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By Charles Kinbote
From Brooklyn, NY
Mar 6, 2013
On Waimea, 5.10d

J. Albers wrote:
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. Low gravity maybe?


Well, calling yourself a "skinny weakling" is certainly self deprecating, and I took it as an implication that you thought you were at a some kind of disadvantage. And "meathead" typically refers to someone with significant muscle mass, who is a bit heavy for climbing. So, I hope you understand why one might interpret your words the way I did.


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By J. Albers
From Colorado
Mar 6, 2013
Bucky

Charles Kinbote wrote:
Well, calling yourself a "skinny weakling" is certainly self deprecating, and I took it as an implication that you thought you were at a some kind of disadvantage. And "meathead" typically refers to someone with significant muscle mass, who is a bit heavy for climbing. So, I hope you understand why one might interpret your words the way I did.


Indeed I can understand how my statements could be misinterpreted. For the record, my brother is a lot more "husky" than me and he never lets me forget my strength-to-weight ratio advantage (ohh the skinny jokes I endure). That said, I consider him to be a technique relient climber. He has to be, because pulling hard enough to get him up 5.12 will just result in injury. Also, my use of meathead implies a mentality not a body type.

Cheers.


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By Charles Kinbote
From Brooklyn, NY
Mar 6, 2013
On Waimea, 5.10d

J. Albers wrote:
Indeed I can understand how my statements could be misinterpreted. For the record, my brother is a lot more "husky" than me and he never lets me forget my strength-to-weight ratio advantage (ohh the skinny jokes I endure). That said, I consider him to be a technique relient climber. He has to be, because pulling hard enough to get him up 5.12 will just result in injury. Also, my use of meathead implies a mentality not a body type. Cheers.


Cool. Thanks, I've enjoyed the dialogue.

/thread hijack


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By Nate Reno
From Highlands Ranch, CO
Mar 6, 2013
Ellingwood Point Summit, Little Bear in the background.

OK so the strength training part is easy enough to figure out and quantify (there's plenty of threads as has been pointed out).
The technique part, maybe not as much (or I just haven't put in the effort).
Any drills/practices/methods that people can recommend that they've felt particularly beneficial for improving technique?


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By Mark E Dixon
From Sprezzatura, Someday
Mar 6, 2013
Sure, I can belay

J. Albers wrote:
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.


This is a great suggestion- (or maybe just one I'm ready to hear.)
Any chance you and Jay and Charles and others would share some of these insights? Perhaps in another thread?


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By Jeremy Hand
Mar 6, 2013
slopey

Any sort of training is boring for me.... sigh.


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By J. Albers
From Colorado
Mar 6, 2013
Bucky

Mark E Dixon wrote:
This is a great suggestion- (or maybe just one I'm ready to hear.) Any chance you and Jay and Charles and others would share some of these insights? Perhaps in another thread?


I will have to give this some thought....

Jay?

And what about the MP in-house training guru (Mono)? What say he?


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By slim
Administrator
Mar 6, 2013
tomato, tomotto, kill mike amato.

Nate Reno wrote:
OK so the strength training part is easy enough to figure out and quantify (there's plenty of threads as has been pointed out). The technique part, maybe not as much (or I just haven't put in the effort). Any drills/practices/methods that people can recommend that they've felt particularly beneficial for improving technique?


that's one of the tough things with technique training - it is really hard (maybe impossible?) to quantify. also, what might be a better technique for one climber in a certain scenario might not be the better technique for a different climber in the same scenario.

a couple things i do:

1) make sure i always watch my foot all the way until it is on the foothold.
2) initiating movement from different sources (ie lower foot, using the hip-through-shoulders-whip to move upper body, etc)
3) be able to move at different speeds, in particular working on being able to move hands and feet quickly and ACCURATELY. it is a lot of challenge for me to do this simultaneously.

as much as i discuss strength training on MP, i also try to spend quite a bit of time working on technique. it is also really hard to find somebody who can give a good assessment of whether your technique is good, or whether and how it can be improved. most people just climb and don't think too much about it.


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By frankstoneline
Mar 6, 2013

I found a lot of gains in the technique department when I really started picking boulder problems/sequences apart.

Pick something a couple (boulder) grades below where you might project, and then try it until it goes one way, then change a foot, or change the feet you use, or make a hold worse (this only works if you are setting/have a wall you can swap holds on) etc. I try and find as many ways to do a route/move/sequence as possible. It's more fun if you work with a couple other folks.

