Thursday, January 26, 2017

Drop sets?

Fred Nicole demonstrates the dangers of forearm hypertrophy. . . 

Last week it occurred to me that you could use the variable depth edge rail on the RPTC to perform a version of a drop set workout.  Drop sets or stripping sets involve immediately repeating an exercise with slightly lower resistance several times, culminating with failure at a much lower resistance but a feeling of great intensity / difficulty.

I experimented with this type of workout for hangboarding at the end of my workout by hanging from the smallest part of the small VDER that I could manage till near failure (~6 seconds) then I moved inward one finger width and immediately hung till near failure again.  I repeated all the way in to the center, resumed on the large SVDR until, at the end, I was failing from the largest part of the large VDER.  That effort combined a feeling of max effort with confronting the my limits of suffering.

I found a decent description of drop sets related to bodybuilding:

I knew them as "stripping sets" since reading Arnold's Encyclopedia of Bodybuilding as a kid. [lol--  thankfully I did not quite end up as a musclebound monster]  Anyways, I did remember that when doing dropsets I would experience a sensation of a good but intense deep down muscle soreness afterwards.   Also, when doing these I tend to get a combination of pumped and max effort muscle failure.

I put this together with the insights that (A) finger/forearm strength is a personal climbing weakness (B) certain prominent high finger-strength climbers have large forearms and (C) it might be safer for tendons to push limits of muscular failure on loads that are far from ones actual limit.

All that being said I have no idea if these are actually a sufficiently beneficial use of training time.  The claims in the linked article are anecdotal assertions from a body building perspective. However, a lot of time all we have is a collection of anecdotes and a willingness to try.

The premise that they are high intensity workouts seems undeniable.  If a set goes well I finish with an amazingly intense feeling of forearm/finger failure under a load that feels like it ought to be easy.   Afterwards I get what might be described as a deep muscular burn (in a good way).

Obviously you could also do drop sets from a single grip if you could rapidly lower your added weight in increments.   The article mentions several flavors of drop set patterns some of which could be used with a hang board and weights.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Great new additions at Betafish!

Current moon / kilter hybrid set up:
Betafish and Climb Athens 

Big thanks from Syd and all of us at Betafish/Climb Athens to 
Tony Reynaldo at Kinetic Climbing and Fitness for hooking us up with a great deal 
on a ton of "pre-experienced" holds.  

Monday, December 12, 2016

Bouldering Season is building: Fall 2016/Winter 2017

In October I gave up on my RRG climbing goals and shifted my focus to a couple NRG trips, and mainly, to bouldering.   I decided that the key missing ingredients for me were "psyche" and bouldering power.

For those familiar with the guidebook at the Dojo I moved into new territory-- ticking off my first problems in the V7 range, and generally started being able to climb V5's like I used to climb V4's and to send V6's much more easily.  

My goals through the winter are to just keep consolidating in the V5/6/7 range with a wider array of ascents, quicker work, anti-style problems.  ETC.   I also hope to visit the Chatt area, and to help develop some more problems in SE Ohio.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Blues Clues Traverse

This rest comes at the end of about 40 hand moves and involves one incut roof hold, a medium campus rung, a 1/4 inch deep foot chip as a heel hook on an arete, and a smear on the opposing side of a pine 2X4.

The problem is called the Blues Clues Traverse and it is marked with footholds only.  It becomes a choose your own adventure route, and identifying which hand holds facilitate the best movements is a big part of the difficulty.  The problem is rated 12b or V6, which I am not sure is really accurate.  It feels easier to me at this point, but it can also feel impossible to folks who, based on the numbers, ought to be able to do it.  Regardless it presents interesting challenges that teach about how to activate body positions and movement with somewhat small footholds.

The problem is primarily constructed from Ian Powell's "Sandstone Chips" which he designed several years ago, but I have not seen better technical foot chips (get them from eGrips!).  The chips have some subtle attributes which I try to take advantage of by placing them at angles that make it harder to use the preferred surface.

The day after climbing this again I could feel sore muscles in my shins from maintaining tension on the holds.  Generally I would say that this type of route offers a valuable alternative to the big and crude footholds common in indoor gyms these days.  For climbers who have gotten strong through indoor bouldering outdoor problems can be a shock because the footholds can be so small, technical, and strangely placed.   This route anticipates the devious routefinding and technical foot kung foo of harder outdoor problems.

