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Critique my training program


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John RB · · Superior, CO · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 37

I did a hangboard cycle last November but it was too intense and my fingers started hurting so I stopped.

This time I've decided to hangboard once-a-week so my fingers can have time to recover.  I'm still going to the gym and outside as well.  But my training isn't focused on any kind of periodized focus now, which I worry means it's not really helping me.  My week currently looks like this:

Mon: Rest
Tue:  Hangboard (beginner RPTM regimen (minus MR): 8 grips, 10/5 repeaters, 6 reps per grip); then I do some prehab and core
Wed:  Antags
Thu: Gym workout: 1 hour of moderate bouldering (10 problems V2-V3, no worked routes), then 1 hour of ARCing (3x20min sessions)
Fri:  Rest
Sat:  Climb outside, often something near my PE limit with me pumping off and trying again and again; lots of beta collection
Sun: Sometimes more climbing outside, sometimes Rest, depending on how I'm feeling

So, in short, I'm going endurance, strength, PE and projecting all in the same week.  Is this silly?  Can I expect to make gains in any of these categories with a schizo schedule like this?

Lena chita · · Cleveland, OH · Joined Mar 2011 · Points: 745

The schedule like yours definitely can work  (I would suggest that you read Steve Bechtel's Logical Progression.)

To me, it seem that your gym session of 10 boulder problems that are in your onsight/easy send range, followed by ARCing, is a bit of a waste. You are calling your Saturday outside day as PE, but projecting isn't PE.

If your problem outside is pumping out, I would change your gym session to PE. And by PE I mean actual PE, including stuff like 4x4s, linked boulder problems, timed sets of on the wall/off the wall.

Just to give you an idea, 4x4 means 16 boulder problems, 4 sets of 4, each group of 4 done without  any rest in between, then timed rest, do the next group of 4, etc.And you pick the difficulty grade that you are onsighting or sending second go, and you would do all of them in under 30 min, and 16 problems is more than you are doing in your entire gym session currently...

and  of course you don't start the session with 4x4s. I would say, do your 20 min of ARCing as a warmup, then do a bunch of V0/V1 that would add up to about your max bouldering grade. If you had sent one V5, for example, do 5 V0/V1's in quick succession, rest, then do 2-3 V2/V3 problems, rest. Then pick 2-3 problems that you can't do, but are reasonably certain you can send in a few sessions, not LIMIT bouldering, but a notch or two below, and work on each one of them for 10-15 minutes. Rest. And then do your 4x4s. That's a lot higher volume than what you are currently doing, so you might have to gradually work up to it.

I wouldn't do really hard projecting (LIMIT bouldering) on the same day you do 4x4s, but there is no room in your schedule for any hard bouldering in a gym, and I think it is better to have a little bit of it, than none at all, so that's why I am saying project something that is just above your flash grade, but not insanely hard, something that you can piece together in ~10 tries. And if you tried the problem a few times, even if you haven't sent, move to the next problem.

A few things about 4x4s, if you haven't done them before. It;s best to do with a buddy, because they are hard. I said do them on V2/V3, but you might discover that V0 /V1 is all you can handle to begin with. You need to time yourself on the wall, and set the rest time between sets of 4 to about twice the legth it took you to do the problems. If it is too easy, reduce the time until your rest is about the same length as the climbing. If that is still too easy, then start picking harder problems.

aikibujin · · Castle Rock, CO · Joined Oct 2014 · Points: 294
John RB wrote: So, in short, I'm going endurance, strength, PE and projecting all in the same week.  Is this silly?  Can I expect to make gains in any of these categories with a schizo schedule like this?
Is this the training plan your friend Kevin C wrote for you? I think the biggest question is do you feel like you're making improvements, or is there any benchmark you use to gauge whether you're making gains? How well you respond to a training program is a highly individual, a plan that works for one person may not work for someone else.

