My fall season ended in early November. I rested, did some ARC and jumped into strength training. Winter has been my season of strength and power. A normal season in periodized training systems includes a 3 week power endurance phase and a performance phase. However, I was curious about focusing just on strength, power, and rest during my 14 week winter season.
On the one hand, I was motivated to focus on the attributes that I lack the most (finger strength and power). On the other, I did not want to try to schedule a performance phase with the unpredictable winter weather.
So, I scheduled two mini training seasons that each focused on building strength (hangboarding) and then power (bouldering and campusing). I am in the final power cycle and here is what I learned so far:
- Don't make too sudden of a change to the types of grips you train. While warming up the other day I realized that I seldom crimp and seldom engage my thumb in order to pinch during normal climbing. In my first winter HB cycle I included both the medium and wide pinch, and I worked these grips pretty hard, and in the process tweaked my left elbow a little bit. I solved this by dropping the pinches from my workout and focusing on open hand and half-crimp.
- Don't tire yourself out needlessly. During my first power cycle I ran into a wall of strength depletion for several days after campusing. I learned that this was a result of doing too many sets of exercises on the campus board. I cut my # of sets in half to about 8, and finished my workouts feeling strong. During my second power phase I plan to keep doing more with less.
- Be patient with your body. The RCTM advocates increasing the HB weight after you complete a full set at a given weight. But I am trying to be extra patient under the assumption that muscle increases faster than connective tissue. On a practical level this means that I take extra time before increasing my HB weight, or I repeat problems I have already done instead of ramping things up every workout.
- The acceleration is more fun than the top speed. It is easy to imagine that climbing at your goal level is more enjoyable than climbing at our current level. But I think it is more likely that the enjoyment we feel comes from the climbing process itself and the reality of progressing towards goals.
- You don't need a performance cycle in your climbing season. By skipping the performance cycle I have had greater opportunity to enjoy the process and maximize the quality of my growth. This winter I have climbed outside, I have climbed indoors, and I have trained. However, every climbing day was one where I did not have any particular performance outcomes wrapped around the experience. The lack of a grand performance goal added to my enjoyment, and I think, helped my extend my slow steady process of learning and getting stronger.
Two weeks ago I repeated a 5.10a route I had first climbed 2 years ago. This time every single hold felt big, and I was comfortable to climb slowly and enjoy it. I did not send any new routes that day but I could feel and enjoy the progress that had caused that route to feel so smooth and easy.