Climbing is both a strength and a skill activity.   You need to be strong and know what to do with your whole body.  If your home gym has an area with a dense hold array you should consider setting problems with technically challenging foot options and open hands.

Here is a video of the traverse, and following that, a tour of the footholds in the order that they appear on the route.

The footholds

Monday, September 19, 2016

Cool things are afoot in Athens!


Coming soon to Athens Ohio!   (but only if you get involved and help make it happen)
Climbers living in Athens, Ohio have long dreamed of having a great climbing resource in town (like this new bouldering gym in Leiden, Germany).  But the unfortunate reality is that these amazing modern bouldering gyms are usually the product of investors who see a great money making opportunity.  Athens is too small of a market for that.   
However, there is a different model, one based on the community getting together to pool resources and build a great gym that is for the community and provided by the community.  The best example is the Slo-Op in San Luis Obispo, California.  This gym grew from a home bouldering wall located in a storage facility into two locations with hundreds of members.  See the Slo Op page.

To make the Slo Op happen they focused on building community, leveraging the resources that they already had, and organizing as a non-profit social club.  That is what we at Climb Athens are doing now for Athens, but to do that, we need your help.  

Become a member of the community and support the effort.
  1. Climbers and parents of young climbers who live in and around Athens, Ohio.  Join Climb Athens ($20 lifetime membership) and pay for an access pass to boulder at The Dojo and Beta Fish for the next 9 months.  The membership and access pass will allow you to participate in Climb Athens events and help build our supportive and vibrant climbing community.  Climb Athens plans for a regular schedule of 2 nights per location each week.  A limited number of access passes are available for Fall 2016.  We are seeking 20-25 student members ($100 access pass) and 20-25 adult members ($150 access pass).
  2. Athens Climbers in exodus who have dispersed around the globe!  Support Climb Athens with an Alumni membership including: a lifetime membership so you can come back and climb some day, two day passes, a swank Climb Athens t-shirt, and the opportunity to participate in the planning and discussion online in the Climb Athens Facebook Group.  The Alumni Access pass costs $50.
  3. Community investors who can contribute to building more healthy and fun options for recreation in Athens Ohio.  Contact Ted and Bryant about our money raising goals, business plan and our opportunities/limitations as a non-profit social club.  In short, our money can come solely from membership fees and non-interest bearing personal loans.  The only profit from this venture will be the increase in the quality of life Climb Athens can bring to our little corner of the world.      

About us:    
Climb Athens is a community based non profit climbing company.  It was founded in September of 2016 by Ted Welser and Bryant Noble.  We are running Climb Athens as a nonprofit social club acting under the provisions of the 501(c)(7) federal tax code.  This designation means that at least 85% of our operating budget must come from members (dues and access fees) and that our programs must serve the interests of those members rather than provide profit for investors or anyone else.  This strategy makes Climb Athens a type of “community sourcing” organization that exists because of the contributions of members, for the benefit of those members.  
Our Mission:
  1. Build a supportive, cooperative learning community for climbers of all levels to develop their skills and character.
  2. Establish high quality, accessible, and inspiring climbing facilities in Athens Ohio.
  3. Organize events for members to socialize and participate in the activities of bouldering, climbing, training, and recreation related to climbing and bouldering.
  4. Encourage healthy, lifelong active lifestyles through bouldering and climbing.
  5. Advocate for climbing and a healthy, active lifestyle locally across Athens County, and more broadly across the Appalachian region.
  6. Such other purposes and activities as are both lawful and in accord with the above stated General Purposes.

