Strength training questions


Original Post
Old lady H · · Boise, Idaho · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 120

The "I loathe exercise" person has been getting to the gym 1-3 times a week since early December. And, I have to admit it, watching the numbers change, and my fitness and strength improve, has been really gratifying.

I started because I have arthritis in my knees (elsewhere too, likely) and got some PT exercises assigned. That part is now maintenance, and I have a simple general routine I'm doing. I also am riding my bike five days a week, commuting, aiming to climb one day a week, and do other outside stuff.

I had barely 90° rom in one knee, but that's somehow improving. Obviously, anything that direction and not worse is desirable.

So, squats. Yes, no? I get both answers on if they are good or bad for knees, trying to research this stuff as a neophyte. Something else instead? Hamstring has been suggested as really helpful to work on.

The other is a more general question: upper body strength for women. Currently I'm doing assisted dips/pullups, lat pulldowns, and will be adding the rotator cuff exercises. A friend said pec flys and the reverse. This sound like enough, for a beginner, or am I missing something important?

Thanks! Hoping to get something looking at least a little ripped before it all falls to pieces.

Best, Helen

Alex Kowalcyk · · La Conner, WA · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 50

 Strength and resistance training is great (necessary?) to prevent our bodies from deteriorating in old age. I am assuming that you are doing this for general health maintenance and injury prevention not specifically for climbing performance and that you're new to weight training. Deadlift and squats are some of the best exercises to support and train your posture and prevent injury but only if done correctly with proper form. Seek instruction and dial your form before lifting heavy.

I would focus on compound movements like pullups, squats, deadlift, shoulder barbell or dumbbell press, dips etc that way you also train supporting musculature and secondary muscles rathe' r than say doing bicep curls that only train one muscle group. Stick to free-weights not machines. PullupsTrain bicep and lats that way more bang for your buck with your limited time. Gotta run

Idaho Bob · · McCall, ID · Joined Apr 2013 · Points: 53

If you're biking 5 days a week, that's probably enough for leg strength.  However if that biking doesn't include hills, you could consider doing intervals on a programable stationary bike at your gym.  Look at http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00663 for rotator cuff exercises.  Do these to minimize risk of injury as you increase lat. pull downs/pull ups.  Seated rows (yes, use those machines) and bench rows with free weights also build the muscles needed for pulling strength.  Don't overlook finger and grip strength, but you might want to avoid exercises that build muscle mass that's not needed for climbing (eg, squats).  To increase ROM, stretching and perhaps yoga.  Climb on!

OOPS:  Forgot to mention core strength.  Lots of crunches and planks.

Daniel Ragsdale · · Portland, OR · Joined Feb 2011 · Points: 60

To expand on others, don't just do normal front planks. Climbing depends on all of your core muscles, not just the sexy ones. Add side planks and reverse planks. I also like doing V-sits and "Supermans."

Crunches follow a similar idea. Add some "twists" to work obliques.

I would also work antagonistic muscles. Do push ups and rice bucket work to avoid becoming imbalanced.

In terms of non climbing-specific exercises, I think working core is your best bet. As far as I'm aware, working legs isn't too important, but see what works for you.

Rui Ferreira · · Longmont, CO · Joined Jul 2003 · Points: 784

see if you can get a consultation with a strength and conditioning coach that is accustomed to working with older athletes.  Look at what is offered at the local non-climbing gyms such as the Y, etc.  One or two consultations could go a long way to find safe exercises and programs for you to follow.

There are many types of squats and different set-ups to squatting safely.  For starting out, I would think that a goblet squat or even body weight squat could be a good starting point, again seek professional advice.

Regarding your rotator cuff exercises, good technique is critical otherwise you could be doing more damage than good and for that same reason I would avoid dips altogether as they are very difficult to do properly without damaging the anterior cuff.  Here is a video on shoulder exercises for climbers:

See these links for more information on dips http://deansomerset.com/want-dips-check-first/, http://ericcressey.com/baseball-strength-training-programs-dips

In case you cannot find a trainer/coach read the free strength training articles in Becthel's website:   https://www.climbstrong.com/

Aleks Zebastian · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 0

climbing friend,

any of the exercising it is probably quite excellent as long as you are not getting the injury or making the pain and suffering of living this life increased, yes? Why do you perhaps not quit or reduce the weight lifting and climb perhaps 3 days per week instead of 1? Surely your upper body strength it will improve gradually until it is CRUSHING, and surely you would improve your climbing much faster yes? You could pretty much drop the pulling exercises and climb more? If you "loathe exercise," get out of your boring gym with bros flexing in the mirror, and instead engage more in the crushing enjoyable lifestyle sports like the climibng and the running and the biking, yes

Brian Carver · · Boulder, Co · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 10

If done correctly squats are not bad for your knees. I do not see any good reason to do them though. Especially if you are not training power in a bilateral (two leg) jumping or springing motion athletically. This is usually only important for track and field events or contact sports. Many of the leading names in athletic coaching have eliminated them from their programs. For people with hip or knee dysfunction reverse and lateral lunges will get the job done better in a safer manner and is usually more specific to climbing and everyday movement. 

