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traddad


May 10, 2002, 10:59 AM
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bigger muscles are better...sorta
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*I have been doing a lot of thinking as of late about how I train for climbing. First off, I am not a natural athlete, although I have always loved athletic competition. I have always had to train hard for even mediocre results. Here are a few of my thoughts for your comment:

While, to paraphrase the Freak Brothers; “technique will get you through times of no power better than power will get you through times of no technique”, I agree with Christian Griffith when he says: “It’s easier to have good technique when you’re strong”. There are two routes to strength: Hypertrophy (bigger muscles) and recruitment (convincing all your fibers to pull together). While the latter increases relative strength (strength vs. body weight) I firmly believe that, up to a certain point, muscle size is important, even though there will be a weight gain. I’ve been skinny and weak in the upper body and core all of my life because I have always concentrated on lower body sports. For me to now concentrate solely on recruitment in order to climb better would be like someone souping up a Ford Pinto to race Formula 1. The raw materials just aren’t there. I need to increase muscle size and mass (hypertrophy) before I can reasonably work on relative strength.
Thus, I lift weights.
Weight lifting in and of itself will not make me a better climber but, if done correctly and with a specific purpose in mind, it will give me some better raw material to work with. I also couple the weight work with power oriented bouldering sessions to improve position specific strength and to work all the minor muscles that can’t be worked effectively with weights.
Long story short:
This seems to be paying off. While I’m not screaming up the grades, I do feel much more in control and have a lot more reserve strength when making hard moves. The greater improvement will come at the end of the cycle when I taper off the weights and use the strength I’ve gained to concentrate on climbing.
The central thesis to this ramble is: Climbing is like auto racing, there is no replacement for displacement. The bigger the engine, the more horsepower you can get out of it.
Good technique is like a good chassis on a race car, and strength is like the engine. Being stronger makes it all go faster.

See: http://www.thinkmuscle.com/articles/staley/speed-strength.htm

[ This Message was edited by: traddad on 2002-05-10 11:00 ]


jt512


May 10, 2002, 11:24 AM
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It sounds like what you are doing makes sense, but I question whether it is the most efficient approach for you at your grade level. You haven't stated it, but I assume you are climbing in the mid-grades, 5.10/11.

I'm not naturally powerful; my strength in climbing and other sports has always been endurance. I also have decent climbing technique and flexibility for a guy. I do not lift weights and have been able to redpoint up to sport 5.12a using strength gained solely by sport climbing. I have been plateaued there for about a year.

I think to climb higher into the 12s I'm going to need to increase my maximum strength. Consequently, for the past few months, I've changed the emphasis of my climbing to bouldering (indoors). I've improved my maximum bouldering level from V3 to V6, indicating a large increase in power without touching a weight.

Early returns suggest that the bouldering is paying off. Last weekend I was able to do all the moves on a power-oriented 5.12a that I could not get off the ground on last season. Now, it feels like it'll be an easy redpoint. The real test will be to see if I can get a 5.12b this year.

-Jay


funtimes


May 10, 2002, 11:58 AM
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i agree with you (sam) weight training is an essential in all sports, just make sure you are building the right muscles for your sport
i use to weight train and climbing and have stopped the weights for about 4 months, (just climbing sport and bouldering) noticeable lost of power. i need the weight resistant training for the most efficient workout.

climb hard

abel




[ This Message was edited by: funtimes on 2002-05-10 12:03 ]


madscientist


May 10, 2002, 12:16 PM
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I agree that weight training has a place in climbing, but you may want to be carefull about how you train with weights. For someone who has a very underdeveloped upper body, weight training will be a very good thing. I also believe it is important to balance your muscles to avoid injury. Personally, I don't lift weights to build any of the primary climbing muscles, i.e. back and shoulders. I lift my chest and triceps, etc. This is mostly to prevent injury.

For sport climbing at the 5.12 level and up, your weight training should probably be different than for someone climbing under 5.12. If you can redpoint 5.12a consistantly, it is probably time to start working your core strength. There is no need to be able to do many pullups on harder routes, but you will need to keep your feet on the rock. You will need to be able to learn how to "squeeeeeze" with your whole body. At this point it is benificial to concentrate most of your weight training on training your abs and lateral obliques (sp?). Don't stop training your opposing muscles, by abs should consist of about 1/2 the workout, and should take at least 30 minutes. Also, train your lower back.

