Rock Prodigy method -- not a lot of climbing?!


Original Post
John RB · · Superior, CO · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 20

I've never tried to specifically train for climbing... just "went climbing" a lot and tried to climb around my limit sometimes, hoping I'd get better.

And I did... kinda.

But now, after 15 years on the couch, I want to come back and try and seriously train. Both to prevent injury and to see if I can get back to climbing hard... or maybe harder than I ever have.

After all, Jon Siegrist's father climbed his first 5.13 at age 65.

Soo... I've been reading the Andersons' book "The Rock Climber's Training Manual." But the thing that strikes me about their training for climbing is that it doesn't have a lot of climbing in it. Specifically, you can't just go cragging with your friends whenever there's a holiday with good weather, because it might not fit in with your current training schedule.

So my question to you all: is climbing for fun incompatible with serious training?

Colin O'Brien · · Bozeman, MT · Joined Jun 2012 · Points: 130

John,

First, I'd suggest also posting this on the forum the Anderson's run. They often comment with clarifications and help, or just some psyche. But I jumped on the program to break into the 12s, and go there relatively quickly by following the program closely. I didn't find it to be antithetical to fun climbing - in fact, I found it to be way more fun. That being said, when it comes to the summer season, I back off of training and just "climb to train." Would I be stronger sticking to the RPTM? No doubt. But summer in Montana is short, and I try to log as much time on rock.

I found that the Hangboarding (Strength) sessions are the most intense. I did a session every four days, and still did laps on moderates outside on off days when possible. During the power sessions, I basically bouldered hard, did some "limit" bouldering (but I'm too weak still to really maximize that) and then worked on campusing. Then, with just 2 weeks of Power-Endurance, I felt psyched to try to max out on some hard routes. In the winter, I did two full cycles, and then took a spring trip that saw a high grade bump for me.

When summer came around, I did a few goal-oriented trips, found my redpoint limit, and then worked to push through that with more hangboarding and campusing. What I found was a new level of engagement with climbing - I was more of a trad/alpine guy, and it was fun just to push the grade. The structure helped me avoid injury, and I never felt burned out. I've taken a break from the method this summer to bolt some routes and work on my onsite head, but I'm ready to get the winter hangboarding back together.

Long post, but in short, it's different, and it's fun in its own way. This style isn't for everyone, but it really worked for me.

Charlie S · · Ogden, UT · Joined Aug 2007 · Points: 1,448
John RB wrote:So my question to you all: is climbing for fun incompatible with serious training?
No.

ARC? Long mileage outside.

Hangboard? Can't do this outside, but I have found an easy "recovery" day can be good. I'm talking 3-4 number grades lower than your OS.

Power? Outdoor bouldering.

Power Endurance? Outdoor roped climbing.

I have a smattering of locations and routes which fit the bill depending on season and goals.

You have to decide what's "fun" for you. I like climbing harder so I don't have to wait in line for the easier routes. It also opens up locations that would otherwise have to be ignored. I also like charting and logging, but that's the inner geek.

If you're happy at 5.10 (or whatever level you're at), training will not be satisfying for you.
Brent Apgar · · Out of the Loop · Joined Oct 2007 · Points: 90
John RB wrote: So my question to you all: is climbing for fun incompatible with serious training?
Depends on how much time you have to train and climb.
Jon W · · Longmont Colorado · Joined Jun 2010 · Points: 95

I also took a significant amount of time off (4 years). When I started climbing again, I payed attention to the fact that the muscle strength will outgrow tendon strength. So, I just rope climbed until this summer. Then I started bouldering, and now mixing in finger training. So, be careful with finger training right out of the gate. Not saying not do to do it. Just be aware of how your hands and arms feel.

I've been back for a little over a year and just started finger training (for the first time in my life) following the "how to" advice of a friend. It works.....

To your question, of how to integrate it so that it doesn't inhibit actual climbing; I put climbing first. That means that some weeks I get two sessions in and some weeks none. If I climb on a particular day and don't do anything more that what is moderate for me, and I'll have at least two days to rest after, I'll do a session that night after climbing, ie, you need to have enough strength left to train at your max level to get the most gains. It still works really well and I still climb a lot.

