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Big guy, new to climbing (indoors)!
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NeutralNovice


Mar 19, 2013, 11:01 PM
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Big guy, new to climbing (indoors)!
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Hi everyone, brand new to these forums and have been doing indoor rock climbing since late November 2012. As expected, I'm pretty much the only large, overweight guy in the gym I go to whenever I go. Sometimes I get intimidated by all the fit people doing the hard stuff but for the most part, I think I can carry my own weight lol.

A little bit more about me:
Male, 27, 280#/127kg, 6'0"/183cm (so yeah, obese, fat, whatever)

Possible Limitations: Flat feet, weak right shoulder from history of dislocation.

I've always been a big guy for much of my life; however, I've also been fairly active especially during high school so physical activity isn't anything really new to me--I'm just a big guy who runs real slow.

Goals:
Ultimately, my goal is to lose weight and be healthier. Even though it is still overweight, I'd like to lose about 50-60# and I feel that I have finally found a physical activity that I really enjoy doing.

Current Progress:
From what I understand about the rock climbing rating system is that the ratings are subjective; however, from what I've done, the highest rating I have accomplished is a 5.9, which probably doesn't mean much since I still can't do a wall where it comes far outwards. I can do the walls that come outwards only slightly or larger angles that last for a short distance.

When I climb, I always have this lingering fear that I am going to dislocate my right shoulder if I were to slip and accidentally hold on with my right hand on a hold; however, I've learned to simply let go if I were to slip at all.

As for hand holds, those big huge ones that prevent you from making your hand into a hook are almost impossible for me lol! My heaviness just pulls me right off of it!




So now, as for advice, I have a few questions and would greatly appreciate it if anyone can give me some insight!

1. Considering Endurance: When you climb, about how many walls do you expect to attempt, whether you complete it or not? For me, before my arms get really tired, I can do a series of 4-6 5.8/5.9 walls before resorting to doing my cardio workout--is that considered to be a good amount of climbing for a day?

2. I have noticed that it is mostly my upper body (primarily arm/forearm) that gets really sore after a workout with my legs not really feeling fatigued. I mean, I know legs are much stronger but I am going to assume that perhaps I have some technique issues?

3. Because of my large size, is there anything I should avoid doing until I have lost weight? One thing I would guess would be the walls that overhang since it can cause strain the connective tissues in my hand.

4. Anyone else out there who is like me (or started out like me)? Anything you can add that I may not have thought of would be great!

5. Being flat-footed, are there any specific shoes that are geared towards that? So far, I haven't had too much of a problem with my flat feet but sometimes I feel like the shoe is a bit constricting since my feet tend to get wide when I step down. Someone actually gave me a comment that for a big guy, I was really light on my feet, which I am assuming is a good thing--twas really encouraging! :-)

That's all for now--thank you for checking out this thread!


(This post was edited by NeutralNovice on Mar 19, 2013, 11:07 PM)


JAB


Mar 20, 2013, 4:00 AM
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Re: [NeutralNovice] Big guy, new to climbing (indoors)! [In reply to]
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Good first post! I don't have a lot of advice, except keep climbing, and don't climb if it hurts before/afterwards (it's ok if it hurts while climbing!).

Beginners often have poor technique (due to low finger & core strength meaning you need to wildly slap for the next holds). When you get better, you will be in much more control, and the problem with your shoulder will diminish. So try to lose some weight, and keep on climbing, and remember to have fun! Smile


Kartessa


Mar 20, 2013, 7:06 AM
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Re: [NeutralNovice] Big guy, new to climbing (indoors)! [In reply to]
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Hay guy... Welcome!

Keep a good attitude and when some of us are assholes, just learn to laugh it off :)

NeutralNovice wrote:
1. Considering Endurance: When you climb, about how many walls do you expect to attempt, whether you complete it or not? For me, before my arms get really tired, I can do a series of 4-6 5.8/5.9 walls before resorting to doing my cardio workout--is that considered to be a good amount of climbing for a day?

Personally, I got fat and weak recently, had an awesome bout of depression and just couldnt do anything for nearly a year.

