Are we geeking out too much?


Original Post
Nivel Egres · · New York, NY · Joined Dec 2014 · Points: 130

Looking through the training forum, there are multiple discussions about various aspects of muscle training, hang board programs etc. Yet most strong people I've climbed with got there with barely any real training, at most some half-organized hangboarding and sporadic campuses. Seems like if you put in the effort, you'll get there somehow and it's not always the most scientific program.

So, the question - can we prove that a structured training program has better expected results than "climb more, improve technique, work on weak spots" type of approach?

JNE · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 1,940
Nivel Egres wrote:So, the question - can we prove that a structured training program has better expected results than "climb more, improve technique, work on weak spots" type of approach?
Good sir, it seems you are describing a training program. If you want to take things to the next level, be purposeful about how you climb more, the way in which you improve technique, and how you go about identifying and having the discipline to address any weak spots ;)
Lee Durbetaki · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 5

People who are naturally good climbers will do well even if they don't really train. Would the strong climbers you know have gotten where they are faster if they had engaged in structured training?

Nivel Egres · · New York, NY · Joined Dec 2014 · Points: 130
JNE wrote: Good sir, it seems you are describing a training program. If you want to take things to the next level, be purposeful about how you climb more, the way in which you improve technique, and how you go about identifying and having the discipline to address any weak spots ;)
I think there is a drastic difference between "approach" and "program". Approach assumes that you go along with certain goals in mind and keep changing your actions based on intermediate results. A program is pre-structured and is mainly based on physical loads. For example, most Spaniards I know have a set approach to climbing, but few of them follow a training program. Many of them climb 8b routes and don't consider it a major accomplishment.

I think that we underestimate the importance of movement and overestimate the importance of strength. Movement is hard to "train", but you can "practice" it. So you get a lot of people that are too strong for the grade they climb. Meanwhile, you get gals/guys that get to high grades with low physical strength by concentrating on the movement side. Yes, I know it's hard to separate one from the other, but training obsession does that artificially anyway.
JNE · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 1,940
Nivel Egres wrote:For example, most Spaniards I know have a set approach to climbing, but few of them follow a training program. Many of them climb 8b routes and don't consider it a major accomplishment.
The bolded text is the definition of a training program. Yes, they get more and more refined...

Also, 8b sport at a crag in Spain, while demonstrating competence, is not a major accomplishment in the big world, but would be meaningful if, say, that person had an "approach" which yielded that result after a considerable time trying and failing for that result under some different "approach".

BTW, do you have some "beef" with training, or people who train?
ckersch · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2013 · Points: 150

I think it depends on what you want to get better at, and what sort of facilities you have access to.

For getting better long endurance routes, I think that climbing long endurance routes is probably the best thing you can do. I've found that I can solve most of the cruxes on endurance routes, even ones that are a bit beyond my level, fairly quickly. Climbing then becomes a good exercise for getting better, since I'm linking lots of moves and pushing myself to my physical limit before falling off due to fatigue.

However, I think that if you don't have anything beyond a 25-foot gym wall to train on, and all that you do is climb 25-foot routes at your gym, you won't develop the kind of endurance required to send 100-foot endurance monsters outside. If you want to do that, in a gym environment, some form of regimented training to work your endurance is probably required.

At the top level, it also seems like most climbers that get good at doing climbs with incredibly powerful moves, rather than pure endurance climbs, do so by training. Sport climbers like Ondra, Megos, and Gullich come to mind, as well as boulderers like Hojer or Midtbo, who both have great explosive power and both train like fiends.

Nivel Egres · · New York, NY · Joined Dec 2014 · Points: 130

All right, how about refining my statement into something more specific:
"For a beginner-intermediate (top grade of 13a or v8) climber does a rigid physical aspect oriented training program achieve more then a movement-oriented approach?

Over the last year, I was successful in taking myself from a true beginner to lower beginner-intermediate level by simply climbing outside a lot. Seems like most people prefer to achieve that via structured physical training.

