Saturday, August 23, 2014

UPDATED: finger strength workout plan

Now with Pulleys!

I have a new plan and an improved setup:  I added pulleys, I am doing max weight hangs instead of repeaters, and I changed to a less tweaky crimp.  I had several very useful conversations online and in person, and think the new plan offers several improvements.  (link to old plan

Saturday the 23rd was my first workout for which I warmed up and climbed a brief 12 min ARC set.  And here is what I did on the hangboard:

  1. Hangboard warm up:   hang for 10 seconds on, 10-20 seconds off, on four or five of the holds on the board. 
  2. Open hand 'Warm Up #2' above.  
    1. +40 pounds
    2. 3 sets of 10 second repeaters, alternating right than left hand for 2 minutes, or 10 seconds by 6 repetitions.  3 min rest between sets.  Feet on wall.
    3. Next workout start weight (NWSW):  +45
  3. Small edge, middle area of edge
    1. +5, +8, +10 lbs
    2. 3 reps of 10 second max hangs, 3 min between reps.  NWSW: +10
  4. IMR
    1. +40, +40, +45 lbs
    2. 11, 11, 11 seconds;  NWSW:  +45
  5.   Wide pinch
    1. -40, -35, -30, -25
    2.  11, 11, 12, 8 seconds;  NWSW:  -25
  6. MRP, #2 above
    1. 0, +5, +10, +15
    2. 11, 11, 11, 11 seconds;  WSW: +15
  7. Small campus rung
    1. +40, +40, +40
    2. 9, 7, 8 seconds; NWSW:  +40
  8. Warm down on the Jug
    1. +40 lbs
    2. 3 sets of 10 second repeaters, alternating right than left hand for 2 minutes, or 10 seconds by 6 repetitions.  3 min rest between sets.  Feet on wall;  NWSW:  +45
Why? Why?  Why?
  • Why the alternating one hand repeaters with heavy weight?  For a given level of load per hand, the single handed hangs do not require nearly as much added weight as two handed hangs. Your single hand is suspending your entire upper body plus all of the added weight.  Increased strength on large open hand holds would greatly aid my performance at the Red by increasing my endurance on these routes by allowing me to hold on at a lower percentage of my total effort.  Strength increases on these holds also aid my progress on open hand grips with limited fingers because I am strengthening muscles for all fingers.  
  • Why keep your feet on the wall during your 1 handed repeaters if you are trying to add weight?   Single arm hangs feel very unstable and dangerous to my shoulders unless I keep my feet on the wall.  With feet, I am basically just doing an extended shake out on a good jug, but with lots of extra weight.  
  • Why max weight hangs for most of my workout?  The first principle of strength training on a hangboard should be to build strength by adding weight before reducing hold size.  Eva Lopez advocates for training strength with 10 sec hangs from holds at max weight, with 3 min rests between repetitions.  She has some experimental results that suggest that training max weight before reducing hold size will build strength more rapidly.  It makes sense to build overall finger strength before increasing the leverage disadvantage or reducing available fingers.  Finally, max weight hangs are far kinder on your skin. 
  • Why are you going against the suggestions from the RCTM on strength training?  Actually, I am not, I am just following more closely two of the most important principles:  make your workout specific to your goals, and the best way to increase intensity of hangs is by increasing weight.  Some really good ideas from the Anderson brothers' blog did not make it explicitly into the book, but I think it applies here.  If you are primarily climbing steep routes with larger holds you need to modify the basic plan and add lots of weight and do some one arm hangs.  see hangboarding FAQ #2
  • Why did you get rid of repeaters if they have been shown to be helpful?   I did not get rid of them, but I have moved them to later in my training sequence so that they coincide with some of my power endurance training.  Another reason for starting with max weight hangs is they will help me predict a good starting weight for repeaters.
  • Here is my current training season outline: 
    • Endurance and skill:  ARC
    • Strength: Max weight hangs
    • Power:  campus and limit bouldering
    • Power endurance:  repeaters and PE circuits. 
    • Performance phase
    • Rest  

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Finger strength training plan

My finger strength training is about to begin.  This means that I have light ARC warm ups and hangboard workouts on the horizon to the next few weeks.  [I actually changed my mind about several aspects of my strength plan, here is the updated version]  

My endurance and skill training is almost completed.  I have enjoyed the whole ARC process, and I feel that I am still gaining new technical insights.   Sadly, I did not get any outdoor mileage on any of these weekends.   A broken water line prevented that, and I lost 2 training days to ditch digging, and my elbow tendonitis was not helped by having to suddenly shovel several tons of gravel and dirt.  

However, the 50ft by 1ft by 30 inch deep trench is dug and filled in again (with help from several wonderful friends).  

On tuesday, August 19th I completed my 8th training day in my ARC session, and I have one session left for Thursday.  I only climbed 1 set of 32 minutes tonight, partly because it was very hot, even after 9 pm. 

Midwest summer climbing:   
sweat runs down your arm and washes off the chalk.

In addition to ARC I also did some preliminary hangboard hangs tonight to calibrate my starting weights and identify the grips that I want to use.    I did this to allow me to rest fully on Wednesday to give my elbows more recovery time.  

