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Are you a strength/power person or an endurance person?
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By reboot
From Westminster, CO
Mar 5, 2013
My question is, are you naturally inclined toward strength/power sports/training or endurance based sports/training?

Coming from a strength/power background, I always felt endurance sports/training was boring (because you are not giving maximum effort at any given time). But apparently (living close to Boulder and all), people naturally inclined to endurance sports/training (which seem like 99% of the population) think strength/power sport is boring, because you don't typically exhaust yourself after a workout (although I think giving maximum effort is quite mentally exhausting, albeit in a complete different way than endurance sports).

Just curious what the climbing population is like in that regard (although I already have pretty strong suspicions). And hopefully for people like me who are too far on one end of the spectrum or the other, we can learn a bit from each other.

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By slim
Administrator
Mar 5, 2013
tomato, tomotto, kill mike amato.
i find this to be a really interesting question. i am naturally much more built towards endurance. when i was younger i had more success at endurance type events. however, i trained very hard to improve my strength for a long time, and got better in that area. my power is quite poor though. i am pretty much a poster child demonstrating the difference between strength and power. i think a lot of it has to do with not fully developing my coordination like i should have. lots of work to do in this area....

in terms of climbing, i do very well on pure long endurance routes where you just have to grind it out. i also do well in long, tedious onsight situations where you have to be able to hang in there for an hour to fiddle in marginal piece after marginal piece.

i also do well if there is a hard fingery crux in the first 30 feet or so. at this point in the route i am pretty fresh (mentally and physically).

where i completely get my ass kicked are power-endurance routes - particularly if there is a cruxy situation up high. even more so if this upper crux is awkward and/or not really well protected. these types of routes start giving me trouble around 3 letter grades below my optimal routes.

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By Tony B
From Around Boulder, CO
Mar 5, 2013
Got Milk? How about forearm pump? Tony leads "...
90+ % of us don't train at all. We do what is "fun" and as a result get natural conditioning. This results, at least in my case, in the opposite of what the desirable effects should be. Rather than working on my weakness (endurance) I tend to select routes that suit me, and work my strengths (strength) instead...
So overall, I've come to the conclusion that I'm backwards. Yet when given the choice between having fun and "working out..." I go have fun every last time.
I guess what I'm trying to say here is that I know I should be doing something the opposite of what I should be to maximize my ability/performance, but it doesn't materialize in the appropriate behavior to do so.
Endurance training would certainly suit me. Strength training might suit others... but as for what we actually do?!?!? That's a different question.

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By reboot
From Westminster, CO
Mar 5, 2013
Tony, I did post this in the training forum. I know you don't take climbing as seriously as you do with some other things, but for many of us, a lot of the "fun" is getting better at what you do for "fun".

Knowing you, I wouldn't necessarily characterize you as a strength person, in the climbing sense. You may lack steep climbing endurance, but I think that's mostly because of the terrain we have here. Otherwise, on a typical climbing day, you climb (vertical feet wise), far more than me: I'm far more likely to sit idle waiting to recover than to do 1 more pitch.

Anyways, as far as the rest of the thread goes, I find that I'm naturally much more drawn to conjuring maximum effort (the try hard mentality) than I'm at doing more until exhaustion. I think both require a very different set of discipline and people on either end of the spectrum can learn something from the other.

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By Tony B
From Around Boulder, CO
Mar 5, 2013
Got Milk? How about forearm pump? Tony leads "...
Not trying to poo-poo the training thing. I'm all for training. I acknowledge that I don't have the 'work ethic' for it.
My point was not the bullshit "why are you training?" answer that some might give, it was trying to prompt the thought that many people may not train in the way that most benefits them.
To that effect, I'm saying that people who are training might want to factor that in, and that people surveying answers might want to consider it as well.
PS- it's not endurence training when I'm not putting any effort into it. Yeah, I climb lots of pitches, but most of them are "green runs" (5.10 and below).

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By erik wellborn
From manitou springs
Mar 5, 2013
Top of Bridalveil, feelin good
I'm more or less just a pathetic weakling.

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By Will S
From Joshua Tree
Mar 5, 2013
Strength/Power. Both by nature and by preference. It's more fun to me, whether climbing routes or training.

That said, right now I am a PE person, because I'm about 1/4 into the PE phase and can already notice a boost in PE and slight drop in power/strength...my onsight level is going up as a result, just at the cost of absolute upper limit.

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By ze_dirtbag
From TBD
Mar 5, 2013
cottonmouth
i'd have to say strength/power....i used to only climb during offseason from rugby. Now I climb just about year round, mostly steep sport and cracks. Luckily for my 6'3" 210 lb frame, 3 or 4 pitches is about as high as the climbing gets around here.

