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Muscle Soreness or Lack Thereof
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By Cole Morgan
From Portland,Oregon
Apr 18, 2013

A little background to begin. I started climbing in early november, 2012 at the gym on campus. I climb a good 4-5 times a week, 1-2 hours a session and am now working on hard 4's, easy 5's and projecting some easy 6's.

For the past month or so I find that I no longer get much muscle soreness. My muscles feel fatigued the day after I climb, but I no longer get much of the stiffness and pain of sore muscles. Could this be from not climbing hard enough? Or is my body just so used to climbing that its not working my muscles hard enough? The routes I'm working on are not easy for me in any sense of the word, yet I don't feel like I'm working my muscles hard enough.

I guess my question is have I hit some sort of climbing plateau?

Thanks for any help!


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By Greg Kimble
From Colorado
Apr 18, 2013

Dude, just delete this post. You aren't going to get anything useful from it and trolls are annoying.


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By Ryan Williams
Administrator
From London (sort of)
Apr 18, 2013
El Chorro

Cole Morgan wrote:
A little background to begin. I started climbing in early november, 2012 at the gym on campus. I climb a good 4-5 times a week, 1-2 hours a session and am now working on hard 4's, easy 5's and projecting some easy 6's. For the past month or so I find that I no longer get much muscle soreness. My muscles feel fatigued the day after I climb, but I no longer get much of the stiffness and pain of sore muscles. Could this be from not climbing hard enough? Or is my body just so used to climbing that its not working my muscles hard enough? The routes I'm working on are not easy for me in any sense of the word, yet I don't feel like I'm working my muscles hard enough. I guess my question is have I hit some sort of climbing plateau? Thanks for any help!


I assume you're talking about the French grading scale. If not, then no, you are not climbing hard enough. Either way, the following will apply:

Basically, climbing 5s and 6s isn't very hard and doesn't require much strength. They are likely vertical with a lot of big holds to stand on. Every hold on a 5+ would be a rest for a climber that is climbing hard enough to need a lot of strength and power.

So in the beginning, you were not in very good climbing shape at all and probably had poor technique. It's likely that you were just hauling yourself up the wall with your arms, which is why you felt sore afterwards. Now, you have gotten your body into reasonable shape and your technique may have improved a bit, so you don't feel sore. Basically, you're using less strength to do the same moves that used to take all your strength. This is normal for someone who's been climbing for 6 months.

I'm willing to bet that if you are projecting 6a, you still climb with relatively poor technique. This is also normal, and this is why you can't do the route. No one in the world fails on a 6a because of a lack of strength or power - it's nearly always a lack of climbing technique. Learn to climb better, then you can get on routes that actually require some strength and power and you'll be sore again.

I'm not having a go at you, just telling you the truth. I know people who climb 7a that can barely do a pull-up. Your technique, or lack there of, is holding you back. Better technique will get you on harder routes and you'll again reach your strength and power thresholds which will make you sore the next day.


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By Nick K
From Somerville, MA
Apr 18, 2013

Ryan, I'm pretty sure he's talking V grades, as in bouldering.

Cole, I think you'll find that if you extend your session past 2 hours, you'll start to get muscle soreness again. I think it just takes longer to overwork your muscles once they've gotten used to climbing. That said, if you keep going 4-5 times a week, you probably shouldn't lengthen your training times.


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By Brendan Blanchard
From Strafford, NH
Apr 18, 2013
Obi Wan Ryobi - Darth Vader Crag, Rumney NH

Nick K wrote:
Ryan, I'm pretty sure he's talking V grades, as in bouldering. Cole, I think you'll find that if you extend your session past 2 hours, you'll start to get muscle soreness again. I think it just takes longer to overwork your muscles once they've gotten used to climbing. That said, if you keep going 4-5 times a week, you probably shouldn't lengthen your training times.


I've found that I had to start hangboarding to get the soreness back. What I think happened was I was reaching a general fatigue level, as well as burning through all my skin before I was close to really working my forearms.

Regardless of the grades you're climbing, I wouldn't consider hangboarding so early in your climbing.

Training wisdom (not my own) would also say drop it down to 3 harder days a week, and take those rest days.


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By Cole Morgan
From Portland,Oregon
Apr 18, 2013

Ryan, I should have clarified, I am talking about the bouldering scale. I live in northwestern USA, and everyone I climb with goes off of the bouldering scale or YDS. I guess I just assumed other people here do too. Thanks for the response though.

Nick, if I wanted to try and have longer sessions, would it be reasonable to only go 3 times a week like Brendan suggested? I feel like pushing my self this hard could be a way to get past this standstil.

Brenden, Thanks for the advice on less sessions, more time. I like that idea and I might give it a shot. But I think ill pass on the hangboard. I think I'm not quite there yet.


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By Dustin Drake
Apr 18, 2013

Your body has just adapted to the work load. It doesn't mean that you aren't getting stronger though. I guarantee if you take a week off, then go back to your current routine, you will be sore for a day or two.