I have trained clients for 8 years and I've never had two programs that are identical. What may be good for someone else may be horrible for you. It's important to get a thorough evaluation from a knowledgeable fitness professional if you want to start an exercise program that will actually be good for YOUR body.

But dips are bad, it doesn't matter who you are. If you want shoulder dysfunction, do dips.

reboot · · . · Joined Jul 2006 · Points: 50
BCarver wrote:

But dips are bad, it doesn't matter who you are. If you want shoulder dysfunction, do dips.

Elaborate? And what would you do in its place (climbing specific or otherwise)?

Brian Carver · · Boulder, Co · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 10

Elaborate? And what would you do in its place (climbing specific or otherwise)?

If you look further up the thread Rui posted an article that might shed some light. They basically put unnecessary strain on the anterior rotator cuff. For me to give you a replacement exercise would require me to understand the intended purpose of the original exercise. I can't think of any example where someone would need to train to push something down behind their body. What is your purpose for doing them?

Lee Durbetaki · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 0

I would recommend this book: Barbell Prescription. Dr. Sullivan has a YouTube channel in which he discusses issues related to strength and aging.

If increasing your numbers motivates you, you will find this sort of program very satisfying.

reboot · · . · Joined Jul 2006 · Points: 50

BCarver wrote:

 I can't think of any example where someone would need to train to push something down behind their body. What is your purpose for doing them?

For climbing (often seen in max campusing), albeit as a more advanced motion? When you add a body twist to the push/pull motion of the 2 arms the pushing arm can easily be positioned behind the body, although I'm not sure this has the vulnerability described in Rui's links.

Brian Carver · · Boulder, Co · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 10
reboot wrote:

For climbing (often seen in max campusing), albeit as a more advanced motion? When you add a body twist to the push/pull motion of the 2 arms the pushing arm can easily be positioned behind the body, although I'm not sure this has the vulnerability described in Rui's links.

(you really made me think here)The campus technique you've described uses shoulder EXTENSION along with elbow extension. Dips use shoulder FLEXION with elbow extension. If someone really wanted to train that motion for climbing I would tell them to campus. Otherwise, (seems like a waste of time to me) someone could incorporate shoulder ext and elbow ext exercises if they really wanted to.  Such as: cable str8 arm pulldown to tricep pushdown combo, muscle ups, and maybe some sort of front levers repetitions 

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 9,632
Old lady H wrote:

aiming to climb one day a week

If you're trying to refine an exercise program that only includes one day of climbing per week ...

Why are you posting your questions to a Climbing forum?

Old lady H · · Boise, Idaho · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 120
kenr wrote:

If you're trying to refine an exercise program that only includes one day of climbing per week ...

Why are you posting your questions to a Climbing forum?

Because I'm a climber.

Because I am aging, and now need to pursue general fitness.

Because fellow climbers are generally helpful and encouraging.

Because I am not the only climber with a body that's sorta beatup.

Climbing once a week, outside, on lead? Yeah, not much to write home about. But that's my goal, however paltry it may seem to "real" climbers.

Yeah, more would be better. Gonna come out here and volunteer to coach/mentor/partner/give me a ride to the crag cause it's close to 25 mile trip on my bike?

Hmmm... Kinda quiet out there.

Thanks, anyway, kenr. FWIW, I agree with you, but gotta work with what I got. Once a week outside, twice a week general fitness in the gym, that bike commute, getting out to try x country skiing for the first time this winter, all of this is seriously upping the game for me. I never did anything before, except futz around some, and, now, this is do it forever. Little goals kept, and keep building on that.

Best, Helen

Everyone else, I'll try to check out all the info above as soon as I can.

Climbing tomorrow! My second shot at getting on the sharp end, super looking forward to it. 

Kevin Stricker · · Evergreen, CO · Joined Oct 2002 · Points: 325

Check out a no hang device like the Gripster or Grippul that you can bring to the gym with you and add some finger strength training into your weight training routine.  Check out the Power Company Integrated Strength Podcast with Steve Betchel.  Easily scaled to your fitness level, and it lets you utilize your rest time between sets for other training.

SMarsh · · NY, NY · Joined Sep 2013 · Points: 3

Hi Helen,

Add my following comments to the category of "people who have no professional expertise" as well as the "people over 50 who have arthritis" categories.

I see your goals as totally respectable and understandable, and your concerns as the same.

Sadly, I have found the advice at the local Y or any other facility generally to be no more and no less informed as any other.  Add that opinion to the MDs who have opined on what I can or cannot do.

I'm not an amazing climber by any means, but I am constantly improving at climbs below 5.8 or 5.9 on real rock and climbs or moves on climbs at or below 5.10 at the gym.  I have bone-on-bone arthritis in one knee and lesser in the other.  I probably also have other arthritic joints but haven't bothered to get any diagnosis beyond the knees.