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By J. Albers
From Colorado
Mar 5, 2013
Bucky
Funny how "technique" never gets mentioned in these types of posts. I find the shear number of "campus training" and "how do I get stronger" posts to be way amusing. It seems that people rarely ascribe their failure at climbing to sh*tty technique (this is of course based upon anecdotal evidence, i.e. casually viewing the MP forums over the years). The solution is always "if only I was stronger or had better endurance." I mean, do people really think that the thing separating them from climbing 12a is a campus board? IMHO, campus boards are for people that already have extremely well-developed technique (sorry, if you can't climb at least 12+ in a few goes, then this probably isn't you).

The truth? I'm a skinny weakling and the only reason I get up the stuff I do is because I cheat (read: tech) my way up stuff. I always find it funny when someone tells me that if only they were as strong as me, then they could climb the route I just did. Folks always seem to poo-poo me when I politely inform them that if I meatheaded my way through a climb the way they did, then I wouldn't get up squat either. This isn't to say that I don't work endurance, just that I have spent an equal amount of time over the years working on figuring out ways to climb better. Perhaps if folks spent more energy working on technique (including during their warm-ups), then they would have to spend less time punishing and injuring themselves on a campus board.

Just a thought from a weak guy.

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By Jason N.
From Grand Junction
Mar 5, 2013
Indy pass
J. Albers wrote:
Funny how "technique" never gets mentioned in these types of posts. I find the shear number of "campus training" and "how do I get stronger" posts to be way amusing. It seems that people rarely ascribe their failure at climbing to sh*tty technique (this is of course based upon anecdotal evidence, i.e. casually viewing the MP forums over the years). The solution is always "if only I was stronger or had better endurance." The truth? I'm a skinny weakling and the only reason I get up the stuff I do is because I cheat (read: tech) my way up stuff. I always find it funny when someone tells me that if only they were as strong as me, then they could climb the route I just did. Folks always seem to poo-poo me when I politely inform them that if I meatheaded my way through a climb the way they did, then I wouldn't get up squat either. This isn't to say that I don't work endurance, just that I have spent an equal amount of time over the years working on figuring out ways to climb better. Just a thought from a weak guy.


You reminded me of this article which was on the MP homepage not too long ago: rockandice.com/lates-news/free...

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By Mark E Dixon
From Sprezzatura, Someday
Mar 5, 2013
At the BRC
Strength.
I want a bumper sticker that says
"Friends don't let friends get pumped"

As for J Albers' comments about technique, I think many of us get it. That's been my focus all winter. However, it's hard to discuss on line- "when I'm on the red route at the BRC and turn my left toe slightly down it brings my hips in. What about you?"
I mean, except in generalities, how would you learn anything about technique on MP?

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By frankstoneline
Mar 5, 2013
J. Albers wrote:
Funny how "technique" never gets mentioned in these types of posts. I find the shear number of "campus training" and "how do I get stronger" posts to be way amusing. It seems that people rarely ascribe their failure at climbing to sh*tty technique (this is of course based upon anecdotal evidence, i.e. casually viewing the MP forums over the years). The solution is always "if only I was stronger or had better endurance." I mean, do people really think that the thing separating them from climbing 12a is a campus board? IMHO, campus boards are for people that already have extremely well-developed technique (sorry, if you can't climb at least 12+ in a few goes, then this probably isn't you). The truth? I'm a skinny weakling and the only reason I get up the stuff I do is because I cheat (read: tech) my way up stuff. I always find it funny when someone tells me that if only they were as strong as me, then they could climb the route I just did. Folks always seem to poo-poo me when I politely inform them that if I meatheaded my way through a climb the way they did, then I wouldn't get up squat either. This isn't to say that I don't work endurance, just that I have spent an equal amount of time over the years working on figuring out ways to climb better. Perhaps if folks spent more energy working on technique (including during their warm-ups), then they would have to spend less time punishing and injuring themselves on a campus board. Just a thought from a weak guy.



I think people focus on things like power vs. endurance and the boards because they figure technique can be trained simultaneously. As you mentioned, focusing on technique through one's warmup/workout is beneficial to most (though I'm not sure I agree with the 12+ in a couple goes benchmark, though my technique certainly has room for improvement).

Also, I certainly notice a lot of bro-science type thinking in the gym. One guy, who people view as a "Good" climber, is seen doing pull-ups with a 40 lb weight on his harness, suddenly I notice more and more people greasing up the hangboard doing pull-up workouts at the end of their evening session. Similarly, lots of people see accomplished climbers hangboarding or campusing and so off they go.

I think what it boils down to is that technique comes with time, and technique practice can be worked on in the same workout (i.e. during warmup/cooldown) as strength or endurance.

Similarly, not a lot of folks discuss core work in depth, but the ones who are good at training do it because it's beneficial, and most of us could stand to do more.

Also, most people roughly abide by the idea of periodization, and none of the phases are explicitly "improve technique" because the focus of that sort of training scheme is to trick your body into continuing to develop.