Also, at our age, recovery takes more time as our bodies generate less HGH and testosterone.

This is just what I've worked out for myself and I am very much a novice in regards to training. Results may vary.

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

Jon W, would you mind sharing more about what training you do, how much, what time to recover? I would really like to learn more about age-specific training ideas,

Tom Rangitsch · · Lander, WY · Joined Jan 2007 · Points: 1,504

So obviously this is anecdotal evidence, but this is my experience. For most of my years I was a believer in the climb to get strong method of training. I got to a pretty high level, redpointing up to 13c occasionally. 5.13s have always been hard for me and until the last year it has taken 20 or more tries to redpoint anything that was of that grade.

I started doing the Anderson brothers' program 2 years ago. I found it kind of hateful, to be honest. As an aging climber I thought that the intensity was too much and I feel like I over trained. I ended up tweaking a ring finger tendon from too much hangboarding. It took several months to heal and I was resigned to climbing easier stuff and not training at all. I think their methods are sound, but those guys are machines and have been doing it forever. I jumped in too much too soon.

In January of this year I overhauled my diet. I have never been overweight, but I had put on 15 pounds over the course of 20 years. I started eating a pegan diet (look it up, much like the paleo diet but a bit less restrictive), dropped the 15 pounds, and started training with Kris Hampton from the Power Company. His methods are very similar to the Anderson Bros, but if anything I feel like I am not doing enough training. There is a lot of core/lifting involved, and there is enough leeway to get outside a lot. I also like having someone to touch base with (I have an app that lets me talk to a personal trainer who also sets up a very individualized program). I have found that I am pretty poor at setting up my own training, so it has been really helpful to have an expert.

The results have been awesome. I have done 14 5.13s this year, including 3 13ds. I am one move away from doing my first 5.14. I think the diet has been a big part of it as well as the personalized training. My joints hurt a lot less (maybe from not eating gluten and dairy?), I feel much better climbing 2 days on, and my psyche is higher than it has ever been. I also have been redpointing routes in much less time (I did 2 13cs in less than 5 tries each). Just my experience, obviously, but I have had my best year ever.

Jon W · · Longmont Colorado · Joined Jun 2010 · Points: 95
Nivel Egres wrote:Jon W, would you mind sharing more about what training you do, how much, what time to recover? I would really like to learn more about age-specific training ideas,
I really am not schooled in the subject, other than my personal experience. So not qualified to advise anyone.

I THINK, that at a certain age, less is more...to a point. We can still be very strong some of the time, but not very strong all the time.

I've climbed for 21 years and have sent a number of low .13s. I was very inconsistent, though. I am just now starting finger board training(about 4 weeks in). I know just enough to be dangerous...

My current fingerboard is: (following a warm up)
1 rep = 7sec on, 3-5 sec off. For the set: start with 3 reps on sloped 1 pad, 2 reps 3/8" straight edge, 1-2 reps on 1/4" straight edge, 2 reps on the sloped 1 pad and 2-3 reps on a 3 pad sloped. Basically a mini pyramid.

Sometimes before or after I will do finger curls with a pyramid. Depends on how I feel.

This changes as I get tired. I repeat this 3-5 times, depending on how I feel and how many days I will have with Zero climbing. I start with no weight and add up to 20 lbs on the 2nd-4th sets. This approach works for me with weight lifting. Now, remember I am new to this and I'm learning as I go.

On days where I climb (roped or boulder), I'll rest a few hours and eat before I do a finger workout. Sometimes I just watch TV....Just depends.

I try to get at least one finger board workout in each week. But, if I'm climbing hard more than two days a week, I won't do any. This is one of those weeks with no training.

Ideally, and this gave good results; Tuesday-hard bouldering, Thursday- fingerboard and weight lifting, Saturday and Sunday-roped climbing/projects.

Some weeks I just don't have the gas to do that much. Some I do.

Power lifters are relatively light for their strength. So I follow some of their concepts.

Listen to your body.
Nivel Egres · · New York, NY · Joined Dec 2014 · Points: 130

Very interesting, really appreciate you sharing your experiences. I might take some from here and try to mix it with more outdoor bouldering and plastic. Do any of you do any campus training at all?

