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By mike cork
From Atlanta, GA
Mar 10, 2011
Mike on Yellow Arete, Boat Rock, Atlanta, GA
I'm not doing a dedicated ARC phase, but instead am working some sessions into my regular training. I've been doing a single 45 minute session 2 times a week on my "off" days (no other climbing) in the gym. I've read that to make significant gains from ARC training one should try to do at least 5 ARC workouts in a week...I can't see myself putting in 4 hours a week of traversing, so a few questions:

1) Will I still get some benefit from the two sessions / week that I'm doing, or is it a waste of time? My skin would certainly be happy to drop the routine.
2) Is a single 45 minute session better than two shorter, say 30 minute, sessions with a 30 minute break in between?
3) Instead of doing this training on my "off" days, would I get comparable results just by doing a 20-30 minute "warmup" and/or "cool down" on my regular training days?

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By Mike Anderson
From Dayton, OH
Mar 10, 2011
I've read that to make significant gains from ARC training one should try to do at least 5 ARC workouts in a week.


Where did you read that? That is inconsistent with my experience. Five days per week of ARC is also impractical and gets at the problem with "most" training literature in that they are heavy on theory and light on practically implementable training routines.


1) Will I still get some benefit from the two sessions / week that I'm doing, or is it a waste of time? My skin would certainly be happy to drop the routine.


I get benefit from 2 sessions/week, so I know it is possible, and not a waste of time. However, skin is a big issue, and shouldn't be taken lightly. If your skin is not recovering in time for your next hard workout or performance day, then the ARCing may be counterproductive. Is it possible to ARC on holds that are more polished?


2) Is a single 45 minute session better than two shorter, say 30 minute, sessions with a 30 minute break in between?


I don't know, and I doubt there is any relevant (to climbing) research on the subject. Anecdotally, I typically opt for the 2x30min with 10-30 minutes rest. I've found this to be effective. On the other hand, when I was a runner, we only did one long (35-40 min) set, and that was it, but it was very exhausting. I think some of the best training you can do, that benefits you physcially, technically and mentally is to do ARC leading in a gym. Tie in, and up and downclimb (unclipping as you downclimb so you can climb up a different route) on a lead wall for 30 minutes, then swap with your belayer. You get two sets with a 30 minute break. This really helps you practice relaxed lead climbing, clipping, resting, etc, and helps you "stress proof" new movement techniques you are working on, that you would have been practicing during your normal ARC sessions. The trick may be finding lead routes easy enough.


3) Instead of doing this training on my "off" days, would I get comparable results just by doing a 20-30 minute "warmup" and/or "cool down" on my regular training days?

Yes and no. There can be benefit to ARCing at the end of your normal workout, but there is a limit to how much worthwhile work you can do in one day. I find that after a good bouldering session or hangboard workout that I just don't have enough gas in the tank. As it is, with a warmup, the workout, supplemental exercises (situps, dips, etc.), then icing afterwards my HB workout is between 3-4 hours, and at that point I'm out of time and energy. Plus, my kids always limit the amount of time I can spend in the gym. Perhaps you have a situation more favorable to training :) In general, your regular training days should be focused on the main goal of the day, and not watered down by other things, but if that is the only way to fit it in, and you have time, ARCing at the end of a training day can be effective. It will certainly help you recover faster from the workout, but you have to be extra careful not to overdo it, or you risk ruining the original workout.

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By Will S
From Joshua Tree
Mar 10, 2011
Thanks Mike, good info.

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By mike cork
From Atlanta, GA
Mar 10, 2011
Mike on Yellow Arete, Boat Rock, Atlanta, GA
Mike Anderson wrote:
I've read that to make significant gains from ARC training one should try to do at least 5 ARC workouts in a week. Where did you read that? That is inconsistent with my experience. Five days per week of ARC is also impractical and gets at the problem with "most" training literature in that they are heavy on theory and light on practically implementable training routines.



