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Improving in your 40s and later
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crackmeup


Mar 21, 2012, 12:32 PM
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Improving in your 40s and later
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I've been bouldering at more or less the same level for the past 2-3 years. Before that I trained and made progress for a few years, then my job turned insane and I went into "maintenance mode." I was still bouldering 3-4 times a week, for maybe an hour at a time.

Now my job is back to normal, I can even do brief road trips. Just came back from a few days in Bishop, very motivated. I want to go back to training and see if I can do a few old projects.

The main issue is that I'm 42 years old, and the most important thing to me is to not get injured. I haven't used a hangboard in a while, but I've been doing occasional campus board workouts (nothing too strenuous). I have a pretty good idea of what my weaknesses are.

The question is how to design a training program to accomplish my goals. I want to err on the side of caution while making some progress. I have access to everything I need at my gym: weights, a system board, a hangboard, a campus board, and of course many boulder problems that change often. I also live within an hour of a few decent bouldering areas where I can go on weekends.

Any tips / pointers / experiences from fellow 40+ climbers appreciated.


wmshub


Mar 21, 2012, 1:41 PM
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Re: [crackmeup] Improving in your 40s and later [In reply to]
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I'm interested in any info also. I just discovered how fun rock climbing in a couple months ago, and I'm mad at myself for not starting when I was younger. I'm 43 now. I'm in decent shape (I run and lift weights), but in the past few years have had occasional tendonitis problems. Since I started climbing I've had an ache and stiffness in my right middle finger that may be flexor tendonitis, so I've dialled way back and luckily the pain is fading slowly away (still can't straighten my finger first thing in the morning though). Any advice on how a person in their 40's can climb and stay in good climbing shape while minimizing the chance of injury is something I'd like to hear.


superchuffer


Mar 30, 2012, 3:38 PM
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Re: [crackmeup] Improving in your 40s and later [In reply to]
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yoga. core work. stretching. listening to your body. get a personal trainer that knows climbing movement. find others your (my) age that are better and do what they do.


shockabuku


Mar 30, 2012, 4:20 PM
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Re: [wmshub] Improving in your 40s and later [In reply to]
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Work on movement on grades that aren't overly taxing and that allow you to climb lots. Finding a coach that can help you work on movement skills/technique is pretty powerful.


crackmeup


Mar 30, 2012, 4:22 PM
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Thanks, those are good ideas. I tried yoga a few years back and I didn't find it too useful, it may be time to give it another shot.

If you have any suggestions on core work (which I know I need more of) that would be useful. Right now all I do is hanging from the pull-up bar and raising my legs to a 90 degree angle, 3x8 a couple times a week.

I'm trying to get better at listening to my body, in particular resisting the temptation to try out problems with "shouldery" or treacherous moves. It takes a lot of self-discipline, especially when you climb with younger people :)

In general the people I know who are better than I are also younger. I know of people who boulder double digits in their 40s, but the older guys at the local gyms are like me at best. Perhaps the older strongmen have flexible jobs and train earlier in the day :)

I'm starting to work the campus board again, very conservatively. Anybody campusing in their 40s?


shockabuku


Mar 30, 2012, 5:16 PM
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Campusing gave me elbow tendonitis in my 30's.

Bouldering is about as intense as I can handle and I can't manage to sustain hard bouldering (relatively speaking) without 2-3 days rest in between. I either try to climb routes followed by hard bouldering the next day then rest day or two, maybe three, or maybe multiple route days focused on mileage vs. diffficulty, or if I do multiple days of bouldering it's a couple of grades below max.

It's important to be willing to back off if you feel things going wrong.


gblauer
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Mar 30, 2012, 5:46 PM
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Re: [crackmeup] Improving in your 40s and later [In reply to]
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Get the Self Coached Climber...there are many suggestions in that book that will help you improve your performance without getting injured.

I added general fitness to my routine. I see a personal trainer 1x per week (some serious weight lifting) and I do a minimum 50 minutes of hard core cardio 6 days per week.

All of these things combined should help you get stronger.

(I also believe that Yoga is helpful; stretching and balance)


naitch


Mar 31, 2012, 4:09 AM
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Re: [gblauer] Improving in your 40s and later [In reply to]
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I didn't start getting into climbing until 50 and then got obsessed. In the first couple years I tore the A2 pulley tendon in various fingers several times. Take it easy on the crimps, deadpoints, dynos etc. Tendons gain strength much slower then muscles (especially in the 40+ crowd) so it's easy to injure them.

Get a pair of rock rings or hangboard and use judiciously. You need to be extremely careful using it. Using a length of dive tubing with a foot loop tied into it to take some weight off, or a pulley system that you can add weight to connected to your harness (via the pulley) can help you adjust the force on the hangs to a percentage of your body weight so you do't tweak fingers. Eventually you'll even be able to add weight.

