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Relative beginner at bouldering
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Bridge


Jun 24, 2012, 3:33 PM
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Relative beginner at bouldering
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I've been bouldering seriously for a little over 4 months now (though I attended some beginner courses when I was younger) and am progressing at a fairly decent rate I think. However I know all to well how frustrating bad technique can be in the long run (self-taught on several musical instruments) and so I wanted to dump some questions on you guys and hopefully improve my knowledge and thus progress more efficiently.

1. Injuries; I hear about a lot of horrible injuries as a result of bad climbing, most notably and most painfully (save for death of course) being pulley ruptures (at least I think so). I haven't sustained any serious injuries as a result of climbing so far (none actually, apart from cracked skin and some exceptionally sore muscles) but I want to prevent them if I can anyway. Warming up efficiently (which I don't really know how to do) and stretching efficiently (again, which I don't really know how to do) seem to be key in avoiding injuries that aren't a result of bad technique. So:

2. Warming up; I'm not sure whether I should warm up by doing dead hangs, skipping rope or doing any non-climbing exercises or just static climb juggey V0 routes. At the moment all I do to warm up is stretch all the major muscles (to be honest probably not even most of them) for about 8 seconds each and after that climb easy routes for about 10 minutes. Is this enough to avoid injuries or have I just been extremely lucky? I never climb more than 2 hours tops, take frequent breaks and rest every other day, which probably helps immensely.

3. Stretching; After reading a few topics on here and reading some articles it seems like static stretching is not the way to go. Instead something called dynamic stretching is used. I understand the basic gist of it but I don't really understand how it really stretches the muscles at all (and everyone at the gym I go to static stretches (from what I've seen), but of course it is possible they are all wrong). Can someone recommend specific stretches and how to do them effectively?

4. Technique; I'm practically crimp-phobic and avoid them whenever possible (which is easy because I only climb V3/V4 routes at the moment). But surely it is good to practice them, right? I read a few articles that relayed different messages when it comes to crimping. Some say you can train other aspects and get good at crimping and some say you need to train them specifically. Right now I am trying to practice on the campus board by having one hand on a jug and the other on a crimp and trying to do pull-ups (which is insanely difficult). One thing I am unsure of though is the correct technique. This is what feels most natural to me:



but one of the people at my gym (who is a very good climber) recommends this (to avoid bone injury):



which really hurts my fingertips. I realize that on some small crimps the former technique is not possible but is it really true that it is bad technique?

5. This one is minor but I live in Iceland and at the gym I go to the highest rated route is V8 (I think), and yet on the internet it seems the Hueco system goes all the way up to V16. Is this just a cultural discrepancy (as in European V8 = North American V16) or do the routes really go all the way up to 16, because those V8 routes look brutal as fuck.

So, I apologize for that wall of text (I tried to cut it up) but I am eager to learn and don't want to make any crippling mistakes if they are avoidable. Thanks a lot in advance.


malcolm777b


Jun 24, 2012, 4:16 PM
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Re: [Bridge] Relative beginner at bouldering [In reply to]
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Bridge wrote:
Right now I am trying to practice on the campus board by having one hand on a jug and the other on a crimp and trying to do pull-ups (which is insanely difficult).

Training crimps specifically is controversial at best. Training crimps at 4 months into climbing is putting yourself on a fast track to injury.

Bridge wrote:
Is this just a cultural discrepancy (as in European V8 = North American V16) or do the routes really go all the way up to 16, because those V8 routes look brutal as fuck.

Not only do routes really go up to V16, gyms are usually rated quite soft in the lower grades. Gym V2s are quite often more like outside V0s, and V3/4 is usually around V1. This is to make the beginner feel like they can actually do problems and not get instantly frustrated. Higher graded gym problems are usually closer to the real deal though, because the people setting them are climbing around that grade or higher (and less in need of an ego boost).


Bridge


Jun 24, 2012, 4:45 PM
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Re: [malcolm777b] Relative beginner at bouldering [In reply to]
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malcolm777b wrote:
Training crimps specifically is controversial at best. Training crimps at 4 months into climbing is putting yourself on a fast track to injury.