Mark E Dixon · · Sprezzatura, Someday · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 549
Jon W wrote: My current fingerboard is: (following a warm up) 1 rep = 7sec on, 3-5 sec off. For the set: start with 3 reps on sloped 1 pad, 2 reps 3/8" straight edge, 1-2 reps on 1/4" straight edge, 2 reps on the sloped 1 pad and 2-3 reps on a 3 pad sloped. Basically a mini pyramid.
Jon, am I understanding correctly that you are doing 9-11 reps per set?
On varied holds, but each 7/3 (or 7/5)?
So a set lasts about 90-120 seconds?

@ Nivel- yes, I campus, but am thinking of switching to limit bouldering instead.
Jon W · · Longmont Colorado · Joined Jun 2010 · Points: 95
Mark E Dixon wrote: Jon, am I understanding correctly that you are doing 9-11 reps per set? On varied holds, but each 7/3 (or 7/5)? So a set lasts about 90-120 seconds? @ Nivel- yes, I campus, but am thinking of switching to limit bouldering instead.
Mark,

I play it by how I feel and adjust throughout each set. As I progress through a set, and as I get tired, I'll add to the rest time (paying very close attention to how my hands and forearms feel). Sometimes, I add to the time "on", up to max of 12 sec. My goal is maximum performance and good form. I don't see (could be wrong here) how performing a strength exercise at less than 80% is optimal. That is where the 3-5 sec rest comes from. I will even rest up to 10 sec "off", any more and it is time to just end the set rest for a few minutes.

I vary the holds because I am still nervous about tendons, and loading a tendon the same exact way, at max, over and over might stress the insertion and attachments. It is also more real world in how we use our hands. I think........

Campus...I'm a little afraid of the dynamic nature at this point. 15 years ago, I could campus every third rung off the couch. Now I feel a little more brittle in the elbows. I feel I get that from the bouldering.

All this will change as I get stronger and LEARN more about it. I'm very much a gumby when it comes to training.
Ed Schaefer · · Centennial, CO · Joined May 2014 · Points: 35

Climbing for fun and serious training are opposites. I had a discussion with Steve House and Scott Johnston about this very topic at a workshop I took with them.

You can still climb outdoors, you can still adjust your training schedule to make it compatible with outings and other activities with friends, but if you are being serious about training you need to PLAN those sessions so they are TRAINING sessions. Otherwise you are just practicing climbing (which is fine and can be a part of your program).

Most "climbing for fun" is unstructured - you go out, you hang out, you climb some stuff, and you're done when you are done.

Training NEEDS to be structured if you want to progress and improve.

Talking with Steve House when those good weather unplanned weekend trips come up YOU have to decide - would you rather get out and do the social fun day, or stick with your training? They both have value, but you have to decide. The biggest thing is making sure that those kinds of days you are "putting money into the bank, not taking it out" as Scott said. If you can adjust the day to fit your schedule, or the schedule to fit that day, then go for it.

I know for me personally I see good results from training, but I like to get out also. I try to maximize my days outside, when I have the opportunity I take anything on my plan and try to adjust it to fit with an outdoor trip.

reboot · · . · Joined Jul 2006 · Points: 125
Ed Schaefer wrote:if you are being serious about training you need to PLAN those sessions so they are TRAINING sessions. Otherwise you are just practicing climbing (which is fine and can be a part of your program).
It can be both or can be neither. There are quite a bit of overlap between training and practicing. And the act of just climbing can have both effects. I'm actually quite dismayed that so few talk about practicing climbing.

The more seasoned you become, the more regimented your approach needs to become, both in training and in practicing, to progress further. Or at least until you hit your true plateau. But don't underestimate your psyche: it's doubtful you'll get all the long term benefits doing what you aren't psyched on, and conversely, you can do pretty well with a non-optimal plan if you are really engaged.
Aleks Zebastian · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 175
Nivel Egres wrote:Jon W, would you mind sharing more about what training you do, how much, what time to recover? I would really like to learn more about age-specific training ideas,
climbing friend,

most important sculpting your guns is turning up some gangster rap, snorting the few lines of viagra, and then execution of 4-12 max single deadly crushing hangs on a pad edge, half crimp, for around 10 seconds maximum effort failing. call doctor if hangs are lasting more than 4 hours.