As long as you still see improvements overall, keep doing what you are doing.


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By M LaViolette Jr.
From The Past
Apr 18, 2013
Wolverine on Predator (5.13b) Rumney.

Have you tried lifting weights while in a cold stream yet? Killer.


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By Cole Morgan
From Portland,Oregon
Apr 18, 2013

Dustin, I was just worried that my lack of muscle soreness meant that I no longer was getting stronger. Thanks for the info

M LaViolette, I have tried any sort of lifting. I have lifted a little in the past but I find it absolutely boring. If I need to do some sort of weight training as well as climbing, I think Ill stick to pull ups, dead hangs, lock off training, etc.

Thanks everyone for the quick advice


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By redlude97
Apr 18, 2013

Are your fingers still feeling sore/fatigued? At some point I find that becomes the limiting factor and the rest of your muscles don't get as much of a workout


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By teece303
From Highlands Ranch, CO
Apr 18, 2013
Aiding.

Climbing isn't about muscle soreness, it's about, well, climbing. If your climbing is getting better, I would not worry.

I would start roping up, though, to get on longer problems, or if you insist on pure bouldering, work some very long traverses into the routine, too.

Note, that for all people that start climbing, you WILL hit a plateau. Especially if you are really fit to begin with. At first, improvement will be very fast. At some point, you will spend a year to move up a grade or two, where when you were a beginner, you moved up six grades in that year.

This is normal. You start to run into the law of diminishing returns as you get better.


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By Ryan Williams
Administrator
From London (sort of)
Apr 18, 2013
El Chorro

Cole Morgan wrote:
Ryan, I should have clarified, I am talking about the bouldering scale. I live in northwestern USA, and everyone I climb with goes off of the bouldering scale or YDS. I guess I just assumed other people here do too. Thanks for the response though. Nick, if I wanted to try and have longer sessions, would it be reasonable to only go 3 times a week like Brendan suggested? I feel like pushing my self this hard could be a way to get past this standstil. Brenden, Thanks for the advice on less sessions, more time. I like that idea and I might give it a shot. But I think ill pass on the hangboard. I think I'm not quite there yet.


Yea man, sorry about that. I don't know why I didn't realize that myself - being stupid. Your post makes much more sense to me now.

Everyone is different but if I am climbing 4-5 days a week I am not able to do very hard workouts. If I tried, I would get inured. I save weeks like that for when I'm on holiday and can go all out, knowing that I'll have a good rest afterwards.

I'd say cut back to 2-3 times a week and focus on quality training, not quantity. Instead of just going to the gym to boulder, have specific goals in mind.

One day can be your endurance day, where you will see how many v3's you can do, taking adequate rests in between. You should be able to do 20 or so. If it's too easy, step up to v4.

Another day you can do a power endurance session, or just pure power. After warming up, work on a v6 for 20-40 min. If you want to have a pure power day, rest for 20 min then work on another v6. If you want to work on power endurance, after the rest you should be doing 4x4s.

There are loads of different workouts that you can do at your experience level. I'd hold off on campusing or hang boarding, but I can think of plenty of ways to make a v5 boulderer sore!


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By Cole Morgan
From Portland,Oregon
Apr 18, 2013

redlude97, Yes my fingers usually get sore the next day. Mostly if I work on really crimpy stuff. It does stop me once in a while if they are really sore, but for the most part it doesn't really stop me much.

Timothy, I have just recently started top roping. Hopefully it will pay off!


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By Cole Morgan
From Portland,Oregon
Apr 18, 2013

Thanks Ryan haha. I do like the idea of the different days with the specific goals. I think I might try it this next week. Thanks for the help man!


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By Nick K
From Somerville, MA
Apr 18, 2013

Cole, check out the book 9 out of 10 Climbers Make the same mistakes. It's a very informative book for developing a training program for yourself. Dave Macleod will explain far better than any paraphrasing I do, but in general he recommends more, shorter workouts of a higher intensity. Read the book, learn, and figure out how to get stronger.

If you're wondering about the dude's credentials, he has both a Masters in Physical Training or physiology (I don't remember exactly) and climbs 5.14 on gear. As mentioned earlier, you will plateau at some point and your rapid progress will stop. Don't get discouraged.

Personally, I adapt my training week to week depending on what else is going on in my life. If I know I'm getting out on rock on the weekend, I time my weekdays workouts to give me recovery time, if not, I usually get in 4 days of gym time during the week, usually 2-3 2 hour sessions, and 1-2 3+ hour sessions. I also run, and am training for longer distances, so I factor that into my planning as well.

And I eat constantly, and sleep as much as life allows, which I find are both underrated. Quality sleep makes a huge difference for me.


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By Cole Morgan
From Portland,Oregon
Apr 19, 2013

Nick, Thanks for the suggestion on the book. I always have loved a good read so I might check it out. As for the food and sleep, I get plenty of both haha. Thanks for the help


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