Nivel Egres · · New York, NY · Joined Dec 2014 · Points: 130
JNE wrote: BTW, do you have some "beef" with training, or people who train?
By no means! If I can claw my way up v10s next season by engaging in a structured training program, I'll gladly switch. This said, i am just not convinced that it's THE way. It's the tail end of the outside season here and I am trying plan my improvement activities for the plastic season.

PS. I just realized that I also have been hang boarding through the year, so my approach is not as pure as I thought already
Aleks Zebastian · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 175

climbing friend,

the training allows you feel quite good of yourself and your "accomplishments" without having to spend a lot of time on the reel rock, facing true challenge.

Patrick Shyvers · · Fort Collins, CO · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 15
Nivel Egres wrote: Over the last year, I was successful in taking myself from a true beginner to lower beginner-intermediate level by simply climbing outside a lot.
I was at least under the impression that everyone agrees most beginners need skill & movement practice more than strength training.

Then as the grade climbs, strength becomes important too.

(I knew I had hit this point one day when I asked a talented climber what I was doing wrong on a particular move, and he said nothing, you just have to pinch a lot harder)
Nick Drake · · Newcastle, WA · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 478

You can train and practice movement at the same time. Since my large muscles and core are already strong enough to climb higher grades I'm only spending about 20% of my time "training" by lifting weights (mostly to maintain because I'm 36 now and won't keep power if I don't maintain strength). In those work outs there are also hangboard ladders as my finger strength is too low for the grades I would LIKE to climb (I have fallen off a few low 12s because I actually couldn't hold the small crimp long enough to reset my feet).

If you haven't read over Alex Barrows training article I highly recommend it, took me a few times to really digest it. Since it is almost entirely climbing you've got lots of time to focus on movement.

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B-40C59n2E_4aVRyYjY5U1Rtc2c/edit

Aleks Zebastian · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 175

climbing friend,

everyone is knowing you just tell that to beginners, so that their quest for improvement and true crushing strength is delayed, and you may flash their project for some while longer.

Sandbagger Vance · · Cincinnati, Ohio · Joined May 2016 · Points: 0
Aleks Zebastian wrote:climbing friend, the training allows you feel quite good of yourself and your "accomplishments" without having to spend a lot of time on the reel rock, facing true challenge.
but sometimes you need to train on the littlest rocks (hangboard) so you can do better on the bigger rocks (boulders) so you can eventually crush the biggest rocks (80' outdoor cliffs)
JNE · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 1,940
Nivel Egres wrote: By no means! If I can claw my way up v10s next season by engaging in a structured training program, I'll gladly switch. This said, i am just not convinced that it's THE way. It's the tail end of the outside season here and I am trying plan my improvement activities for the plastic season. PS. I just realized that I also have been hang boarding through the year, so my approach is not as pure as I thought already
Lol. I know what you mean. Try just climbing problems/routes, and linking problems/routes s.t. the number of moves (to failure) line up with traditional workout benchmarks: 1-6 moves of consequence: power, 6-12 (some say up to 24, really it is an strain/duration thing) moves of consequence: hypertrophy, 12-24+ moves of consequence: various degrees of endurance.

Thus up recruitment through climbing 1-6 moves of consequence, grow your muscles by climbing 6-12, and work on different slower twitch muscle fiber types by climbing 12+ moves. Do this to prepare for challenges at various lengths, and try to hit all the different intensities at some point if you expect to make consistent gains in any one area.

Throw in some antagonist when you have time and you have a basic "approach" that will get you pretty far through your personal goals :)
Patrick Shyvers · · Fort Collins, CO · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 15
Nivel Egres wrote: By no means! If I can claw my way up v10s next season by engaging in a structured training program, I'll gladly switch. This said, i am just not convinced that it's THE way. It's the tail end of the outside season here and I am trying plan my improvement activities for the plastic season.
For us mortals, it's not THE way. We don't have to worry about how to be the best climber the world has ever seen, and you can certainly improve by just climbing.

In some ways you can boil it down to simple pragmatism. For example, this winter I can't climb outdoors much, I can only spend so much time at the gym, and I won't build a wall at my house. Given that, a hangboard & weights is all I have available outside gym time. So you can bet I'll be using the board.