I find this illustrates how my body most efficiently moves in a tangible way. I can say "huh, that works, but felt harder" or "wow, that feels way less strenuous"


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By J. Albers
From Colorado
Mar 6, 2013
Bucky

slim wrote:
1) make sure i always watch my foot all the way until it is on the foothold.


True that. Watching someone with laser precise footwork is one of the first indictions that I use to judge technique. I try hard to put my foot on a hold precisely and in exactly the way I want it. I then lock my core into the foot in a very deliberate way. I can tell when I don't because my whole core/body feels disconnected. This is a huge part of how I rest while climbing, i.e. my body ends up taking a huge amount of the load off of my hands. I think of it like I'm a monkey and my core-foot connectedness allows me to have a second set of hands taking weight.

slim wrote:
3) be able to move at different speeds,


Interesting thought. Over the years, I have made a huge effort to climb everything statically. In fact this is so true, that I have recently (the last year or two) begun working on dynamic movement because I climbed everything statically even when dynamic movement would have been more efficient. I find that moving statically allows me to expose my weaknesses in a very obvious way.

For example, if you try and do a really hard move statically, it takes a lot of core tension and connectedness to your feet. If you don't have that connection, you know it because you simply can't control your body long enough nor well enough to do the move. In contrast, it is likely that you could do that same move by simply throwing to the hold dynamically. This begs the question, isn't moving dynamically therefore more efficient? I would argue that it depends on the following. If you are the person who can do the move statically, then it is highly likely that when you do the move dynamically, then you are actually incorporating the "static" core tension and foot connectedness into the dynamic move. In contrast, the person who can't do the move statically, but can do the move dynamically is just masking their lack of connectedness. The difference of course is that the person who can do the move statically is likely doing the dynamic move more efficiently than the person who can only do it dynamically. I would argue that I can tell the difference when I watch someone based upon how precisely a given climber can execute a dynamic movement.

Once you have mastered climbing statically (which never happens, right?), then the trick is to use good judgement when choosing to do a given move dynamically versus statically on an onsight. When training however, working on static movement will likely provide important technique dividends.


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By reboot
From Westminster, CO
Mar 6, 2013

I can't believe people are still falling for the "technique" argument. Sure, every one of us can develop better technique, but unless someone really suck at rock climbing, the best technique in the world ain't gonna make a 5.11 climber into a 5.13 climber.

First of all, what's so special about the grade 5.12? Why should training be reserved to those that have achieved this grade? 5.12 used to be an elite grade, now kids that can barely walk straight routinely pull them off. Sure most of them lack the exposure to pull that off on many styles of real rock, but let's not go there for the moment.

Looking at the progression of the sport, why is it it used to take talented climbers decades to get to 5.12, if they are lucky, but now it takes a semi-talented climber a year or 2? Do modern climbers (with much shorter climbing experience) really have better technique? I know shoes have gotten better & gear lighter, but you don't see Lynn Hill crushing the Dawn wall because of it.


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By Nate Reno
From Highlands Ranch, CO
Mar 6, 2013
Ellingwood Point Summit, Little Bear in the background.

reboot wrote:
I can't believe people are still falling for the "technique" argument.

I think that adding some structured training has netted me the most tangible and quickest gains that I've experienced so far - and I'll definitely continue with it. But at the same time I've watched climbers on the same climb, climb with much better technique, efficiency and what appeared to be much less effort than I, so I also realize that I have a lot to gain in the technique area as well. Our climbing grades are similar, so as to where I would consider strength/power as a strength for myself, a strength for them would be their technique. Bringing my technique up to their level (or their strength up to mine), would result in that much more of an improved climber. Part of the overall package that seems like a good idea to strive for.
As a side note, the strength training seems to make easier climbs much less tiring - possibly allowing more climbing mileage than previously to work on technique, but I would have to stay on the easier stuff all day and not push myself to fatigue on climbs closer to my limit.


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By Ben Brotelho
From Albany, NY
Mar 6, 2013
Epic free solo with a pack on

it's all the god damn growth hormones!! lucky little bastards!


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By JLP
From The Internet
Mar 6, 2013

reboot wrote:
...why is it it used to take talented climbers decades to get to 5.12...

Hangdogging wasn't allowed...