Mike - glad I was able to get your response...i've probably read your "making of a rock prodigy" article a dozen times. Per the above, that was from "The Self Coached Climber" : "Your local endurance will improve much more quickly if you do five or more ARCs per week" (pg 141). It goes on to say "Once you can ARC for forty-five minutes, you can reduce the number of sessions per week." This second statement makes little sense as anyone (in semi-decent climbing shape) could climb for 45 minutes at SOME level. I would guess I can ARC at 5.10+/11- for 45 minutes. My current redpoint ability is mid 5.12. Does that point to a weakness / imbalance in your opinion, or pretty inline with expectations at that grade?

thanks,
mike

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By Mike Anderson
From Dayton, OH
Mar 10, 2011
SCC is a good book, but with any book there is always a disconnect with theory and practice, and that excerpt is a good example.

Your ARCing level seems good to me, but it's very hard to judge based on ratings. I wish there was a simple formula. If you climb mid 5.12, that could mean many things. At the Red, mid-5.12 may have no moves on it harder than V2 (i.e. Ale 8, Mercy the Huff). At a crag like Smith, mid 5.12 could have moves as hard as V5 or V6. That's not to say one crag is harder than another, just different styles.

Furthermore, what do you mean when you say you ARC at 5.11-? Does that mean you could do laps on a 5.11- route continuously, or does it mean you can do 5.11- moves continuously? Consider that a 5.11- route may be a lot of 5.10- moves stacked together, or 5.9 with a V1 or V2 crux. One may be easier to ARC than the other.

For me, I would speculate that I could ARC on routes about a full number grade (four letters) lower than my onsight ability. Meaning, If I onsight 13a, I could climb a 5.12a up and down continuously, assuming the 12a was sustained and not cruxy. Keep in mind, that is "onsight" ability, so I would suspect you could redpoint even harder.

Think about the implications of that: If a 5.12c is basically a 5.12a with a harder crux, then the ability to ARC 12a means you would be able to climb up to the crux without getting too pumped, and after the crux, you would be able to recover quickly. So, assuming you can quickly figure out and execute the crux, the ability to ARC 12a makes onsighting 12c pretty "easy", without even getting very pumped. Then, harder onsights, say up to 13a, would be possible with a bit more pump, and luck with picking the right route. That's why ARCing is so helpful. Once you get on a route where the majority of moves are beyond the anaerobic threshold and there are no really good rests, that's when the chance of onsighting gets very low, or impossible, and redpointing will require having the route wired and sprinting through the moves, racing the Anaerobic energy system.

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By Mike Anderson
From Dayton, OH
Mar 10, 2011
JLP wrote:
You are not learning technique, ... You are not stressing your body enough to adapt to anything.


These statements are not true. Maybe when YOU workout, YOU are not learning technique. Maybe your technique is perfect, but I know many climbers who climb at a very high level that still make gains in technique, and they make them through ARCing. If you ARC correctly, you are stressing the body, but it's subtle, and you have to pay attention.

Then you said:

A mix of interval lengths and difficulties is best, IMO. At the least, it's less boring. Taking from the running analogy used often here, in most 12 week training plans you find, a specific workout is rarely repeated - maybe 2-3x max - even though you're doing the same kind of workout on the same day every week

Interesting theory. First, I disagree that running workouts don't repeat that much. Through (basically) dumb luck I trained under a very good coach who was himself in the Olympic Trials and coached other athletes to that level. We would do 6-8x 1 mile repeats every week for something like 8 weeks straight during the meat of our Cross Country seaon. However, let's say you are right, and in running it's good to change up the workout all the time. Running is very repetitive, so while the workout durations and intensities may be changing, you are doing the same movement ad naseum. Compare with climbing, where every move is different. There are 37 muscles in each forearm, all used to different degrees on different moves. So every climb you do is "mixing it up", the lengths and numbers of sets are just contrived groupings of the movements you are doing. As a climber, going through typical climbing, your body doesn't need more mixing it up, it needs more stability. Therefore, when you have the chance to train, you should seek stability as much as possible. Then, when you are out climbing, you will "mix it up" plenty.