Not only do routes really go up to V16, gyms are usually rated quite soft in the lower grades. Gym V2s are quite often more like outside V0s, and V3/4 is usually around V1. This is to make the beginner feel like they can actually do problems and not get instantly frustrated. Higher graded gym problems are usually closer to the real deal though, because the people setting them are climbing around that grade or higher (and less in need of an ego boost).

1. When I say "train" I really just mean attempt one every few sessions, but if it is really that inadvisable then I will stop doing it for sure.

2. I understand; thanks for clearing that up. Though I'm not sure how exactly the gym I go to scales up to others, but it is practically (if not truly) the only bouldering gym in the capital region (wouldn't surprise me if it were the only one in the entire country) so I'm stuck there. I really can't imagine what V16s must be like if the routes I'm climbing are actually just V1s. Are they just vertical walls?


theextremist04


Jun 24, 2012, 6:54 PM
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Re: [Bridge] Relative beginner at bouldering [In reply to]
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IOB15TcT0DE

The Game is basically just compression slopers with terrible feet on a 60 degree roof.


phoenixfire


Jun 24, 2012, 8:13 PM
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Re: [Bridge] Relative beginner at bouldering [In reply to]
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I personally think about 15-20 minutes of yoga followed by another 15-20 minutes of easy climbing is the best warm up for me. Yoga helps stretch and realign muscles, joints, and bones before you mess them up again with aggressive climbing.

After warming up, I usually decide if I'm trying to push my limits with the session or if I'm working on technique or just building endurance. If I'm projecting at my limits, I don't expect to send but maybe 1 or 2 projects in a session (and many times 0 projects in a session). I think most sessions should focus on technique, which also builds strength at the same time. Most sessions I'll climb routes from super easy to around the middle of my send range and focus on sending with the least amount of energy and pay close attention to my footwork and how I use the holds the most efficiently. These sorts of sessions prep you the best (in my opinion) for the sessions when you're focus is projecting and sending harder and harder routes.

But bouldering is so much more than chasing grades and numbers. Personally, I don't think bouldering indoors is the best thing either...plastic is the best way to get injured. I usually climb indoors maybe once a year and climb outside around 100-150 days a year. But I'm fortunate to have over 5000 routes within a 2-3 hour drive, and around 1000 routes within a 15 minute drive. Bouldering outdoors offers so much more for the body and mind than bouldering indoors. The sights and sounds of the woods and mountains are therapeutic and help relieve the stress that builds up with work and raising a child. So many folks (especially gym rats) build some sort of identity and self worth around chasing grades and trying to fit in with a clique of harder climbers to make themselves feel more "important" that they miss the point of climbing and bouldering all together!

You should shoot to grab most holds with as open of a grip as possible and crimp only when you have to. The physics of crimping puts extreme stress on your finger joints and opens them up to injuries. Over time though, your crimp strength will build even if you don't train specifically on crimps...but there is a point where you will need to start training crimps if you want to send in the double digits or so.

As far as injuries go, I had very few injuries the first 15 years I bouldered, but as age caught up with me, I've encountered more and more injuries trying to send routes at the top of my grade range. Pulley injuries suck and are usually a fault of bad footwork (weighting a single digit more than others while pulling and then your feet slipping is one of the number one causes of pulley injuries). I've popped 2 pulleys in the last 3 years and each time it was by underclinging a crimp and my feet blew while trying to make the crux move. It takes months to get back to climbing without pain and then you feel like you have to relearned how to climb with that finger. Now I have pain in 1 knuckle specifically (my ring finger) and have trouble getting my wedding ring on and off sometimes without feeling like I'm chopping my finger off. Make sure to stretch your fingers well, build up to the harder moves during your session instead of jumping on them too early in a session, be sure to be properly hydrated and focus focus focus on footwork to avoid these such injuries as much as possible. If you're over 35 or so, you just have to admit that your tendons aren't what they used to be and don't try to push them too far (unless its going to be a worth the send). Other common injuries are shoulder and ankle injuries caused by bad technique/pulling harder than your body is prepared for (shoulder) and landing wrong (ankles). Pad well, have a good spot (and spot well yourself so folks will return the tabor) and dont over extend yourself and these injuries are much more avoidable.

