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Training VS Climbing
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By Mike Dudley
From Vegas
Dec 2, 2009
Cracker Jack on lead.

I know there a lot of "what should I do to train?" threads but I am trying to stay away from that...

Winter is approaching and in the past my climbing in the winter has not been to great as climbing with numb fingers and shivering blows donkey. I am sitting at the 10d - 11a range and I would like to push next spring. I plan to spend a lot more time in the gym this winter to get stronger. My question to everyone is at my climbing level would you recommend a training program with non-climbing work outs or should I just focus on hard bouldering on the plastic.

What has worked for you guys? Bouldering on the plastic this winter or set up a work out program?

Thanks for any advice! Climb hard and safe!


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By Evan S
From Erie, CO
Dec 2, 2009
Me, of course

Last year I was lifting weights, and not specifically for climbing, hard three or four days a week, and climbing two to four days in the gym. I hurt myself last spring and subsequently haven't been lifting as much, more like one or two days a week, but climbing quite a bit more and using a hangboard, and despite being 15 pounds heavier than I was before the accident I'm climbing better than I ever have in my life, just like you, hard 10 to easy 11 (outside, gym grades are soft), and seem to be very close to breaking through to the next level. I'd climb more, it's working for me.


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By Aerili
From Salt Lake City, UT
Dec 2, 2009
Duck face with Largo

Mike Dudley wrote:
My question to everyone is at my climbing level would you recommend a training program with non-climbing work outs or should I just focus on hard bouldering on the plastic. What has worked for you guys? Bouldering on the plastic this winter or set up a work out program?


Why can't you do both?

Regular gym workouts for prehab and climbing for climbing. This is what I do.


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By Evan S
From Erie, CO
Dec 2, 2009
Me, of course

Aerili wrote:
Why can't you do both? Regular gym workouts for prehab and climbing for climbing. This is what I do.


Some people have jobs and only so many free hours in a week, that's probably why. And I am NOT getting into this again with you, my input here is done, good day to you lady.


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By Brent Apgar
From Out of the Loop
Dec 2, 2009
Me and Spearhead

I'd say a combo of a couple of hours of lifting a week for general fitness and to shore up any weaknesses that you might have. Otherwise, figure out what needs the most work to get you to the solid 5.11 level and then work on that during your climbing sessions.

One piece of unsolicited advice: if you haven't spent a whole lot of time in the gym before... Be Careful and listen to how you body is doing. During the winter months it's easy to inadvertently increase your volume of climbing 2 or 3 fold if you're spending a lot of time pulling on plastic. So even if you're not trying things substantially more difficult you still need to be aware of total volume so you don't start working on developing an overuse injury.
Have fun training,
BA


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By Aerili
From Salt Lake City, UT
Dec 3, 2009
Duck face with Largo

Evan Simons wrote:
Some people have jobs and only so many free hours in a week, that's probably why. And I am NOT getting into this again with you, my input here is done, good day to you lady.

Ahahaha, nice hit and run, Mr. Simon!

As for my response, it was because I wasn't sure why the OP might pose his two options presented as mutually exclusive. Having a job isn't necessarily a reason.



Btw, Mike Dudley, you live in Tucson! Winter climbing is prime! I would know! I'm from Phoenix! So buck up. :)


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By Mike Dudley
From Vegas
Dec 3, 2009
Cracker Jack on lead.

Yeah I know the winter climbing is good but Im a puss and get cold but more so I am going to be working a ton this winter. Ill still get out on the saturdays but thinking more the weeknights and what not.

I could do both. But I really want to just crank the plastic a lot. I hit the gym a few times a week already and would love to just increase that. Just curious if people found in their training if they got more results form cross training or if just gym climbing. I dont want to just climb if ill get more results out of mixing it up.


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By Aerili
From Salt Lake City, UT
Dec 3, 2009
Duck face with Largo

Mike Dudley wrote:
I could do both. But I really want to just crank the plastic a lot. I hit the gym a few times a week already and would love to just increase that. Just curious if people found in their training if they got more results form cross training or if just gym climbing. I dont want to just climb if ill get more results out of mixing it up.


Whether standard lifting regimens help one's climbing doesn't often have an objective answer. There is no hard evidence, but I'm sure you'll find tons of people on both sides of the fence, all relaying their personal experiences through subjective analysis. What this means...depends, I guess.

