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How to measure strength to weight ratio?
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Apr 18, 2013
Thank you, I finally got the attention I desperately crave. GhaMby
From Heaven
Joined Oct 2, 2006
427 points
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Apr 18, 2013
On Everleigh Club Crack.  Photo by Burt Lindquist.
Ryan Williams wrote:
So either climbing has nothing to do with strength to weight ratio, or pull-ups are a poor way to measure strength to weight.


If onsight ability is not completely determined by strength, then it has nothing to do with strength?
Doug Hemken
Joined Oct 1, 2004
5,215 points
Apr 18, 2013
Doug Hemken wrote:
If onsight ability is not completely determined by strength, then it has nothing to do with strength?


???WTF???

Onsighting has to do with a lot of things, strength is only one part of the equation. Being able to read a route, mental ability to keep it cool, endurance (which is seperate from strength), technique, and how well a route suits your style are probably more important than just strength. I for one have been known to walk up a route on TR that I would shit my pants on if I was on lead.
GhaMby
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Joined Oct 2, 2006
427 points
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Apr 18, 2013
On Everleigh Club Crack.  Photo by Burt Lindquist.
Ryan Williams wrote:
Over the last 5-6 years I have raised my onsight level by more than a number grade but ... pull-ups are a poor way to measure strength to weight.


I think what you mean to conclude is that pull-ups are a poor way to measure onsight ability.
Doug Hemken
Joined Oct 1, 2004
5,215 points
Apr 18, 2013
Cut! Sadly my flash attempt met with dismal pump-f...
This is a great question. We all have a vague sense of what we mean by "strength-to-weight ratio" but there are clearly many metrics to pick from.

First we need to define Strength. Although we often use "strong" to mean a combination of skill and physical strength, in this case let's leave skill/technique out of the equation. What are the most relevant dimensions of "strength?"

Generally speaking, the limiting factor in climbing performance is finger strength. Other muscle groups (lats, biceps, core, legs) are important, but rarely the limiting factor. The Rockprodigy school of thought might choose aerobic endurance (ARC), dead-hang max (HYP) and recruitment max (Max R) as the three fundamental dimensions of finger strength.

Endurance is complex, and has to do with aerobic fitness, climbing and technique efficiency, and ability to recover on bad holds. Let's leave that aside for now.

Recruitment is tricky to define, because it's neurological and has a lot to do with coordination. It's also incredibly difficult to measure because campusing is a complex dynamic motion. The measure would be power (force over time), but we'd probably need a high-speed camera to clock contact time and sensors on campus rungs to measure force.

That leaves the good old-fashioned dead hang. This is easy to measure, and many of us track that data long-term. As a side benefit, by tracking maximal contraction, we also indirectly track improvements to endurance, since max contraction is correlated with ability to recover on bad holds.

To narrow this further, let's focus on the half-crimp grip, since 3-finger "drag" (open-hand) is more skin-dependent and full-crimp is more about joint strength than muscle strength. The two obvious dimensions to vary are hold size and extra weight. Since hold size has a highly non-linear relationship with force applied, and is inconvenient unless you have an Eva-Lopez-style hangboard, I suggest measuring your strength in terms of total weight (body + extra).

How many reps? Well this might depend on your preferred workout, since you'll have the most data if your workout is the same as your diagnostic. However we can make this simpler by using a rough correlation (Brzyki or Lander) to calculate your theoretical one-rep maximum (1RM) for any number of reps 1.07, or about 9 percentage points. The cool thing about these numbers is they match with reality in an obvious way. When I started, I couldn't hang on the crimps without weighted assist (i.e. my strength/weight ratio was less than 1). Now I can.
Rajiv Ayyangar
From Portland, ME
Joined Jun 22, 2010
234 points
Apr 19, 2013
Polish Traverse (V5-7)
Ryan Williams wrote:
Over the last 5-6 years I have raised my onsight level by more than a number grade but the number of pull-ups I can do has been cut in half. So either climbing has nothing to do with strength to weight ratio, or pull-ups are a poor way to measure strength to weight.


All that shows is that pull ups aren't 100% correlative with onsight ability.
More importantly, it only shows evidence as applies to you.
Jon Frisby
From New York, NY
Joined Feb 24, 2013
34 points
Apr 19, 2013
trollathon! Greg Berry
Joined Aug 8, 2010
9 points
Apr 19, 2013
At the BRC
Jon Frisby wrote:
All that shows is that pull ups aren't 100% correlative with onsight ability. More importantly, it only shows evidence as applies to you.


I'd be willing to bet that Ryan's results are widely generalizable and that pull ups are at best weakly correlated with onsight ability.

Do you have any reason to believe the contrary?
Mark E Dixon
From Sprezzatura, Someday
Joined Nov 29, 2007
204 points
May 11, 2013
yaak crack Red Rock Canyon, NV
Mark E Dixon wrote:
I'd be willing to bet that Ryan's results are widely generalizable and that pull ups are at best weakly correlated with onsight ability. Do you have any reason to believe the contrary?


I can do plenty of pull-ups, but show me a 10a slab and I will shit myself.
Jon Zucco
From Denver, CO
Joined Aug 15, 2008
357 points


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