Daily Routines

Alex Honnold: Daily Routine

On Daily Routines, we profile successful leaders, entrepreneurs, artists, executives and athletes to explore their routines, schedules, habits and day in the life.

For Alex Honnold, the thought of scaling the sides of El Capitan, a summit located in Yosemite National Park approximately 3000 feet in height, is positively energising. It’s just the other stuff that comes with being a world famous rock climber that’s exhausting.

“The travel and expeditions and training can become pretty tiring,” he told Outside. “But the actual big climbs — that’s what I live for.”

This isn’t surprising at all, considering how much Honnold loves the simple life. “I think I’m the world’s highest paid professional rock climber, but the sport has a minimalist ethos about it,” he said in an interview with Wealthsimple. “I really value that about climbing.”

Honnold has been living simple for most of his life, frequently living on the road and couch surfing with friends in different cities across America. The 35-year old lived out of a van for 14 years and it was only in 2017 that he bought a house. A “classic cookie-cutter house,” as he describes it, in the Las Vegas suburbs. “I didn’t have any furniture at first, so I lived in the van in the driveway for the first couple weeks,” Honnold admitted. “It felt more like home than an empty house did.”

I committed myself to the process, to putting the work in, even though I didn’t know if there’d be a result.

‘Doubt is the precursor of fear’: Solo climber Alex Honnold describes the mental side of scaling El Capitan | Deseret News

During the training for his free solo climb of El Capitan, which was captured in Academy Award-winning documentary Free Solo, Honnold was waking up at 4am to get in a full day of climbing.

“I just started by building a enormous base by doing a tremendous amount of volume,” he told Men’s Journal. “I was training somewhere around 40 hours a week.” This was a necessary routine for him in order to build the stamina required for the gruelling El Capitan.

Outside of putting in long hours on mountain faces, Honnold also frequently used fingerboards — a common rock climbing training tool used to develop strength. “I was also using the fingerboard I have in my van to improve that strength,” he said.

“I was primarily doing repeaters which is seven seconds hang and three seconds off. Typically you would want to hang off edges with weights to make it more difficult, but I don’t do that in the van because I don’t want to rip my whole set up off the roof.”

In any sport, as you approach your own physical limits it becomes harder and harder to improve. Getting better requires major dedication and focus—really disciplined training.

What Habits Helped Alex Honnold Become Such a Good Free-Solo Climber? | Outside

With his sole focus on successfully climbing El Capitan, Honnold made sure he removed all distractions from his life, including cutting off all communications and deleting social media apps off his phone.

“People knew that I was working on this project, so they understood why I was cutting off communication,” said Honnold. “I also deleted all of the social media apps off of my phone.” Doing this gave him the space to think about the task at hand, “I had a lot more time to sit around and think idly about the route, which is a more casual way of saying more time to visualize.”

When it comes to his diet, Honnold, who doesn’t drink or smoke, told Sierra Club in a 2015 interview that he was trending towards veganism. “I’m 90-percent of the way there,” he said. “The environmental side is a no-brainer, and in terms of human performance and optimal health, there’s a ton of evidence that it’s way better for you.”

For Honnold’s El Capitan preparation, he stuck with a “vegan plus eggs” diet. He broke down his meal routine with Men’s Journal:

Before I did Freerider I was eating vegan plus eggs, which I found kept me pretty fit. I commonly did a big breakfast, a big dinner, and then snack throughout the day. That is mostly a product of the climbing life rather than a choice I am making. I need to eat a lot in the morning so that I can perform. My breakfast would usually be unsweetened muesli and fruit concoction with hemp milk. I would toss chia seeds in there as well. For dinner I would make a bunch of eggs, especially since I can get lazy at the end of the day and it is fairly easy to prepare. Snacking I would eat fruit, almonds, and random protein bars that people send me. I have also liked the nut butter packs from Justin’s.

How Alex Honnold Got Strong And Conquered El Cap For ‘Free Solo’ | Men’s Journal

Before you go…

Check out more daily routines from Barack Obama, Joe Rogan, Jeff Bezos, Michelle Obama, Sheryl Sandberg, Richard Branson, Warren Buffet and plenty others.

About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.