Train Like a Pro: How to Warm-Up to Take Down Your Nemesis Project with Tom Randall

photo credit: Casio G-Shock

We all have nemesis projects. You probably envisioned your current nemesis as soon as you read the title. You’ve decided the beta you’ll use, you can do most if not all the moves, and you might even be able to link up moves or sections. Yet we’re all too familiar with the ‘no no no no no…!’’ feeling of losing tension and getting kicked off the route, again, again, and again.

photo credit: Alex Ekins @Alex_Ekins

Tom Randall has conquered quite a few nemesis projects. He’s gained notoriety with his climbing partner Pete Whittaker for the incredibly meticulous training and detailed prep work that went in to each individual route. The two years of prep that went into Century Crack is chronicled in Wide Boyz, which if you haven’t seen, you should watch asap. Century Crack. Cobra Crack. Dina’s Roof. Pura Pura. All taken down. But even after you've trained with Randall-grade preparation there are always unexpected challenges. Fingertips split, tendons sprain, you get sick, trips end, conditions deteriorate, and indoor routes are reset. In order to take down your hardest projects you need to be able fully commit when conditions are right. When the stage is set, here’s how Tom warms-up  to climb at his max and take down his nemesis projects, making certain they don’t wind up being the ones that got away.

1) Get Warm and Get Focused


photo credit: Casio G-Shock

We’ve noticed this pattern with all the pro climbers we’ve spoken with so far. They all put in a significant effort to calm down and focus their mind on the task at hand before beginning.

  • Run at a light pace the last .5 mile (.75 km) to the crag to get ‘warm as toast’ as Tom put it.
  • Rotate each joint 10 times each. From your neck to your ankles.

2) Pull-ups/ Push-ups

photo credit: Alex Ekins @Alex_Ekins

Get light recruitment of your back shoulders and arms, but not enough to wear you down.

  • Pushups 1 set of 10 reps
  • Pullups 1 set of 5 reps

Tom does this 4 times for his warmup, aiming for a relative difficulty of 5 on a general 1-10 scale. He says ‘the main thing with the warm up is to get warm, so don’t fuss too much over reps, when you feel warm you should be ready for a more specific bit of climbing.

3) Project Warm Up

One of the biggest problems for warming up at crags is that the “perfect” route for warming up often doesn’t exist! It’s either too steep, the grade is too hard or too easy and even worse, there’s a giant queue for the first half of the day while everyone tries to warm up on the same set of polished holds (We’re looking at you Smith Rock). To get around this Tom hops onto his project and uses parts of it as his warm up before giving it a serious attempt.

  • 20 to 30 sets of 1-3 move sequences on his project. Aiming for a difficulty of 7 out of 10.
  • If you’re indoors he recommends adding in a single 30-40 move circuit at 3 grades below your on-sight grade before seriously attempting your project.

4) Maximum Recruitment Hangs

photo credit: Tom Randall

The idea is to pull at your absolute maximum capacity to open a window for 5-20mins where your body is fully recruited and you’re most likely to pull off the hardest moves. Tom uses a portable hangboard, if one isn’t available find the closest sized holds on the rock.

  • 6 reps of 5 to 8 seconds dead hangs on the hardest holds you can.
  • 1 single arm pull at 5-8 seconds on a 3 / 4 inch (2 cm) with a slightly bent arm.

5) Proper attire.

Serious climbers wear serious outerwear.


photo credit: Tom Randall

Click Here To Download A Printable PDF Of This Workout

 Tom Randall is currently sponsored by Five Ten, Rab, Wild Country, Sterling Rope, and ClimbOn



1 comment


Nice job, very professional and funny at the same time. Hope to see you again in Alpette. Good luck

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