I would be lying if I said I didnt envy your ability to climb 12+ second or third go off the couch, but fundamentally I think at some point you get little returns on a lot of invested time from technique training and one is better off focusing on strength/endurance training and letting technique develop as a function of warming up and cooling down.

Damn, that was long winded.

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By The Stoned Master
Administrator
From Pennsylvania
Mar 5, 2013
Day Lily.
Definitly endurance for me. My genetics come from a long line of endurance athletes. I'm blessed with the ability to apply little effort to long distances.

Some mention technique. My way is: technique is always on my mind, that is through much, much, effort (for me) I am always mindful of technique and how much effort it took to climb route x or z. I also think of 5.7, 5.6, 5.10, etc as percieved effort not the hold sizes (that's just me though). So I've climbed concensus 5.6s but would have rated it 5.3/5.4 (think candy corner, seneca, wv) because it didn't take much effort. I've also climbed concensus 5.7s that were 5.10s to me.

When in a technique, power/strength or anaerobic period in my climbing/training (they blend one with the other) I ALWAYS stop when Ican no longer climb with good style (to me which = good technique).

None of the masters (horst, neumann, goddard, leubben, etc) I've ever read would ever encourage someone to continue to climb once they've lost good technique. Regardless if its fatigue, bad attitude, or whatever.

My way only. Not right or wrong.

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By JCM
From Seattle, WA
Mar 5, 2013
As to the original question: I am more of an endurance athlete. I came into climbing with a solid aerobic/endurance background from road biking, which I did a lot of at one point in time. The endurance aptitude carried over into climbing.

To be even more specific, my best style of climbing has always been routes with a stop-and-go nature to them, where strenuous sections are separated by marginal rests. I think that the biking background helped with this. Strong calves generally allowed me to make the most of stems, stances, and kneebars, and a high baseline aerobic level allows me to get my heart rate down quickly.

That said, I've stopped biking, and I've also spent the winter bouldering in the gym, so we'll see how my power-to-endurance ratio adapts.

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By koreo
From Denver, CO
Mar 5, 2013
sloping
Strength and power hands down. My father was a gymnast in his younger years, and oldest brother was a power lifter and a wrestler. I was a wrestler and a kickboxer which leans my inclination more towards strength and power. In both sports I always tried to get my matches over with as quickly as possible, versus controlling tempo and wearing down my opponent. Same thing with climbing.

This training cycle has been dedicated towards endurance and better technique. Train the weaknesses and all that. If endurance doesn't help I know the small improvements in technique will.

I absolutely agree with all everyone with strengthening the core. But I think that is also linked in with technique. Maybe a guy can hold a 5 second lever but if he doesn't know how to properly apply that core strength he is just gonna wear himself out.

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By Ben Brotelho
From Albany, NY
Mar 5, 2013
Epic free solo with a pack on
Not enough of either!!

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By Aerili
From Salt Lake City, UT
Mar 6, 2013
The West Desert...it's not just for climbing, suck...
From a purely genetic standpoint, I tend to do best at power endurance. For instance, I played halfback in soccer, ran 400 and 800 m in track, as a kid I could run faster and jump higher than all the boys, and as an adult ballet dancer I could jump higher than all the other women during adagio (big, powerful jumps which come consecutively slowly and usually repeatedly during technique class). When I tested on the Wingate cycle (a measure of power output), I had more endurance than any other female in my group (all athletically-inclined and fit).

For me, true maximal anaerobic outputs (climbing or otherwise) have always been more exhausting than any endurance activity I've engaged in (but of course my endurance activities have been relatively limited).

I think it is easier to come away from a strength/power workout exhausted simply because it is easier to redline in a short period of time if you so choose and know what you're doing.

I personally find power and strength training more interesting than endurance training, and I specialized in training power athletes in my professional past.

When I go to the gym alone, I try to ARC and find it...unpleasant after a while. Haa.

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By Woodchuck ATC
Mar 6, 2013
Rock Wars, RRG, 2008
these days, I endure my lack of strength as best I can.

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By Brandt Allen
From Joshua Tree, Cal
Mar 6, 2013
I have a very low level of endurance, but make up for it with a complete lack of power.

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By Charles Kinbote
From Brooklyn, NY
Mar 6, 2013
On Waimea, 5.10d
J. Albers wrote:
The truth? I'm a skinny weakling and the only reason I get up the stuff I do is because I cheat (read: tech) my way up stuff. I always find it funny when someone tells me that if only they were as strong as me, then they could climb the route I just did.


I always find it funny when light climbers profess to be "skinny weaklings" and, therefore, technical masters by necessity, when they know damn well finger strength/weight ratio is far more important than total body strength.