Getting back, I've found that taking it easy is key - for you, warm up on a 5.6, hit up a 5.7 or two, then do some 5.8s, a 5.9, and then cool down with some laps on a 5.7 or 5.6. You'll get a lot more mileage, and its really the mileage, not so much the grade that's going to push you to lose some weight, develop technique and become a more efficient/stronger climber.

In reply to:
2. I have noticed that it is mostly my upper body (primarily arm/forearm) that gets really sore after a workout with my legs not really feeling fatigued. I mean, I know legs are much stronger but I am going to assume that perhaps I have some technique issues?

Yup, see answer to #1

In reply to:
3. Because of my large size, is there anything I should avoid doing until I have lost weight? One thing I would guess would be the walls that overhang since it can cause strain the connective tissues in my hand.

For now, avoid small/crimpy holds. Another thing you can do is to learn about "open hands" and practice it until it feels completely natural.

Another fun thing to do to improve, is try out those "those big huge ones that prevent you from making your hand into a hook" The key with them is getting your weight on your feet, making maximum contact with your palm, and keeping your arms straight under the hold. It takes some practice, but focusing on your weakness will make you stronger!

In reply to:
4. Anyone else out there who is like me (or started out like me)? Anything you can add that I may not have thought of would be great!

When I started climbing again after having a kid, I was 5'2", 210lbs. It wag a big effort of climbing 3-4 times a week on 5.easy, lots of walking/biking, and not gorging on pounds and pounds of bacon and doritos. With time, I got on 5.8s, 5.9s and eventually 5.10s at the gym, and started going outside too.

For me it became an obcession that kinda fueled itself, so YMMV.

In reply to:
5. Being flat-footed, are there any specific shoes that are geared towards that? So far, I haven't had too much of a problem with my flat feet but sometimes I feel like the shoe is a bit constricting since my feet tend to get wide when I step down. Someone actually gave me a comment that for a big guy, I was really light on my feet, which I am assuming is a good thing--twas really encouraging! :-)

Something like an Evolv shoe (Think Defy or Pontas) will be wide without a high arch. If you're still finding them a little tight when you get off the wall and walk around - get over it, they're climbing shoes, not walking shoes! Bring a pair of flip-flops to change out of your climbing shoes when you're on the ground.

In reply to:
That's all for now--thank you for checking out this thread!

Cheers Brah!


ninepointeight


Mar 20, 2013, 8:37 AM
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Re: [NeutralNovice] Big guy, new to climbing (indoors)! [In reply to]
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I can't say I've ever been obese, but I definitely got into fatty territory. 5'11, 215lbs. I've dropped down to 186lbs over the past year and am easily bouldering a grade harder and more controlled on everything. (after 4 months off) However, I have noticed very little increase in endurance. I think that's something that really needs to be trained specifically.


(This post was edited by ninepointeight on Mar 20, 2013, 8:38 AM)


Kartessa


Mar 20, 2013, 8:57 AM
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Re: [ninepointeight] Big guy, new to climbing (indoors)! [In reply to]
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ninepointeight wrote:
I can't say I've ever been obese, but I definitely got into fatty territory. 5'11, 215lbs. I've dropped down to 186lbs over the past year and am easily bouldering a grade harder and more controlled on everything. (after 4 months off) However, I have noticed very little increase in endurance. I think that's something that really needs to be trained specifically.

You're not going to get *ANY* endurance gains by simply losing weight an bouldering.

It's like saying someone who can run a 4-min mile can automatically run boston marathon.


ninepointeight


Mar 20, 2013, 9:04 AM
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I thought, by simply having a better power to weight ratio, that my forearms would be less taxed and therefore route climbing endurance would improve as well. Not the case though.


Kartessa


Mar 20, 2013, 11:40 AM
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Re: [ninepointeight] Big guy, new to climbing (indoors)! [In reply to]
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ninepointeight wrote:
I thought, by simply having a better power to weight ratio, that my forearms would be less taxed and therefore route climbing endurance would improve as well. Not the case though.

Most boulderers I know suck at long sport climbs. They can do all the moves, so long as its not more than 4 at a time.


bcrigby


Mar 23, 2013, 10:30 AM
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Re: [Kartessa] Big guy, new to climbing (indoors)! [In reply to]
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Kartessa wrote:
Most boulderers I know suck at long sport climbs. They can do all the moves, so long as its not more than 4 at a time.

