Tuesday, August 03, 2010
Don’t Wanna’ Look Small
I can’t wait to get back to playing outside but I’ve got to admit I’m enjoying my journey back into old school weight lifting. To me, it’s very hard to beat a day out in the mountains but being kept away from the things I love is adding to my psyche. However, working out to Pumping Iron everyday (not many weight lifting videos in my quiver) could be brainwashing me. My wife says she’s a little worried when she hears me screams from the gym like “I’m not satisfied… I’m gonna beat him!” and other iconic lines from that film like, “don’t wanna look small.”
I know, full well, that the Workout From Hell is not the most efficient way to train for climbing. Chris Sharma’s probably never lifted a weight in his life. But it’s the hand I was dealt, given my injury, and my plan is the make the most out of it. But just because it’s not the most effective plan does not mean it isn’t a good one. I’m quite certain that I am improving many weak points. Concurrently I’m losing some strong ones but that’s how training always works. The strong areas come back quick. The hope in all these shenanigans is that when those areas are brought back to speed I’ll be better than ever.
My plan with this WFH is to address as many weak points as I can fit into the schedule. So I’ve decided to prolong my 5 rep phase to include an extra 2 plus weeks of super-slow workouts. I’m still doing 5 reps (per the original plan) but each rep is 5 seconds in one direction and 5 seconds in the other. For a 5 rep set that’s 50 seconds, which is hypertrophy—even glycolytic—and not anything like power.
These super slow reps stimulate the body’s production of IGF-1 (insulin growth factor 1). Because you’re contracting the muscle for the entire set its stressful training so the number of exercise sets I’m doing is much reduced. I’m doing six sets for the large muscle groups and 3 for the small. The weight I’m using is about the same as what I was using to do 15 reps. My warm-up is longer and more thorough (because set intensity is higher) and the time between sets is longer, now around 2 minutes and more focused on when I’m ready for a hard set than a set amount of time. The goal is to treat each individual set as if it’s your entire workout, then worry about the next one.
I’m doing this for two reasons. First is that I’m cool with a little hypertrophy. After two phases I’d lost a total of two pounds. And since I’m gaining a little muscle mass it’s probably from a leg atrophy as much as from fat loss. This will be good for climbing but I know that once I start riding and running again the legs will come back, so I’m fine with having a bit more upper body mass to help haul those legs around. This will hurt racing up hill but at 170 + pounds that’s never going to be my forte anyway. Also, since climbing movements are often slow—especially as you’re about to fall off—I think it’s important to train slow as well as fast. You need to be able to perform in both areas to climb your best: from nailing dynos to eeking out precarious balance movements. Also, adding this phase works with my work/travel schedule better because these workouts are easier to do in random gyms—no small matter.
pics: even if Jerry Moffatt did the hardest routes during the 80s most guys would rather have Wolfgang Gullich and Kurt Albert’s arms, and they weren’t too far behind.