Engberg · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2009 · Points: 0

Its not the shoes

christoph benells · · tahoma · Joined Nov 2014 · Points: 235

heavier climbers benefit from having stiffer shoes, at least until their foot tendons and muscles are up to snuff. (2+ years of climbing)

What model shoes are you using? the cheapest ones are also the softest, which is not great for edging on gym holds for a heavier climber.

5.9 and above is where balance and technique come into play, and that is most likely where you are getting jammed up. You had the strength to climb anything not requiring precise balance or specialized techniques. Now you have to work on that, your foot and toe problems are a separate issue it sounds like.

I know you never mentioned your weight but when I think of motocross and construction work, i don't think of a very high strength to weight ratio.

J Squared · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2017 · Points: 0
christoph benells · · tahoma · Joined Nov 2014 · Points: 235

are you saying those shoes are stiffer? if you are...great, someone could buy a set of stiffer shoes for a good price. Industry wide, the sub $100 dollar shoes are super soft...of course there are exceptions...just like with everything in life having realistic expectations is required...

J Squared · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2017 · Points: 0

Industry wide?  lol

every brand has a cheap shoe that is stiff.  some brands have more than one cheap stiff option.

but it would be pretty pointless for me to bother detailing that out when the OP hasn't even said what shoe he wears and how it fits.

but please do enlighten me as to what these cheap soft shoes are, cause i'm tired of paying ~140+  to get a sole that is 3mm or less. (no Mythos please)

Tapawingo Markey · · Reno? · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 75

Boulder more like others have said. But really, you've only been climbing 6 months so what do you expect? You said you've done other hobbies for 10 years, were you an expert or even intermediate at those within the first 6 months of taking on those hobbies/sports?

christoph benells · · tahoma · Joined Nov 2014 · Points: 235
J Squared wrote: Industry wide?  lol

every brand has a cheap shoe that is stiff.  some brands have more than one cheap stiff option.

but it would be pretty pointless for me to bother detailing that out when the OP hasn't even said what shoe he wears and how it fits.

but please do enlighten me as to what these cheap soft shoes are, cause i'm tired of paying ~140+  to get a sole that is 3mm or less. (no Mythos please)
LOL @ you!

Did you measure it with like a 1-10 scale or a percentage of stiffness or something? Come up with a detailed spreadsheet? How did you test the stiffness? Some sort of calibrated machine? what is your criteria for "stiff"?
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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