Lastly, grades were originally intended to be exponential, not simply multiplicative...in other words, a V3 should be 4 times as hard as a V1 and 16 times harder than a V0. Many gyms have diluted grades and made them more of a step above each other instead of the original intent. So a V16 should be unimaginably harder than a V8...even though a V8 should be extremely difficult in its own right. Since I started bouldering around 1990, grades have changed completely and nowadays, they are getting softer and softer.

As a beginner, make sure to focus on doing it right, not just being a meat head puling hard to impress somebody, and you will have a longer and more fun bouldering experience.

Sorry for a voluminous reply:)


Partner cracklover


Jun 25, 2012, 8:27 AM
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Re: [Bridge] Relative beginner at bouldering [In reply to]
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I think you misunderstood your friend at the gym.

At your level, there really is no reason to be doing fingerboard exercises, but if you do, you should be training using the open crimp.

Look at this page ---> http://www2.8a.nu/...fingerposition.shtml, and emulate either of the first two photos (open hand or open crimp). Closed crimp gives you more power, but should be saved for special occasions, as it's a great way to pop a pulley.

GO


(This post was edited by cracklover on Jun 25, 2012, 8:27 AM)


Bridge


Jun 25, 2012, 9:37 AM
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Re: [phoenixfire] Relative beginner at bouldering [In reply to]
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phoenixfire wrote:
Sorry for a voluminous reply:)

That was exactly what I wanted, so thanks. I'll be sure to apply all of this to my climbing. One question though, what do you mean exactly by yoga? I used to do yoga but it took quite a lot of time to go through all of the exercises and it's not really what I'd call a warm up. Could you perhaps give me a list of the exercises you use to warm up (if it's not too much trouble)?

I'm also not what you'd call a meat-head (though I think getting in good shape is a positive thing) and I'm not obsessed with the grading system, but it is useful to know whether something is roughly out of your skill level and so that you can get a general idea of your progress.

Bouldering outdoors sounds like a blast but the pads are extremely expensive and I'm not completely sure whether it's really worth it at the moment, as there are no bouldering areas in my immediate vicinity. So I would probably only boulder outside on weekends or maybe once a week. I don't find the gym I go to to be a stressful or depressing environment though; I quite enjoy the atmosphere actually, but climbing outdoors sounds better. In fact, I did some easy climbing when I was in the countryside (very easy; I didn't any gear) and was surprised how comfortable the rock was to hold onto whereas the holds in the gym are always slippery and more often than not they chafe my skin.

Anyway, enough of my convoluted rambling. I'm going to climb some tonight after a week's hiatus (bruised knee; not climbing-related) with a different mindset and some new found knowledge. Cheers.


ninepointeight


Jul 3, 2012, 8:16 AM
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phoenixfire wrote:
Lastly, grades were originally intended to be exponential, not simply multiplicative...in other words, a V3 should be 4 times as hard as a V1 and 16 times harder than a V0. Many gyms have diluted grades and made them more of a step above each other instead of the original intent. So a V16 should be unimaginably harder than a V8...even though a V8 should be extremely difficult in its own right. Since I started bouldering around 1990, grades have changed completely and nowadays, they are getting softer and softer.


I don't know much about the history of bouldering or John 'Verm' Sherman but that doesn't make much sense. Grades will follow the law of diminishing returns because the performance of athletes does. The difference between a V1 and V2 should be far greater than the difference between V6 and V7. And the difference between V13 and 14 even smaller. Not the other way around.

OP - The hardest route at my gym is V9. There aren't that many people climbing that hard. Beyond V10 and your probably talking about a few hundred people climbing in the US who pull that hard.


(This post was edited by ninepointeight on Jul 3, 2012, 8:23 AM)


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