Climbing Harder: How bad do you want it?

Climbing performance depends on your mind’s relationship with the perception of effort. The perception of effort causes you to slow down and quit on a climbing route, or make you give it the best shot. If you change the perception of effort, you get closer to your physical limits.

You can do this in two ways. One way is by increasing motivation, to tolerate more perceived effort. This works well because you will see fatigue and exhaustion as part of the climbing process. When your perceived climbing effort is high, it is a high level of motivation that allows you to endure. If you’re not as motivated, you will give up once your perception of effort gets intolerable.

Another way is by getting the best performance out of the motivation that you have. In other words, getting the best performance out of any given amount of effort. Do this by making your performance feel as easy as possible. The harder your sport feels, the less you’ll get out of your motivational fuel. The easier your climbing feels, the more you’ll get out of your motivational fuel.

You can use inhibitory control and focus on relevant stimuli rather than distractions that increase the perception of effort. There are things that increase the perception of efforts, such as negative thoughts, self-consciousness, and fatigued muscles. If you can remove these factors from your mind by staying focused and positive, you will increase your performance by keeping your perception of effort lower.

The best way to lower perception of effort is by increasing your physical limits with training. The better you program your you training, the fitter you become. The fitter you become, the easier your sport feels.

This “mental fitness” is the ability to use coping skills and improve your relationship with the perception of effort. Any cognitive, emotional, or behavioral regulation that improves your mental fitness is a good coping strategy.

Here some skills that improve mental fitness for Climbing.

Setting goals and projects.
Proper goal setting helps to pace the amount of effort before getting to the top of a route.

Letting the pressure go.
Reducing pressure and self-consciousness helps reduce the perception of effort. You can do this by entering a “flow” state, which is a total immersion in an activity. Some climbers can’t complete their projects because they put too much pressure in achieving the route. It is no surprise that harder climbs can be better achieved with a pressure-less mindset.

Motivation can come from physical setbacks. If you know you need to compensate for physical limitations, you will be more motivated to give your best effort.

Getting a bit fed up.
Great motivation can come from being fed up with failure, and resolving to succeed once and for all. Great motivation can come from proving doubters wrong.

Friendly peer competition and collaboration.
Climbing hard alongside your buddies can produce a “group effect”. This helps reduce the perception of effort (by increasing endorphins in your brain).

Having the spotlight.
Being in the spotlight with many spectators and fans encouraging you can help raise motivation and confidence. Encouragement also lowers the perception of effort.

Passion and a positive personality help you age slower as an athlete (an aging body increases the perception of effort).
Believing that your reasons for training/performing are WORTH it helps cement and deepen motivation.

All these strategies are applicable not only to climbing but to life in general.

The TOTAL Collection prepares you for the psycho-biological model of climbing performance. This is basically a set of “field guides” that explain how to improve your ability to climb harder grades… By becoming physically and mentally tougher.

Even though the manuals are for sport climbing, this model can be applied to every human activity, because every discipline requires mental toughness to cope and endure through stress.