Technique is king as has already been mentioned (get a coach and read SSC and "9 Out of 10 Climbers Make the Same Mistakes" by MacLeod). I'm still making improvements in my climbing at 61 but it's mainly through continuing to improve my technique.

Train oppositional muscles so you don't get an imbalance of muscles which can lead to injury.

Rest was also mentioned. Listen to your body. Everybody's different. You'll never be able to keep up with the intensity of the 20 somethings but you'll gain endurance with time. Rest days are a must.


(This post was edited by naitch on Mar 31, 2012, 12:29 PM)


Toast_in_the_Machine


Mar 31, 2012, 9:47 AM
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Re: [crackmeup] Improving in your 40s and later [In reply to]
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Leverage your strengths, work on your weaknesses.

My weakness was, and is, flexibility. I found gaining strength easier than improving flexibility. Improving technique was easiest of all. I have years of learning many different things and it helped me to learn technique quicker than some. (Not to say my technique is great, it was just easier to pick up then strength or flexibility)

Even though we are in the same demographic, your strengths and weaknesses may be different.

Donít buy into the ďover 40Ē myth. Sure you arenít going to be an elite climber, but donít be afraid to push yourself. Often I see cowardice to try hard masked as an age related excuse.


Mark_Hudon


Mar 31, 2012, 11:06 AM
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Re: [Toast_in_the_Machine] Improving in your 40s and later [In reply to]
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I'm in pretty good shape, I work out a lot (I think I simply like working out), I have rings, a campus board, weights, a pull up board, a stationary bike trainer, etc. I stretch and try to warm up. I do it all.

My fingers can't take too much crimping so I've learned to climb open handed, I can't pull as much or as hard as I used to so I've learned to use my feet and body position better.

I technique the shit out of stuff!

I look at the pitch and plan where to fire through and where to rest. I outsmart the pitch and all the younger climbers.

Also, I accept my age and my limitations. I used to redpoint 5.13, now though I'm happy with 5.12 on a real good day, hell, I'm happy to go out for a day climbing! I listen to my body and might call it a day sooner than in the past.

I think I was 42 when I redpointed my hardest route ever, a .13c. Still though, the Nose in a Day again is still in my future as well as a "free as can be" (as free as I can do it) ascent of Freerider and there are still a couple .13s out there that I'd like to tick if I have the time.

I'm not dead yet and I hope to be climbing for a lot longer and enjoying every minute of it.
I'm 56.


(This post was edited by Mark_Hudon on Mar 31, 2012, 11:54 AM)


superchuffer


Apr 1, 2012, 7:18 AM
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Re: [crackmeup] Improving in your 40s and later [In reply to]
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I'm on a big yoga kick right now so I'd say any core work you need would be covered by it or pilates. the main reason i do yoga isn't for the flexibility, it is for imbalances that result in elbow pain.

it is great that you are training strength, but i would also say don't boulder constantly. do some peroidization of endurance and active recovery to give the muscles and tendons a rest from that treatment.


flesh


Apr 3, 2012, 11:04 AM
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Ben Moon did his first V14 when he was 45!

Granted, he had probably already done a dozen or so v13's....

That's what I keep telling myself (just turned 33).


pushdownonrock


Jul 12, 2012, 8:02 AM
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Hey man I'm knockin on 42's door and no pun intended feel your pain......you didn't mention how much training ...not climbing experience you have.... but that being said climbing is a sport and it has been my experience that all the same training rules apply.....the fact that your a little older only means that you may need to pay closer attention to and adjust that training to how your body responds a little more often.....I use fish oils, glucosamine, and a good multi and have very few issues other than the occasional stiffness....so you know I climb 3 days a week, run or bike almost daily, and do x-fit twice a week....yes I do work, have a child and I'm married....your body is an amazing thing....and you know your limits better than anyone else....trust it and live life with a smile


pushdownonrock


Jul 12, 2012, 8:17 AM
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 check my reply to the guy above, and then get serious with your nutrition, your body's recoup time is slowing some so making sure it has what it needs to work at an optimum level is key.........drink shit loads of water.....I'm 41 by the way....at this point in your life nutrition is 1st, technique/mental awareness 2nd, consistency in training is next ......and after that you just need a good spotter/belay monkey that can shout "you got this" convincingly.......


jackmarr


May 8, 2013, 10:56 PM
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Re: [pushdownonrock] Improving in your 40s and later [In reply to]
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This is a good thread for me-- I have been climbing seriously for about 7 years now and am in that age bracket. We moved recently and are just doing a lot more bouldering compared with more route climbing before, also because our nearly 4 year old son is increasingly favoring it over roping up and is getting better and better and more motivated, especially outside:)