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By Mike Anderson
From Dayton, OH
Mar 10, 2011
I'm curious, have you tried ARCing and found it didn't work for you?

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By Mike Anderson
From Dayton, OH
Mar 10, 2011
JLP wrote:
EDIT - I can say I was an arcing fiend in my 1st 5 yrs of climbing. Loved doing lap after lap in the gym on 10's and glowing in the attention I would get from all the 5.8 climbers. I had good endurance - for 5.6's in the mountains. The guys focusing their time on power and power endurance workouts got WAY better than me, way faster.


Got better at what, exactly? I bet you have much better footwork than those guys. When I see beginners (people in their first couple years of climbing) doing nothing but working on boulder problems that are hard for them, or trying to get up the "red" route, I see people with really bad movement skill pulling too much with their weak arms and flailing their feet everywhere. I tell all beginners I meet to spend their time mostly climbing stuff that feels too easy, developing the right foot and leg work. I would say I have above average footwork, and I got it from ARC-like training, not from hard bouldering.

I'm not saying you should ARC at the exclusion of everything else...far from it, but I think your contention that it has no value whatsoever is plain wrong. I, personally, have made massive strides in my onsight ability in the last year or so, which is remarkable considering my longevity with trianing and I attribute it mostly to ARC training (granted it's difficult to establish causation). Obviously you think it didn't help you, and I believe strongly you have to tailor training to your own body, so if it doesn't work, don't do it. I'm curious what type of climbs you do mostly? When I lived in CO and climbed at Shelf and Penitente a lot, I also thought ARCing was a waste of time, and I think I was right, for that type of climbing (basically roped bouldering). Now that I climb mostly at the Red, I have realized the value of it.

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By Ben Cassedy
From Denver, CO
Mar 10, 2011
IP
Kris Hampton did a recent write up on ARC

powercompanyclimbing.com/2011/...

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By slim
Administrator
Mar 10, 2011
tomato, tomotto, kill mike amato.
Mike's comments mirror my experience pretty much verbatim. I don't think a person improves a lot technically by throwing themselves at boulder problems. In my experience, learning or refining a technique at an easier level, and then applying it gradually to more difficult terrain has always been more effective.

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By mike cork
From Atlanta, GA
Mar 10, 2011
Mike on Yellow Arete, Boat Rock, Atlanta, GA
Mike Anderson wrote:
Furthermore, what do you mean when you say you ARC at 5.11-? Does that mean you could do laps on a 5.11- route continuously, or does it mean you can do 5.11- moves continuously?


Good point...instead of talking about ARCing in terms of route grades (where there can be significant differences (hard moves vs. straight endurance) between routes at the same grade), perhaps it makes more sense to reference bouldering grades, i.e. "I can do V1 moves indefinitely" vs. "I can climb 5.10 indefinitely."

as for the type of climbing I do, mostly slight to severely overhanging sandstone in the TN region, mostly sport, but a good amount of trad, too. I've definitely noticed that being able to "hang out" and recover on trad lines is a great advantage...whether that's due to ARC or PE training I don't know...

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By jt512
Administrator
Mar 10, 2011
Jay Tanzman redpointing Lethal Weapon. <br />Photo by Hillary Davis.
Mike Anderson wrote:
I think some of the best training you can do, that benefits you physcially, technically and mentally is to do ARC leading in a gym. Tie in, and up and downclimb (unclipping as you downclimb so you can climb up a different route) on a lead wall for 30 minutes, then swap with your belayer.


Heh. I was belaying Douglas Hunter once while he ARC lead-traversed the gym, climbing randomly up, down, and across, keeping two bolts clipped behind him. This totally freaked out the 20-year-old gym employee. She'd never seen anything like it, and ordered him to come down "immediately." I'm like, "No, it's ok. He really knows what he's doing."

