Forums: Climbing Information: Beginners: Re: [rgold] Woman climbers, arm strength: Edit Log




shotwell


Apr 7, 2012, 6:54 AM

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Registered: Jan 5, 2009
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Re: [rgold] Woman climbers, arm strength
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rgold wrote:
shotwell wrote:
I never said you can't improve with sport specific strength training, just that you won't be as efficient as if you're using that time to climb. Again, some strength is necessary, but you can certainly build it by sport climbing or bouldering….I'm NOT saying that people can't pursue improvement through alternative means. I'm just saying that movement skill training is considered to have a greater rate of payoff than sport specific strength training.



I don't know what "efficient" or "rate of payoff" is supposed to mean here. It seems to me that both are based on an assumption that no time spent not climbing can possibly be as effective as climbing. Obviously, Steph Davis doesn't believe this, and if this claim were true, then climbing might be the only athletic activity in the world for which it is true. In every other sport I know of, beginning to advanced participants have found it advantageous to spend some time in strength training targeted to the needs of the sport but not developed through simply practicing the sport.

Here's another way to think about it: if you get hurt and need to rehab, you'll be doing all kinds of supplementary training before you get back to climbing, at least if you ever want to recover. Climbing by itself is neither efficient nor does it offer a high payoff in this case.

The rehab analogy is neither far-fetched nor irrelevant. The advantage of supplementary training is control. First, control of the loads imposed on the body, and second, control of the progress of those loads. By contrast, training via climbing has neither form of control. Individual moves, most especially dynamic ones, will place highly variable and unpredictable loads on the body, and although one can go from easier to harder problems, the level of control over the resistances applied to the body isn't even remotely comparable to the fine-tuned ability to adjust supplementary training loads.

Training isn't an either-or situation in any other sport and I don't see any reason why it should be an either-or situation in climbing. Climbing training, involving technique, movement, strength, endurance, and coordination drills, supplemented by weight and/or gymnastic training that targets weaknesses relevant to either climbing moves or injury prevention makes more sense than trying to do it all through climbing. That approach doesn't work for other sports, you can't rehab injuries that way, and there is no reason I can see why climbing should be radically different.

Shotwell's sample of one is contradicted by the considerably more experienced Steph Davis sample of one, and in any case tells us nothing about what the best, safest, and most efficient approach might be, because we can't run Shotwell's wife through an alternate program to see how she would have done, and we can't run clones of her through the same experiences to see what injury potential she may have dodged by building strength via relatively uncontrollable means.

By the way, campusing does not meet the kind of control criteria I mentioned above, which makes it a relatively risky training procedure that is only appropriate for advanced climbers for whom the potential gains outweigh the injury risks.

Many years ago, I had some friendly arguments with a famous climber who insisted that the best way to climbing was just to climb. He developed into a fantastic climber, but I think the lack of supplementary training together with a steady diet of very strenuous climbing resulted in the shoulder instabilities that essentially ended his career.

Getting back to the topic at hand, there are controllable progressive pulling exercises Shannon could do that would double or triple her pullup ability. (Most definitely not the Armstrong program, however. Once she can do, say, six to ten pullups, she'd be far better off building higher pulling strength rather than shooting for pointless high repetition numbers.) Add to the pullups a few simple exercises to strengthen and protect the shoulder girdle and she will be a better and more injury-resistant climber with a better shot at a long career. I'd guess she could make significant progress in an hour a week (split into three 20-minute sessions). That is hardly going to take a big bite out of her climbing opportunities or decrease the "efficiency" of her climbing training.

I agree absolutely that if you have time for both, and you don't do so much conditioning that you reduce the quality of your climbing opportunities there is not much to lose.

To quote Hörst this time instead of paraphrasing, "The learning curve for skill training is steeper and continues upward for longer and more steadily than a curve showing climbing gains in climbing strength from fitness training. Period." He goes on to say, "Elite climbers with highly trained skills are the exception."

While he doesn't express his reasons for suggesting this, I do trust his opinion. I trust it even more because Hörst at least appears to be a total conditioning junkie.

Using Steph as a metric to compare against a beginner is disingenuous. Steph is of the elite, she isn't just getting started. I can't say absolutely why Steph sees payoffs from strength training, but a plausible explanation is that she has learned properly to apply those strength gains through a keen understanding of how her body interacts with the stone.

I also agree that my wife could have gained her current level of climbing skill in another way. Is the way she did things the best? I don't honestly know. But according to Hörst, it could be.

As far as injury prevention exercises are concerned, it was never my intention to argue against them. Your posts make it clear that I'm ignoring pull exercises and general strength exercises that may extend careers. I primarily stretch for injury prevention, but I'd always be willing to expand my repertoire if it meant extending my career. I've probably been too blase in my decade of climbing about this. Upon reflection, I should probably make some changes here. Thanks for the well thought out argument.

It is also clear that climbers need to have a general baseline of fitness. If you're overweight or a long term couch potato, you'll need to get your strength up and your weight down. Even people that are relatively fit (for America) may need some general conditioning. I'm not sure pulling exercises would be my preferred method of altering a strength:weight ratio, but it is one option.

Thanks again Rich, your skilled debate and wealth of experience make this a fun conversation.


(This post was edited by shotwell on Apr 7, 2012, 7:50 AM)



Edit Log:
Post edited by shotwell () on Apr 7, 2012, 7:50 AM


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