What you are doing is essentially a non-linear co-current plan where you train everything (strength, power, aerobic and anaerobic endurance) each week without focusing on a single quality. I use something like it as a maintenance plan when I'm in my performance phase. But a co-current plan does not work very well for me if I want to make improvements, mainly due to a lack of training time. I only have 4-5 hours per week to train, if I divide that between strength, power, aerobic endurance, and anaerobic endurance, I can only train each quality roughly one hour per week. That's just not enough time to elicit training response and improve. But on the other hand, if someone has a lot more time to train (and to recover), a co-current plan may work for them. Some people probably spend 4 hours a day in the gym, if they have the capacity to recover from that, then they can train each quality with enough time and frequency in a week to make gains.

Based on your schedule, it doesn't look like you have that much time to train. So my guess is that you may see more improvements if you focus on one or two qualities a week.
John RB · · Superior, CO · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 37
Lena chita wrote: The schedule like yours definitely can work  (I would suggest that you read Steve Bechtel's Logical Progression.)

If your problem outside is pumping out, I would change your gym session to PE. And by PE I mean actual PE, including stuff like 4x4s, linked boulder problems, timed sets of on the wall/off the wall.

Just to give you an idea, 4x4 means 16 boulder problems, 4 sets of 4, each group of 4 done without  any rest in between, then timed rest, do the next group of 4, etc.And you pick the difficulty grade that you are onsighting or sending second go, and you would do all of them in under 30 min, and 16 problems is more than you are doing in your entire gym session currently...

and  of course you don't start the session with 4x4s. I would say, do your 20 min of ARCing as a warmup, then do a bunch of V0/V1 that would add up to about your max bouldering grade. If you had sent one V5, for example, do 5 V0/V1's in quick succession, rest, then do 2-3 V2/V3 problems, rest. Then pick 2-3 problems that you can't do, but are reasonably certain you can send in a few sessions, not LIMIT bouldering, but a notch or two below, and work on each one of them for 10-15 minutes. Rest. And then do your 4x4s. That's a lot higher volume than what you are currently doing, so you might have to gradually work up to it.

I wouldn't do really hard projecting (LIMIT bouldering) on the same day you do 4x4s, but there is no room in your schedule for any hard bouldering in a gym, and I think it is better to have a little bit of it, than none at all, so that's why I am saying project something that is just above your flash grade, but not insanely hard, something that you can piece together in ~10 tries. And if you tried the problem a few times, even if you haven't sent, move to the next problem.

A few things about 4x4s, if you haven't done them before. It;s best to do with a buddy, because they are hard. I said do them on V2/V3, but you might discover that V0 /V1 is all you can handle to begin with. You need to time yourself on the wall, and set the rest time between sets of 4 to about twice the legth it took you to do the problems. If it is too easy, reduce the time until your rest is about the same length as the climbing. If that is still too easy, then start picking harder problems.

Lena:


Thank you.  I just ordered Bechtel's book... I'll give it a read.  (The only training books I've read are from the 1990s, like Goddard/Neumann and Eric Hoerst's old books, and then RPTM, of course.)

I think I'll switch my gym days to do as you suggest.  That will represent a pretty significant step up in training intensity, though.  So now my week will look like this:

Mon: Rest
Tue: Hangboard
Wed: Antags
Thu: PE in the gym (as you suggested above)
Fri: Rest
Sat: Climb outside
Sun: rest or maybe climb outside if feeling well enough

---
I could go to 4 days per week or even 5, but I'm very committed to staying injury-free and not overtraining.  And I'm 55, so my body needs more rest than I used to. :)

Thanks for the feedback!
John RB · · Superior, CO · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 37
aikibujin wrote: Is this the training plan your friend Kevin C wrote for you? I think the biggest question is do you feel like you're making improvements, or is there any benchmark you use to gauge whether you're making gains? How well you respond to a training program is a highly individual, a plan that works for one person may not work for someone else.

