Do big peaks mean big valleys and a few other stupid training questions...


Original Post
Nivel Egres · · New York, NY · Joined Dec 2014 · Points: 70

(a) I had a blast of a winter season. Did a few problems that just a year ago seemed impossible and tried some harder ones. However, closer to may I felt way weaker and while I seem to be able to push it a little, gravity appears stronger now. Also, I felt like injuries were close by and had to back off. Someone mentioned that if you had a really big peak, chances are that it will be followed by a big plateau that will be harder to break. Anyone willing to confirm or deny? And if that's true, what do I do? 

(b) Finger strength. Two-armed, my finger strength seems to be OKish -  on a one pad edge, I can hang my bodyweight plus 50lbs for 13 seconds.  I am experimenting with one armed hangs - seems like all stronger guys do them and it is the way to push your finger strength. Does anyone have a reasonable "old-man friendly" program for it?

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 9,691
Nivel Egres wrote:

gravity appears stronger now

You're measuring or guessing? or just reporting feelings?

Someone mentioned that if you had a really big peak, chances are that it will be followed by a big plateau

So which are you in? Valley or Plateau?

John Barritt · · OKC · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 888
Nivel Egres wrote:

Someone mentioned that if you had a really big peak, chances are that it will be followed by a big plateau that will be harder to break. Anyone willing to confirm or deny? And if that's true, what do I do? 

Yes, it's true. Those are called "plateaus of despair" People who are focused on "the grades" and not the climbing hit them all the time. If you are on one long enough you will slip into a climbing depression, quit eating right, and start drinking. This is known as a "dark slide". You will skid past all the lower grades all the way down to the gutter at the bottom of "The valley of poo"  You will lie there with your tongue hanging out and flies buzzing around your head and Xs where your eyes should be. Kids will come by with their bouldering pads and kick dirt on you for fun. JB

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

John, you're a hoot!

Nivel, at your advanced (and advancing) old age, all I would say from my decrepitude, is to be very careful to keep the whole package up.

I actually have managed to improve in the last year, but it's because I've pursued general strength and fitness. That is how I'm keeping my body parts together enough to pursue any of it.

What I'm trying to say, I guess, is train, yes, but as your body ages, it won't come fast or easy. And, any parts that you neglect will come back to bite you in the butt big-time, either injuries or just non functioning.

Go for it, anyway. But listen to your body. 

My sympathies. Wait till the real "old" starts.

Best, OLH

Lena chita · · Cleveland, OH · Joined Mar 2011 · Points: 240
Nivel Egres wrote:

(a) I had a blast of a winter season. Did a few problems that just a year ago seemed impossible and tried some harder ones. However, closer to may I felt way weaker and while I seem to be able to push it a little, gravity appears stronger now. Also, I felt like injuries were close by and had to back off. Someone mentioned that if you had a really big peak, chances are that it will be followed by a big plateau that will be harder to break. Anyone willing to confirm or deny? And if that's true, what do I do? 

(b) Finger strength. Two-armed, my finger strength seems to be OKish -  on a one pad edge, I can hang my bodyweight plus 50lbs for 13 seconds.  I am experimenting with one armed hangs - seems like all stronger guys do them and it is the way to push your finger strength. Does anyone have a reasonable "old-man friendly" program for it?

Personal experience suggests that yes, there would always be valleys after peaks. I'm not sure if they are truly BIGGER valleys, or if they just feel that way after the peak...

I've used linear periodization training plans (aka RockProdigy-type plan, with hangboard/finger strength phase, followed by power/campus/limit bouldering phase, followed by power-endurance/performance phase) and had great results with getting the peak to be when I wanted it to be. This kind of periodization makes sense for people who live in areas where there are distinct outdoor seasons, and distinct off seasons.

But I am intrigued now by Steve Bechtel's nonlinear periodization training, that is supposed to extend the peaks. He has a book that came out recently, called Logical Progression, about using nonlinear periodization. (disclaimer, I haven't read the book yet, but what I heard in an interview with Steve on PowerCompany podcast kinda made sense, so I'm going to read it now, and I'm looking forward to trying it to see how my fall season would go...)

Eplumer400 · · Cleveland, OH · Joined May 2016 · Points: 80

If you've been doing the same routine for training then that could be a problem you're having. Your body gets used to what you put it through and it won't let you reach your next peak. 

Look inward, and be honest with yourself with what are your specific weaknesses while climbing, and then train to combat those weaknesses.

Can you tell I've been reading Training for Climbing? Extremely useful book, very happy I bought it.

