You don’t have to quit your job to get better at climbing.

In the words of the beloved and controversial rap artist, Tyler the Creator, “I’m a f***** walkin’ paradox,” because I am. I spend most of my time attempting to be coiffed and professional in a corporate environment and when I’m off work on Friday I’m ready turn my hat backwards, head outside, and be the dirtbag I wish I was during the week.

I think a lot of outdoor enthusiasts are like this. We crave adventure and exhilaration and are maybe a even a little rebellious. Unfortunately, the jobs that sustain us (and our expensive extracurriculars) can’t always provide the outlet we so desperately need.

So, enter climbing. It is a sport that satisfies my love of the outdoors, provides positive social interaction, and it is an outlet for measurably pushing myself to my absolute limit.

Admittedly, I  take myself too seriously sometimes, but at the same time I make notes in my training journal like the one you see below:

Did you know that slamming your crotch on an arete hurts really bad whether you’re a boy or a girl?

So I might be serious, but never too serious.

I have been climbing for 3.5 years. I started in college to stave off the summertime sadness of being an avid skier. Now, I can’t really decide which sport I like better. I really love climbing.

For me, climbing is an outlet for goofiness, getting outside with your friends, and having an excuse to train like a goddamn sled dog if I really want to.
And to be clear, I really want to.`

I have a lot of goals for this upcoming fall season, made even more interesting because I just moved from the cozy town of Cincinnati to hoppin’ town of Hoboken, New Jersey! This means that my home crag is no longer the Red River Gorge( bummer). I will now be frequenting Rumney, New Hampshire as well as The Gunks whenever I possibly can.

I am on my way to breaking into the 5.12 grade and I have a general idea of how I want my season and my sends to go. See procedure below:

  1. Commit to a training program (more to come on this).
  2. Climb outside on the weekends as much as possible.
  3. Be strong by Mid-October for a trip to Mallorca
  4. Come back, still feeling great, train a little more and go bag my project at the Red (probably in the unfortunately short span of a 3-day weekend)

As someone with a 9-5 and a lengthy drive to the nearest sport crag I am a classic weekend warrior. I get to enjoy the fruits of training when everyone else also just got off work, as well as the lovely lines of crowds on classic routes at the local crag on a Saturday morning. Fortunately, climbing is a sport where focused training a few sessions a week will yield great results. I have seen substantial evidence that you can continuously improve your climbing (for a long time) even if you have a time-consuming job and you don’t start climbing until your twenties.

I started climbing about 3.5 years ago and began training a little over a year ago. Since then, I have increased my hardest redpoint from 5.10a to 5.11b, and increased my hardest onsight from 5.9 to 5.11a.

I am so grateful to be a climber in this day and age. The access to training methods and materials has exploded over the past decade and I plan to continue using the knowledge available to keep getting better and better–and for a long time, too.

My hope for this blog is to show that getting better at climbing is possible, even with a busy schedule. Additionally, I want to be as helpful as possible, giving actionable tips and tricks from my personal experience with training for climbing. Also, I will certainly throw in any amusing stories from the crag that I have, because I’m sure they’ll come up.

I plan to post on a bi-weekly basis. Talk soon.

Happy climbing,

Senderella

9 Things you can learn from not sending your project

This past fall I took on my first somewhat “long-term” project in my new crag with a new style in beautiful Rumney, NH.

I say long term because anything else that I’ve “worked” has taken a maximum of six tries—and no more than two or three working days on it.

This route however; was my own personal version of “epic-ing”. I would go to sleep at night rehearsing the beta. In my head, I was in my own documentary. Here’s a brief synopsis of how this route didn’t go down.

Me deciding that my taped fingers and actively bleeding hands were ready to throw in the towel on my last weekend getting after it.

Weekend 1:

Tried the route on Sunday. Was able to do the crux on my first try (with ample resting and figuring out in between). Tried the route again—belay kept getting messed up.

Basically I put in one moderately acceptable burn to learn the beta and the second burn got a little mucked up because of some belay issues.

First attempt on Orangahang, 5.12a

Weekend 2:

Saturday – tried it two more times. Clipped the chains with two hangs on attempt #3. First time clipping the chains a 5.12–pretty satisfying.

Sunday – tried route again. Basically the same as before. Did super poorly on Sunday and climbed the first few bolts like garbage. I was shaky and felt terrible about the whole thing.

Weekend 3:

I must have tried the route 15-20 times that weekend. I stopped counting by the end the first 4 bolts were laced up perfectly. I would fall at the crux between 4 and 5, jug up and could finish from there. I was basically doing that over and over again until my fingers were literally too bloody to go on.