Standard lifting won't improve your technique. Only climbing will. But as brentapgar mentioned, the downside to a lot of "climbing only" training (especially on plastic, imo) is the larger and larger possibility of developing overuse injuries. Hence my suggestion for prehab with regular weights. This kind of approach is standard in basically every other sport out there. Climbers always think they're different somehow, but they're not.


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By Dan S.
From Lakewood, CO
Dec 3, 2009
I was reminded by a fallen dead tree that most climbing accidents occur on the descent.

Prehab... I love it. That's pretty much what I do. My winter workouts basically consist of cranking hard 2 to 3 times per week (ropes and bouldering) and lifting weights on off days. In the gym I also throw in a fingerboard workout at the end of each gym session. As for lifting, I prefer light weight and many reps with focus on antagonist muscles. Sometimes I'll do a yoga or pilates session instead to change things up.

Now let me play this broken record. Don't forget, climbing is training. AND listen to your body. If I'm feeling totally wiped out from a gym session and my fingers are tweaking, then I take a minimum 2 days rest from actual climbing.

If you really want to get systematic or need general info on climbing to train, then I would suggest reading Eric Horst's Training for Climbing or Conditioning for Climbing. His 4-3-2-1 training is a little skewed in my opinion but in general the books provide great info for staying in shape.

Hope this helps.


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By Andrew Vojslavek
Dec 3, 2009
checking out the Maverick boulder in Clear Creek

In all honesty, 10d-11a, just keep climbing. Listen to your body, do not climb until you cannot pull anymore. Be smart, keep doing climbs you have done, but focus on foot work, body positions etc.

When I was starting out, I watched the "smooth" climbers, and tried my best to climb like them.

Hitting the gym is a great idea, do not go for bulk, it just doesn't work for climbers.

Lastly, climbing harder is about climbing smarter, and your core. Work your core as much as possible.

Just my 2 cents.


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By Dan S.
From Lakewood, CO
Dec 3, 2009
I was reminded by a fallen dead tree that most climbing accidents occur on the descent.

I second Andrew's statements. A beginner's regiment is way different than someone at your skill level.


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By Crag Dweller
From New York, NY
Dec 3, 2009
My navigator keeps me from getting lost

I think that, with any sport, it is necessary to supplement the sport itself with other activities once you reach a certain level. Some muscle groups that play a supporting role in whatever sport are not worked enough by simply doing that sport to develop them as fully as possible. Focusing on those muscle groups through activities that work them more fully will help develop the muscles so they are able to provide more support when you're climbing. Take the core, for instance. Climbing and bouldering will certainly help develop the core. But, there are better ways to do that and a strong core will help climbing significantly.


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By Ryko
Dec 3, 2009

Hangboard. The difference I notice between no hangboard and doing the Metolious 10-minute workout once or twice a week is very noticeable.


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By T.Dailey
From Avon
Dec 3, 2009
Morning #1 of 25

almost the best thing you can do in ten minutes...almost.


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By Old and Busted
From Centennial, CO
Dec 4, 2009
Stabby

Hey Aerili- I have a question for you. Probably b/c of my surfing habits I have those "get ripped in 4 weeks" bs banner ads all the time. Out of boredom I clicked on one, it was all about Nitric Oxide dilating capillaries. I am always a huge skeptic of anything promoted like this. But I am wondering if this stuff would assist while climbing by increasing blood flow and evacuating lactic acid better.

In regards to the OP, I use the winter slowdown (like now) to hit the weights. I have a regimen where I cover certain muscle groups one day, the next visit work the opposing groups. I have learned how to make most of them more climber-specific. For example, with lat pulls, I pull down in front to my abdomen and hold in a lock off for 2-3 seconds. With a 1" negative ape index and 80% of my 200 lbs. above my hips I do not have a climbers physique; thus I have to use other training to to strengthen the muscle groups that cause me to fail. It does help to a point, but too much weights will eventually hinder me.


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By chuck claude
From Flagstaff, Az
Dec 4, 2009
First climb after knee surgery <br />

Aerili wrote:
Whether standard lifting regimens help one's climbing doesn't often have an objective answer. There is no hard evidence, but I'm sure you'll find tons of people on both sides of the fence, all relaying their personal experiences through subjective analysis. What this means...depends, I guess. Standard lifting won't improve your technique. Only climbing will. But as brentapgar mentioned, the downside to a lot of "climbing only" training (especially on plastic, imo) is the larger and larger possibility of developing overuse injuries. Hence my suggestion for prehab with regular weights. This kind of approach is standard in basically every other sport out there. Climbers always think they're different somehow, but they're not.