What you are doing is essentially a non-linear co-current plan where you train everything (strength, power, aerobic and anaerobic endurance) each week without focusing on a single quality. I use something like it as a maintenance plan when I'm in my performance phase. But a co-current plan does not work very well for me if I want to make improvements, mainly due to a lack of training time. I only have 4-5 hours per week to train, if I divide that between strength, power, aerobic endurance, and anaerobic endurance, I can only train each quality roughly one hour per week. That's just not enough time to elicit training response and improve. But on the other hand, if someone has a lot more time to train (and to recover), a co-current plan may work for them. Some people probably spend 4 hours a day in the gym, if they have the capacity to recover from that, then they can train each quality with enough time and frequency in a week to make gains.

Based on your schedule, it doesn't look like you have that much time to train. So my guess is that you may see more improvements if you focus on one or two qualities a week.

No, not the plan Kevin C wrote.  He wrote the original plan that has become my Thu gym session (10 boulder problems, then ARC sessions).  But he wrote that plan when I was just starting to train and I wanted a low-injury-potential plan to ease back into training.  But I've added hangboarding now, and I'm going to add 4x4's next (following Lena's advice).

I am not time-limited whatsoever.  I have a really flexible schedule so I can climb/train almost any time I want and for as much time as I like.  My only real limitation is my body's capacity to withstand the training and recover and stay injury-free.  

Regarding training volume: I see people like Mark Dixon who are a little older than I am (he's 61 I think) and doing big training days and staying healthy.  Bill Ramsey does even more. But it's unclear to me if high-volume really makes you stronger... intuitively it seems like it would have to, right?  Look at the epic training days some climbers have... Ondra is legendary.  Honnold too.

But the Andersons argue that most climbers climb too much and at a modest intensity, thereby ending up injured and not improving that much.  They advocate for limited training at a very high intensity to stimulate gains.
aikibujin · · Castle Rock, CO · Joined Oct 2014 · Points: 294
John RB wrote:

Regarding training volume: I see people like Mark Dixon who are a little older than I am (he's 61 I think) and doing big training days and staying healthy.  Bill Ramsey does even more. But it's unclear to me if high-volume really makes you stronger... intuitively it seems like it would have to, right?  Look at the epic training days some climbers have... Ondra is legendary.  Honnold too.


But the Andersons argue that most climbers climb too much and at a modest intensity, thereby ending up injured and not improving that much.  They advocate for limited training at a very high intensity to stimulate gains.

That's where the individuality of different climbers come in. I'm pretty sure if I do one of the Bill Ramsey's epic long training days, I'll totally wreck myself and come away with ten different injuries. Even Mark Dixon's training day sounds pretty insane to me. But maybe they have built up the capacity to handle that kind of volume over the years. My training tends to be on the higher intensity side. Like the Andersons I have kids, a full time job, so I don't have much time to train. Therefore I try to make my training as time efficient as possible. When I go to ET I'll usually there for an hour and half, then I'm so beat I'll need two full days to recover. For PE I use the time on/time off method Lena referred to, because to me it's much easier to structure than 4x4s. 

What I do is: 110 secs on/50 secs off, 4 reps. Rest 5 mins, repeat 3 times. The overhanging walls at ET is pretty high, I don't want to be struggling near the end of my set and worry about falling off near the top of a problem and hurt myself or land on people not paying attention. That's why the time on/time off is easier to work with, I only climb to the point where I'm comfortable jumping off, then I rush back to the start and repeat. This only takes me about 15-20 secs, so in 110 secs I'll have done this 7 times. That's one rep. I'll do 4 reps as one set, rest 5 minutes, then do two more sets. This whole exercise takes about 40 minutes, and I'm totally beat afterward.
5.samadhi · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 40

4 rest days, 1 extremely light day of climbing (10 v2s +60 mins ARC, so basically nothing), one relatively light hangboarding day (will you be adding weight?), plus one day outside (8-10 pitches max probably?). Are you hurt? (you say something about prehab). If you're not injured, I think you're not doing enough to really progress. If you are injured/recovering from an injury then you should build your training ENTIRELY around injury recovery and forget gains. Building a plan otherwise around gains is just going to result in you going submaximal (trying to not re-injure yourself) and you'll stall out anyway.

