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Training Plan for Bouldering Only
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By blox
Jan 31, 2012

My current climbing goals are only in bouldering and I wanted to get some opinions on the right way to go about training. For some background - I've been climbing for a long time (about 14 years), progressed fairly quickly at first, plateaued around V5-6 for a while, got a bit stronger, got injured, came back, and about a year ago managed to climb a few V9s outside and lots of 8s. I feel like I've plateaued again, so I'm looking into trying something different and having a more structured training plan.

I have access to a great climbing gym, weight gym, campus board, hangboard...pretty much all of the resources I could ask for. The main outdoor seasons are spring and fall, though I can pretty much boulder outside year round, with some suboptimal temps in the summer.

My technique (relative to people climbing around my level) is good. Definite weaknesses are flexibility and power endurance. I feel like more shoulder and lock-of strength would be helpful. Core and fingers can never be strong enough. I typically climb 3 or 4 days a week and feel like I get close to injury when I push it past 4 sessions in a week. I also have a tendency to not stop when fresh, but am trying to work on that.

The question is how to put it all together. Is the standard HYP/RECRUITMENT/PE/REST schedule the right one for a boulderer? Even if it is, I struggle with fitting the actual bouldering into the mix with all of the hangboard, weighted pullup, campusing and circuit work.

For what it's worth, the climbers I see climbing V12 and up just seem to boulder a lot and alternate short limit problems with longer problems in a pretty haphazard way.....


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By Brendan N. (grayhghost)
From Salt Lake City, Utah
Feb 1, 2012

This blog poster seems to have some similar goals. One thing that has helped me a lot is sub-maximal intensity bouldering. Warmup, then pick 15 problems that you have either flashed or think you can flash and complete them with as much rest as you need between problems. Resting 3-4 minutes seems to yield a reasonable workout time. The first 5 problems will feel too easy and you will want to step it up. Don't. By 10 problems you will feel tired, and the last 3 will be an epic struggle if you have picked the problems correctly. This workout will give you more meaningful attempts on your projects on those sacred days when you are able to get outside.


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By Brian S
Feb 1, 2012

It sounds like a you're missing a meaningful goal. Training plans to "just get better" often have low compliance. What inspires you about bouldering? Get specific. What you should then do follows from that inspiration.

I have a bias towards structured climbing as best method to improve climbing. Sport specific strength and conditioning is important but secondary to actual climbing. Instead of just climbing the newest arbitrarily set problems or fingerboarding, I have a plan before I get to the gym. That plan outlines the individual elements I will work on (e.g., improving heelhooks, working limit level moves, or increasing the number of problems I can flash at certain grade). I climb (a lot) but it with a goal in mind.

Different plans work for different people. I wouldn't spend anytime thinking about what other "V12 climbers" are or aren't doing or climbing more than what you already know is best for your own body.


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By blox
Feb 1, 2012

I have specific, meaningful (to me) goals - they're boulder problems outdoors that I can't climb yet. My failure on them to date is a result of a blend of deficiencies in one or a combination of finger strength, shoulder strength, core tension, power endurance and/or flexibility.


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By Brian S
Feb 2, 2012

Another way to get at specific limiters is modeling the people who have sent the problems. For example, most people high-step at the crux on one of my projects, but every time I high-step at the crux, my hips shift away from the rock. That hip shift spits me to the ground. There is a gap between my current open hip mobility and the open hip mobility that would be helpful to send the problem. Lately, I have been choosing to focus on open hip mobility in my training.

I'm unclear where you are relative to where you want to go. For the sake of the discussion, it would helpful to pick a single boulder problem and try to understand what the specific limiter is.


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By Brendan Blanchard
From Strafford, NH
Feb 2, 2012
Obi Wan Ryobi - Darth Vader Crag, Rumney NH

blox wrote:
I have specific, meaningful (to me) goals - they're boulder problems outdoors that I can't climb yet. My failure on them to date is a result of a blend of deficiencies in one or a combination of finger strength, shoulder strength, core tension, power endurance and/or flexibility.


Come again?


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By blox
Feb 2, 2012

I like that suggestion, Brian. I've been trying to mimic crux moves that I fall on lately, or at least try problems that address similar limiters. I think the ultimate aspect of training in the gym that I struggle with is finding the right balance of training different energy systems or, even more simply, putting enough time in on limit-level moves while not losing fitness by only projecting.


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By blox
Feb 2, 2012

Brendan Blanchard wrote:
Come again?


Some boulder problems have more than a couple of moves...why is this confusing?


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By Brian S
Feb 3, 2012

In my experience, thinking about energy systems creates "paralysis of analysis." Your body will figure out which energy system to use. Instead I focus on the specific elements that are keeping me from sending. I categorize them as mental, technical, or physical. I get the greatest return on investment for mental and technical improvements, since those adaptions are fastest. I don't neglect physical limiters but it takes longer to see those adaptions.

Unless someone is a rank novice, if they chase two rabbits (limit-level moves & "fitness") they will catch neither.


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By slim
Administrator
Feb 3, 2012
tomato, tomotto, kill mike amato.

blox, what style of climbing are the boulder problems (ie heinous crimping, sloper slapping, pebble pinching, etc). i think this would greatly dictate how to go about training for them.


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By blox
Feb 3, 2012

The top 3 goals for the year are quite different.

The first has fairly good holds, the two hard moves are a really big lock-off on decent crimps to start and then a very wide span off of a good sidepull (or a hard fall into an undercling to shorten the span). Here is a video:



The second is a 12 move problem with dynamic frontal moves, almost all of the holds are crimps of various sizes. The first move is the crux - a hard deadpoint, but it doesn't let up too much after that. I've done all of the moves but have pumped out on the last hard bit.

The third problem is Stained Glass in the Buttermilks. Really small crimps in a faint dihedral. Great video here:


My issue with this one is getting to the last left hand in control. I have a hard time establishing my feet - clearly a flexibility problem, but feeling more solid on the crimps would definitely help.

The plan right now is to do the first one in March, second over the summer and then Stained Glass in the late fall.


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By blox
Feb 3, 2012

Brian S wrote:
Unless someone is a rank novice, if they chase two rabbits (limit-level moves & "fitness") they will catch neither.


I've been feeling that way recently. Do you suggest focusing on one for a few weeks and cycling to the other? Great blog BTW....


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By Brian S
Feb 4, 2012

Thanks.

I would focus on other things than the length of cycles at this point.

If your first goal is sending Acid Wash by March, where are you now relative to sending? How often can you climb on it?


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By blox
Feb 6, 2012

I can probably make it to Bishop for two weekends in March, so I have a few weeks of mostly gym climbing before then. I worked on it at the end of a long couple of days climbing and did all of the moves except for the weird first dropknee lock-off move.


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By Brian S
Feb 6, 2012

Given those variables, I had great success in a similar situation by setting three simulators of a project:
1) Slightly Easier (To practice the general movement and length. Trying to stay in the sending mindset)
2) Exact Replica (As a benchmark for testing)
3) Slightly Harder (To improve specific threshold bouldering)

I would make a tactical plan for the send days (e.g., plan on the best time of day and the precise warm-ups).

Since you said/implied mobility is an issue, check out -www.cathletics.com/media/video/section.php?sectionID=2

It would be cool if you posted what you did and how it worked!


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