Our plan for growth:
Phase 1: Build core membership.   In Autumn 2016 we aim to build a core of dedicated members, formally establish the organization with LLC and 501c7 status, and purchase gymnastic mats and climbing holds.  Because Climb Athens does not yet have a climbing facility, we will work cooperatively with community members to provide benefits to members.  This includes arranging regular access to existing home bouldering walls, taking local bouldering tours, and offering skill and training workshops.     
We estimate that we will need 40 to 50 local members who have also paid the 9 month access fee for fall 2016 through Spring 2017.  If we reach our goal of 40 active members then we will be able to offer 2 regular weekly climbing events at The Dojo and two at Beta Fish, in addition to special events like bouldering tours and competitions.  
Phase 1 resources: Climb Athens is utilizing two home bouldering walls as climbing resources during our initial phase of organization.  
The Dojo is a garage attic bouldering gym with steep walls, low ceilings, 425 square feet of climbing surface, and about 1500 climbing holds.  There are about 90 different marked boulder problems ranging from V0 to V10.  The Dojo also has two hang boards and a campus board.  
Beta Fish is in the corner of a very large garage with a 12ft tall ceiling.  The main walls include an 8ft wide 40 degree wall with overhanging aretes, a 20 degree wall, and a couple dihedrals.  The 40 degree wall includes a Moon / Kilter hybrid board allowing for both extremely difficult problems and easier juggy ones too.  Beta Fish also has two hangboards.  
Phase 2: Build a bouldering gym.  In Summer of 2017 we plan to rent a commercial space and build a bouldering gym in Athens Ohio.  We will fund the startup costs primarily from pre-sale of annual passes and personal loans from community members who want to support active and healthy lifestyle options in Athens Ohio.  During Phase 2 we will expand our membership, greatly extend the hours of availability for the Climb Athens gym and expand the instructional programs to include a youth climbing club.  
Join Climb Athens

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Fall 2016 Training Plans

Link for those who want to copy format of the google sheet.

I am finishing up a mini-season of strength training, and then I will go into a week of rest from climbing until my Autumn season officially starts on August 13th.

I am planning for a climbing season starting at the end of September, peaking in November and concluding before Thanksgiving.  Hopefully we will have plenty of crisp Autumn days before the snow falls.

I made great progress this summer, which added onto my spring progress on the hangboard.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Building a Moon^Kilter Hybrid Board

This was our Moon^Kilter hybrid board before the 55 Kilter holds arrived.  
(showing an old set up Ben Moon #4, A and B)  

Moonboards are awesome, and the online problem set is super fun and motivating.  The app is a great way to share problems, and we really enjoy trying problems from folks around the world.  However, Moonboards have four major shortcomings which the Moon^Kilter Hybrid Board solves.
  1. The T-Nut Grid is too sparse.  
  2. The hold types are limited in style and size
  3. There are no easy problems (V4 and harder only)
  4. Moonboards are good for training power, but not for warming up, PE or endurance work.
Our hope is that our Moon^Kilter Hybrid can become a prototype that encourages Moon and Kilter to team up to create a board with an expanded grid, with more varied holds, and a wider range of problems.  This will greatly expand the range of climbers who can enjoy the board, and the ways they can train on the board.

Solution #1:  The Moon^Kilter Hybrid adds 180 more t-nuts, centered in 12 columns, and 15 rows.  You can see the holes centered in the moon grid here (pencil lines).

(Arrows mark the additional 5 rows per sheet across 12 columns)

Solution #2:  The Hybrid adds awesome holds from Kilter that extend the variety of hold types without blocking access to other holds on the board.

Here are the 7 Kilter sets that we added in the blue "easy" group: 

(Top Left) Noah Small 5              Winter XL 1 (Right)
  Rounded Crimps;                             Slugs

 Noah Large 5- Overjugs,               Winter Large 5- Jugs

Noah Medium 17- Mini Jugs,      Winter Small 9 Two pad incuts 

                            (Bottom Right) Teagan Medium 1- Mini Jugs

We are planning another group of sets in red for the "medium" difficulty.   We will move the Noah Small 5 to the red medium group, and add another set each of Winter XL 1 and Winter Large 5 to the blue group. We plan to order the sets for the red group this fall.

Solution #3:   Create easier problems, with different types of holds and movements.  Here is a photo of a climber on a V1 problem with any feet.    Eventually it would be cool to be able to include the additional holds and problems into the app with options for foothold restrictions, wider grade range and problem types.

Solution #4:   The Moon/Kilter Hybrid board is much better than the standard Moonboard for training.  We can do all of the power problems we want using the standard Moon problems, but we can add in power problems with slopers, rounded edges and small incuts and pinches.  But we can also warm up on comfortable jug hauls, develop power endurance cycles, or hop on the board for 50 move endurance rigs.  We can practice giant cranks from juggy underclings, and latch slopey dynos on smooth jugs.

Current moon / kilter hybrid set up using the 2016 setup with the Moon yellow, white, and black plus the blue Kilter holds:

Big thanks from Syd and all of us at Betafish/Climb Athens to Tony Reynaldo at Kinetic Climbing and Fitness for hooking us up with a great deal on a ton of "pre-experienced" holds.