True that. Bouldering is great for increasing max strength and power, but misses out (nearly) completely on two crucial factors for sport climbing: H+ (lactic acid) threshold and muscle relaxation velocity.

You need to develop better abilities to cope with the burn and quickly re-oxygenate muscles in-between holds. It's a rare boulder problem that trains either of these.


praenato


Mar 29, 2013, 5:23 AM
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What I have been told to focus on as a beginner to cut down on arm fatigue is shifting my body sideways to the wall to allow straighter arms without gravity tearing me off the wall (put one hip or the other up against the wall). Grip strength is an unavoidable weakness in the beginning, so I'm told, and it takes a while to acquire, so work at it but be patient.

If you are already doing 5.9s, that's pretty good, you will get there.

Also, 2 cents on a topic you didn't ask about...
Climbing won't necessarily force that much weight loss unless you work the diet with the sport, since it's more strength than cardio. If you want to start building a leaner climbing physique, I suggest switching your carbs to something with a lower glycemic index, like brown rice, quinoa, oats, pasta, and legumes.

Take it or leave it, that is what helps me.


bcrigby


Mar 29, 2013, 11:39 AM
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Re: [praenato] Big guy, new to climbing (indoors)! [In reply to]
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praenato wrote:
Climbing won't necessarily force that much weight loss unless you work the diet with the sport, since it's more strength than cardio.

This is not strictly true considering EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption), which is what makes high-intensity activities including strength training and climbing still good (and often better) for weight loss.

It is true that "during exercise" calorie burn is lower for climbing than aerobic exercise, but after you get off the wall you still burn calories while you recover. In fact, in one study it was shown that for climbing you burn 2 - 2.5 times as many calories off the wall as on it. For example, during a minute and a half climb, about 15 calories were burned, but recovering from that climb burned a further 35 calories.

You don't necessarily need to add other types of exercise in--do what you love, and you'll end up doing more of it. That is what will help you the most, exercise-wise.

References:

Espaņa-Romero V, Jensen RL, Sanchez X, Ostrowski ML, Szekely JE, Watts PB. Physiological responses in rock climbing with repeated ascents over a 10-week period. Eur J Appl Physiol. March 2012;112:821-8. doi: 10.1007/s00421-011-2022-0.


JStark42


Mar 31, 2013, 6:32 AM
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Re: [NeutralNovice] Big guy, new to climbing (indoors)! [In reply to]
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Hey, dude. Hang in there and keep at it. When I started out I weighed 330 lbs. and had asthma so bad I needed a rescue inhaler to walk up a steep hill.

I'm currently down 110 lbs and still losing. I did it with lots of indoor training (garage woody), distance running, sport climbing and controlling my diet. Also kicked the asthma. Haven't used an inhaler in months.

Focus on good technique when you climb. Initiate your upward movement with your feet. Being a heavy climber will only limit you as much as you let it. Start hitting up your steep wall staying on BIG holds. Build up that endurance for holding on without tweaking your fingers. It'll take you a few years to build your tendon strength.

Most importantly: control your calorie intake and STICK to your cardio routine. (I like distance running. It also made my Elvis leg syndrome disappear.) If you stick to it, you can use your weight to your advantage, building strength with climbing while decreasing weight through diet and cardio. It's a one-two punch.

And stop focusing on the grade! Or amount of pitches in a day. Think about your last hard route. How many people in your weight range have done that? It's too weird to compare your own climbing against a much lighter climber's. Do what you can and try to push it on occasion.

Have fun. Climb safe.


(This post was edited by JStark42 on Mar 31, 2013, 9:22 AM)


jorgegonzalez


Apr 1, 2013, 8:20 PM
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Re: [JStark42] Big guy, new to climbing (indoors)! [In reply to]
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Good advice above, but since you didn't put where you live in your profile, its impossible to know if you have any real rocks nearby.

I'm a big guy (230#), and older (57) (as in less young), but on a good day can still climb 5.10, and 5.9 consistently, but on rock, which tends to be less vertical (or overhanging), and which requires more foot work (you gain elevation with your feet).