So there’s the synopsis. Even though I didn’t get it, it was totally worth my time. I learned so much from the process. See below for some solid take aways that you can learn from not sending your project.

  1. The importance of a quality beta burn.
    Dialing in the beta swiftly and early in the process is critical, I have learned. Honestly, I probably could have cut my first two weekends of attempts out of this process if I had done what I did at the start of the third weekend. In one go on the rope, I rehearsed some of the sections of the route 3-4 times until I knew exactly where my feet would go. I experimented. I learned how to make certain moves WAY more efficiently than I had before. I dialed in where I was going to clip. It was HUGELY useful.
  2. Getting to the crag early to do your beta burn can be valuable.
    On popular routes, you may be uncomfortable taking a long time to learn and rehearse the beta with others waiting. It sucks for them to wait and it sucks for you to have to rush such a crucial process. No matter how cold or dewy or whatever, just go get your route rehearsal/beta dialing session done before everyone else shows up. I never got to take my time with this process until we rolled up on weekend 3 which had a sub-optimal forecast, thus thinning the crowds.
  3. You might not need all the clips.
    Clips are sometimes optional—even if it’s the second clip. Some clips might be slowing you down, akward etc. Think about if there are any that you can safely and confidently bypass. Personally, by the time I had the beta dialed, I realized that clipping the second bolt was a waste of time and energy, so I just stopped clipping it. It felt good to be comfortable doing that and for this route it was generally safe to do. This may not be true for other routes, but it’s a tactic that has been used by many to conserve energy if it is safe to do so.

    Second clip is definitely the worst to clip. See above.
  4. What foods work well when you’re trying to send.
    I learned that eating a large breakfast doesn’t work for me. On the Sunday of weekend two, I ate a HUGE breakfast before going climbing—it kept me warm and it was delicious, but I was way too full to be climbing hard. The third weekend I made sure to keep it lighter—PB&J steel cut oats. That worked much better for me than a big, heavy breakfast.

    A chicken joining me for breakfast at the camp site.
  5.  How your environment effects you when you’re trying to send
    I learned that crowds FREAK ME OUT and that strangers watching me climb is actually really stressful for me. I know I need to work through this, but I hadn’t become aware of this until now. Not much to be done about it, but I’m glad I know now so I can consciously work through it. The difference between me climbing at an empty crag vs. a full one was pretty astounding. 
  6. Your ideal pre-climb ritual. See mine below!
    Step 1: Jam out to an aggressive rap song. “Shabba” was the song of choice on this trip. I also can be found enjoying “it’s nothin”, “Switch Lanes” by Tyga and “All Gold Everything”. Tell me I have awful taste, but it’s what gets me AMPED.
    Step 2: Walk up to the route, tie, in and take three big breaths.
    Step 3: Pick something in the distance to focus on and zone out.
    Step 4: Tell myself “You know what to do, stop thinking and climb.”
    I started doing this before every attempt, and it was really nice to have a routine before starting to climb.
  7. You can learn your capacity limit.
    Having the capacity to try a route a bunch of times is very important. If you picked a route that you can’t burn all day if you have to, it might be time to work something else. I thought that I might have bitten off more than I could chew, but when put to the test, I was able to put in 8-10 burns a day on my project. But it was good to learn that I had trained well and had the capacity to put in work. See below for some solid wisdom from climbing trainer, Steve Bechtel in an article from Climbing Magazine.
    “Many climbers are incapable of trying a project-level route more than once or twice a day. This is unacceptable. You have limited years to climb, so maximize your time.” 

    Me chilling out, resting up , and prepping to tape my bloody fingers between afternoon burns.
  8. How much rest you need.
    Resting properly and not overtraining during the week is very helpful. Before the my last epic weekend working on the proj, I gave myself two rest days and training on Wednesday was super light. This was mostly because I was exhausted from work, but still.  I was very well rested for the weekend and I could totally tell. From now on, I’m giving myself two full rest days before trying to redpoint/ get sendy on anything.
  9. The impact of an awesome climbing partner.

    Me and the best belayer in the whole wide world.

    I have an amazing supportive boyfriend who is willing to belay me on these climbing tirades. Mike barely climbed all weekend. I kept saying we could bail and that he should go work on something, but he wouldn’t. He said all he wanted out of the weekend was for me to send this thing. Mike was on point with the beta cues, encouragement for me to try hard, and provided ample stoke and belief in me. I am so so grateful to have a climbing partner (and a boyfriend) that is so unwaveringly supportive.

All in all, yes, it is a bummer that after all of this, I still didn’t send. But I have the route down to one hang and I know that with a little more training, I will be more than ready to take this thing down in the spring for sure.

Q&A With Brian Suntay: 5.14 crusher and weekday engineer

I first found out about Brian Suntay when his tag line on the TrainingBeta blog caught my eye–“Ohio-based engineer crushing 5.14 at the Red River Gorge and Rifle”. As an Ohio Native (and a fellow engineer) I was very psyched to find a kindred spirit in the climbing community who is climbing at such a high level.

Brian is a very accomplished climber and has an extremely impressive resume. He has completed routes up through 5.14 in the Red and many 5.13+ routes in Rifle. He started climbing in college and predominantly trains out of his basement to cut down on the commute to the gym. If you haven’t read his post on Trainingbeta, I would recommend it–it will be especially helpful to read in the context of this interview.

Brian taking down Transworld Depravity, 5.14a at the Red River Gorge. Photo by Andy Wickstrom.

Check out Brian’s article here. 

I had the pleasure of picking Brian’s brain on some topics I had been wondering about and I got to discuss my project at the Red with him as well. Brian has some awesome insights and I hope you all get a lot out of this. I know I did.

S:  Can you take me through a brief history of your climbing and training? How long did it take you to progress through the grades? When did you start training?

B: I’ve been climbing for about 12 years so it’s hard for me to remember how long it took to break through the grades.  I started when I was in college and I didn’t really train for it the first few years other than climbing in the gym and climbing outside.  Fortunately for me, climbing came pretty naturally.  I pretty much worked my way up the grades up to 5.13a by climbing outside, I think.  I remember training for a route in the Madness cave that I really wanted to do, so I think that’s when I really started training.  I followed a typical periodized training plan for quite a while.  I didn’t really know any better and it worked for the most part.  Probably over the last few years I switched it up a bit based on new knowledge I gained from kettlebell training and because I wanted to train a little less due to the amount of free time I had and to allow for other activities.  And, since I’ve been training for a little while now, I kinda know what works and doesn’t work for me.  So now I pretty much just make my own training programs.

Brian’s Thoughts on Deadlifting for Climbing

Quick tips for Climbing Overhang

Happy Technique Tip Tuesday, everybody!

I hope this article finds you well. As a former Red River Gorge native, I am thrilled to discuss some tips for my favorite style of climbing: steep, overhanging.

I used to hate overhanging routes. They made me feel weak, uncoordinated, and a V0 on a 45 degree angle usually left me feeling pretty pathetic. However, with some targeted training and an attitude adjustment, this is usually the kind of route that makes me smile the most:

Personally, when I first started climbing (and before I knew anything about training) what I did to get better at steep routes was climbing more steep routes and doing pull-ups. When I first started climbing I literally could not do a single pull-up. To accommodate for this I modified with resistance bands and/or putting one foot on a chair. I also started doing a lot of easy, steep boulders over and over. I found this to be pretty impactful, generally.

Of course, there are always a few quick things that you can think about as you start pondering problems in the cave in your local gym, or the steep route at the crag you’ve been dying to try. You definitely do not have to be able to do even one pull-up to climb steep routes, but it does help!

Check out these tips and instructional videos to see how you can take your overhang game from V0 to hero:

  1. Twist your body to climb overhanging routes more efficiently
  2. In a similar vane (and you’ve probably heard this one before) you can conserve energy by climbing with straight arms, only bending them when it is absolutely necessary–same goes for overhangs. Keep that in mind the next time you’re three moves in and you’re pumping out. If you think you need to lock off to do a move, think again!
  3. Keep your hips into the wall! Check out the video below to get a more detailed overview of why this is so critical.
  4. Drive with your feet! Even though the route is steep, you can and you must continue to drive with your lower half. Make sure you place your feet such that you can push/pull yourself through your next move.Think about how many pull-ups you can do vs. how many flights of stairs you can climb. The more weight that you can take off your arms, the better!

New to climbing? Do overhangs bum you out? Can you barely hang on for one route?

If upper body strength and steep routes are a challenge for you, try adding 3 sets of pull-ups (5-10 reps) a twice a week and make it a point to climb a little overhang every time you hit the gym! Climbing more overhang is going to be the key to improve, but spending a small amount of time improving your strength can help too!

Good luck and happy climbing!

Cheers,

Senderella

How to Heel Hook Correctly – Technique Tips for Climbing

Everyone with useful beta and better technique than me: Lauren, just heel hook.
Me: Nope. No thanks, I’d rather inefficiently stab my toe into the wall with my knee in my face instead.

It’s been a hard fought battle with my peers, but I have finally conceded: heel hooks are extremely useful, especially if done correctly. For this Technique Tip Tuesday,  let’s take a second to watch this shaggy man with a fun accent tell us how to do it right!

The difference between active and passive heel hooks is something I had never considered before, but I am very happy to have learned. Here is another video that underscores the effectiveness of actively heel hooking with some more XTREME examples (also some super rad tunes in the background.)

Here’s my buddy being really dramatic about the SICK actively engaged heel hook he’s about to pull off:

Do you like heel hooks? Do you hate them? Are you a convert like me?!

Comment or shoot me an email and let me know. I’d love to chat.

Cheers,

Senderella
senderellastory@gmail.com

Review of Steve Bechtel’s Logical Progression: Halfway there

Logical Progression refers to the simple progression we make in a nonlinear plan. By training strength, then power, and then endurance in sequence, you’ll see that you truly can develop all of these facets of your fitness at the same time, and perform better year-round.

With this book as your guide, I hope that you’ll embrace a different way of looking at training, and performing, in climbing.

– Steve Bechtel, Logical Progression

At the time this is being published I am halfway through Steve Bechtel’s Logical Progression Program. I was a little scared to try a new program for the ever-important Fall Climbing Season, but so far I am very glad I did. In seven weeks I’ve seen a noticeable impact to my climbing. Read on to see if you think this program would be helpful for you!

General Overview

To summarize the book and program, Steve Bechtel has designed a program around concurrently training strength, power/strength endurance, endurance,  and power. For an explanation of non-linear periodization, click here. You rotate through training days, working a different facet of training each day (e.g. in 5-7 day time frame you would have done a strength, endurance, power endurance, and limit bouldering workouts).

A problem from a limit bouldering session at the Triangle Rock Club  when I was visiting family in North Carolina.

Steve offers a few different options for the program orientation. I went with the “Level 1” program as it is the most entry-level option and geared toward climbers that are new (or new-ish) to training. The Level 1 program also has the most simplistic setup, which sounded good to me.

Below is a general overview of the training sessions I’ve completed over the course of 7 weeks.

  • 6 Endurance Workouts
  • 7  integrated strength workouts
  • 6 Limit bouldering sessions
  • 6 power endurance sessions

Although there were some hiccups here and there, I think I did a good job of not skipping certain training days in favor of others–something Steve warns about in the book.

Overall impression of Logical Progression Program

So far I am really enjoying the variety that the program has to offer. Training all facets of climbing concurrently has been really amusing and it’s been pretty easy to stay psyched on training.

I still have six-seven more weeks to go, so we’ll see if it gets harder to stay stoked, but I’m thinking it won’t.

The structure/flexibility of the program is great. In the past month I have moved to a new city, moved apartments twice (long story), started a new job, started this blog, and have still managed to train and avoid stressing about making training work with my schedule. So from a strategic standpoint, this program is ideal for the average weekend warrior.

Adventures of moving into a new apartment!

I was pretty nervous to switch from the Rock Prodigy program, but Steve Bechtel is the man and I decided to give it a shot. So far, the results have been noticeable and I’m pretty psyched about it.

Hangboard Results

First of all, I like that Steve recommends that you switch up the hangboard protocol halfway through the program. I feel like there are so many protocols claiming to be “the best”, so it’s refreshing to have a trainer claim that threre is more than one way to hangboard.

So far, I have only completed the 3-6-9 ladder portion of the hangboard program, so I will speak to the results of this.

When I first read through the first part of the hangboard program, my first thought was “how the hell are my fingers going to get stronger if I’m spending only 3 minutes PER WEEK hanging on them.”

The proof is in the pudding. My finger strength improved measurably. See beginning, middle and end below.

Workout #1*:
Open hand, 20mm, Bodyweight (BW)
Half crimp, 20mm edge, BW
Full crimp, 30mm edge, BW
*note that I was taking it a easy on this day because it was my first time back on a hangboard in a while

Workout #3:
Open hand, 25mm, BW +15lbs
Half crimp on 25mm edge, BW+15 lbs
Full crimp, 20mm, BW

Workout #6:
Open hand, 15mm, BW +13lbs
Half crimp on 15mm edge, BW+13 lbs
Full crimp, 15mm, BW

If you want to attribute this to “newbie gains”–you really can’t, because I’ve done 30+ hangboard workouts in the past year and a half (a la the Rock Prodigy program).

Integrated Strength Gains

Bechtel incorporates some climbing specific strength training into his program. He actually has an interesting structure for strength training called Integrated Strength. I don’t want to get too in the weeds about it, so read more about it here. Essentially you end up doing a hangboard exercise, a lift, and a mobility exercise right in a row. It is a very interesting approach.

Below I review some personal records from the integrated strength workouts:

Deadlift: 165lbs – 5 reps
Hanging leg raise: 6 reps
Weighted push-ups: 25lb plate, 5 reps
(I could NOT come even remotely close to doing the one arm, one leg push-up as recommended, so putting a plate on my back to up the intensity was my best option).

My deadlift increased by about 20lbs throughout the 6 workouts, push-ups didn’t go up by too much, but the hanging leg raises definitely got easier and improved in quality as I kept going. (Note that the try-hard face you see below is completely required, these BREAK ME.)

Power/Strength Endurance Results

Essentially, the power endurance workouts are 3 sets of 6 boulder problems that are right around your limit–leaving only 2 minutes or so between problems for recovery.

Bechtel recommends an interesting method of quantifying these workouts. Basically, you add up the grade of all the routes and take the average of these. He calls this your v-score or v-average.

Below I compare my average v-score from my best strength endurance circuit in my first workout to that of my final workout. Note that the rest between problems from the first workout was about 2 minutes. In my most recent PE workout I’ve reduced the rest to 1 minute.

Session 1:  Average V-score = 3
Session 3: Average V-score = 3.9
Session 6: Average V-score = 4.2

Essentially, I’ve gone from doing  6 boulder problems with V3 and V4 problems, to doing sets with V4 and V5 problems with less rest in between.

Noteable Ascents – Indoors and Outdoors

Putting in my first attempt on Orangahang, 5.12a
  • First 5.12 indoors – flashed it
  • Regularly Flashing 11+ (in the gym)
  • First V6 indoors
  • Able to work the moves/complete the crux on Orangahang, 5.12a in Rumney (new project–very psyched about it)
  • Flashed Waimea, 5.10d in Rumney–I’ve onsighted 10d before, but if feels good to do it in a new crag with a style different from the Red. It also felt pretty easy which was cool.
Flashing Waimea, 5.10d (also peep the guy a couple routes over about to send his project, graded 14c!)

These halfway point results are substantial from my perspective. I look forward to continue putting in work on Orangahang and other project and am very excited to see where this program takes me.

More to come, overall I’d highly recommend the program based on my half-way-there results.

Cheers,

Senderella

Two classic, effective ways to improve footwork for climbing

The worst whip I’ve ever taken resulted in two staples in the back of my head. Why did I fall? My foot blew!

Footwork is very important in climbing–debatably the most important aspect of your technique. Practicing good footwork can make or break your ascents (and maybe even your head).

So what can be done to specifically target footwork improvement? Let’s find out!

I went scouring the internet and my climbing reference books to find some groundbreaking drill that is fun, exciting, convenient, and will cure inefficient footwork for life. I found no such thing.

What I did find (and have my own experience with) are the two drills below. They are widely recommended because they are simple and effective. If you haven’t heard of them, try them out this week and see what you think!

  1. Silent feet – When climbing practice silent foot placement. Ensure that the feet are placed carefully and quietly. When feet are placed silently, they are placed accurately. If the toe gently lands on the chip, and sticks, that one movement is all you need and then you move on. It is meticulous. It is efficient.
  2. Downclimbing – most of climbing is done looking up,  leading with your hands. When you downclimb, your feet lead and the weight is on the toes. Make sure that when you do it, you climb as carefully down as you do up. It can be strange at first, but you get used to it.

The best way to practice these drills is to do so when you warm up. Hop on some easy boulders to warm up for your day of climbing, climb carefully with silent feet and climb down the routes as well.

Here’s a video that I think illustrates this super well (skip about a minute in if you don’t care about what literature pro climbers are reading–feel free to watch if you do!)

I hope you enjoyed your weekly dose of climbing technique. For the betterment of myself and others I’ll be bringing you a technique tip every Tuesday for Technique Tip Tuesday! I’m a sucker for alliterations.

See you next time!

Senderella

A Weekend of Climbing in Rumney, NH

Since pictures are worth a thousand words, here’s 10 pictures that sum up what a blast I had this weekend on my first trip to Rumney, NH.

1. The “V8 boulder” that I was introduced to in the kitchen of our Air Bnb. Note the tic showing the starting crimp. I hadn’t met most of the people I was staying with, so this was a great and hilarious introduction to the gang.

2. Me belaying Mike on our warmup route in The Meadows. Felt great to be clipping bolts again.

3. My friend Cat and I having a blast taking in the views. (PS she just finished hiking the AT–check out her blog at seebagsgo.com)

4. Me having a very fun time flashing Waimea, 5.10d. Also, peep the guy a couple of routes over working his project–14c! He was so excited when he sent it! I was bummed I didn’t get to see it happen.

5. Views from the top of Waimea.

6. Getting Mike to take a nice picture can be very challenging.

7. Case in point.

8. Me putting in my first burn on my new project, Orangahang, 5.12a. This route is so fun and I’m ridiculously psyched about it.

9. Watching another climber send Predator, 5.13b. After he sent it, he unclipped the chains and took a MASSIVE victory whip. The whole crag was stoked.

10. The gang participating in some advanced stick clipping while we supported Scott (bottom of the pyramid) in his pursuit of Charlie Don’t Surf, 5.13b.

It was a stellar trip with incredible weather and I am beyond stoked to have made it up there this weekend.

Hope your week is off to a great start!

Cheers,

Senderella

How to Make a Training Plan Part 5: Logging your climbing and training

I was recently at a gathering of climbing friends from my local gym and was greeted by some surprise patronization:

“I know you, you’re the girl with the journal!”

He was referring to my notebook. that I use for logging my training at the gym. It is where training data is recorded. It is NOT where I pen diary entries about Chris Sharma with his shirt off.
(but while we’re on the subject… here’s Chris Sharma with his shirt off. This one’s for you, ladies!)

Mr. Sharma’s splendid abdominals aside, my notebook is where I keep track of key data from training sessions. This includes things like how much weight I hang on my harness on the 15mm crimp and whether or not I nutted myself when I limit bouldered that day.

I write down everything that is relevant to my training session, so I can use it to improve in future sessions.

This lesson was taught to me via DVD four years ago during my Summer of P90X. I’m the words of esteemed fitness icon, Tony Horton:

“How are you going to know what to do, if you don’t know what you did?”

Tony was yelling this to you between of biceps curls to get you to record your sets. He had a point. It is important to know what you did so you can know how you can improve.

If you aren’t totally sold on being a notebook nerd in the gym yet, here’s a dose of wisdom from climbing trainer Steve Bechtel in his book, Logical Progression. 

…you’re going to refer back to your log frequently. This is not an optional aside to your training, but rather a guide. A few seasons into your training career, and it will be the most valuable piece of gear you own.

With that in mind, let’s get down to details. Here are some tips on how to take good notes on your training .

Tips and Examples:

Below are examples from my notebook of how I track different workouts. I really love this notebook from Amazon–the graph paper paper format makes it super easy to make tables, which I love.

My usual pile of things that I carry around when I boulder.

Example #1: Power Endurance Notation

So, in this workout I was doing a boulder problem on the minute every three minutes. I try to write down the color of the route for my reference so I know what I did the previous time. I also write down what sorts of holds the route has. Additionally, I write the grade in a separate column. I also give myself a quality or a “Q” score–basically how I felt about my attempt on a scale of 1-5. It doesn’t necessarily mean I finished the route, but it describes how well I felt I climbed. The “Q” score is a tip I stole from Logical Progression I also write some notes –this is especially helpful for remembering beta for next time.

Example 2: Notation for a hangboard/strength workout

This is a little more straight forward. I like to set up the table so that I have the exercise on the left with the set noted at the top. For exercises with variable resistance and duration (e.g. a deadlift, or a hangboard set, depending on if you are adding/subtracting weight), I put the number of reps at the top, and the resistance at the bottom, as you can see below. I also take notes in the column on the right!

Example #3: Endurance/ARC Tracking

Below is how i track an endurance day. I write the grade, if I went up and down the route or just down, and any notes. Usually, I climb up a specific route and down any holds available–noted as “rainbow”. For more information about ARC training, click here. 

Three reasons to track your climbing and training:

1. It will be helpful to know what you did in days, months, and years to come so that you can ensure you are improving–even if only incrementally.
2. By tracking your training you can gauge how many rest days you require before certain types of training (especially helpful when trying new types of training/strarting new programs).
3. If this season goes really well, you will want to know exactly why.

How do you track your training? Do you use an app? Have you ever tracked your training before?

If you want to discuss, leave a comment or send an email. I am happy to chat!