I'm with Aerili on this one. The key of getting better and having fun is not getting hurt since getting hurt means you won't be doing either.

As for preventative workouts, remember to work the antagonist and stablizer muscles also. I've had one injury in 34 yrs of climbing since I'm pretty anal about this, but recently I've developed a tender rotator cuff (actually the infraspinatus) due to an imbalance. Not injuried and my PT allows me to climb but he is constantly reinforcing the need to do my rotator cuff (internal and external) excersizes. (Notice, this is a common complaint among climbers)

As for nitric oxide based dilitation of capillaries, the supplement is probably l-arginine (or citrulline) which is a limiting substrate for NO production via iNOS. Research out of Stanford (in work leading up to clinical studies on the administration of l-arginine to post-AMI patients - which was halted in Phase II due to a larger then normmal percentage of death among the treatment arm) shows that high doses of l-arginine does increase NO production which is responsible for vascular tone. As to prventing the pump, I really doubt it.


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By Crag Dweller
From New York, NY
Dec 4, 2009
My navigator keeps me from getting lost

Mike Lane wrote:
Hey Aerili- I have a question for you. Probably b/c of my surfing habits I have those "get ripped in 4 weeks" bs banner ads all the time. Out of boredom I clicked on one, it was all about Nitric Oxide dilating capillaries. I am always a huge skeptic of anything promoted like this. But I am wondering if this stuff would assist while climbing by increasing blood flow and evacuating lactic acid better...


Almost anything that influences the body's behavior unnaturally has unnatural side effects. Often times, the body becomes dependent on these substances to operate at baseline levels.

If you want to improve your body's ability to feed the muscles and evacuate waste, work on your cardio. Your vascular system will develop more fully and become more capable of processing lactic acid.


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By Old and Busted
From Centennial, CO
Dec 4, 2009
Stabby

One thing I do with my workouts is start out on cardio for 10-15 minutes and ramp my HR up to 130 or so, then I keep it up by totally minimizing the breaks between sets and routines; 30 seconds max between reps and 1 minute or less between sets.

I agree with you about the dependency factor, there is always an opposite reaction to all things. Performance enhancers are not an option to me, I was just curious.


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By ZachBradford
Dec 4, 2009
Sentinel boulder Moe's valley

If your in a gym start punching the numbers on the top rope/sport route. Climb until you can't on anything then climb one more. If you can start pushing the gym "12's" regularly then it will of course help your sport climbing but it will also boost your bouldering. Even while bouldering if its a hard route to have a chance at on-sighting the route you have to hang on for a while.
Thats just my opinion but last summer I was unable to climb outside and spent the whole summer in the gym climbing only hard sport/top rope my sport level increased and my bouldering on-sight level jumped 3 grades.


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By Blake Cash
Dec 4, 2009

As you can see...there are about 10 people who responded and 10 different "ways" to get stronger.

Your answer: there is no set way to get better...we're all different. climb, have fun, and you'll get better.

...and there's your 11th opinion.


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By Crag Dweller
From New York, NY
Dec 4, 2009
My navigator keeps me from getting lost

Mike Lane wrote:
One thing I do with my workouts is start out on cardio for 10-15 minutes and ramp my HR up to 130 or so, then I keep it up by totally minimizing the breaks between sets and routines; 30 seconds max between reps and 1 minute or less between sets. I agree with you about the dependency factor, there is always an opposite reaction to all things. Performance enhancers are not an option to me, I was just curious.


If you are looking for ways to further improve your body's ability to process lactic acid, you can do extended (e.g. >1 hr for upper body, 2-4 hrs for lower body) cardio workouts just below your lactate threshold (LT). Doing so creates enough lactic acid that it works your body's ability to process it but not so much that your muscles become overloaded.

The 'average' LT is around 155 bpm but it varies pretty widely from one person to the next. Mine was around 170 bpm the last time I was tested. There are a couple ways to determine your LT.

The easiest, although least accurate, way is to wear a heart rate monitor while you're working out. When you reach that awkward point where you feel like you either need to slow down or speed up, you are close to your LT. Do workouts that are ~5 bpm below that.

Or, you can get your LT tested by a coach or trainer.

