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jb2100


Jan 21, 2014, 8:22 AM
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Strength/Technique training split for coaches
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So I'm curious if anyone has any coaching or teaching experience for climbing, and how you train new climbers? My girlfriend is just starting to climb and I have her learning more or less the same way I did. Ignore strength training and just climb a lot, focus on technique, shoot for perfect economy of motion with every move.

I know after years of climbing this way myself, I'm at the point where I need to begin doing climbing strength exercises to progress further, but she can progress just fine for a few years as I did without it.

My question though is whether I should have my girlfriend do some very, very, mild climbing specific strength training as well (I'm thinking pull-ups, dead hangs, and lock offs on jugs and big edges exclusively) in addition to climbing a lot, focusing on technique and economy of motion, and do you believe this would benefit a new climber or hinder them (by possibly causing them to rely too much on their strength). What do you guys think?


lena_chita
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Jan 21, 2014, 12:56 PM
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Re: [jb2100] Strength/Technique training split for coaches [In reply to]
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I am not a coach, nor do I have experience of teaching a large number of new climbers, so this is just a personal opinion.

It has been rehashed many times before that pull-ups don't translate into climbing ability and the number of pull-ups you can do does not correlate with how hard you climb. There is anecdotal evidence of females who climb 5.12-- meaning, usually, one or two, non-overhanging 5.12 to their name -- without being able to do a single pull-up.

From personal experience, I have climbed 5.10 while not being able to do pull-ups, but I certainly have the ability to do pull-ups now, and have got it, without training pull-ups specifically, by the time I climbed 5.11 and 5.12.

I do believe that she will get stronger, and will, eventually, get the ability to do pull-ups, too, by simply climbing a lot, and doing things, such as down-climbing the routes she can climb up. (there are your pull-up negatives!)

Having said that, I think that sometimes (in cases of new female climber, specifically), some small amount of general strength training could be beneficial, in addition to technique/movement training/mileage. This kind of training is not likely to result in climbing improvement on itself, but it is, often, a psychological thing. It gives some women more confidence to try harder climbs. And it is good for other reasons, too, besides climbing performance, because many women shy away from strength training of any kind.

Can your GF do A pull-up? Couple pull-ups? If the answer is yes, then I don't think she needs that pull-up training, because she is already far ahead of an average beginner female in terms of pull-up strength.

If she cannot do a single pull-up, if she's never done any sort of strength training in her life, then it might be good to throw in some assisted pull-ups, and also pushups, dips, leg lifts, all the basic stuff. NOT at the expense of climbing time, but at the times when she cannot climb, as a morale booster/motivator. (Unless it is so boring and off-putting to her that it is turning her off climbing).

Most beginners only climb once or twice a week. There is plenty of time in there to do strength training, without taking time away from climbing-specific movement training, if she chooses to do it.


jmeizis


Jan 21, 2014, 5:00 PM
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I've coached lots of new climbers. Some youth that have gone to nationals, that sort of thing. I would just focus on the technique stuff. If she gets strong she may start using that strength to compensate for lack of technique. The climbing specific strength will come over time anyways with regular practice.

I have people do lots of laps on easy climbs which some people think is stupid but if you can't have flawless technique of 5.8 it's not going to get better on 5.12.


jt512


Jan 21, 2014, 6:17 PM
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Re: [jmeizis] Strength/Technique training split for coaches [In reply to]
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jmeizis wrote:
I've coached lots of new climbers.

Oh, great. Now you're a "coach" as well as a "guide."


jmeizis


Jan 21, 2014, 7:40 PM
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Your insight is priceless.


jb2100


Jan 22, 2014, 8:56 AM
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Re: [lena_chita] Strength/Technique training split for coaches [In reply to]
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Lena, thanks for the response! I agree with the pull-ups not translating to climbing ability thing and I have seen it in my own climbing since I can only do about 12 consecutive pull ups but I have sent a decent number of 12+ sport routes.

As for my GF's level of physical fitness she's in decent shape. She's built pretty well for climbing, around 5'6", 110 lbs, and fairly flexible. She can't do any pull ups at the moment, and up till now I haven't encouraged her to try as I think she has more important things to worry about.

I've been trying to reinforce some concepts quite heavily in the early stages of learning climbing for her that I feel will help her with her later climbing and the idea of doing some supplemental strength for climbing training was in that vein. For instance I particularly encourage her to climb dynamically when appropriate, as I see the lack of willingness to "throw for it" holds back a lot of female climbers or any climber who climbs with a lot of fear.

So with that being said I definitely don't want to encourage her to rely too much on strength, as I feel that being so weak that your only chance of sending is to find the absolute best beta is a huge benefit in climbing, but I think your right that mild conditioning during off time could be a better way to go with it. Thanks again.


granite_grrl


Jan 22, 2014, 10:25 AM
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Lena's post was good. One thing that I will add is that when climbing encourage your gf to get on "burley" climbs. Get her on overhanging routes and make sure you guys spend some time bouldering.