I also do not like that your plan is just to repeat this week over and over again. Your body will adapt too quick to this and you'll plateau imo, unless you are really untrained right now. I personally find changing things up every 3-4 weeks works best for me (focus on high volume like 40-60 boulder problem sessions one month to scribe movement schemas/promote hypertrophy, transition to one month of SOLID hangboarding sessions, repeaters if you like those but imo max hangs are way better, then transition to a month of pure power limit bouldering and/or campus....etc).

Muscrat · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2011 · Points: 3,610

Does anyone H.I.T. (strip) anymore?

John RB · · Superior, CO · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 37
aikibujin wrote:


What I do is: 110 secs on/50 secs off, 4 reps. Rest 5 mins, repeat 3 times. The overhanging walls at ET is pretty high, I don't want to be struggling near the end of my set and worry about falling off near the top of a problem and hurt myself or land on people not paying attention. That's why the time on/time off is easier to work with, I only climb to the point where I'm comfortable jumping off, then I rush back to the start and repeat. This only takes me about 15-20 secs, so in 110 secs I'll have done this 7 times. That's one rep. I'll do 4 reps as one set, rest 5 minutes, then do two more sets. This whole exercise takes about 40 minutes, and I'm totally beat afterward.

Interesting!  How often do you do this?  What kind of training are you doing now?  Are you doing this in a linear PE phase following RCTM, or something nonlinear that incorporates this training?

I'm excited to try this kind of PE training... I've never done it before!  Although I feel like my focus is all over the map with ARCing, random outdoor weather-dependent climbing, hangboarding and now this PE stuff.

I should have something more focused, but it all sounds so good. :)
John RB · · Superior, CO · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 37
5.samadhi wrote: 4 rest days, 1 extremely light day of climbing (10 v2s +60 mins ARC, so basically nothing), one relatively light hangboarding day (will you be adding weight?), plus one day outside (8-10 pitches max probably?). Are you hurt? (you say something about prehab). 
I'm an older climber with a history of injuries, so I'm being pretty shy about how hard I push.  The one extremely light climbing day (10 V2-V3 plus 60 mins ARC) leaves me pretty sore and tired.  V3 is about my onsight limit, so I'm fully worked at the top.  And the ARC sessions are low intensity, but pretty exhausting.  I definitely need to rest afterward.

The HB day does feel light to me, but I've never hangboarded before, so I'm trying to be careful with it.  I do add weight (to the largest holds) but mostly I'm removing weight in order to get in 6 reps on the medium and small holds.

I also do not like that your plan is just to repeat this week over and over again. Your body will adapt too quick to this and you'll plateau imo, unless you are really untrained right now. I personally find changing things up every 3-4 weeks works best for me (focus on high volume like 40-60 boulder problem sessions one month to scribe movement schemas/promote hypertrophy, transition to one month of SOLID hangboarding sessions, repeaters if you like those but imo max hangs are way better, then transition to a month of pure power limit bouldering and/or campus....etc).

I also worry that I shouldn't be doing the same thing week-over-week.  Sounds like you are recommending something far more linear than what I'm doing.

Do you think someone with zero training history should dive in to something like what you're describing?  Or spend some time acclimating the body to training loads first?

My #1 priority is to stay healthy, even if it means my gains will take a long time to come.

I've climbed for a total of maybe 15 years, but never trained before and mostly just climbed moderates, so this is all new to me.
aikibujin · · Castle Rock, CO · Joined Oct 2014 · Points: 294
John RB wrote:

Interesting!  How often do you do this?  What kind of training are you doing now?  Are you doing this in a linear PE phase following RCTM, or something nonlinear that incorporates this training?

