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4.3 out of 5 stars
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4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 16 December 2009
Just finished the book and I have to say it's incredibly helpful.

Throughout the book Dave describes a series of common mistakes climbers make, and I've filled the book with post-its where he's been describing a bad habit and I suddenly realised, "Damn, that's me!" It's far easier to work out which bits of advice you need to follow than a normal training manual, and Dave's holistic approach is far more likely to make you change your habits and improve than a book full of exercises and a caption saying "Do lots of this."

The sheer practical knowledge and experience Dave has is obvious, I don't think there's a single climber in the world who won't find themselves wincing as he describes a bad habit or thought process as though he's been watching them climb for years, and subsequently full of relief when he reveals practical steps that will help. Don't expect miracle cures, but do expect to realise the effect of identifying your mistakes and working hard at them is likely to be the same.

I think this is one of the most important climbing books out there: if, like me, you've spent your climbing career psyched but confused by the vast amount of information about climbing improvement this book puts into plain words where you're going wrong and how to put it right. There's nothing too complicated to understand, and nothing too obscure to mentally write off as personally irrelevant.

I will say that if you're a regular devotee of Dave's blog and have attended one of Dave's training lectures, a good chunk of the basic ideas will be familiar, but having it compiled and organised is still incredibly useful.
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on 11 February 2010
What a great read. I read 60 pages the evening the book arrived - that's pretty exceptional for book of this nature.

The fear of failure, is spot on. As a relative beginner its great to read, "So what if you fall off V1 boulder routes at the climbing wall, when you think everybody else is climbing V7's - nobody cares except you. You will improve, just get stuck in - try things and learn."

For a change I spent an entire session today climbing the boulder slab: Previously eschewed for not looking 'tough enough' to the 'audience'. I can feel my sense of balance and quality of foot hold selection has improved already. It was particularly fascinating to deliberately try different foot positions on different holds, and experiment with those that 'roll' when launching a dyno. It was also great to deliberately use the foot to 'pull' the body into the wall, and use a stiff torso to transmit this force to the hands which in turn lessens the effort required on the hands to pull into the wall.

This book really opened the door to applying a 'scientific method' of 'idea, try, feedback, modify, try again'.
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on 21 February 2011
Eric J Horst said it best in CONDITIONING FOR CLIMBERS (Falcon Guide)The only complete instruction would be working with you on a one to one basis as a coach.

Dave Macleod has produced 164 pages of good advice. It is not a polished volume, there are mistakes but then Dave is not retired and sat at home in his study!(Nor is he into paying editors it would seem!) But to give it one or even two stars on these grounds would be 'Throwing the baby out with the bathwater' (As one of my Psychology lecturers used to say) This is a very useful opportunity to analyse yourself with the assistance of some probing questions and telling suggestions from one of the best 21st Century climbers in the UK.

Think of it as a lecture perhaps, get your pencil out and as one of the other reviewers suggested some post-it notes and use this as an opportunity to give your climbing an MoT. I'm finding it both reassuring and encouraging at the same time - my best coaches (not in climbing) have always led me to the answer and not just presented it to me, this is what Dave tries to achieve here. Do not expect a Rannulph Fiennes epic or an Eric Langmuir handbook, instead think of it as some 'good advice'. It is not all 'Sport Psychology' based - he does discuss training sessions and 'Training Rhythm' but it is very heavily bedded in psychology.

I thought it a bit expensive at the price but then what's the going rate for a seat in a lecture?
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on 23 January 2012
Although it's not aimed at beginners, I'm one (pretty much) and I found this book very useful. The main target readership is those who've been climbing for a good while, and made early progress but have reached a plateau.

It's hard-hitting, no messing around. You feel exactly as if the author were standing there talking to you - in some places, giving you a talking-to. If this sounds hectoring, it's not - it's thought-provoking and encouraging.

The essence of the message is to re-think which aspect of climbing you're putting the effort into, since it might not be the most effective for you in terms of improvement, particularly if it's something you've been doing for a while which initially helped a lot but has started to level off. He breaks down all the factors that contribute to improvement and explains how to work on each, eg fear of falling (covered in detail), strength, endurance, weight. The underlying psychology behind things is covered far better than you'd think such a short book could manage.

It's opinionated. Eg climbing is always referred to as a very specific thing - movement up rock; not sure that ignoring cardio would be wise given the long walk-in and home that might well be part of trad/winter; but that's fair enough I guess: if that's what you're into, you'll know already you need to include that too. Tiny quibble, great book. I look forward to more and I'm enjoying his blogs.
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on 21 April 2010
The book gives some excellent advice which really makes you re-evaluate your approach to climbing and training. This has worked for me, helping me to concentrate on the right areas.
My only complaint is that some sections seem to waffle a little. I didn't mind this too much though, because as a climbing geek I'm happy to read anything related to climbing.
Overall a good read.
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on 14 August 2016
Enjoyable and an easy read with plenty of information without going to deep. It has definitely pointed out a number of mistakes i have been making. Only thing is i wouldn't pay £15 for it (i was given it as a present).
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on 7 April 2012
I'm one of those people who tends to read a lot of internet forums, buys several books and asks for a lot of feedback and advice from friends when I want to get better at something. This hasn't helped me much in climbing, because the way one person motivates themselves, or improves their technique, or trains movement, isn't always transferrable, particularly as I often feel like advice (both my friends' and books) assumes that all climbers are stacked men whose problem will always be footwork.

This book is quite specific, but simple, about how every climber can improve. This is because it focuses very strongly on the phychological aspects that hold people back - but also has easy tips on weight management, techniques for specific routes and planning a route.
I think it's pretty much the best book out there for easily transferrable hints. The only thing I disagree with is his claim that aerobic exercise (in particular cycling) isn't helpful for climbing, on the basis that it makes your legs too heavy. I think that's where he reveals himself as an E11 climber. At the level of most hobby climbers, I should think the benefits of cardiovascular fitness and strength easily outweigh a tiny bit of superfluous muscle - and running is the best way of trimming fat.
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on 29 February 2016
Fantastic content.
3 stars because good editorial input would have made a world of difference - the layout/presentation could be hugely improved and the typos and little errors mean that overall you have to work as the reader to digest it.
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on 30 March 2010
This book made me look at every aspect of my climbing and how I approach each climb. Well worth getting whether you are an experienced climber or new to the sport
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on 16 June 2011
Really helpful book which I enjoyed reading. I think there is a lot of good advice in it for really pushing your grade and climbing at a higher level or at least understanding why you may be struggling to reach your potential. There are lots of words (and no pictures) but that is a good thing - it does have the added bonus of being a nice slim book that can be popped into a bag and read whilst out and about.
The breakdown of the chapters in the contents pages means that you can easily pick it up and refer to relevant sections.
Complements 'The Self Coached Climber' nicely, and both are my favourites on the subject of improving your climbing.
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