But, the key to losing weight is simple, take in less carbs than you burn. Try the low glycemic diet, which lets you have fruits and other healthy foods, but makes you avoid breads and starches. Exercise daily, but don't overdo it, you'll either hurt yourself or get overwhelmed and quit. Moderation, moderation, moderation. Eat pancakes on Sundays, it'll dim your cravings until they finally start tasting too sweet.

Marathons are run one mile at a time. That is valuable advice in life, as well as running.

AND most importantly, climb for yourself and not for others.


Ruff_Dog


Apr 3, 2013, 1:24 PM
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This thread has made me want to make a first post like this.. except I'm probably the polar opposite. I'm essentially a skinny teen that lifts weights in an attempt to gain muscle mass. Hahah.


Louern


Apr 10, 2013, 1:51 PM
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Aside from the climbing I would swim or walk/run to boost the metabolism. Any metabolic boost from climbing comes by virtue of building muscle. You still need to get the heart raceing


slidingmike


Apr 10, 2013, 2:36 PM
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I started climbing when I was pretty heavy, too, and it took me a while to get up to gym 5.9! But climbing finally gave me the best incentive to lose weight, and over a year I lost 35 pounds (and it's stayed off).

Some additional thoughts:
- Getting outside on some long, exposed 5.6 routes will crank up your motivation even more.
- Don't rush the hand strength thing, that could result in injuries. Let it build naturally, getting lots of mileage as Kartessa suggested.
- For some help with technique, check out the book "Self-Coached Climber" by Hague & Hunter

Cheers,
Mike


NeutralNovice


Apr 14, 2013, 5:19 PM
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Hey everyone! Have been continuously following this thread since I created it and finally found some time to reply. Thank you all very much for replying, I've read everything and will use it in the future for my climbing.

I'd like to give a little bit of my progress since I first posted and would like to see if anyone can help me evaluate my workout regimen and suggest tweaks to maximize the weight loss.

As a progress report since the original post:
New Weight: 265#

Instead of focusing on completing the more difficult routes (5.10a+) I have resorted to (on most days) just climbing mostly 5.6-5.8s to get more mileage while trying to complete a 5.9 towards the end as a "finale." I hope this helps build strength, technique and endurance. On some days, I just feel like really challenging myself so I do different series of 5.9s. I'm super happy to say that I finally completed this 5.9 where, for at least 50% of the height, the wall was going outwards. Suffice it to say that burnt out my arms real fast but it felt great to finish it lol.

I love rock climbing/working out so much now that it's gotten to the point that I feel weird when I give myself a day of rest. While I would like to rock climb every non-rest day, time usually doesn't permit so on my non-climbing days I go to a regular gym for cardio and machine work.


NEW QUESTIONS

1. Because I have been climbing on a more frequent basis, I feel like the callouses on my hands, especially while climbing, are becoming somewhat painful. They feel fine right now but when I climb, I have a feeling the roughness of some of the holds and my heavy weight are contributing to a lot more friction on my hands. Should I purchase climbing gloves? And if so, should I use them permanently or alternate between bare hands and gloved hands? In addition, what is the effect, if any, of wearing gloves; for example, will it reduce the development of my hand in some way or will it make climbing easier or more difficult?

2. From my understanding, the starting position is that both your hands have to be on the starting rock (for my gym, usually surrounded by color-coded tape) and both your feet have to be off the ground. There is this particular wall where I can only use my left foot to start and my right foot has no initial hold to go on. Am I supposed to use the wall or can I just use the ground?

3. Is it considered "cheating" if I use certain features of the wall such as a crack or corner to assist me in my climbing a certain route?

4. If anyone knows: When I use an elliptical, sometimes I have a fan blowing at me, helping to keep me cool and dry. Of course, I feel like I am sweating less when there is a fan there (and I also feel less tired/out-of-breath afterwards). Does a cooler environment (elliptical w/ fan) result in me burning less calories/fat than in a warmer environment (no fan) where I am pretty much sweating like a pig?

My Diet + Exercise Routines

I am currently trying to stick to a calorie counting-based diet. I've switched around some of the foods I eat to "healthier" versions; so instead of white rice, I eat brown. I've cut out a lot of dairy products and products with gluten (because I have a feeling it might be contributing to my severe allergies). My work schedule is an early 5am-1:30p shift. I usually have two small (gluten-free) sandwiches throughout the day with raw unsalted almonds+cashews for snacks in between. I workout afterwards and then have a small 350-450 Calorie meal with brown rice. protein, and veggies (like half of a Chipotle Burrito Bowl).