I find the statement by Christian Griffith to be true, but I believe the strength he is refering to is more core strength than back strength. That is why there seems to be little correlation between how many pullups one can do, and what someones hardest redpoint happens to be.


traddad


May 10, 2002, 12:33 PM
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I wouldn’t presume to say that weight lifting is the only way to progress, but it’s a way that is working for me. I did a serious self assessment and came to the conclusion that lack of strength was my biggest problem. Lifting fits for me at this time.
In a perfect world, power oriented bouldering would be the only workouts I would do to gain strength. Unfortunately, I’m too weak! I’m a big guy (6'5', 190) with a heavy frame and as the terrain steepens, I begin to have a lot of problems. I redpoint at .11a but have been stuck there for a couple of years. In order for me to get the most out of my bouldering workouts, I need to be stronger to start with. Otherwise, I’ll be stuck bouldering on slabs trying to build up enough strength to tackle steeper stuff until the next ice age. A well designed, climbing oriented weight lifting program is a way to more quickly build muscle mass and absolute strength that can then be “tailored” by boulder workouts. It’s also great for an old man with a kid and arthritis that cannot climb more than twice a week.
Also, I believe it is easier to work core strength off the wall. Now that’s an area where I really suck.


jt512


May 10, 2002, 1:02 PM
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Quote:If you can redpoint 5.12a consistantly, it is probably time to start working your core strength. There is no need to be able to do many pullups on harder routes, but you will need to keep your feet on the rock. You will need to be able to learn how to "squeeeeeze" with your whole body. At this point it is benificial to concentrate most of your weight training on training your abs and lateral obliques (sp?). Don't stop training your opposing muscles, by abs should consist of about 1/2 the workout, and should take at least 30 minutes.

I disagree. Obviously it depends on the type of rock you are climbing, but for me, the most important areas to build strength in, in descending order, are:

Fingers
Fingers
Fingers
Back
Arms
Abs
Opposing muscles


-Jay

[ This Message was edited by: jt512 on 2002-05-10 14:18 ]


funtimes


May 10, 2002, 2:25 PM
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To each their own, find something that works for you, because everyone has different goals crimps, jugs, over-hangs, sport, trad, bouldering, etc
best red-point 5.12a sport, indoor, TR
but injuries have me back to 5.10's and 5.11's no more two finger holds for me.

Working on fingers, and arms again


abel.



[ This Message was edited by: funtimes on 2002-05-10 14:29 ]


linsdog


May 10, 2002, 2:26 PM
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I would have to agree with Jay. I have good upper body from lifting weights regulary and I still need to work on finger and forearm strength. Bigger biceps and triceps won't necessarily lead to better climbing. May be different as you get to a plateau in your training though. Try whatever works for you.


traddad


May 10, 2002, 2:32 PM
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While I would second Madscientist's admonition on core strength, I also find that my fingers are the first thing to go when I lay off for a while. I have NEVER found an effective way to train finger strength off the rock, so this is one area where weight lifting hasn't helped.

I think my bigest gains so far have come from improved core strength. I thrash around MUCH less on steep routes.


funtimes


May 10, 2002, 2:40 PM
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you don't like the squeeze toys, two finger chin-ups, finger roll with weights
i find them pretty good.

abel


how about typing

[ This Message was edited by: funtimes on 2002-05-10 14:41 ]


hardcoredana


May 10, 2002, 3:43 PM
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Jay,

I think that the reason you disagree with madscientist is because you must already have decent or excellent core strength. Yes, working on finger strength is important, but if core strength is one of your weaknesses (as it is with me) then working core strength is also important. I can't tell you how many times I fall off difficult bouldering problems because my core strength sucks. Curiously enough, my finger strength sucks too, so I fall off problems an awful lot.

Has anyone tried a Pilatis (sp?????!!!) class to improve their core strength? I hear that it is a good cross training program for climbers looking to improve core strength . . .


jt512


May 10, 2002, 4:32 PM
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Dana, you could be right. When I was a kid, I could do hundreds of situps. I used to win contests at camp. Still, I'd say that finger strength is going to be limiting for most climbers on most harder climbs.

Incidentally, you can train finger strength with weights using heavy finger rolls. Standing, with arms hanging in front of you, grasp a bar bell with palms forward, and let the bar roll down your fingers as far as safely possible, then curl your fingers. Do not flex the wrist.

Start with weights you can handle easily, and gradually increase the weight as you see how your fingers tolerate the exercise. Work up to a weight that you fail with on your third rep. Do these no more than twice a week, and only when your fingers are fully recovered. I tried them once, and my fingers were sore for a week.

-Jay


cragman


May 26, 2002, 2:28 AM
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Just a thought on weights, I am a natural heavy weigh, lifting weights has been a part of my life since I was 16 and I have always been considered a strong athlete. Now, I felt like a child when I started climbing, after about 15 minutes on the rock my arms were flared and I couldn't hold myself up. Point being in my opinion unless the weight training is combined with regular climbing the effects will not translate into climbing power.

Manuel


climbracer


May 26, 2002, 5:39 AM
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Resistance training has really helped me build my strength and thus jumped me up two to three levels in my climbing over a few months. My legs need to improve and I am trying to do my bicycling too on days I can't climb. I also need to increase flexibility and saw an excellent Fitness Evaluation form on www.Trainingforclimbing.com.

Additionally, I need to be in "my happy place" mentally. A quote from clymber. I believe it is all alot of cross training, which I need to keep working at regularly.

Climbinganne and I have an agreement to remind each other to exercise in between times at the crag. I'm sure she will be up to 5.12 though by the time she is done with her Utah and Idaho trip.

Each individual is different with training needs and their weaknesses. Just keep at it and do what works for you.

Kathy

[ This Message was edited by: climbracer on 2002-05-26 05:42 ]


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