Jay

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By Mike Anderson
From Dayton, OH
Mar 10, 2011
Jay Tanzman wrote:
Heh. I was belaying Douglas Hunter once while he ARC lead-traversed the gym, climbing randomly up, down, and across, keeping two bolts clipped behind him. This totally freaked out the 20-year-old gym employee. She'd never seen anything like it, and ordered him to come down "immediately." I'm like, "No, it's ok. He really knows what he's doing." Jay


Yeah, some gyms frown on "down-leading" because they lack the ability to think critically.

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By David Barbour
From Denver
Nov 21, 2012
What is the significance of climbing for 30 minutes? If I climb routes that are 10-20 minutes long, should I reduce my sets to that amount of time?

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By Brendan N. (grayhghost)
From Salt Lake City, Utah
Nov 21, 2012
David Barbour wrote:
What is the significance of climbing for 30 minutes? If I climb routes that are 10-20 minutes long, should I reduce my sets to that amount of time?

30 minutes is where you see forearm adaptation / capillarization. It has little to do with the length of your goal routes. Talking with Douglas recently, it seems that 20 minutes produces the same results as longer sets so we have been doing 20 minutes more frequently.

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By Will S
From Joshua Tree
Nov 21, 2012
Brendan N. (grayhghost) wrote:
it seems that 20 minutes produces the same results as longer sets



What is the data backing this up? I know he trains people, but how does DH puport to measure the "results" of ARC and in particular 20m vs 30m?

Just finished the 4th and final ARC workout of my phase a couple days ago after not doing a dedicated ARC phase for about 18 or 24mo. I used (and have always used) 2x 30min sets, and one thing I've always noticed is that the last 10min always feels different/harder. I would intuitively expect that those last 10 are valuable because they feel different, but maybe not...I also intuitively expected that more sets on something like bench press would produce better results but research points out that the diminishing returns curve for strength training sets is very steep, almost parabolic, with almost all the gains coming from the first set...so much for intuition.

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By David Barbour
From Denver
Nov 21, 2012
I'm wondering this partly because there is nowhere in my gym that I can climb for 30 minutes without getting pumped out. I have to disengage my arms and rest for a few seconds.

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By Brendan N. (grayhghost)
From Salt Lake City, Utah
Nov 21, 2012
David Barbour wrote:
I have to disengage my arms and rest for a few seconds.

This is where you can bring in some moves specific to your goal routes. Try setting heal-toe cams, knee bars or big-foothold-lean-ins depending on your resting positions while climbing.

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By Ryan Williams
Administrator
From London (sort of)
Nov 21, 2012
El Chorro
David Barbour wrote:
I'm wondering this partly because there is nowhere in my gym that I can climb for 30 minutes without getting pumped out. I have to disengage my arms and rest for a few seconds.


There are walls in every gym that you can climb for 30 minutes w/o getting pumped. Do the "rainbow route." Use all the holds.

Just to add in a bit of personal experience, I find that learning new technique on "boulder problems I fall off of" is pretty difficult. Most boulder problems that take me more than a few tries have very tiny holds and I can barely hang onto them for more than a few seconds. In my opinion, this is no time to be learning new movements or techniques. I'm not comfortable enough to experiment with body position and new moves because I'm struggling to hang onto monos and razor crimps. Instead, I use the hard boulder problems (threshold bouldering in one of the books) to build finger strength and/or power. I have found that it works well.

If I am finding a sequence or problem hard because I can't figure out the technique, I go and find a similar angled wall and make up my own problem on bigger holds. I try different movements and balance points while using big holds. I still remember when I learned how to flag. Learning how to do a big flag while hanging on jugs was a lot easier for me than learning how to do it while pinching heinous crimpers.


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By David Barbour
From Denver
Nov 21, 2012
Ryan Williams wrote:
There are walls in every gym that you can climb for 30 minutes w/o getting pumped. Do the "rainbow route." Use all the holds.