It's my understanding that a diet of protein and carbs right after workout is great for rebuilding muscle after a workout.

**General Exercise Routine** (Workout 5-6x a week)

Climb Days:
1) Light Stretch Prior to Climbing
2) Climb walls until my arms are simply too fatigued to do any more; which right now is 4-6 walls.
3) Light Stretch Prior to Cardio
4) Cardio: 20-30 minutes on Elliptical (Note: I'd love to run for real but I suck at it and left flat foot experiences pain rather quickly)
5) Cooldown & Complete Stretching

Gym Days:
1) I use either machines for upper body/arms or do a kettlebell routine using a 12-pound kbell. I currently do Hasfit's 20-min KBell Workout with video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=erl3Bkg-dK4
---On machines, I do each at 10-reps, 3-sets.
2) Light to Full Stretch
3) 25-35 minutes of Elliptical.
4) Light Stretch
Note: I do not do machines/weights if I am to visit a gym two days consecutively--I just do cardio.


Can anyone make any tweaks or suggestions to my workout routine above? Or if it needs to be overhauled, please let me know too! Basically, I want to lose weight first and focus on endurance regarding climbing.

Thank you all so much again for reading and replying! Truly appreciated!


(This post was edited by NeutralNovice on Apr 14, 2013, 5:32 PM)


zchandran


Apr 15, 2013, 3:07 PM
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It's great that you're making progress. Remember that it's a marathon and not a sprint. It's better to make slow gains over an entire year, than go on the world's toughest training binge and risk blowing out a tendon.

#1 - Climbing on plastic is much rougher on your hands than rock is, at least for me. Generally you don't want to wear gloves while climbing, beyond taping up for cracks. You'll find tons of material on caring for your hands if you search.

#2 - Doesn't matter. Keep your focus on learning, not on doing everything by the book. The "correct" way would be to hang on to the starting holds with hands, and have both feet off ground, so in your particular instance you would have one foot on the hold, and maybe flag the other one. But again, who cares? If you have trouble with slopers, modify your routes to include slopers and eliminate crimps. Make up your own move sequences. Try skipping big holds. There are no rules beyond safety - make the session count towards your goals.

#3 - At the gyms I've climbed, unless you see "naturals on", you're not supposed to use the crack. Since I consider any tree growing out of the rock as part of the route, I'm not one to judge.

Not going to touch the food issue since that's a whole other can of worms. But current wisdom is that you really don't need dedicated stretches before exercise, and that it can reduce muscle strength. I usually just traverse for 10 minutes or run a couple of really easy routes to loosen everything up.

Don't fall into the trap of having your life revolve around numbers. One of the guys I climb with could cruise through 5.10's all day long, but would flail on any 5.11. So one day we made up a fake sign and put it on a route that just went up. It was a 5.11 route, but we mislabeled it 5.9+. Lo and behold, he toproped it on the first shot.


dagibbs


Apr 16, 2013, 6:33 AM
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Re: [NeutralNovice] Big guy, new to climbing (indoors)! [In reply to]
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NeutralNovice wrote:

2. From my understanding, the starting position is that both your hands have to be on the starting rock (for my gym, usually surrounded by color-coded tape) and both your feet have to be off the ground. There is this particular wall where I can only use my left foot to start and my right foot has no initial hold to go on. Am I supposed to use the wall or can I just use the ground?

3. Is it considered "cheating" if I use certain features of the wall such as a crack or corner to assist me in my climbing a certain route?

2. General rule is "established on the wall". This means both feet off the ground, whether on holds or flagging or whatever; both hands on starting hold or holds.

3. Check the style at your gym. At some gyms, by default features are on, unless stated as off for that route. At other gyms, the reverse is true. Some gyms have a little "features" icon on every route card and it is explicitly identified for each route. Sometimes features are taped -- and only the taped section(s) of a feature are on. Sometimes features are intended to be on for a route -- but climbing without the feature can be a fun or challenging variant.


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