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hen he was a London schoolboy back in the 1980s, Neil and his dad discovered climbing on the nearby sandstone outcrops in Kent. The pair were only able to get there sporadically,

so became obsessed with home training, along with making the pilgrimage across London to one of the three walls that existed at the time: the Mile End, Sobell or Brunel University. Neil’s dad converted their back yard into a torture chamber with beams for pull-ups and hangs, weights, a lat-pull down machine and more. He had a hardcore and uncompromising attitude to training, which has influenced Neil strongly ever since.

What is home training? To me, in many ways home training is no different to actualising your goals on the crag. In the past you’d be criticised for saying this sort of thing, but now I think most people see the whole thing as a process. If you don’t regard the training as being fun and fulfilling then you’re missing out on a lot of good times that are on the table and I also doubt that you’ll achieve your ultimate goals.

What do you like about it? I know it’s a cliché but training has been the main constant in my life. I love the fact that no matter what happens in your day, you can just get on the fingerboard, circuit board or whatever and just disappear into that free headspace.

What makes a good training plan? One that motivates you to train more effectively than you would have done without it (this doesn’t necessarily mean more frequently or for longer). It needs to be personalised, not just to the level, goals and weaknesses of the individual, but fundamentally it needs to suit your personality. If you don’t respond well to structure then a rigidly structured plan isn’t going to work for you.

What’s currently on your training plan? I’m writing this in the midst of the COVID-19 lock-down and I’ve been making some

really worthwhile gains in my two weakest climbing areas: pinches and slopers. This has been the main advantage to come out of this situation from a training perspective. I’ve been able to get really focused on small details and work steadily away at things in a way that I wouldn’t normally.

And what are you currently training for? I have another new line in the roof at Kilnsey that I’m trying. It’s not my style at all – it’s short, bouldery and very, very steep – but I’m really enjoying the preparation.

Any tips on how to stick to a routine? Fundamentally, at the heart of it you need a goal or series of goals (even if these are simply to improve areas of your climbing as opposed to routes or boulder problems). You are very unlikely to follow any type of plan that isn’t aimed at anything in particular.

What’s the best way to get started with home training?

Under normal circumstances I would suggest socialising at the climbing gym and finding out what others do who are climbing at a similar level to you or slightly harder. You can combine this knowledge with seeing a coach and reading around the subject to see where it takes you. But at the moment, during lockdown, if you want to train and don’t feel confident then I’d advise consulting a coach who offers properly personalised programs.

Neil’s personalised training plans are available at: @neil_gresham


A Soulo and an Allak in Norway. Petr Pavliček/

A Jannu on Aconcagua (6960 m), Argentina. Dominique Goineau

our red label tents are the all-season, go-to choice for any mountain adventure, whether that’s summer scrambling, all-season peak bagging, or full-on alpine climbing. The 18 Red Label models prioritize light weight over absolute strength, but all are able to stand up to challenging weather in any season.

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