I find rowing and squats to increase my range of motion with both knees.  I do rowing before I do squats, and the squats show more ROM at higher weights.

If I were you (and as I am me), I would analyze what deficits I have:  ROM and strength in extended knee moves, strength in arm moves, etc.  I focus on exercises that mimic those moves or at least build a base for them.  I didn't find the stretching above all that necessary, but I did love the WeDefy videos on YouTube.

Best wishes for a great climbing year!

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 9,632

Old Lady H wrote:

Because fellow climbers are generally helpful and encouraging.

Good answer.
Actually I was guessing you posted because you'd noticed the lack of activity on the Training forum, so you wanted to offer a sincere question ... to give us bored folks something to chew on.

Ken

P.S. If you post also to some "anti-aging" forum, you might discover that the latest research shows that Strength training is not the best way to ward off the chemical markers of aging in muscles.

Old lady H · · Boise, Idaho · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 120

Kenr, and all, "strength" here doesn't exactly mean power lifting, it means getting and keeping strength in all the stuff that keeps knees working, or risk a rapid decline. Like not walking.

So, if I'm there anyway, work the rest of it too. Bike does the cardio, or I can get on something at the gym, if need be.

Smarsh, thanks! I'm not bone on bone, yet, but both knees.

Question: what's the difference between dips and muscle ups, if you are lowering back down to the pullup part? Hand position? I haven't got a single body weight pull up in me (yet!), but I'm creeping toward it, and, the dips are the same setting and reps, pretty close.

Thanks, Helen

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 9,632
Old lady H wrote:

Climbing once a week, outside, on lead?

1. Getting into Leading when you're only climbing once a week could be tricky, and likely not the fastest way to progress in your climbing.

2. Learning to lead (sort of) safely involves a long time lots of days "paying your dues" to get experience and judgment.

3. Leading (especially multi-pitch) involves lots of time sitting around waiting. Recent research is showing that spending time sitting around is not good for warding off aging.

4. Lots of younger climbers are avoiding the "sitting around waiting" and "paying your dues" by choosing bouldering instead of multi-pitch Leading.

5. Lots of older climbers are avoiding the "sitting around waiting" and "paying your dues" by choosing long easy solo/scrambling hiking/trail-running routes instead of multi-pitch Leading.

6. Leading safely is more than just being able to use equipment and follow procedures. You also have to be able to make moves at or near the rated difficulty of the chosen route. Some of those moves might be high-steps on a specific side. You might be otherwise strong at a specific difficulty grade, but arthritis in your knee might prevent you from being able to perform a required high-step on that specific side for that route. If you're on Lead there, and you just give up and take a fall, you could easily get hurt -- even though your last piece of protection was well-placed, and even though you chose a "well protected" route. Hurt as in like at least break your ankle. Happens lots, especially leading on "easy-moderate" routes less than 5.11.

7. Therefore ... I recommend spending a substantial percentage of time in your Top-Rope practice sessions -- work on Down-climbing. So you can safely Down-climb to your last protection when leading on a moderate route.
. . . (or work lots more on upper-body strength, and lots more days climbing each week, so you can lead overhanging 5.11-5.12 routes).

8. Down-climbing is also essential for safety on those long easy solo/scrambling hiking/trail-running routes -- which you might someday come to appreciate (after you work through your current Leading phase?)

Ken

Stephen C · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 0

Question: what's the difference between dips and muscle ups, if you are lowering back down to the pullup part? Hand position? I haven't got a single body weight pull up in me (yet!), but I'm creeping toward it, and, the dips are the same setting and reps, pretty close.

Answer: While it is possible to do a muscle up without a false grip, you'll find it much easier to use a false grip. Doing normal dips or pull ups you would likely use a normal grip on the rings or bar. You should probably work on pull up strength and dip strength prior to working on muscle ups as a muscle up combines the two and is much harder than doing each individual exercise. Also, not sure why dips are getting so much hate. Various types of dips have been an integral part of gymnastics training since the beginning of gymnastics. They are excellent for training the shoulder girdle. I personally only do them on rings.

Old lady H · · Boise, Idaho · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 120

Stephen C, thanks. Rings would change the dynamic a lot, I think, and be harder. FWIW, I never got to play on the rings a million years ago as a high school gymnast, but we ladies did mess around on the parallel bars.

Kenr, sheesh. You are assuming ambitions way beyond my abilities, and sense way below.

Sport leads, for now, top rope on the trad, multi, nada yet, but I expect that will happen eventually, as a follower. And, I will cheat as I see fit.

For the record, I have one, short, single pitch follow (and clean) I can claim, with a top belay. I got up that one clean, largely because I did not at all want my belayer to try and figure out how to lower me. This was new to him at the time, and I was the crash test dummy for the earlier practice sessions. Even expecting it, and for only 3 feet or so, that early learning session taught me how vastly different it is to be dropped, than to fall.

Best, Helen

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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