Mark E Dixon · · Sprezzatura, Someday · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 234
Nivel Egres wrote:

(a) I had a blast of a winter season. Did a few problems that just a year ago seemed impossible and tried some harder ones. However, closer to may I felt way weaker and while I seem to be able to push it a little, gravity appears stronger now. Also, I felt like injuries were close by and had to back off. Someone mentioned that if you had a really big peak, chances are that it will be followed by a big plateau that will be harder to break. Anyone willing to confirm or deny? And if that's true, what do I do? 

(b) Finger strength. Two-armed, my finger strength seems to be OKish -  on a one pad edge, I can hang my bodyweight plus 50lbs for 13 seconds.  I am experimenting with one armed hangs - seems like all stronger guys do them and it is the way to push your finger strength. Does anyone have a reasonable "old-man friendly" program for it?

I think you are asking a question that cannot be answered without experimentation.

None of us know you and your training well enough to be able to guess whether your plateau is due to overtraining; undertraining but over-climbing; impending injury; or simple staleness.

I'd suggest you take a look at your training/climbing logs and see if you recognize a pattern. If so, respond accordingly and then see how the new approach works.

As for one arm HB hangs-

if my experience at age 60 is any guide, being 43 is not a hindrance.

It seems wise to start slow- add in a few one arms on large holds and see how it goes.

I find they are definitely harder on my shoulders. Good form is essential. Backing off if necessary is vital.

Couple of inobvious points-

I tend to spin a little, which I consider dangerous, as it makes it easier to pop off the hold and can torque my shoulder. In my set-up I can reach out a toe to a nearby object and prevent this. This seems to make the hang a little easier, but I accept this to stop the spin.

Also, depending on how you structure the rest phase, one arms can greatly lengthen the duration of the workout. 

I typically rest two minutes between hangs. For one arms, I alternate arms on the minute. That is, left arm on minute 1, right arm on minute 2, then back to left on minute 3 and so on. 

When I switch between one arm and two arm hangs I wait the full two minutes, so sometimes one arm is getting three minutes of rest.

This is when I am doing max hangs. 

For repeaters I do something similar, but it does lengthen the session. For example, left arm start at minute 1, end at 2, start right arm at 3, end at 4, start left again at 5. 

So each arm actually gets 3 minutes of rest. Haven't done repeaters in about 6 months though. Probably due!

I seem to recall the kenr had an interesting setup where he did uneven hangs. Perhaps he will chime in again.

@ Lena- glad to see you posting more on MP again. 

I have never had much luck with linear periodization, as I seem to detrain rather quickly. 

I have had slow steady progress with NLP over the last few years, but don't know that my experience can really be generalized. 

I've orderd Bechtel's book and look forward to reading yet another training text.

Nivel Egres · · New York, NY · Joined Dec 2014 · Points: 70
Mark E Dixon wrote:

I tend to spin a little, which I consider dangerous, as it makes it easier to pop off the hold and can torque my shoulder. In my set-up I can reach out a toe to a nearby object and prevent this. This seems to make the hang a little easier, but I accept this to stop the spin.

What size edge are you hanging off? For how long? How frequently? What board do you have?

On a straight arm hang I have the same problem. I have been experimenting with incorporating partial and full lock-off into the program, which should fix it. 

I've also been splitting it daily by grip, so each workout is short but only taxes a specific grip type. For grips were I suck (e.g. pinches on the Trango board), I use a low assisting hand. 

Mark E Dixon · · Sprezzatura, Someday · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 234

I have a ghetto setup rather than a board- a small and a medium metolius rung oriented rounded side up, a 32 mm tension edge, a 12 mm Atomik plastic rung and a 10 and 8 mm edge from the lumber section of home depot.

I have a couple of other edges I don't use at present, like a 50 and a 42 mm plastic rung and a flat side up small met.

I do one arms from the two met rungs and the tension edge. Each with all 4 fingers, except the small met, where I also do a front 3 one arm hang.

 I take off whatever weight I need to do an 8 second hang. 

I am also incorporating lock off hangs, one each at 90 degrees and full lock off. It's interesting, but doesn't seem that helpful yet.

My full workout takes 2-2.5 hours, which I try to do weekly during climbing season, and 1.5-2 times weekly during the winter training season.