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By Ben Brotelho
From Albany, NY
Mar 6, 2013
Epic free solo with a pack on

JLP wrote:
Hangdogging wasn't allowed...


haha! Was just talking about this with someone today...

Lamest practice in all the climbing land. Maybe I am just "old school" for a young'n but I hate when I see people "working" routes from their high point. You haven't truly climbed it until you can do it in one attempt! Thou shalt not fall...something I take to heart, even when I am top-roping I abhor flailing!


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By frankstoneline
Mar 6, 2013

Ben Brotelho wrote:
haha! Was just talking about this with someone today... Lamest practice in all the climbing land. Maybe I am just "old school" for a young'n but I hate when I see people "working" routes from their high point. You haven't truly climbed it until you can do it in one attempt! Thou shalt not fall...something I take to heart, even when I am top-roping I abhor flailing!


"Working" from a high point and claiming a send are different things no?


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By J. Albers
From Colorado
Mar 6, 2013
Bucky

reboot wrote:
I can't believe people are still falling for the "technique" argument.


I can't believe people think that the difference between a climber who sends hard and one who doesn't is mostly strength. Its both for sure.

reboot wrote:
but unless someone really suck at rock climbing, the best technique in the world ain't gonna make a 5.11 climber into a 5.13 climber.


Whaa?? The difference between the 5.11 climber and the 5.13 climber is both strength and technique (which often go hand in hand). The argument that it is pure strength doesn't make any sense. If it were the case, then myself and many of my older friends would be f*ed. The difference between the elite climber and the bro brah meathead is that the elite climber has both technique and strength (plus the talent to utilize both). But hey, you continue to throw yourself at the campus board and see where your tendons, elbows, etc. are when you're 60.


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By reboot
From Westminster, CO
Mar 6, 2013

J. Albers wrote:
The difference of course is that the person who can do the move statically is likely doing the dynamic move more efficiently than the person who can only do it dynamically.

I'm feeling generous so I'm not going to quote the rest of the gibberish...but I do find it hilarious that someone who extols "technique" has so little understanding of dynamic "technique". Good for you that you can climb 5.13 though.

First of all, a person who can do a move statically may not be able to do the same move dynamically, vice versa. This typically has to do with the shape of the hold you are initiating from and the hold you are going for. As you change your center of gravity and the angle you are using the hold, it may become better or worse. Dynamic moves can be quite efficient when the hold in the intermediary body position is much worse than the start body position (ex: non-incut holds). Conversely, if the finishing hold is poor (especially in the direction you need to control the residue momentum), then static move may be better. Of course, this is all on a single (hard) move basis. On a route when you can do both (at least off the dog), it depends on how the rest of the route taxes your body. Then there is the quality of a dynamic move: often, dynamic moves executed w/o foot cut is most efficient when executed with the least amount of residual momentum (i.e. just enough extension to reach the hold). This sometimes changes on all points-off/foot-cut dynos where overshooting the hold can give you some time (longer contact) to latch onto the hold and absorb the momentum more gradually. In either case, the trajectory of your momentum can also be important depending on the holds. You want it in the direction that best utilize the holds (ie: a bit more circular for a side pull and more initial vertical component on an overhang, etc).

J. Albers wrote:
Funny how "technique" never gets mentioned in these types of posts... The argument that it is pure strength doesn't make any sense.

With regards to that, you don't know me nor my techniques, and I never claimed that climbing is pure strength. However, I do believe, with good reason, that I'd be much closer to the level of an elite climber w/ his (climbing-specific) strength than I would with w/ his techniques.


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By JCM
From Golden, CO
Mar 6, 2013

Nate Reno wrote:
Any drills/practices/methods that people can recommend that they've felt particularly beneficial for improving technique?


My thoughts on the idea of technique training:

I think that doing technique drills in the gym, as preached by D. Hunter and his SCC book/site, is generally a waste of time. The gym does a good job of training the strengths you need to climb stronger, but the sort of techniques you develop in the gym just don't translate well to rock. Use the gym time for what the gym is made for-- building strength, power, PE, endurance, whatever-- and do the technique work on the medium for which you want to develop that technique (i.e. rock, and to be even more specific, the sort of rock that you want to perform on).

