A Talk With Sierra Blair-Coyle - Pro Climber

 Photo: Scott Soens via sierrabc.com

Photo: Scott Soens via sierrabc.com

One of our members had the chance to interview Sierra Blair-Coyle, professional climber, a member of the US climbing team, two time National Champion at the Junior level - the list goes on. Competing at the pro-level since the age of 14, SBC has insider tips on training, coaching, and mindset. She breaks down a 4 and 8 week training cycle, and shares her thoughts on competitive youth climbing and rising above the pack. 


All of us are looking to get better at climbing, so why not ask one of the best how we can do it?  Sierra couldn’t have been more generous in helping our family at The Cliffs get an edge by sharing some pointers from her 13 years of wisdom.   

Who are the most the most controversial climbers in bouldering?  Why? 

Strong youth are generally the most controversial climbers in bouldering because they're so good at a young age.  I think it's awesome to see younger climbers pushing the limits, it makes us all better/stronger climbers at the end of the day.

If people had to teach themselves, what books would you suggest?

I’m a big fan of Eric Horst’s books.  He has a very well-rounded approach to climbing and is extremely knowledgeable.

What myths and mistakes do you see in training? 

The biggest training mistake I see is focusing on strength before technique.  It’s crucial to build your technique, especially when you begin climbing.  You can never lose technique, which is why it’s so important to work on from the beginning.

What are the biggest wastes of time in training?

Nothing in training is ever really a waste of time.  If you're working hard you are almost guaranteed improvement.  I think wasting time comes more from literally wasting your time talking to people when you could be on the wall.
 Photo: Ben Moon via sierrabc.com

Photo: Ben Moon via sierrabc.com

What makes you different?  Who trained you?

I’m pretty creative when I climb, which has helped a lot in competitions.  I’ve also gotten really solid on slab recently which has had a huge benefit!  I had several coaches when I was younger, then my Dad worked with me for a few years.  Now, I’m working with Roman Kranjnik.

Have you trained other climbers to replicate your results, by utilizing similar methodologies?

I’ve only trained a small amount of other climbers but I was focusing on working on other things with those athletes.  Their strengths/weaknesses were different than mine and they needed a different training focus.

Who are the best lesser-known teachers?

I think every gym/state has a local guru that knows a plethora about climbing.  If someone has been climbing for a long time, chances are they know a lot about the sport and what to do.  I always look to those people for guidance.
 Photo: Udo Neumann via sierrabc.com

Photo: Udo Neumann via sierrabc.com

If you had to train an intermediate boulderer for a competition in 4 weeks what would this look like? What if you had 8 weeks?

4 Weeks:
Week 1: Volume (30-40 problems/night) alternating days with working hard problems
Week 2: 4x5's alternating days with working hard problems
Week 3: 4x5's alternating days with working hard problems
Week 4: Easy 4x5 at beginning of week, light climbing rest of week
 
8 weeks
Week 1: Volume (30-40 problems/night) alternating days with working hard problems
Week 2: Volume (30-40 problems/night) alternating days with working hard problems
Week 3: Working hard problems almost exclusively 
Week 4: Working hard problems almost exclusively 
Week 5: Working hard problems almost exclusively 
Week 6: 4x5's alternating days with working hard problems
Week 7: 4x5's alternating days with working hard problems
Week 8: Easy 4x5 at beginning of week, light climbing rest of week

Thanks to Sierra for taking the time to share her thoughts, and to member Joshua Michelman for sharing this interview with the greater Cliffs Community!