Nivel Egres · · New York, NY · Joined Dec 2014 · Points: 70

I've been planning to steadily decrease the hold size as I am progressing. Assuming of course I can progress past no-assistance hangs for weak grips.

there is a specific problem I have in mind, so I am concentrating on these types of holds a bit more - it's all marginal crimps and crimpy pinches

Mark E Dixon · · Sprezzatura, Someday · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 234

Personally, I think training the hold size that matches your project makes sense. 

Trainers I trust have told me to focus on larger holds with more weight, but I stubbornly insist on doing it my way. Will look forward to hearing your results.

I much prefer wooden training holds to plastic at any size.

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

I've no idea if you really need to do 1 arm hangs (I've certainly done my share, and I also have a tendency to (internally) rotate, so I often put the other hand against the wall to stabilize), but it probably does help to use less than 8 fingers at a time. Try doing 2 or (back) 3 fingers per hand on edges, not pockets, and maybe incorporate some Lock-offs/pull-ups. You can also try different holds, especially if one of them is just sloppy/not-incut (on the Beastmaker 2k, one hand on the 2 finger sloper hold works well as you can't borrow as much weight).

For humor, there's a video of Alex Megos hanging 1 handed +50% BW (60+ lbs) for 10 seconds on the lower middle hold of the Beastmaker 2k, so 1 pad-ish. We'll call that V16 finger strength?

I've heard (not necessarily agreeing) somebody saying 1 handed 1 pad for 10 seconds is V11-ish finger strength?

Nivel Egres · · New York, NY · Joined Dec 2014 · Points: 70
reboot wrote:

I've no idea if you really need to do 1 arm hangs (I've certainly done my share, and I also have a tendency to (internally) rotate, so I often put the other hand against the wall to stabilize), but it probably does help to use less than 8 fingers at a time. Try doing 2 or (back) 3 fingers per hand on edges, not pockets, and maybe incorporate some Lock-offs/pull-ups. You can also try different holds, especially if one of them is just sloppy/not-incut (on the Beastmaker 2k, one hand on the 2 finger sloper hold works well as you can't borrow as much weight).

I don't do enough hangs to get through all of the variations like these and I feel that my adaptation ability is limited anyway. Basically I do closed crimp, open crimp, slopers and medium pinches as max hangs (5-6 sec) split by day. This cycle I started doing them on a single hand with some assistance (pinching a sling, usually). Not very scientific, I know, but seems hard enough. I can probably add 3-finger open hand hangs a couple times a week or do them on good edges as a warm-up.

Fingers being a weak point, I was told that it might be a good idea to do it chronically, but take breaks for recovery. E.g. do a week, take a week off and do that perpetually.

Nick Drake · · Newcastle, WA · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 438
Nivel Egres wrote:

Fingers being a weak point, I was told that it might be a good idea to do it chronically, but take breaks for recovery. E.g. do a week, take a week off and do that perpetually.

I think that's taking breaks too frequently. A week off after 3 weeks on and a few weeks off after 2 cycles seems to be plenty. That's if you're doing a low to moderate volume routine (not repeaters) 

I picked up a copy of Bechtel's book, if you've already read lots of his material there may not be a ton of new information for you, but it is laid out in any easy to follow format. Better advice on ideas based on training age also. It's a very worthwhile read.

Nivel Egres · · New York, NY · Joined Dec 2014 · Points: 70
Nick Drake wrote:

I think that's taking breaks too frequently. A week off after 3 weeks on and a few weeks off after 2 cycles seems to be plenty. That's if you're doing a low to moderate volume routine (not repeaters) 

I do "max effort" hangs - high load on bad holds for short duration (usually 5-7 sec with a 2-3 min rest, these days 1 armed). Seems to help, took me from v4ish to v8ish over the course of a year. I think repeaters are more useful to people who need power-endurance. IMHO, of couse.

Nick Drake · · Newcastle, WA · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 438
Nivel Egres wrote:

I do "max effort" hangs - high load on bad holds for short duration (usually 5-7 sec with a 2-3 min rest, these days 1 armed). Seems to help, took me from v4ish to v8ish over the course of a year. I think repeaters are more useful to people who need power-endurance. IMHO, of couse.

I can't say that I quite get repeaters myself, seems like things which could be better worked on the wall for power endurance. Good results from your max effort hangs. I've done something in between, the 3-6-9 (and 3-6-9-12 on week 4) program from Steve Bechtel. Mostly focusing on the half crimp with a moderate load trying to get soft tissue adaption over pure strength. Last week I got on a route that had a half pad crimp I couldn't even set my feet off last year, I could hang out there and try different beta off it this year. Whatever the program used I think just consistently getting on the hangboard is key.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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