I said 'if' at the beginning b/c I don't know if you are looking. Sounds like you've already put quite a bit of thought into your training and you didn't ask for suggestions. But, I thought I'd offer that up in case you were.


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By Old and Busted
From Centennial, CO
Dec 4, 2009
Stabby

I'm always interested in hearing new concepts, and that's one I haven't heard before. But I don't want to make this thread about me.


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By Aerili
From Salt Lake City, UT
Dec 4, 2009
Duck face with Largo

Mike Lane wrote:
Hey Aerili- I have a question for you. Probably b/c of my surfing habits I have those "get ripped in 4 weeks" bs banner ads all the time. Out of boredom I clicked on one, it was all about Nitric Oxide dilating capillaries. I am always a huge skeptic of anything promoted like this. But I am wondering if this stuff would assist while climbing by increasing blood flow and evacuating lactic acid better.

I haven't looked at the research on NO lately (but chuck claude seems to have posted some good info), but I would go with your gut instinct on that one. Typically the research is limited on these things (meaning no hard conclusion can be drawn), hasn't been done on humans, or the products being advertised cite research studies (if at all) that actually have nothing to do directly with their product, i.e. they like to cite research done on various components of their "formula"--but this means zip, zilch, nada about what their product will do.

Edited to add: Viagra also dilates capillaries and it's been proven through research; why don't climbers want to take some of those little pills before climbing?? :)




Crag Dweller wrote:
If you want to improve your body's ability to feed the muscles and evacuate waste, work on your cardio. Your vascular system will develop more fully and become more capable of processing lactic acid.

Most climbers are referring to forearm pump when they fantasize about being able to better dilate capillaries, but cardio won't help that much with this. Also, working on cardio is really less about "processing lactic acid" and more about increasing mitochondrial density, increasing red blood cell count and improving the ability to fully load those cells with hemoglobin to carry O2 to your muscles.

Also, there is a difference between General Anaerobic Threshold and Local Anaerobic Threshold. Forearm pump is a LAnT issue, not a GaNT issue.

As for lactate accumulation (not lactic acid!), although it seems to parallel onset of fatigue, it appears less and less likely it is the source of the cause. However, I still think employing standard "lactate threshold" training can be very beneficial, but doing it within a context of general cardio training and doing it within a context of local endurance training are two different things.


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By Mike Anderson
From Dayton, OH
Dec 4, 2009

Mike Lane wrote:
With a 1" negative ape index and 80% of my 200 lbs. above my hips I do not have a climbers physique;


What? Do you have MS? That sounds extreme.

If you are healthy, and what you say is true, then this:

Mike Lane wrote:
...but too much weights will eventually hinder me.


may already be happening.

Remember, climbing movement should be initiated in the lower body.


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By miwuksurfer
From Santa Barbara
Dec 4, 2009

What he said:

You live in Tuscon.


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By kubes
From Littleton, CO
Dec 5, 2009
One of the most amazing sport climbs ever. Caveman (5.11d) on Thaiwand Wall, Tonsai, Thailand. The move above where I am is the crux, but stays pretty sustained the rest of the way. Awesome exposure and excellent moves the whole way.

For the first couple months of any training program, the vast majority of strength gains are due to neurological adaptations (i.e. our nervous system gets better and more efficient at activating individual muscle cells within each muscle in a more effective way). After these first few months strength gain is due to increased muscle size along with continued improvement to neural activation of muscle cells. Because so much strength gain is due to neurological adaptations, an important concept is that of specificity of the type of exercise to what someone is training for. With climbing, we are literally creating better neural activation of climbing specific muscles, and therefore making these muscles perform better for climbing.


The concept of specificity also plays a role in how our actual muscle cells adapt to exercise. Different types of exercise cause different types of changes within each muscle cell. The type and magnitude of adjustments to muscle cell properties such as mitochondrial density, gycolytic enzyme capacity, myosin heavy chain isoform gene expression, and capillary density are all dependent on what type of exercise is being performed regularly.


In other words, to get the physiological adaptations that are best for climbing, you should climb. If you want the physiological adaptations that are best for lifting weights (which are a bit different than those wanted for climbing), lift weights.


With this said, as others have said, be sure not to overdue it with gym climbing, it's not worth getting an overuse injury. Weight lifting is better than not working out at all, and it's a good way to work antagonistic muscles, which need to be strengthened to avoid injuries due to strength imbalances. Frequent running or some sort of cardio workout is very important to increase overall cardiovascular performance.


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