I agree with all that's been said: yoga, technique, careful on overly shouldery (or dynoish!) moves, read an use 9 out of 10 and SCC, etc., but my biggest improvements lately have come from cutting weight. Not sure how lean you are, but for me a 5 lb weight loss makes a much bigger difference than a huge volume of training-- especially if your technique and strength are pretty good already. If this is not an issue for you keep on campusing (with care), but if so a few less ice cream sundaes or gummi bears can really help you pull!


meanandugly


May 9, 2013, 5:49 AM
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Re: [crackmeup] Improving in your 40s and later [In reply to]
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I started climbing when I was 10 and I am now 45. For my 1st few years I couldn't get enough of it, but as life went on it became something I just dabbled in. In my mid 20's I went crazy again...at one stretch climbing every day for 500+ days. This caused numerous injuries on top of the many others from other high impact activities. In my early to mid 30's I had to slow down and then a job change in my 40's, thankfully, forced me to take a year off and most of those injuries have all calmed down.
Now that I am getting back into it, my main focus is injury prevention. I focus on good clean technique and maintaining good flexibility and core strength. Nutrition, is a key factor as your aging and I keep my protein intake high from multiple sources. If I do something that make me sore I don't concern myself unless it is in a joint. Joint pain is my big indicator that maybe I should do that activity or take more care when doing that activity.
Remember to train smarter, not harder. Don't look for big gains over a short period of time.
Take care and have fun
Randall


(This post was edited by meanandugly on May 9, 2013, 5:50 AM)


camhead


May 9, 2013, 6:24 AM
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Re: [meanandugly] Improving in your 40s and later [In reply to]
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I'm not that old compared to others in this thread (34), although injuries, chronic conditions, and general wear and tear sometimes make me feel older than I am.

There are a million different workout routines, but broadly, I would say do not push too closely to overuse, train oppositional muscles, and core. I'm a huge fan of hangboarding as a means of preventing tendon injuries, and if you do it right, hangboarding is actually way less stressful on your body than campusing, and easy to establish max limits.

More broadly, the style of climbing you do will matter. Most of the older climbers I know who excel (5.13 or harder) are doing longer, enduro routes like at the Red River Gorge, Maple, or Rifle. The older boulderers whom I know do mostly off-vertical, techy problems. I know very few older climbers who are pushing the limits on tweaky pockets or steep, dynamic boulder problems. Even hard crack climbing wears your body and messes up your fingers over the years.


freezorburn


May 9, 2013, 10:58 AM
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I am 43, I improved climbing a lot by:

Lossing weight
Doing sit ups
Learning how to slack line.

Have no idea how it works for you, but for me sit ups and learning to slack line helped my climbing a lot.


Oh and also all the great advice from all the self proclaimed experts on this site Wink


crackmeup


May 9, 2013, 11:43 AM
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Since I wrote that post I improved quite a bit. I did my first v8 shortly after I turned 43 (a fair amount of work), and several v7s in a relatively low number of tries. Most of my improvement came after a three-month cycle of fingerboarding, campusing and power endurance. On most weekend trips I find a 6 or a 7 that I can do, which is something that seemed out of reach when I was 40.

At this point I don't think I can improve much more without serious risk of injury, so I'm focusing on maintaining my current level for as long as possible. I try to listen to my body, and skip problems that put too much strain on my fingers and shoulders. It looks like v10 is out of the question unless I want to take a gamble with more cycles of hard training (and risk being out of commission for several months). Doesn't seem worth it.


meanandugly


May 9, 2013, 1:49 PM
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Oh and also all the great advice from all the self proclaimed experts on this site Wink
Who proclaimed to be an expert?


chadnsc


May 9, 2013, 2:47 PM
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Re: [gblauer] Improving in your 40s and later [In reply to]
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gblauer wrote:
Get the Self Coached Climber...there are many suggestions in that book that will help you improve your performance without getting injured.

I added general fitness to my routine. I see a personal trainer 1x per week (some serious weight lifting) and I do a minimum 50 minutes of hard core cardio 6 days per week.

All of these things combined should help you get stronger.

(I also believe that Yoga is helpful; stretching and balance)

With your cardio 6x a week, yoga and weight lifting 1x a week how do you find time to climb?


gblauer
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May 9, 2013, 7:24 PM
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Re: [chadnsc] Improving in your 40s and later [In reply to]
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I only do an 50 minutes to an hour of cardio each day, usually in the early AM. I only climb in the gym 2x per week (nights) and outdoors 2x per week.


(This post was edited by gblauer on May 9, 2013, 7:25 PM)


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