It is a tendancy to climb thigs that you are good at, and I've met a lot of female climbers who complain that can't transition to steep climbing because they're too weak. Well, you won't get better at it unless you spend sinificant time at it!


gblauer
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Jan 22, 2014, 12:22 PM
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Re: [granite_grrl] Strength/Technique training split for coaches [In reply to]
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Agree with all the great advice above.

I would add: Don't hurt her. She needs to gradually build her tendon, ligament and muscle strength. If she pushes too hard, too early she is likely going to get injured.

Stick to the easy stuff and work on technique.


madam


Jan 23, 2014, 2:21 AM
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Re: [jb2100] Strength/Technique training split for coaches [In reply to]
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Hi,

I would second what granite_grrl said. I am in very similar situation with my girlfriend as you are. I try to encourage her to try overhanging routes - she likes that because she really gets better over time - and to do some bouldering - not really successful in this since she does not like bouldering:)

adam


flesh


Jan 23, 2014, 10:18 AM
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Re: [jb2100] Strength/Technique training split for coaches [In reply to]
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jb2100 wrote:
So I'm curious if anyone has any coaching or teaching experience for climbing, and how you train new climbers? My girlfriend is just starting to climb and I have her learning more or less the same way I did. Ignore strength training and just climb a lot, focus on technique, shoot for perfect economy of motion with every move.

I know after years of climbing this way myself, I'm at the point where I need to begin doing climbing strength exercises to progress further, but she can progress just fine for a few years as I did without it.

My question though is whether I should have my girlfriend do some very, very, mild climbing specific strength training as well (I'm thinking pull-ups, dead hangs, and lock offs on jugs and big edges exclusively) in addition to climbing a lot, focusing on technique and economy of motion, and do you believe this would benefit a new climber or hinder them (by possibly causing them to rely too much on their strength). What do you guys think?

For a beginner it's best to get lots of experience and lots of mileage. Inside and outside. Give them room to find their own way and create their own style. There's no concrete rules, some of the best climbers ever had horrible technique even when climbing 5 14s and v14s. Eventually, with enough time and mileage, everyone get's good technique.

It certainly wouldn't hurt, especially for a girl who likely has very little pull power to do a couple sets of pull ups after a day of climbing.

How many pull ups someone needs to be able to do....... it's a matter of degree. IMO, anything over ten, isn't necessary to climb even at the highest levels. Can ppl climb 5.12 w/o being capable of a pull up, ofc. I'm assuming we would all like too climb harder than that if possible? I don't know anyone who boulders v13 who can't do a one arm, for example. You do need massive pull power to climb at the highest levels.

I haven't trained a pull up for over a decade, but I can do 20 if I'm fresh and what's more instructive I believe is that I can do around 10 pull ups with 50 pounds hanging off me. This all has nothing to with your gf just commenting on the too pull up or not too pull up commentary.


DouglasHunter


Feb 6, 2014, 1:07 PM
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Re: [jb2100] Strength/Technique training split for coaches [In reply to]
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"I know after years of climbing this way myself, I'm at the point where I need to begin doing climbing strength exercises to progress further, but she can progress just fine for a few years as I did without it. "

I've coached a couple of people, I'd say one can go one's entire climbing life with never doing any supplemental training, and climb at the highest level. No one is even close to proving that supplemental training is more effective than structured climbing. I do think that strength training has it's place, and there are some good reasons to do it, just don't assume that it's necessary to improve one's performance level, as that relationship has never been quantified.

"My question though is whether I should have my girlfriend do some very, very, mild climbing specific strength training as well (I'm thinking pull-ups, dead hangs, and lock offs on jugs and big edges exclusively)"

Pull-ups are quazi sport-specific at best, I actually think that lock-off training isn't sport specific (climbers think they lock off all the time, but video analysis suggets that this is an impression that does not correspond with the reality of climbing movement). Dead hangs done on a finger board are sport specific. If you and your girlfriend aren't doing interval training for climbing, or any of the other truely sport specific activities out there, then there is a ton you can both do to gain fitness and further develop your motor coordination without resorting to strength and conditioning work.


younggun


Feb 9, 2014, 8:43 PM
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Re: [DouglasHunter] Strength/Technique training split for coaches [In reply to]
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I agree that just climbing more is the best way to be better at climbing. At a higher level, it likely makes some sense to have an over all fitness program to prevent muscle imbalances and reduce injury risk but this will not make you a better climber. I have seen a number of high level athletes (names you would know), train off the wall with limited or no transfer that improves climbing. The larger problem at an elite level is the lack of skilled coaches. What I mean by this, is the ability to identify a weakness through video analysis or by watching a climber and then applying a solution or drills to correct the deficiencies. Climbing is such a multifaceted sport that is difficult to obtain solid analysis and solutions.


shotwell


Feb 10, 2014, 5:35 AM
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Re: [younggun] Strength/Technique training split for coaches [In reply to]
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younggun wrote:
I agree that just climbing more is the best way to be better at climbing. At a higher level, it likely makes some sense to have an over all fitness program to prevent muscle imbalances and reduce injury risk but this will not make you a better climber. I have seen a number of high level athletes (names you would know), train off the wall with limited or no transfer that improves climbing. The larger problem at an elite level is the lack of skilled coaches. What I mean by this, is the ability to identify a weakness through video analysis or by watching a climber and then applying a solution or drills to correct the deficiencies. Climbing is such a multifaceted sport that is difficult to obtain solid analysis and solutions.

