ARC Question


Original Post
TheBirdman Friedman · · Eldorado Springs, Colorado · Joined Jan 2010 · Points: 65

So I'm in the same boat as many of you probably are. I am currently in the process of getting myself back into respectable enough shape such that real training (i.e. hangboarding and campusing) will actually be worthwhile. Of course, this means an ARC cycle.

I haven't done a dedicated ARC cycle in a while and during my first workout, I realized that I wasn't sure where my focus should be. Is it more important to focus on number of moves or time spent on the wall? The reason I ask is because I try to do 45 minutes on the wall (per the self-coached climber). Being out of shape, I come out of the gates very active and usually can climb for 10 minutes straight before needing a rest. The rest of the workout though is spent resting a lot. While I try to do as many moves as possible, when you're 30 minutes in, progress gets a lot slower (in terms of amount of moves). This to me makes sense as it more accurately resembles real climbing ( move to rest to more moves), but it decreases the volume of moves you make in a session. On the contrary, I've heard pros and other climbers much stronger than me talk about trying to do a certain amount of "moves" or "hand movements" and never even look at a clock or a stopwatch. With that said, by focusing on doing a certain number of "moves", the duration of your workout becomes variable. On a good day where you need little rest, X moves might take you 15 minutes whereas on a bad day where you need lots of rest, it might take an hour.

So, my question is, where should my focus be? I try to do 45 minutes, resting as needed (on the wall) without pumping out, and focusing on executing moves with good technique. I am usually sweating lightly, have a good but not overwhelming pump, and can rest if I'm feeling over pumped. Am I wrong? Should I just be trying to cram as many moves into those 45 minutes as possible? Or should I just be trying to execute a certain number of moves in a row without rest?

Brendan N · · Salt Lake City, Utah · Joined Oct 2006 · Points: 378

It sounds like you have the right physiological markers of an effective ARC. After working with Doug Hunter we concluded that 20 minutes was a good balance between effectiveness and time management. The book might be out of date. I would split your time between two slightly more intense ARC reps. I have found that once you ARC on steeper terrain, the desire to stop and rest vanishes because the rests are poor. Try eliminating your rests via terrain selection.

Mark E Dixon · · Sprezzatura, Someday · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 549
Brendan N. (grayhghost) wrote:It sounds like you have the right physiological markers of an effective ARC. After working with Doug Hunter we concluded that 20 minutes was a good balance between effectiveness and time management. The book might be out of date. I would split your time between two slightly more intense ARC reps. I have found that once you ARC on steeper terrain, the desire to stop and rest vanishes because the rests are poor. Try eliminating your rests via terrain selection.
Brendan, would you mind commenting on the ideal intensity of your ARC sessions, especially wrt first and second ventilatory thresholds, if you are familiar with those measures.
Air Alexy · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2010 · Points: 30

I was under the impression that the effectiveness of an ARC workout is based mostly on the time spent at your maximum steady state. That is, the point where you feel a definite pump, but it is a pump that can be sustained indefinitely.

This should have nothing to do with how many moves you are making, at least in a vacuum. You might be able to keep a solid, sustainable pump by merely hanging off of jugs on a 45-degree wall, for instance.

It is my understanding that the idea of ARCing in a climbing context is to increase your maximum steady state through capillary growth, and perhaps an increase in mitochondria, as well. I think that is done by keeping a steady flow of blood coursing through the capillaries--the longer the better.

Brendan Blanchard · · Boulder, CO · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 590
Air Alexy wrote:It is my understanding that the idea of ARCing in a climbing context is to increase your maximum steady state through capillary growth, and perhaps an increase in mitochondria, as well. I think that is done by keeping a steady flow of blood coursing through the capillaries--the longer the better.
This! Yes, substantial resting doesn't give you the benefits of movement and technique training, but in terms of climbing/staying at your MSS, the big physiological benefit of that light pump is the increased blood pressure on your capillaries, which forces growth of the capillaries (wider ones), as well as creation of new capillary networks. That will happen regardless of the number of moves, but per most suggestions, the more time moving, the better results you'll get physically and technically/mentally.

I think the most obvious choice is larger holds/slightly easier terrain until you're able to work on steep terrain that doesn't encourage rests per Brendan's suggestion, but the Anderson's also mention that their understanding of ARCing stresses total time on the wall in a session, regardless of set length. So if you can move better and rest less by doing 3x20 min sets, with 10-15 min rests in between, that's better than a single 45 min set, or 2x30 min sets if either of those require a lot more time spent resting on the wall.
Brendan N · · Salt Lake City, Utah · Joined Oct 2006 · Points: 378
Mark E Dixon wrote: Brendan, would you mind commenting on the ideal intensity of your ARC sessions, especially wrt first and second ventilatory thresholds, if you are familiar with those measures.
I'm not totally clear what WRT is, but in regards to ventilatory thresholds I am always in the "casual talking" range. All of my attention is on how the forearms feel. I want to be hammering right at the pump overload limit for as much of the 20 minutes as I can.
aikibujin · · Castle Rock, CO · Joined Oct 2014 · Points: 290
Brendan N. (grayhghost) wrote: I'm not totally clear what WRT is,
I'm guessing WRT is "with regard to". That's the most I can contribute to this thread.
Brendan N · · Salt Lake City, Utah · Joined Oct 2006 · Points: 378
aikibujin wrote: "with regard to"
After rereading the question, you sir, are correct. I am embarrassed to say how much time I spent googling WRT in various kinesiology journals only to come up with "Walk/Run Transition" which could, very abstractly, be related to ARC intensity.
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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