Getting stuck on a plateau in your climbing can be a frustrating thing. You think you give it all you got on the routes or problems you can do and you feel happy if you make the ascent first go, in a couple of tries or even in a handful of sessions. All this is true of course and climbing below your limit will always be the best way to reach that thrilling sensation of topping out on a regular basis. Some climbers feel satisfied in this space and don’t aim towards any higher goals, but most do!
I climbed for almost five years before I met someone who was competent enough to watch me climb and saying ”You can perform so much better, this is what you need to do..” And still it took me another five years to get to a point where I understand more deeply the concept of training specifically towards a goal. But understanding that I need to try harder, meaning just that, came early to me. Not perform better all the time but try routes well above my limit.
If I redpoint 5.13a now the routes I try for pushing my technique and shocking my physiology can be up to 5.13d! I might not be able to do them or link the moves but learning what’s required of me to even manage the moves in that grade makes my own redpointing level seem easier. It’s a trick of the mind. I’ve always done this; when my redpoint limit was 5.11b I also tried 5.12b at times to get stronger and more aware, but mostly because it was fun! It could be compared to doing weighted pullups, doing a couple of sets with +10kg hanging from your waist and then doing a set with just bodyweight and it feels like you’re flying. The same complies to your technical ability when trying harder stuff IF you make sure you try safely without doing potentially dangerous moves that your body isn’t ready for (say monos, massive lock offs that could hurt your shoulders, tweeks with the knees that might damage them and so on..). Having a intelligent and experienced climbing partner that redpoints above your own limit comes in handy here so don’t be shy to ask for good advice.
I think a lot of female climbers tend to not try hard enough, being scared of I don’t know what, but often thinking they’re not capable of evolving and growing as climbers. This is really sad because they have such advantages being light, mobile and technical. Most need to work on their strength, power and confidence and trying really hard routes in controlled situations is a great tool to get all of this. Knowledge from more experienced climbers can never be replaced by iphone training apps, so next time grab a hold of a stronger looking climber in the gym and ask them to teach you all they know or watch you when you climb and give you feedback or beta on a hard boulder problem. When at the crag, put up a toprope on a route you know you will not manage doing straight through and try to do the moves over a couple of tries. That will be one of the best training sessions ever, I promise.
Don’t fear trying really hard routes; here a look on the famous sector El Pati in Siurana where I’ve tried a classic 5.13d ”Zona zero”