Pretty bold statement! Of course I'm using all the holds. There just aren't enough (or sometimes any) jugs on the 10-20 deg walls.

And I don't ARC with a partner, so routes aren't an option.

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By Kenny Clark
From State College, PA
Nov 21, 2012
I have a problem similar to David's. We don't have a gym, but recently finished a small home woody. I put part of it at 15 degrees past vertical, but even by using all big jugs I get pumped out after a few minutes. I have been trying something like the following to see if I can eventually get up to a full 20 minute set:

12X5 min intervals: 90-120 sec on (20-30 hand movements), 180-240 sec off. When all is said and done, I'm getting about 18-24 minutes of climbing over an hour. I don't have a lot of data points, since I've only been trying this for a couple weeks, but I feel like I'm able to recover better now than before.

I'm not at 20 minute sessions yet, but do you think this would help David and me to get there eventually?

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By Dana Bartlett
From CT
Nov 21, 2012
Kenny Clark wrote:
I have a problem similar to David's. We don't have a gym, but recently finished a small home woody. I put part of it at 15 degrees past vertical, but even by using all big jugs I get pumped out after a few minutes. I have been trying something like the following to see if I can eventually get up to a full 20 minute set: 12X5 min intervals: 90-120 sec on (20-30 hand movements), 180-240 sec off. When all is said and done, I'm getting about 18-24 minutes of climbing over an hour. I don't have a lot of data points, since I've only been trying this for a couple weeks, but I feel like I'm able to recover better now than before. I'm not at 20 minute sessions yet, but do you think this would help David and me to get there eventually?


I don't know if your current approach will work, but if 90-120 seconds/a few minutes is the max that is manageable on the wall at the angle you've built, you may have to make the wall less steep for a while.

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By Chris Plesko
From Westminster, CO
Nov 21, 2012
OMG, I winz!!!
Kenny I have 10deg and 30deg overhangs on my homewall (plus a roof). At first ARCing on the 30 was next to impossible but after a cycle I could do it no problem. I also set a lap traverse to work on using both walls and ended up going from like 200 hand moves before getting pumped to ~900 by the end of the ARC cycle and being able to do 30 or 45 min sets if I wanted. Find the biggest rest jug and feet you can get and incorporate that into the wall until you can start to do without them as much.

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By Mark E Dixon
From Sprezzatura, Someday
Dec 10, 2012
At the BRC
Brendan N. (grayhghost) wrote:
30 minutes is where you see forearm adaptation / capillarization. It has little to do with the length of your goal routes. Talking with Douglas recently, it seems that 20 minutes produces the same results as longer sets so we have been doing 20 minutes more frequently.


Brendan, do you know if DH still recommends 5 days of ARC/week?

FWIW, I'm also wondering where the evidence is for capilarization.

I don't know if ARCing will do me any good, but it's different from what I've done before, so worth a try. I have noticed when I train the same way, I get the same results.

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By Brendan N. (grayhghost)
From Salt Lake City, Utah
Dec 10, 2012
Mark E Dixon wrote:
Brendan, do you know if DH still recommends 5 days of ARC/week?

It depends on what phase we are in. 10 x 20min. per week during base-building phase. Less during other phases.
It also depends on how hard we can ARC. More ARCing if we are strong, less if we are fit.

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By Mark E Dixon
From Sprezzatura, Someday
Dec 11, 2012
At the BRC
Brendan N. (grayhghost) wrote:
It depends on what phase we are in. 10 x 20min. per week during base-building phase. Less during other phases. It also depends on how hard we can ARC. More ARCing if we are strong, less if we are fit.


Thanks for the reply!

I don't see 10 sessions a week as excessive, but I'm an outlier, as I'll still climb every day of the week if I can, probably too often for optimal progress, to be honest.

How many weeks do you do the base phase?

I also don't get your last statement- do you mean more ARC if you are strong/fit or less ARC if you are strong/fit? And would that mean more than 10 weekly sessions, or fewer or more weeks total?

Mark

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