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What Should You Record In A Climbing Journal?

What Should You Record In A Climbing Journal?

I was watching Free Solo a couple of days ago (for the third time…) and I can’t stop thinking about how much Alex Honnold attributes his climbing improvements and training success to his climbing journal. It got me wondering what I should include in my climbing journal so I did some research about it.

What should you include in a climbing journal? The most important things you should include in your climbing journal is your weekly, monthly, six-month and year goals. Every time you climb you should be recording what attributes to those goals so you can measure progress and identify if you need to change anything in your climbing training.

Once you have a goal in mind, it may be difficult to know what attributes to those goals. Luckily professional climbers and trainers have already put in the work to identify the most popular attributes that you should be tracking.

What Attributes Should You Record In Your Climbing Journal

By keeping track of everything involved in your climbing session, you can figure out what you need to do/add/change in your climbing regimen to dramatically improve performance. 

Everyone’s goals are a little different so this list may vary based on that. However, these are the most popular and common tracking stats that professionals recommend when you start your climbing journal.

Keep in mind that it may be overwhelming and time-consuming to track everything listed here so consider what you feel is necessary and consider updating what you record as your training and progress (or lack thereof) becomes noticeable.

  • Weekly, Monthly, Six-Month, Year Goals And Review: One of the biggest benefits of a climbing journal is that it helps you achieve your climbing goals. The best way to do that is to record your goals so that you can track your progress and identify what you need to do in your climbing sessions to achieve that goal.
    • As part of your goals, you should also include details about your current state. For example, how many max-level redpoints have you made? How many goal sends have you achieved? What is your body weight? etc. 
    • It’s recommended to evaluate your goals with your progress on a weekly and monthly basis so you can see what you need to improve or work on for the next week and month.
  • Start And Stop Times: When your training sessions are (start time) may change how your body performs, especially when considering eating times and sleep. Also, the duration of training (stop time) indicates how much time you put into training and may change how much progress you make during the session. At the end of each week, you can see how much training you did. At the end of each month, you can better identify when is the best time for you to train based on how you feel related to energy.
  • Drills: What drills you did will change what improvements you make. By tracking this, you are able to identify if the drills are working or if you need to change what drills you are doing during your training sessions.
  • Reps: Reps can include weight lifting as well as the number of climbs you did during the session or the number of reps/drills you did during the session.
  • Distance Climbed: The distance you climb can be tracked by either tracking how many climbs you do and approximately how long the routes are, or you can use a climbing tracker such as RedPoint (I use this on my apple watch while climbing) for it to automatically track how far you are climbing. This can be helpful in quantifying if you are climbing enough or if you need to adjust how much you climb per session.
  • How You Feel Before And After The Climbing Session: Information about grogginess or hunger or motivation or belief before and after a climbing session can be insightful when you are looking at diet or sleep affecting your sessions. It can also be insightful if you are trying to figure out how motivated you are and if you need to find a way to be more motivated as well.
  • Anything You Notice While You’re Climbing: If you notice that you are strong on crimp climbs compared to unclings or something like that, then recording that observation may be helpful when looking at what kind of holds you need to train on. In addition, if you feel an energy slum an hour into your session every day, recording that can help you identify patterns and help you figure out what you need to do to have a better climbing session.
  • Type Of Climbing (Bouldering Vs Rock Climbing): If you do a lot of bouldering, you may benefit from cross-training and doing rock climbing and seeing that in your climbing journal can be helpful. Recording the type of climbing can also be insightful if you boulder 3 times a week and have one poor rock climbing session because it shows that you may just need to rock climb more if you want to have a stronger performance.
  • What Climb and Grade: A lot of times, indoor climbs change so frequently that it may be difficult to depend on the climb or grade when considering your performance over time. However, if you climb outdoors, recording the climb and grade can be helpful if you want to see how far you have come by re-climbing that route.
    • Other things to consider when recording the climb is the angle of the route, the type of moves and/or holds and type of problem (for example, technical heavy, power heavy, etc.). As well as your overall performance on that route with how many tries it took for you to complete the route.
  • Warmup Routine/Time: Some people need a longer or harder warmup to get the best climbing session. Recording what you do in your warmup and how long your warmup is can help you learn what works best for your performance so you can methodically adjust your warmup to improve your climbing session/performance.
  • Project Move Breakdown: One of the biggest reasons climbers have a climbing journal is to help them through a project. In your journal, you can record all of the moves that you have figured out or tested paired with results you received from it. That way when you attempt your project again, you don’t have to waste time figuring out what you already figured out or tested in the past. In addition, you can use this recording to mentally practice the climb.
  • Sleep: Sleep can heavily affect your climbing session when it comes to energy and if you want to really optimize your training, tracking your sleep will be on the list of things to record.
  • Nutrition/Timing Of Meals And Snacks: Your nutrition heavily affects your energy and performance while climbing. If you want to do everything you can to improve your performance, tracking what you eat for each meal/snack will help you see if you need to adjust what and when you eat. It can also help if you are trying to drop or maintain a specific weight.

Where To Get A Climbing Journal:

In most cases, finding a climbing journal pre-made with everything included above will be difficult. For that reason, most climbers just have a bullet journal or a notebook that they use to fit their needs. However, there are a few climbing journals online that are either pre-made for you or that you can download as a PDF and print them.

If you would like the PDF versions bound like a book, consider reaching out to a printing service near you – most printing services also have a decent price for binding services.

Here are a few climbing journals

Pre-Made Climbing Journals :

Climbing Journal Printables / Templates:

Climbing Journal Apps: