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:
Twist your body to climb overhanging routes more efficiently
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!
Keep your hips into the wall! Check out the video below to get a more detailed overview of why this is so critical.
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!
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.
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 ProgressionProgram. 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!
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).
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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).
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.
Tuesday/Thursday: linked boulder circuits or route intervals
Saturday/Sunday: redpoint attempts
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.
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.
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:
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.
I climb outside as much as life allows and I hope you do too!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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.
Breaks up your training into 3-4 distinct phases where you focus on one attribute of climbing at a time for 4-6 weeks.*
*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
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”.
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.
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 Progressionprogram 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!
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!).
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.
If you don’t know what The Gunks are, they are a group of Mountains situated in upstate New York in near the quaint and kitschy town of New Paltz.
The area is haven for hikers, trail runners, bikers, climbers, and vacationers alike. Behind the well-maintained trails and lovely resort facade; however, lies a gnarly climbing area. It is an area where 5.5 will make you pee your pants and only the trad-daddiest of crushers are putting their pieces in a 5.9.
To my chagrin as a spoiled ex-Red River Gorge sport climber, there are no bolts anywhere. However, what the Gunks lacks in bolts, it makes up for in trad routes. According to my friend who has been climbing there for 6 years the Gunks has “more than you could hope to climb in a lifetime if you went every weekend until you died”.
On my trip, we kept it casual. Due to a lack of both trad experience and gear, we did an early morning sampling of the boulders on Undercliff Road. It was exceptionally good fun and I am very grateful to our new friend from our local gym for coming up on short notice, lending us pads, and serving as an excellent tour guide.
“So what you do is walk down Undercliff Road and boulder your way back.” Our buddy explained as we walked down the well-maintained path. Undercliff Road is long. The boulders and routes are on one side and an immaculate view of the valley is on your right. We couldn’t see it for most of the morning, but the fog was really cool!
We started out on box car boulder, doing some warm up routes–VO through V1. Our friend also explained that the grades were stiff. Take your gym grade and add three. I don’t boulder outside much, but this sounded about right. Going into this trip to the Gunks, I expected this ferocious gap between indoor and outdoor grades. I had made sure when I left my apartment that morning to leave my ego at home. It was much more fun that way.
After Box Car, we made our way down to Andrew’s boulder. I worked on it a bit. It’s classic V4, where, if you’re tall enough, you do this crazy move where you drop your heel hook to a toe hook so you can get the last couple of inches out of your legs to reach the next hold. It was ridiculous. I’m too short to get to do that move, but I am pretty psyched to keep working on it. Apparently you can keep climbing in the Gunks until December if you’re lucky. You might see me there.
A few mini-projects later, we made it to our final route. (See some fun mini-proj pictures below– I actually remembered to take pictures of these).
We then made it to the final route of the day, back at the beginning of Undercliff Road. It’s called the Lorax.
“It used to be fun, until they cut the trees down! It makes the whole route at least one grade easier.” Our friend reminisced about the days that there were two trees in front of the problem, making it exciting and absurd to negotiate. “It didn’t count if you touched the tree. If you even looked at the tree funny, you didn’t sent it.”
He also added “I prefer to climb without the crowds, so I like to get here around 6 or 7 a.m. By the time I’m done, everyone else is showing up.” Which was true. By the time we were ready to leave, the rectangle-backed afternoon boulderers were coming in droves. It was time to go.
We walked off of Undercliff Road sun-soaked, smelly, and happily exhausted. Mike and I smashed some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches before hitting the road. In two hours we were back at home, napping.
I’m a pretty lackluster boulderer and I don’t know anything about trad climbing, but I do know that I am very, very excited to get to know my new home crag–and maybe expand my horizons while I’m at it.
Training for a project is like a mixing a great cocktail. A variety of ingredients, well-synthesized and carefully planned will yield great results. In this article we’re going to go over the different bases, modifiers, and huge cocktail-shaking forearms you need to make the ascent of your goal route both smooth and delicious.
Let us start with a quick exercise. Grab a beer and enjoy the short film below of Michaela Kiersch sending Golden Ticket (14c) at my [former] home crag–The Red River Gorge.
For starters, this route is 85 feet tall and has many challenging moves and holds. Note that Michaela has the endurance to deal with marginal crimps for all 85 ft. She has the power and strength to accomplish the move, recover from it, and clip the anchors. In addition, she has to have the stamina to try this route many times in one day since she is in school and is only able to make it down to the crag on the weekends.
Summarily, in order to redpoint this route, she needed to:
1. Be able to do all of the moves.
2. Be able to link all of these moves together.
3. Have the capacity to make put in multiple burns on it in one day since she is short on time.
4. Not get injured in the process
We may not all be intensely projecting 14c, but if you are reading this blog, you probably have a goal route–or a few–in mind (if you don’t, see How to Make a Training Plan Part 1: Goals You can Point To). It is natural then, that you would want your training program to address all of the above. After reviewing some of the most popular training regimens by a variety of authors and doing a few of them myself, it seems that training for single pitch sport climbing can be summarized by these 6 components: strength, endurance, power, skill, power endurance, and injury prevention.* *Note that my training and goals are primarily for single pitch sport climbs, at this time. The cruciality of these components will vary for other styles of climbing.
Strength The concept of strength is pretty simple–you either have the physical capacity to do something or you don’t. In climbing, a good program will focus on the following, in terms of strength:
By definition, an antagonist muscle is a muscle that directly opposes another muscle. In climbing, we use all of our muscles; however, climbers tend to overdevelop certain muscle groups. Therefore, a good program will have you develop the lesser-used muscles. Read more about antagonist muscle strength from The Climbing Doctor!
Selection of exercises with a focus on climbing specific movement
Whether you are too pumped to clip at bolt 3 or at bolt 11–if you don’t have the endurance to recover from the crux and finish the route, you are never going to send. Building up your low-end endurance capacity is important.
See Guide to Endurance Training for more details.
Let’s talk physics. See equation below.
Power = Work/time
Now let’s look at a practical example from my personal life.
My boyfriend, Mike, is very tall–about 6’3″. He is able to reach things that I cannot and thus, some moves work better for him when they are done statically. I am not tall, and there are some holds that I will not be reaching unless I start moving dynamically.
If Mike and I both do the same move, but he take 5 seconds to do it because he can move slowly, and I take 1 second to do it because I jumped–I have done the same amount of work in less time, and therefore I have displayed more power.*
A good training program will set you up to increase your power so that you can efficiently do those big powerful moves on your project without letting one big throw bust your whole send.
*if we are being extra nerdy, technically Mike has more mass than me, so technically he has done more work than I have. However, let’s not get too detailed.
This is where things get whacky. Experts get into debates all day about whether or not power endurance is even a real energy system–this is fine. As climbers, I think the term “power endurance” is a term that makes sense to many of us, so we are just going to take it and run with it. Let’s look at another example.
Climber A can climb v8 in the gym. Once he tries on it for a week or so, he can get warmed up, rest properly, and do the problem. If he wanted to do it again, however, he’d have to wait at least 5 minutes to rest and he may or may not have the capacity to do so when he tries again.
Climber B can also climb v8 in the gym. However, climber B has a different rest requirement to do this problem. She is able to place this problem in a circuit. Climber B can start on this v8, climb down a v3 to recover, stay on a jug for a nice, active rest and do the v8 again.
Both climbers exhibit the power to do the moves on this problem; however, Climber B has the power endurance to repeat these powerful moves without a full resting recovery. Climber A does not.
Power endurance is the ability to exhibit near-maximum power over and over again. It is the ability to maintain a prolonged display of near-maximum power. A quality training program will also focus on improving this element of a climber’s skill set.
If you want to learn more about this, give TrainingBeta Podcast Episode 101 a listen–one of my favorite trainers, Steve Bechtel, explains power/strength endurance very well.
At its core, climbing is a skill sport. If you want to get better at it, you will not do so by doing tons of pullups. You must learn lots of moves and hone your skills to improve as a climber. I think this point is summed up very well by Eric Horst in his book, How to Climb 5.12.
The best climbers [climb at] an exceedingly high level because they have internally programmed gazillions of different moves that are on call at a moment’s notice.
Essentially, you can be great at hangboarding, campusing, and doing pull-ups, but if you never improve your technique you won’t be getting better at climbing. A well-planned training program has plenty of on-rock time in which you can hone your skills.
If you are run-down, your shoulders feel like trash, and you slept three hours last night, you aren’t going to be performing or training optimally.
However you train, the first priority should be to avoid injury. Generally, if you can’t climb you can’t get better at climbing.
Overall, a quality training program will focus on improving your strength, power, endurance, skill, power endurance, and preventing injury. Blend all of these