To me, a more organic approach to building technique seems to work better than trying to force yourself into drills (which don't seem to carry over all that well to actual climbing anyway). What I mean by this is that instead of trying to do a technique drill, instead find specific rock climbs and crags that will force you to learn to improve that technique. If you want to get better at stemming, find a selection of stemming routes, at a succession of increasing difficulty, and climb each one several times, trying to find the best and most efficient technique for each one. This is also how focused redpoint projecting can really teach you about technique; by learning to do a certain move on your project perfectly, you also can learn a lot about how to do that same type of move on future routes.

I think that this approach, of letting the demands of individual rock climbs teach you techniques, is also why travel is so important to becoming a better climber, and why technically skilled and well rounded climbers are generally well traveled. Different individual crags are really well suited to helping you perfect different individual techniques; the technique you learn at that crag will carry over to other areas as well. For instance, if you need to get better at trusting small/bad footholds, spending a week-long trip climbing at Smith will teach you more about this technique than a year of doing drills in the gym. During that week at Smith, you'll get more comfortable on small footholds, and you'll remember what you learned when you go elsewhere. Different crags teach different things. Need to learn how to kneebar? Go to Rifle. Still shaky on ringlocks? Borrow 10 green camalots and go to the Creek. Etc...


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By JCM
From Golden, CO
Mar 6, 2013

reboot wrote:
I Looking at the progression of the sport, why is it it used to take talented climbers decades to get to 5.12, if they are lucky, but now it takes a semi-talented climber a year or 2? Do modern climbers (with much shorter climbing experience) really have better technique?



JLP wrote:
Hangdogging wasn't allowed...


I don't think that this is what JLP was getting at, but hangdogging is technique training, and is extremely effective at that. The was a recent Climbtalk radio podcast in which they interviewed Yaniro, and he said something along these lines. Hangdogging, when applied well, is basically just hanging in place trying to find the best way to do a move, trying a move a dozen different ways until you find the body position that works perfectly. Then on redpoint, you try to be able to do these moves on the go. Not only does that help you climb that route faster, it also is an expedient way to learn techniques that can later be used on onsights, on ground up traditional routes, etc. Exclusively climbing in the traditional style (climbing routes within your limit, rarely falling) is a much less effective way to learn techniques than hangdogging on harder routes, trying to learn how to do moves perfectly.


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By Mark E Dixon
From Sprezzatura, Someday
Mar 6, 2013
Sure, I can belay

JCM wrote:
My thoughts on the idea of technique training: I think that doing technique drills in the gym, as preached by D. Hunter and his SCC book/site, is generally a waste of time. The gym does a good job of training the strengths you need to climb stronger, but the sort of techniques you develop in the gym just don't translate well to rock. Use the gym time for what the gym is made for-- building strength, power, PE, endurance, whatever-- and do the technique work on the medium for which you want to develop that technique (i.e. rock, and to be even more specific, the sort of rock that you want to perform on). To me, a more organic approach to building technique seems to work better than trying to force yourself into drills (which don't seem to carry over all that well to actual climbing anyway). What I mean by this is that instead of trying to do a technique drill, instead find specific rock climbs and crags that will force you to learn to improve that technique. If you want to get better at stemming, find a selection of stemming routes, at a succession of increasing difficulty, and climb each one several times, trying to find the best and most efficient technique for each one. This is also how focused redpoint projecting can really teach you about technique; by learning to do a certain move on your project perfectly, you also can learn a lot about how to do that same type of move on future routes. I think that this approach, of letting the demands of individual rock climbs teach you techniques, is also why travel is so important to becoming a better climber, and why technically skilled and well rounded climbers are generally well traveled. Different individual crags are really well suited to helping you perfect different individual techniques; the technique you learn at that crag will carry over to other areas as well. For instance, if you need to get better at trusting small/bad footholds, spending a week-long trip climbing at Smith will teach you more about this technique than a year of doing drills in the gym. During that week at Smith, you'll get more comfortable on small footholds, and you'll remember what you learned when you go elsewhere. Different crags teach different things. Need to learn how to kneebar? Go to Rifle. Still shaky on ringlocks? Borrow 10 green camalots and go to the Creek. Etc...


