Just like training for anything else, the sooner you start the better off you will be. After some light training I started a pretty rigorous training schedule about a month ago in anticipation of the comp. I'm horrendous at training, preferring to actually climb instead. The comp gave me a proverbial carrot, if I didn't get accepted I would be sick strong right off the start once ice season finally rolls around.
One of my main pieces of training equipment is the death board. I like it over the home wall because you go up and down instead of sideways. It is fairly cheap to build and works great for building power and training endurance, depending on how you use it. The main structure is 1- 2x12-16' and 5- 2x4-16'.
You can use your feet or use it as a campus board. Bec uses it occasionally too and I think she can see progress as well