Joey Anthony is a 2nd year masters student at the University of Texas at Austin and a recent winner of Men’s Speed Climbing at CCS Nationals in 2014. Joey offers some insight into his training for speed climbing. He also has great advice about mental preparation before speed climbing competition. What makes Joey’s advice so helpful is that he spent years fine-tuning his routine back when he was a competition speed skier. Read on to learn more about this week’s athlete, Joey Anthony.
How long have you been climbing: On and off for five years. I got serious about it when I came to UT last August.
Do you currently have a coach or were you previously coached in climbing: John Myrick is currently my coach through the UT climbing team. He’s been crucial to the success of me and the whole UT team, and he’s been a leader for the climbing community nationwide.
How many days per week do you usually train and for how long: 3-4 times per week, about 2.5 hours each time. I’ll do a lighter week occasionally if school or other commitments get in the way. I rarely climb more than 4 times a week.
When does your team start practicing each year: Our team trains during the school year starting in September, but I also trained through last summer.
Describe a day of training at the gym: Each day starts with a thorough warm up off the wall and then 30 minutes of easy climbing with focus on a single technique that I’m working on. After that, my session really depends on which training phase I’m in. If I’m working on endurance, I might do long traverses, 4x4s or continuous up and down climbing on top rope. If I’m working on power, I’ll do red pointing, mock on-site comps, hard 2-3 move sequences or a campusboard/hangboard workout. On top of these, I add some speed training (which is described in the next section), dynos and/or ab workouts. I should stretch and massage with a foam roller at the end of each session, but I need to get better at doing that consistently.
Describe some specific drills you do to train for your discipline (sport/speed/bouldering): Ideally I do sets of speed laps with and without a resistance band if I can find enough people to belay and pull the rope. I’ll also practice shorter laps on the bouldering wall, which really helps my starts. More recently, I’ve been speed campusing up easy boulder problems. I’ve always practiced a lot dynos, and I think that has helped me in speed climbing.
What exercises do you think have helped you to progress the most in your climbing: I can’t really pick any that stand out. I think that training hard and consistently is more important than the exact workout.
Do you do any type of cross training (i.e. training that is not climbing-related, like running or swimming): I used to be a competitive ski racer, but now that I live in Texas, I pretty much just climb. Skiing is a fast twitch muscle sport with a focus on leg muscles, so I think that probably helped me transition to speed climbing more easily.
What is your competition day routine (i.e. stretches, mental prep, certain foods): My mental and physical preparation on the day of the competition is definitely a strength of mine that has helped me compete with climbers who are more skilled than me. As an alpine ski racer I figured out the best competition day routine for myself, and it transferred really well to speed climbing.
In the days leading up to a competition, I try to keep my routine as similar as possible to when I’m training as far as my diet, sleep schedule, etc. In a situation like CCS Nationals speed finals where I knew the route the day before, I visualized the route itself so that I could remember where the holds were. I also visualized the time leading up to my climb and how I would feel while climbing. Even without a specific route in mind, I think it’s important to visualize competing successfully and to go in with confidence.
At the comps, I just follow the plan that I visualized for myself earlier. For speed, I warm up very thoroughly and include some speed starts on the bouldering wall. I keep moving and stay warm, and when it gets close to my turn, I do callisthenic exercises so that I will be breathing quickly and have a fast heart rate to start my climb. Just before the climb, I switch my focus to a single aspect of my technique that has helped me perform the best in practice. Last year at nationals, I was focused on bringing my feet up with each hand movement. By focusing on my preparation and technique, it’s easy to block out any distractions or nervousness.
How important do feel climbing outside is for your progression: I don’t know that it directly helps, but climbing outside gets me refreshed and psyched on training hard when I’m feeling burnt out on climbing indoors. It’s also cool to have a trip planned in order to motivate the training beforehand.
How often do you climb outside: I get out to Reimer’s Ranch or the Greenbelt a few times a month if the weather is nice, and then I go on a few longer trips each year.