For links to parts 1-4 of the series, see below:

Part 1: Goal setting
Part 2: 6 key components of your training plan
Part 3: Block vs. Non-linear periodization
Part 4:  Fitting it all in – training, resting, and outdoor climbing

Have a great rest of your week!

Happy climbing,

Senderella
senderellastory@gmail.com

How to Make a Training Plan Part 4: training, resting, and outdoor climbing to fit your schedule

If you can find 5-6 hours to train every week, you can significantly improve your climbing.  With structured training after work twice a week and a day or two on the weekend, an outdoor weekend trip here and there, you have the time and resources to get better.

So before we move onto part 4, let’s recap:

  1. You have specific, attainable, inspiring goals
  2. You know the six components that go into a succesful plan
  3. You have looked at your goals and their timing and decided whether block or non-linear periodization is best for you.

Now what?

It’s time to get down to the nitty gritty and plan out your time in the gym each week. I am going to take you through some sample schedules that will be mostly relateable to the average weekend warrior–which is me.

I climb 3-4 days/week. I go to the gym 2-3 days after work M-F and climb on the weekends 1-2 days (if I’m lucky, I am outside on these days).

Me, looking particularly glamorous after a long power endurance session at my old gym in Cincinnati, OH.

Non-linear sample schedules

Weekly schedule, non-outdoor climbing:

Day Category Description Duration
Mon Rest
Tues Integrated
Strength
Lifting,
hangboard
75 min
Weds Endurance ARCing 60 min
Thur Rest
Fri Power Endurance timed
bouldering
75 min
Sat Rest watch
football
Sun Power Limit
bouldering
90 minutes
Mon Rest
Tues Integrated
Strength
Lifting,
hangboard
75 min
Weds Endurance ARCing 60 min
Thur Rest

WEEKLY TOTAL TRAINING TIME: 5 hours

Weekly schedule with outdoor climbing:

Day Category Description Duration
Mon Integrated
Strength
Lifting,
hangboard
75 min
Tues Rest
Weds Power Limit
bouldering
90 minutes
Thur Endurance ARCing 60 min
Fri Rest
Sat OUTDOOR CLIMBING
Sun
Mon Rest
Tues Integrated
Strength
Lifting,
hangboard
75 min
Weds Endurance ARCing 60 min
Thur Rest

WEEKLY TOTAL TRAINING HOURS: ~4 hours plus a weekend outside
….
The key is to rotate between Strength, Limit bouldering, Endurance and Power Endurance. I have decoupled my outdoor climbing with my training. I climb outside, have a good time and pick up training where I left off in the cycle when I come back. Learn more about block periodization in part 3.

Block Sample Schedules

For block periodization, at least in the case of the Rock Prodigy Program, the schedule is pretty simple. See below for breakdown by phases. Each phase lasts 2-6 weeks depending on your goals and climbing experience. You can learn more about this program by picking up your own copy of The Rock Climber’s Training Manual.

Base Fitness

Tuesday: ARCing 60-90 minutes
Thursday: ARCing 60-90 minutes
Saturday/Sunday: climb outdoors on moderate routes

Strength:

Tuesday/Thursday: Hangboard, lift
Saturday/Sunday: moderate routes outdoors (or inside)

Power:

Monday: campusing, limit bouldering, lifting
Thursday: limit bouldering
Saturday: outdoor climbing
Rest Sunday

Power Endurance:

Tuesday/Thursday: linked boulder circuits or route intervals
Saturday/Sunday: redpoint attempts

Resting

Resting is critical. Recently I’ve noticed myself trying to do too much back to back. I only recently have dialed in what I can do back to back and what I can’t. I know I need a rest day before I limit boulder now, no matter what. I also need a rest day before strength training. I also know that if I’m feeling too tired for that day’s agenda I can slot in low-end endurance and move on to the next day of training when the time comes.

Me about to step into this icy cold pool on a rest day in Spain last summer. The cold was real nice on the muscles.

I also prefer to rest before I go outside. I want to be fresh and presentable when I get the chance to climb on real rocks.

Outdoor climbing

I get outside whenever I can and I do my best to make the most of these days. I like to follow Eric Horst’s philosophy on the time you spend climbing:

“Shoot for a 3:1 ratio of practice time to performance time”.

Gym days are for practice, for me. Extrapolating from this philosophy, days outside are about 1/3 performance and 2/3 practice. In a weekend I like to spend one of the days working something hard and the other day climbing things I can onsight. This enables me to both try hard and practice smooth, high-skill climbing outside.