But taking a step back, structured training doesn't require a board. The principals are simply that your training is measurable, incremental, & specific.

Your ability to climb requires technique, strength (which Andersen breaks down further into strength, power, and power endurance), head game, and a few other things like flexibility.

Ok, what are your weaknesses?

Ok, how can you train them in measurable, incremental, & specific ways?

Congratulations, you're on a structured training plan.
aikibujin · · Castle Rock, CO · Joined Oct 2014 · Points: 290
Nivel Egres wrote:Looking through the training forum, there are multiple discussions about various aspects of muscle training, hang board programs etc.
I definitely think movement skill is an important part climbing, and technique should be practiced as much as we can. But it's just much easier to discuss hangboarding and exercises on a text-based forum. Try to start a topic on movement skill, and the discussion will quickly fizzle out because how much can you talk about movement skills using just words?

Also, some people (like myself) have very limited chance to train movement (climbing gym, outside, whatever). At least 75% of my training happens on a hangboard (the only climbing training equipment I have at home... does someone want to build a woody at my house for me?!). So for better or worse, we're stuck with what we have.
Kyle Tarry · · Portland, OR · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 162
Nivel Egres wrote:For a beginner-intermediate (top grade of 13a or v8)
I want to live in a world where 13a is "beginner-intermediate."
Nick Drake · · Newcastle, WA · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 478
Kyle Tarry wrote: I want to live in a world where 13a is "beginner-intermediate."
He's saying the intermediate line cuts off around 12d. For sport that seems about right.
Nivel Egres · · New York, NY · Joined Dec 2014 · Points: 130
Kyle Tarry wrote: I want to live in a world where 13a is "beginner-intermediate."
I think that's about right. My "layers" are as follows (for men, sport and boulders):

elite level - from 5.14d/v14
competent amateur - from 5.14a or v10
beginner-intermediate - from 5.12d or v6
true beginner - from 5.11 or v3
dabbler - up to 5.11- or v2

I have no idea what constitutes different levels for trad because there is too much going on.
kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 10,116
Nivel Egres wrote:Over the last year, I was successful in taking myself from a true beginner to lower beginner-intermediate level by simply climbing outside a lot. Seems like most people prefer to achieve that via structured physical training.
That works provided:
  • You don't get injured.
  • You have regular access to the kinds of rock and moves and difficulty of your goal routes.
  • You don't get bored climbing only stuff which is similar to your goal routes.

For myself:
  • I think I would recover slowly from injury.
. . . (because of my biochemical deficiencies).
  • I do not have access regular access to rock like my goal routes.
. . . (because some of my goal routes include long high-mountain solo routes).
  • I find my "geeky" training exercises to be interesting challenges in themselves.
. . . (Hint: I do not do static fingerboard hangs).

Also I find focusing my goals on just one kind of climbing to be boring.

So I'm glad to train for multiple types of climbing, plus ski mountaineering, plus trail-running, plus snow-skate-skiing on cross-country groomed tracks. Plus exploring + developing new climbing routes.

Therefore I need to take shortcuts to keep up my specific strength for sport-climbing performance. Just climbing a lot is not efficient use of that segment of my time.

Ken
Kyle Tarry · · Portland, OR · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 162
Nick Drake wrote: He's saying the intermediate line cuts off around 12d. For sport that seems about right.
Nivel Egres wrote: I think that's about right. My "layers" are as follows (for men, sport and boulders): elite level - from 5.14d/v14 competent amateur - from 5.14a or v10 beginner-intermediate - from 5.12d or v6 true beginner - from 5.11 or v3 dabbler - up to 5.11- or v2 I have no idea what constitutes different levels for trad because there is too much going on.
Maybe I'm too alpine/trad focused, but these seem like really high standards. That would put you in "beginner-intermediate" if you climbed the hardest route at Trout:

https://www.mountainproject.com/v/shushaynsh/111368759

Legend has it Tommy Caldwell tried this line but didn't get it (surely he could if given more time). Schaefer (no slouch) spent over 2 years working it. Even if you take a couple letter grades off for trad, that makes those guys barely "competent amateurs"?

Maybe the difference between trad and sport is more than I think?
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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