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Outdoor-season as hypertrophy phase?
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Oct 31, 2015
Hi!

This question is about wether or not outdoor SPORT climbing and projecting in particular in some ways can serve as an hypertrophy phase before the following strength and power phases of a structured training plan.

To elaborate. I live on the west coast of Norway and my outdoor season roughly starts in march and ends in october. In this period I mainly climb outside 3-4 times a week. This leaves four months in the winter where I exclusively train indoors. As I am now planning my structured training plan for the coming months, I started researching wether or not I needed to include any hypertrophy phase in my training plan at all, considering all the climbing I have done up to this point already this year.

After reading a lot around the web I understand that hypertrophy is best achieved through sub-maximal effort (intensity of 70-90% of 1RM), also called repeated effort. It is also my understanding (again from reading around the web) that outdoor sport climbing mainly falls into the sub-maximal category since you seldom do any moves which demands maximum effort as seen from a purely strength perspective. That said, going for that crux-move while being pumped out of my mind sure feels like maximum effort to me :D

All this makes me wonder if all the sub-maximal climbing I do during my outdoor season from march to october somewhat serves as one long hypertrophy phase/cycle. It kinda should considering many strong climbers have attributed their strength to only climbing with no structured training. How could this be possible if climbing in itself did not stimulated hypertrophy? I would think that without hypertrophy your maximum recruitment at some point would hit a plateau. No hypertrophy = no long term strength gains? That said I am not trying to rational my way out of structured training in favor of only climbing outside, I am just trying to see the bigger picture :)

Any thoughts are appreciated!

Some sources:
qwa.org/Resources/docs/Russian...

climbstrong.com/articles/20150...
JohnNorway
Joined Feb 9, 2015
0 points
Oct 31, 2015
John,

Best way to achieve hypertrophy is time under tension. 20-45 min of continous climbing would help with this. Hangboard workouts can also acomplish HYP. Check out "making of a rock prodigy". It is an article on rockclimbing.com. Lays out a full training plan. Or if you want a excellent book The Rock Climber's Training Manual is a good way to go. Hope this helps.
Cameron
cam23451
Joined Oct 25, 2015
0 points
Oct 31, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Polish Traverse (V5-7)
Sport climbing, unless it's bouldering on a rope-type climbing, is not nearly enough %age of effort to promote hypertrophy. 20-45 minutes on the wall is also off-point. That effort level promotes blood flow and capilarization, not muscle growth Jon Frisby
From New York, NY
Joined Feb 24, 2013
106 points
Oct 31, 2015
Jon Frisby wrote:
Sport climbing, unless it's bouldering on a rope-type climbing, is not nearly enough %age of effort to promote hypertrophy. 20-45 minutes on the wall is also off-point. That effort level promotes blood flow and capilarization, not muscle growth


I would say that when projecting near or max limit routes (not slab climbs :p) you are definitely doing moves repeatedly that are within the right intensity range for hypertrophy. Working the route move-for-move and linking sections must also be considered when thinking repeated effort. I can rarely do all the moves on a route/section/sequence/crux on the first, second or even fifth try. So even though I am sport climbing I am repeatedly doing hard moves. After a while as my "muscle memory" improves the effort level required to do the move(s) or sequences drops significantly, so even if I started out in a higher intensity range I at some point will end up in or go through the specified intensity range proposed for hypertrophy.
JohnNorway
Joined Feb 9, 2015
0 points
Oct 31, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: KenR below Wahoo gullies
JohnNorway wrote:
when projecting near or max limit routes (not slab climbs) you are definitely doing moves repeatedly that are within the right intensity range for hypertrophy.

Well it might be the right intensity range, but it's unlikely to be the optimal number of repetitions per set or optional rest interval between sets for a _specific_ muscle or tendon which will produce best HYPertrophy results.
kenr
Joined Oct 29, 2010
7,303 points
Oct 31, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: KenR below Wahoo gullies
cam23451 wrote:
Hangboard workouts can also acomplish HYP. Check out "making of a rock prodigy". It is an article on rockclimbing.com.

Some web pages get out of date. In the more recent (and very popular) book for the Rock Prodigy approach, the authors abandon the idea of static hangs as a good way to achieve HYPertrophy of muscles or tendons (though practicing static hangs is still useful for other purposes).

Seems fairly obvious from other sports much better studied than climbing that isometric static hanging is not the best way to achieve HYPertrophy.

Now if you instead use the fingerboard as a platform to practice _dynamic_ finger-specific moves, that could be a good way to increase the size of finger-pulling muscles -- which should lead to long-term gains in usable strength for harder climbing moves.

Ken
kenr
Joined Oct 29, 2010
7,303 points
Oct 31, 2015
kenr wrote:
Well it might be the right intensity range, but it's unlikely to be the optimal number of repetitions per set or optional rest interval between sets for a _specific_ muscle or tendon which will produce best HYPertrophy results.