My friends and I having too much fun when we got ourselves rained out at the Red a few months back.

I climb outside as much as life allows and I hope you do too!

 

Summary

1. If you can climb three days per week and dedicate an average of 6-8 hours/week to climbing, you can improve.

2. Rest days must be taken when needed

3. Climbing outside is fun and opportunities to climb outside should be seized and cherished and celebrated with crag beers with good pals.

How many days a week can you get to the gym? What time management strategies have you found? 

I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment or shoot me an email at senderellastory@gmail.com

Happy climbing!

Senderella

How to Make a Training Plan Part 3: Block vs. Nonlinear Periodization

To quicly re-cap:

The first part of making a training program is to set attainable, inspiring, goals.
The second is to know what components of your climbing need to be improved in order achieve your goals. 

In part three we review two types of training structures. There are different ways to set up your training on a day-to-day, week-to-week and month-to-month basis. These are block and non-linear periodization. They both have their pros and cons and either training structure is only as good as the climber’s adherence to the program.

What is periodization?

Generically speaking, periodization is the idea that training is more effective if you train certain attributes in a time-specific way. Periodization is an idea that is employed in many athletic fields, climbing included. See scholarly definition below.

Periodization is an organized approach to training that involves progressive cycling of various aspects of a training program during a specific period of time.

(Frankel, C.C. & Kravitz, L. (2000). Periodization: Latest Studies and Practical Applications. IDEA Personal Trainer, 11(1), 15-16)

Comparison of Block and. Non-Linear Periodization

I have personal experience with both styles. I have completed multiple macrocycles of what is essentially a block periodization program and it was very effective. This is what made up the first year or so of my training.

Currently, I am in the middle of my first non-linear program and I am really enjoying the change—the results are not yet in in terms of improvement in my climbing as I have not yet completed it, but at minimum certain measurable aspects of my climbing have definitely improved (finger strength, completion/improvement on some indoor boulders, etc.).

I could explain each style of program with some lengthy post, but the comparison of the two can be nicely summed up using the table below.


Block

Non-Linear
Structure
Breaks up your training into 3-4 distinct phases where you focus on one attribute of climbing at a time for 4-6 weeks.*

  • Endurance
  • Strength
  • Power
  • Power Endurance
  • Performance

*Note that although the focus is on one attribute per phase—there are other attributes being worked on simultaneously in the background. No block training program is purely one component at a time.

 Rotation throughout the program, working on all critical attributes concurrently over the course of 7-10 days (depending on how much rest you need).

The schedule would look some thing like this:

Mon – Strength
Weds – Power
Thurs – Endurance
Saturday – Power Endurance

Performance &
Outdoor Climbing
Reach a performance peak at the end of the training plan. During some periods of the training, outdoor climbing may need to be ommitted for adherence to the program . Outdoor climbing can be de-coupled with training. You can go climb outside and project on the weekends—no specific performance “peak”.
Specific Literature
Rock Prodigy Program
How to Climb 5.12
Logical Progression
Pros
Strong performance peak, effective. You can, in theory, be performing all throughout the program. Flexible and engaging because you rotate through different workouts (strength, limit bouldering, etc.) in addition to working different aspects in one single training session.
Cons
Training must be planned around trip outside to work on goal route. Potential omission of outdoor climbing to focus on training. Can be daunting to focus on one attribute for a month at a time. Certain aspects decline while focusing on other aspects. No specific performance peak. May develop certain aspects (finger strength, power) more slowly than if you focused on one aspect at a time.

After evaluating my own goals for the season and my schedule, I have chosen a nonlinear periodization program for this training season. I am currently following the Logical Progression program laid out by Steve Bechtel and I am really enjoying it so far. I chose this program because I think it works well for the time frame in which I need to be in tip top shape. I will be trying to hit some personal bests on a couple of trips in October and November, so a very targeted performance peak does not work for me this year in terms of timing. I also thought it might be time to change it up a bit, which has been really fun so far!

UPCOMING TRIPS

I am headed to Mallorca, Spain for a week in October (1 month out!). I am also headed to the Red River Gorge for a long weekend as well. I will have just three days to try and take down my first 12b (ahh!).

My first go at Super Best Friends (5.12b). I got rained out of working on it more on my last trip to the Red. This route is the goal for my next trip down there in November!

Once you have your own goals and your time frame nailed down, you can choose which will work best for you too!

Which style of training appeals to you and your goals? If you’ve tried both, which do you like better?

Leave a comment or shoot me and email, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Happy climbing,

Senderella