evidence for periodization it is dubious. hangboard and climb all the time, as much as your guns they can handle.
Brent Apgar · · Out of the Loop · Joined Oct 2007 · Points: 90
Aleks Zebastian wrote: hangboard and climb all the time, as much as your guns they can handle.
This actually sums up the fundamental principle of "training" very well.
Eric K · · Washington · Joined Aug 2010 · Points: 45

Been following the Anderson Bros system for a little over a year. If you are super busy, then the system is GREAT! It lets you focus on the stuff going on in your life while also making serious progress in your climbing.

If I was one of the lucky people who do not have family, work, life obligations then I would not follow it. But since I do, I want to make sure that when I do get out on a climbing trip I am strong as hell! It has worked great and I have set personal bests on every trip I have been on since I started, with the exception of this last trip to Bishop where I broke my foot on the first day.

tenesmus · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2004 · Points: 2,190

Tom this is super cool. It sounds like you've basically re-gained your prior level of climbing and then quite a bit more. Climbing 13c isn't a cake walk.
I'm wondering if your biggest gains have come from loosing 15 pounds, from doing more core training or from consistently training your finger strength? Doing all 3 requires dedication.
Either way - very cool to see your gains!

Tom Rangitsch wrote:So obviously this is anecdotal evidence, but this is my experience. For most of my years I was a believer in the climb to get strong method of training. I got to a pretty high level, redpointing up to 13c occasionally. 5.13s have always been hard for me and until the last year it has taken 20 or more tries to redpoint anything that was of that grade. I started doing the Anderson brothers' program 2 years ago. I found it kind of hateful, to be honest. As an aging climber I thought that the intensity was too much and I feel like I over trained. I ended up tweaking a ring finger tendon from too much hangboarding. It took several months to heal and I was resigned to climbing easier stuff and not training at all. I think their methods are sound, but those guys are machines and have been doing it forever. I jumped in too much too soon. In January of this year I overhauled my diet. I have never been overweight, but I had put on 15 pounds over the course of 20 years. I started eating a pegan diet (look it up, much like the paleo diet but a bit less restrictive), dropped the 15 pounds, and started training with Kris Hampton from the Power Company. His methods are very similar to the Anderson Bros, but if anything I feel like I am not doing enough training. There is a lot of core/lifting involved, and there is enough leeway to get outside a lot. I also like having someone to touch base with (I have an app that lets me talk to a personal trainer who also sets up a very individualized program). I have found that I am pretty poor at setting up my own training, so it has been really helpful to have an expert. The results have been awesome. I have done 14 5.13s this year, including 3 13ds. I am one move away from doing my first 5.14. I think the diet has been a big part of it as well as the personalized training. My joints hurt a lot less (maybe from not eating gluten and dairy?), I feel much better climbing 2 days on, and my psyche is higher than it has ever been. I also have been redpointing routes in much less time (I did 2 13cs in less than 5 tries each). Just my experience, obviously, but I have had my best year ever.
Tom Rangitsch · · Lander, WY · Joined Jan 2007 · Points: 1,504

I think the main thing I can point to is the loss of weight. I am 5'11" and now am about 150 pounds. I have always been a waif, and as such I thought that gaining some weight and being more "normal" was not a big deal. I was up to 165 last year at this time. I know that still seems pretty light, but I am an ectomorph and 150 is were I need to be. I saw pretty immediate results from losing weight, and I think for whatever reason the diet has made my joints hurt less and enabled me to recover more quickly. Obviously this is not going to be the case for everyone, but it is something to think about.

The training I have been doing is actually kind of fun and I have seen gains from it. To reiterate, it has been really helpful to have a pro trainer help out. If you can afford it, it is the way to go.

One other small, but important thing that I have been doing this year is to have mini projects. I still try routes that are at the limit of my ability, but I have also been picking slightly easier routes that I can tick more quickly. That way on a typical climbing day I can try my hard project a few times, and then keep climbing for the day at a slightly easier pace. I have had a much better success to failure ratio which I think is important for the psyche. It also makes me climb more in a given day and allows me to send my harder routes more quickly.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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