The weakest link? Or the sexy, beautiful and strong? What are you focusing your training on?

How many of you remember the TV game show: The Weakest Link?  It touted teams against each other with trivia questions; but the best part was that after each round, the players would vote off one player that wasn’t quite carrying the team with the words “You are the weakest link. Good-bye”. The original show was a huge hit in England, running for 12 years but the American version was gone in two years.  (Kinda tells you a bit about the Brit’s lack of social etiquette or the American’s lack of back bone, depending on how you look at it.🙀 )

The weakest link:  that part, that no matter how strong the chain, will be the point of breakage. 

In chemistry it’s called the rate-limiting step.  It’s the stage of the chemical reaction that no matter how fast you get other parts to work, it will hold everything back until it’s step is done. 

The weakest link is rusty, cachectic, flimsy . . . weak.  It is NOT sexy.

And that’s the problem.   Because it’s the sexy, the beautiful, and the strong that get all the attention (and now you know why no one calls.   Sorry. )  The paradox, of course, is that it’s the weakest link that has the most potential to grow and improve it’s contribution to the team and so it makes sense that the weakest link is the one that we should concentrate our efforts on.

What does all this have to do with climbing?  Well, I have met very few perfectly balanced climbers.  We all know this, even about ourselves.  “I’m just not very good at slopers.” Or “I could climb crimps all day long, just don’t put me on a compression problem.”  Everyone I know has a favorite type of climbing.  For you it may be short bouldery powerful problems, or maybe long pumpy endurance stuff is where you excel.  In fact, if you want to feel real good about yourself (if only for a moment, until you realize what a dick you are), invite someone to climb with you that excels in just the opposite kind of climbing as you do and stick only with routes that are your strengths.  

Making matters worse, most of us give all of our attention to the places that we are best at (see beautiful, sexy, strong comment above).  We come running into the gym, and notice Joe Stud walking the floors.  What do we inevitably do?  We immediately get on the stuff  that we are best at so as to impress above mentioned Stud (or at least not suck so bad). 

Of course, none of us really cares what Joe thinks (repeat this at least three times per hour while chanting positive vibes).  We climb for ourselves right? Except we are usually our worse critics, and it can really be demoralizing to feel as if I’m not climbing as well as I did last week.  So, once again, I jump on my favorite climbs while I’m fresh.  Again, those are the sexy, beautiful and strong ones, the ones that I feel sexy, beautiful and strong on 😘.

But I do want to become a better climber.   Really, I do.  So after trashing myself, I jump on my weakest link climb, which at this point I suck at even more that usual, and so I reinforce that idea that that is just not my style. 

Do you see the psychosis here?  If we want to become a better climber, our best bang for the buck is to work on those weaker areas right from the start, when we are mentally and physically at our very best.

Remember when you first started climbing?  That first week everyone looked like a superman or superwoman.  But very quickly, you started catching up.  That’s because when you are building skills or technique on a lower base, you build quickly.  However, once you start making real progress, growth becomes much slower.  What this means for you now is that to try to improve your strengths, you are likely going to have to work pretty hard.  But your weaknesses have a ton of room for growth, and so less effort in these areas will produce proportionally much greater gains.

Try this next time you come into Bliss.  Warm up for a good thirty minutes and then spend the next thirty to forty-five minutes on something you normally don’t do well on.  Don’t worry about what others are thinking (honestly, you’re really not that popular and they really aren’t paying that much attention.  Just sayin’).  Be willing to accept a few grade drops in your ability and tell yourself that this is training time.  I guarantee you will become a better climber. 

Then imagine looking at the former you, that former self that couldn’t make those moves that you have now mastered, and say to that old self: “You are the weakest link.   Good-bye.

Train smart and follow your bliss,


Skip to content