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By Jay Knower
Administrator
From Campton, NH
Mar 6, 2013
Technosurfing, Rumney. Photo by Seth Hamel.
Charles Kinbote wrote:
I always find it funny when light climbers profess to be "skinny weaklings" and, therefore, technical masters by necessity, when they know damn well finger strength/weight ratio is far more important than total body strength.


I completely agree with Albers. Being another "skinny weakling", I know that I've gotten up some stuff because of technique instead of power.

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By J. Albers
From Colorado
Mar 6, 2013
Bucky
Charles Kinbote wrote:
I always find it funny when light climbers profess to be "skinny weaklings" and, therefore, technical masters by necessity, when they know damn well finger strength/weight ratio is far more important than total body strength.


I would agree with you that strength-to-weight ratio is probably more important than overall body strength. However, that doesn't explain my ability to do a given route versus another person of relatively equal body configuration that climbs like a meathead (pretty common). Can I pull reasonably hard? Of course, you can't climb 5.12 and up without at least being able to pull a little. But I have never been on a campus board (shit, I'm not sure I can even campus!!). In reality, I can't pull hard moves without using my feet and body well. And therein lies my point. The key for me is to pull as little as possible to get through a given sequence. When you use your body well, it may seem to people watching like you have sick endurance or power, but the reality is that you're just being efficient. I think this really hit home for me when I started learning how to climb hard vertical granite.

On 5.12 ish vertical climbing, having good finger strength-to-weight ratio will get the job done because the holds are big enough to just pull your way through. However, when I started transitioning beyond, the holds were just too damn small and the feet just too terrible to pull my way through anything. For me there was a huge adjustment in how I used core tension and creative footwork to make up for the lack of anything to hold on to. When this happened, I started learning just how little I needed to pull on a hold in order to do a given move. This then transferred to other rock mediums where all of sudden I found myself gripping and pulling on holds using a fraction of the exertion. This allowed me to up my ability to climb harder routes without any real change in strength or power.

I think that this is an important point because I believe that this is a more sustainable way to improve with age. It is the sole reason that many of my older partners (50-60 years old) can still send mid 5.13. They sure aren't yarding on holds like a meathead because they simply can't anymore. In short, my advice to people training is not to ignore strength and conditioning, just to spend just as much thought and energy on climbing better. I think a lot of people pay lip service to technique, but don't really focus on it because its a lot harder than simply jumping on the campus board and doing reps.

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By Charles Kinbote
From Brooklyn, NY
Mar 6, 2013
On Waimea, 5.10d
Jay Knower wrote:
I completely agree with Albers. Being another "skinny weakling", I know that I've gotten up some stuff because of technique instead of power.


How in the world do you separate the two concepts? How do you know how much "technique" contributes to your success compared to "power"?

In any case, do you think your experience is unique? I'd wager that nearly every climber has gotten up something that they first thought was "too powerful" after making technical and tactical adjustments. Isn't that what this whole climbing thing is about?

Listen, I hardly do any supplementary exercises for my climbing, just a little fingerboarding. I'm a believer in continually refining one's movement skills and tactics, and that climbing is primarily a skill sport...our approaches are probably more similar than they are different. But you light climbers acting like you're at some disadvantage drive me crazy! You've probably got a better finger strength to weight ratio than the boardheads you scoff at!

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By J. Albers
From Colorado
Mar 6, 2013
Bucky
Charles Kinbote wrote:
But you light climbers acting like you're at some disadvantage drive me crazy! You've probably got a better finger strength to weight ratio than the boardheads you scoff at!


Jay never said that light climbers are at a disadvantage (and neither did I). Moreover, how do I know that I am not super burly? Because I can't do a fingerboard/campus workout, while the meathead dude (who is not necessarily a big guy) can fire his way up and down the rungs. To me that means that while I may not be strong, I must be doing something to make up for my inability to do one armed yards. I figure its technique, but I dunno...probably its more likely that its a healthy combination of technique and as you mention, a good strength-to-weight ratio (plus low gravity underwear).

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By Charles Kinbote
From Brooklyn, NY
Mar 6, 2013
On Waimea, 5.10d
J. Albers wrote:
In short, my advice to people training is not to ignore strength and conditioning, just to spend just as much thought and energy on climbing better. I think a lot of people pay lip service to technique, but don't really focus on it because its a lot harder than simply jumping on the campus board and doing reps.


Thanks for the well thought out response to my snarky comment. I like the quoted bit.

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By Jay Knower
Administrator
From Campton, NH
Mar 6, 2013
Technosurfing, Rumney. Photo by Seth Hamel.
Charles Kinbote wrote:
But you light climbers acting like you're at some disadvantage drive me crazy!


Well, now we're even!

Technique matters. Think of a relatively hard route that you have "wired". The more you climb the route, the easier it gets. It's not necessarily that you've gotten stronger such that you're expending more energy on the moves. It's more likely, instead, that you've learned the subtleties of the route so that you can expend less effort.

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