Saturday will be my first hangboard workout and I am excited to start a new training chapter.  Here is my set up, and it is imperfect but workable.  Some key details:
  • The hangboard is slightly less than 6 feet off the ground.  
    • This means that if I hang straight arm I need to lift my knees to keep them off the floor. 
  • The board is mounted on a slightly overhanging section of wall, with a slight undercut and several foothold options.
    • This setup allows me to hang freely, put my feet on the wall, or even, rest my feet on the ground.
  • There are no pulleys for taking weight off.  This is a bummer, but the space is limited so I am unlikely to add pulleys here. (Although I could mount the hangboard on the side of the campus board downstairs). 
    • My current solution is to identify which grips I can free hang and add weight, which I will use footholds and add weight, and which I need to rest my feet on the ground and then add weight.
  • It seems counter intuitive to both put your feet on holds and add weight.  However, my plan is to use the same footholds in the same way each  time, and rest the same amount of weight through my feet each set, but to add weight to my harness between set 1 and 2 for each grip.
    • Downside:  this is less precise than simply hanging all holds and using a pulley and weight to change intensity. 
    • Upside:   this is more specific training for climbing, because when you are on a route you will normally be keeping your feet on and maintaining tension through your feet and upper body.    

Based on my goals and some previous training I am trying a couple slight modifications of the RCTM hangboard recommendations.  My plan is partly a compromise between the beginner and intermediate workouts with some modifications due to the limits of my wall, and making my training more specific to my sending goals in October at the Red River Gorge.  Here is my plan in order of grips to be used, beginning with two warm up holds:
  1. In my warm up I want to simulate rest stances on two different warm up grips by putting feet on holds but adding weight on harness and alternating 10 second one arm hangs, 5 reps each arm.   Weight amounts are for set 1 and set 2.  Warm ups / rest stances
    1. Jugs, +15, +23 pounds, one arm hangs.
    2. Open hand grip on pinch holds, +8, +13 lbs, one arm hangs
This open-hand grip seems specific to RRG. 
Open hand with thumb helping but 
pinky is limited at the lip of the hold, not beyond.
  1. Six different grips for beginner duty cycle, but with two sets, and added weight from set 1 to set 2.  I prefer 2 sets to 3 because the hot humid weather makes skin pain the limiting factor.  I am not sure of an exact added weight for each of the following grips..  For these grip 1 will be a dead hang, 2,3,4 will be feet on wall, and 5,6 will be feet on floor.  
    1. Middle of large edge, 10 sec on, 5 off, 6 reps
    2. MRF 3 finger, same cycle for all remaining.
    3. Small edge, on the larger, or outer end. 
    4. IMR 3 finger.
    5. Wide pinch
    6. Small square cut "crisp" crimp.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Training for the Red on a 7 foot bouldering wall

A 5 min ARC training lap in the dojo. 
[please mute / ignore the audio]

I am training for the Red River Gorge on a very short bouldering wall.  At the tallest, the ceiling is between 5 and 7.5 feet.  What the wall lacks in height it makes up for with options for traversing.

Starting in August I have been climbing 3 days a week, and after this weekend (my 6th training day) I will have accumulated about 500 min on the wall.  After that I will have 4 more training days of endurance before I switch to strength training on the hangboard.

When training endurance or "base fitness" I normally stay on the wall for sets that last about 15 to 35 minutes, and rack up a total of 80 min per training day.  That is about all that my skin can handle with the heat and humidity of the South East Ohio summer.

The lap in the video illustrates one of the least steep routes through the room and takes advantage of rests where the ceiling is high enough to actually stand up.  Other times I do laps with big moves from big holds to work full body strength.  However, I already have good endurance on big holds and want to improve my endurance on smaller holds and less steep angles.  So I am trying to spend more time grabbing smaller holds, and resting on holds that are less than full hand jugs.

The Rock Climber's Training Manual advocates for endurance training on wall angles ranging between vertical and 30 degrees but I don't really have much terrain for that.  Hopefully, creative use of rests and using smaller holds than I had used in the past (i.e avoiding most of the jugs and using more 1st and 2nd pad holds) will offset the "too steep" limitation and help me complete some tall endurance routes at the Red this fall.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Maximize your climbing performance for October

Goal:  Flash Twinkie in October

How I am going to do it:

Time to start training for peak performance in October.  Ideally, you will have rested during the last couple weeks of July.   I did one better by driving cross country, visiting with friends and putting on extra training weight with good food and beer.

I plan to keep the muffin top through the strength phase, to maximize value of the hangboard routine.

I am back at the Dojo now, and have started my new training season.  I plan to continue the steady progress I started in the spring season by following a plan based on the Rock Climbers Training Manual by the Anderson brothers.  Here are the key steps to getting started: 
  1. Rest!  Take at least 7 days off from climbing and any training that involves pulling with your hands.
  2. Plan your season.
    1. Assess last season and identify your weaknesses.  For me: 
      1. Endurance on small to medium holds
      2. Finger strength
      3. Resting efficiency
    2. Select concrete goals.
      1. Climb "Twinkie" first try (technically not a flash, I climbed it 19 years ago)
      2. Send: Betavul Pipeline, Check Your Grip, All the Way Baby, Tissue Tiger, Gung Ho, Narcissus, Super Best Friends. . . .
    3. Schedule your season training cycles, including season highlight trips.
      1. See above.
  3. Start climbing again with your first training cycle
    1. ARC (endurance), body weight fitness and skill training.
  4.  Keep good records in your training and climbing journal.

October will be here before you know it!