At the rates that most climbers want to pay, yes. Good coaches cost good money, but there are options. Douglas has had a lot of success, as have the folks at ABC. The European coaches are obviously excellent; most notably whoever coaches the Austrian team (are they ever hurt?)

If you're truly interested in receiving good coaching, work with some other patrons of your local gym to attract a good coach. Offer real work, for real wages, with a real long term commitment. You get what you pay for, and no reasonable business owner is going to turn down a group of patrons that are committed to the long term and willing to pay what is fair.

Out of curiosity, where are you located? I may know of someone in the area that could help.


jb2100


Feb 10, 2014, 8:37 AM
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Re: [DouglasHunter] Strength/Technique training split for coaches [In reply to]
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Thanks for the input Doug. Actually in the line you quoted from me I was not referring to supplemental training exactly. More like fingerboard and campus board training as well as circuits and other climbing exercises that increase strength.

I've always been of the opinion that to get good at climbing you should focus on climbing, and I do firmly believe that. However, I can't think of a single elite climber who doesn't do climbing workouts (not that there aren't any) and doing more of those was what I was referring to.

As for paid coaching, that's not going to happen. We aren't trying to become pros and other than paying for a book like "The Self Coached Climber" or "Training for Climbing" I won't be paying for coaching.


dolius


Feb 14, 2014, 11:43 AM
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Great question, yes, when you start climbing it's important to develop your movement repertoire and technique, but you will notice a plateau if you don't push your physique a built further, I do recommend you to use specialized exercises along with climbing charts and tracking sheets to improve your climbing, I have been climbing for about 15 years and have read a lot about training and had the chance to take a course with a world champion last month, I did publish a document that you can find very useful or series of climbing programs that can be valuable here: http://www.climbingworkouts.com


younggun


Feb 14, 2014, 9:28 PM
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Re: [shotwell] Strength/Technique training split for coaches [In reply to]
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Let me try to explain the problem in another way. In many other sports the use of video analysis is the primary tool in correcting mechanics of things like swings, striking ability, foot work, etc...The key here is one, having the ability to identify a specific deficiency, and two, offer drills or solutions to correct the problem. Most coaches simply say climb more of the types of moves that give you problems, get stronger, work more endurance, etc...All great ideas but not scientific or analytical. If the analytical training/coaching exists in the USA that I am talking about, I would love to here about it.


shotwell


Feb 15, 2014, 4:00 AM
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younggun wrote:
Let me try to explain the problem in another way. In many other sports the use of video analysis is the primary tool in correcting mechanics of things like swings, striking ability, foot work, etc...The key here is one, having the ability to identify a specific deficiency, and two, offer drills or solutions to correct the problem. Most coaches simply say climb more of the types of moves that give you problems, get stronger, work more endurance, etc...All great ideas but not scientific or analytical. If the analytical training/coaching exists in the USA that I am talking about, I would love to here about it.

It does. I already mentioned two specific coaches that use these methods. Many others do as well. Just because all the coaches you know suck doesn't mean that all of them do!


DouglasHunter


Feb 21, 2014, 8:24 PM
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younggun wrote:
I agree that just climbing more is the best way to be better at climbing.

For clarity, I am not an advocate of "just climb" I advocate for highly structured climbing schedules, lots and lots of movement analysis and work on developing and refining the movement skills necessary for climbing. Movement initiation, working with off-set balance and timing being three essential elements for elite climbers, that can't be trained any other way than through climbing.


In reply to:
I have seen a number of high level athletes (names you would know), train off the wall with limited or no transfer that improves climbing.

This is very common in my opinion.


In reply to:
The larger problem at an elite level is the lack of skilled coaches. What I mean by this, is the ability to identify a weakness through video analysis or by watching a climber and then applying a solution or drills to correct the deficiencies. Climbing is such a multifaceted sport that is difficult to obtain solid analysis and solutions.

Yes, the US does suffer from a lack of skilled coaches. But my friends who coach in Europe say the same thing about their side of the pond too! I've been using video since the 1990s and there is no doubt that movement analysis can't be done without video, climbing moves are too fast and the key relationships can't be seen with the unaided eye. But the idea of spotting weaknesses is too simple in my view. It's less about finding weaknesses and more about asking why a ceertain move is failing. It's a matter of applying qualatative and quantative methodology to understand the structure of a given movement or sequence of moves.


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