The framework of my training is based on RCTM, but I personalized it according to my limitations and weakness, and I also incorporated some ideas of energy system training from Lattice. My current plan starts out with a fairly linear base fitness and strength phase for 8 weeks, but then I go into what I call a “utilization phase” for 4 weeks, during which I will train power, aerobic and anaerobic utilization all at the same time (so more of a non-linear model). I guess it can also be considered a combined power and PE phase.


The exercise I described above is what I consider “aerobic utilization” training, basically training at the high-intensity end of the aerobic endurance spectrum, where you’re climbing right around your anaerobic threshold (totally pumped out of your mind) with incomplete rests between repetitions. In my “utilization phase” I only plan to do this once a week (because I’m absolutely destroyed after one of these sessions). In my base fitness and strength phase when I was doing the ARC-like, aerobic capacity training, I threw in one aerobic utilization session every two weeks. I don’t think it’s entirely necessary, but because I try to climb outside year-round, these aerobic utilization sessions help me a lot.

Nick Drake · · Newcastle, WA · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 471
Muscrat wrote: Does anyone H.I.T. (strip) anymore?

I don't even think Horst pushes that anymore. 

Tristan Mayfield · · SLC, UT · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 45

So if I understand this is your current plan?

Mon: Rest
Tue: Hangboard
Wed: Antags
Thu: PE in the gym (as you suggested above)
Fri: Rest
Sat: Climb outside
Sun: rest or maybe climb outside if feeling well enough

  • I'll try not to write an essay, but I think I'd avoid the three days on. If you rest Sunday, then train Monday, take a rest day on Tuesday, and then do your two workouts on Wed/Thurs. 
  • It also depends on the person, but I tend to favor NOT dedicating a whole day (unless it's a "rest" day) to antagonist work. Instead I favor doing shorter antagonist workouts at the end of every climbing session-- somewhere around 15-30 minutes.
  • The RCTM hangboard program is pretty good (I guess...-- watch me get crucified for this opinion) but if it's knocking you down that much, maybe consider splitting it into two workouts during the week instead of one big one. A good way to do this and save time is to do your ARC training before (to warmup) and/or after (to cool down) hangboarding. Just make the ARC training pretty light. Also I think you need more than one day of hangboarding if you want to see finger strength gains, but I don't think really anyone needs to be doing more than three a week honestly. I would half the grip types you train, and then train those grip types twice a week.
  • So, because you solicited general opinion, if you're trying to improve without worrying about performance on the weekend too much, here's what I would recommend your new weekly training schedule look something like:
Mon: 1/2 Hangboard workout (15-20 min), 30-45 mins (total) ARC, Antagonist training (15 min) - 1 hr-1hr 20min
Tue: Rest
Wed: 1/2 Hangboard workout (15-20 min), 30-45 mins (total) ARC, Antagonist training (15 min) - 1 hr-1hr 20min
Thu: PE in the gym
Fri: Rest
Sat: Climb outside
Sun: Rest, or easy mileage climbing outside

  • If you do care about weekend performance:
Mon: 1/2 Hangboard workout (15-20 min), 30-45 mins (total) ARC, Antagonist training (15 min) - 1 hr-1hr 20min
Tue: Power Endurance
Wed: Rest
Thu: 1/2 Hangboard workout (15-20 min), 30-45 mins (total) ARC, Antagonist training (15 min) - 1 hr-1hr 20min
Fri: Rest
Sat: Climb outside
Sun: Rest, or easy mileage climbing outside
John RB · · Superior, CO · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 37

After a lot of reading and mulling things over, I decided to hire Matt Pincus at TB to set something up for me.  I'm starting next week.

It's not all that dissimilar to things in this thread!

Thanks to all for the thoughtful feedback!

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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