Good point!

But think about this. As you say, outdoor sport climbing may not be the BEST hypertrophy stimulus, but as long as it gives SOME hypertrophy stimulus the sheer amount of volume of hard climbing I do during a season may well in all total produce more hypertrophy than a typical 4-week hypertrophy hangboard phase.
JohnNorway
Joined Feb 9, 2015
0 points
Oct 31, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Polish Traverse (V5-7)
kenr wrote:
Well it might be the right intensity range, but it's unlikely to be the optimal number of repetitions per set or optional rest interval between sets for a _specific_ muscle or tendon which will produce best HYPertrophy results.

This is what I was thinking - too random
Jon Frisby
From New York, NY
Joined Feb 24, 2013
106 points
Oct 31, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: At the BRC
Is the question you really want answered-
"I've been doing a lot of climbing, will I be a better climber at the end of 4 months of training if I curtail or eliminate a hypertrophy phase?"
This will be hard for anyone to answer without knowing exactly what you mean by a hypertrophy phase.
Sounds like you'd like to skip it anyway. There's not enough science to provide a general answer to your question, much less one specific to you with your own strengths and weaknesses.
Why not experiment this year, see how it goes and then modify your training next year based on the knowledge gained this time?
Mark E Dixon
From Sprezzatura, Someday
Joined Nov 29, 2007
517 points
Oct 31, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Polish Traverse (V5-7)
JohnNorway wrote:
I would say that when projecting near or max limit routes (not slab climbs :p) you are definitely doing moves repeatedly that are within the right intensity range for hypertrophy. Working the route move-for-move and linking sections must also be considered when thinking repeated effort. I can rarely do all the moves on a route/section/sequence/crux on the first, second or even fifth try. So even though I am sport climbing I am repeatedly doing hard moves. After a while as my "muscle memory" improves the effort level required to do the move(s) or sequences drops significantly, so even if I started out in a higher intensity range I at some point will end up in or go through the specified intensity range proposed for hypertrophy.

you'll note that I made the caveat for bouldering-on-a rope. If you're doing something with a crux of more than 5-8 moves, it's definitely going nowhere near hypertrophy. Some consistent 12-mover like Orangahang at Rumney is never going to be training hypertrophy unless it is desperately above the grade at which you have any chance of climbing. I'm guessing you're talking about a 5 or so move crux in which case, yes, training those moves will get pretty close to either hypertrophy and/or recruitment training
Jon Frisby
From New York, NY
Joined Feb 24, 2013
106 points
Nov 1, 2015
Mark E Dixon wrote:
Is the question you really want answered- "I've been doing a lot of climbing, will I be a better climber at the end of 4 months of training if I curtail or eliminate a hypertrophy phase?" This will be hard for anyone to answer without knowing exactly what you mean by a hypertrophy phase. Sounds like you'd like to skip it anyway. There's not enough science to provide a general answer to your question, much less one specific to you with your own strengths and weaknesses. Why not experiment this year, see how it goes and then modify your training next year based on the knowledge gained this time?


Great input!

I have never done a dedicated hypertrophy phase in my climbing training, and I am not going to start now as I am consistently seeing great strength gains whenever I do a strength phase. And even if my outdoors season in no way stimulates hypertrophy, all the bouldering I will be doing the next four months in conjunction with my structures training definitely will produce some hypertrophy. Overall I am more looking to understand and discuss how outdoor climbing may affects hypertrophy, since I have a hard time seeing that it doesn't.

If what some of you say is true, that outdoor sport climbing is in no way near in the right intensity and rep range for hypertrophy, and further away from high enough intensity for maximum recruitment, then why are we getting stronger by climbing? Why am I stronger at the end of my outdoor season in october than I was starting in march after finishing my last strength and power cycle? Why did I gain a significantly amount of (visible) muscle mass my first years of climbing when only sport climbing and not bouldering?
JohnNorway
Joined Feb 9, 2015
0 points
Nov 4, 2015
I totally think this is possible. The "rockprodigy" HYP approach is alternatively viewed as anaerobic capacity workouts, which should be also be a suitable intensity to improve strength.

trainingbeta.com/wp-content/up...

If you do sequences of moves on a route that are fairly constant intensity and take from 30-50 s, followed by about 3-4x rest period for around 6-8 sets you essentially have a route climbing version of these workouts. Trick is to find a route that has a 12-15 move section like this (continuous, no rests, don't fail from foot slips or technical tomfoolery). You can increase intensity from workout to workout by increasing the time (i.e. start at 30 s sets and work up, so maybe you'd do an extra move). Intensity is correct if you start failing on final seconds of last few sets. Should power out, not get pumped.
nerdlet
From flatland
Joined Mar 6, 2013
0 points


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