How to actually train on LED boards

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Last winter, I fell in love with the Kilter Board. I longed for the autonomy it offered. As a climber with verticality issues, I don’t have much in common with the average route tracer. I often end a session feeling more frustrated than adequately challenged after spending more time trying to figure out a way. around the planned beta (which I could only dream of expanding) that through he. Creative thinking is integral to climbing success, especially at my size, but the balance was off: my brain was spinning in circles while my muscles were inactive. I was unable to grow as a climber because I was unable to put enough honest effort into many of the climbs available to me.

That all changed when I discovered the Kilter Board. I was able to instantly access problems designed by climbers from around the world, in a wider range of styles than any gym could boast. The morphological barriers collapsed with a single swipe on the screen. I reveled in the feeling of control I finally had over my training.

The benefits of my time at Kilter were immediately apparent. I rose through the grades over months, the fastest increase in ability I had ever experienced. All my old projects, both indoors and outdoors, fell apart relatively easily. I learned to summon a power I never knew was there and to launch my body in unprecedented ways. The Kilter Board improved my career as a climber.

…Until I hit a wall. All climbers get stuck eventually, and I was no exception. But my stagnation came from the same thing that had initially triggered me: control.

too much of a good thing

The opportunity to take control of my training changed the way I climb forever, but I couldn’t control my ego along the way. That is the danger of LED boards like the Kilter. Tens of thousands of climbs available at the push of a button means climbers can be as picky as they want about which ones they attempt and which ones they jump. No one is “forcing” you out of your comfort zone. Sending feels so good that it’s hard not to get caught up in spike patterns that only serve to satisfy the ego.

So after the initial spike, I found myself stuck. Project Progress had slowed to a standstill and the power he had been so proud to hone was paralyzed. I couldn’t figure out why until I looked at my checklist again. The answer was written in the data: For the past few months, each climb he’d marked looked almost the same as the next: same angle, same style, same holds turning on over and over again. I had stopped challenging myself.

In a gym, there isn’t a lot of terrain to choose from. Eventually you will have to take a crack at your anti-style. In a table, however, there is no such limit. If a raise doesn’t click, keep swiping. Filtering your options with such precision can easily become a game of chasing the high points and avoiding the low points. But growth depends on casualties. Too many and you’ll end up restless and frustrated; too few and you will spoil yourself. A healthy amount of struggle keeps us striving.

Finding the right balance

If, like me, you’ve been playing your training too safe lately, don’t blame the board. Jackie Hueftle of Kilter Grips points out that the Kilter, especially the adjustable version, doesn’t skimp on variety. With angle options from vertical to an astonishingly steep 70 and over 300 unique grip designs that change dramatically in nature depending on the angle, boards like Kilter have nearly limitless potential for climbers of any level. From there, it is our responsibility to make the most of this technological gift that has been given to us. “Diversity of movement is essential to improve,” emphasizes Hueftle. “The more variations of a movement you can do, the more capable you will be as a climber. But that kind of variety is built right into the dash. You just have to adapt it to what you need at the moment.”

I wanted to absolve myself of responsibility for the plateau I was experiencing and nail it to the Kilter. Actually, it was my own complacency that got the better of me. Yes, it’s easier to navigate challenges on a board than in a gym with limited terrain. But that says more about the climber than about the board. To get all the possible benefits of an interactive climbing chart, you still have to make an effort to get out of your comfort zone.

Consider setting some ground rules for yourself:

  1. Try anything once. Or better yet, three times. Resist the urge to slip up a promotion without testing it. Sometimes your snap judgment will turn out to be true. In others, you will surprise yourself.
  2. Play with the angle. It’s good to keep your body guessing. Stay at a certain angle long enough to see improvement, but treat the range like the exercise menu in a strength-training program, changing it up every few weeks to avoid plateauing.
  3. Join the community. Each board gives users the opportunity to comment on escalations, share beta videos, and add their own issues to the database. Use the social aspect to your advantage. Instead of automatically dismissing an escalation, see how other people around the world are approaching. Your brain could be the real limiting factor.
  4. Live and learn. Interactive climbing tables are a valuable tool. Treat them as such. Take what you learn in them and apply it beyond the board. Buck Yoeder, chief route builder at The Spot Bouldering Gyms in Colorado, notes that climbers can become quite one-dimensional when only climbing on boards. “I run into people all the time who are very strong on the boards but don’t know how to translate that strength into more nuanced climbing,” he warns. Make a concerted effort to supplement your board work with time on slopes, dihedrals, slabs, ceilings, volumes, and other options you can’t find on boards. Comfort on a wide variety of walls will pay off on the most nuanced terrain of all: real rock.

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