JCM, thanks for returning us to the thread hijack already in progress!
Excellent advice above.
My anecdotal experience has been that gym drills (eg quiet feet, glue hands) are marginally helpful.
On the other hand, working the basics during ARC and warm-ups seems really useful to me. By basics, I mean looking at your foot, hand or clip, till the movement is COMPLETE; using the legs and torso to generate movement, keeping arms straight, not holding one's breath, etc.
Of course, then these new habits need to be gradually stress proofed on harder routes till they become second nature even on personal desperates.
This process is easier in the gym than outside, I think.


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By frankstoneline
Mar 6, 2013

JCM wrote:
I don't think that this is what JLP was getting at, but hangdogging is technique training, and is extremely effective at that. The was a recent Climbtalk radio podcast in which they interviewed Yaniro, and he said something along these lines. Hangdogging, when applied well, is basically just hanging in place trying to find the best way to do a move, trying a move a dozen different ways until you find the body position that works perfectly. Then on redpoint, you try to be able to do these moves on the go. Not only does that help you climb that route faster, it also is an expedient way to learn techniques that can later be used on onsights, on ground up traditional routes, etc. Exclusively climbing in the traditional style (climbing routes within your limit, rarely falling) is a much less effective way to learn techniques than hangdogging on harder routes, trying to learn how to do moves perfectly.


I heard a saying a while ago (might have read it) that really struck a chord with me and has been sort of fundamental in my recent endeavors.

In so many words it was basically if you want to climb 5.13 you have to climb 5.13. That is, no amount of 5.12 climbs will prepare you for 5.13 moves, because they are simply harder. I think that has driven me to try harder routes on the dog, work out the moves and thus learn these new techniques and see renewed improvement.

obviously, with the popularity of bouldering there are plenty of folks who have the power to do 5.13 moves, but dont, and I would argue that is largely a matter of tactics or lack of desire to develop any sort of endurance or something else.


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By Aerili
From Salt Lake City, UT
Mar 6, 2013
Duck face with Largo

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

slim wrote:
that's one of the tough things with technique training - it is really hard (maybe impossible?) to quantify.


It is not impossible to quantify and has been quantified for years. With all the current software out there, it's not even that hard. I am currently doing research quantifying movement now. Kinematic analyses start with creating 3D motion capture data. This gives us detailed position-time data while sampling the movements at many times per second; this allows us to track how multiple segments move in 3D space all at once, as well as what body segments initiate certain movements, the joint angles involved, segment accelerations, etc.

As for determining separation of "technique" vs "power", we can determine associated kinetic forces in the kinematic data by using intersegmental dynamics, a form of inverse dynamics basically. We can determine the net torques about a joint and, using more inverse dynamics, break down those torques into components to find which are produced only by the muscle. And power involved in all this is related to torque and the rate at which the joint is rotating angularly.

Of course there is no way for a climber to know him/herself all this in the instant it is happening...we perceive things in more qualitative ways although we certainly have the physical capacity to somehow take qualitative experiences and alter them quantitatively in terms of power output, change in movement angle, etc. (the brain is amazing!). Such control separates the masters from the amateurs.

It is unlikely that much quantitative analysis will occur for climbing any time soon, although these methods have been employed in other sports for some time now.

From a more qualitative aspect, certainly there are methods for teaching and improving movement skills (i.e. technique). The field of motor learning is devoted to this particular aspect and no coaching would exist without it.



reboot wrote:
Looking at the progression of the sport, why is it it used to take talented climbers decades to get to 5.12, if they are lucky, but now it takes a semi-talented climber a year or 2?

This has been occurring in many athletic disciplines for a very long time and probably has a multi-faceted answer which all boils down to improving both movement skills and physical conditioning faster than before. Improved gear is also helpful. Dancers, gymnasts, skaters, divers, etc. are all now performing movements, skills, techniques which their predecessors could not have imagined doing...and they are doing them at earlier stages in life/training.

Also as sports grow/become more popular, you get an explosion in the number of people who can teach or mentor others effectively which facilitates more rapid progress in those coming into the sport than previously seen.


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By SMR
Mar 7, 2013

20-30 years ago, climbers with enough exposure to rock and time to practice reached 5.12- relatively quickly. Just as they do now. The difference is with more gyms and more bolted routes, it is much easier for more people to get the time doing the sport to reach this level in a short amt of time.


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By Charles Kinbote
From Brooklyn, NY
Mar 7, 2013
On Waimea, 5.10d

Damn, reboot. For someone who initially poo-pood the so-called "technique argument," you seem to have done an awful lot of thinking about and analyzing movement ;)


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