Thursday, September 06, 2012
Climbing Fitness in 4 Weeks
My latest training article for DPM hit the shelves this week. It can also be found on their web site by clicking here. This is a follow-up post, to add both some detail and personal perspective on why this protocol was chosen and how you might alter it.
I am this article’s target audience as it’s almost identical to what I’ll be doing for training this month. It wasn’t my plan when I wrote it but life got busy and I now find myself lacking climbing fitness as summer wanes. Sending temps are coming and, when pressed for time, hangboarding is by far the best bang for your buck to improve quickly.
Hangboarding is boring. It takes mental toughness. For inspiration, here are some personal anecdotes on how much it can help you:
In 1990 I had a fledging business that didn’t allow me to go climbing at all, forcing all of my training around a board in my shop. A serendipitous meeting with a Swiss exchange student, who showed me techniques far in advance of what came with the Metolius Simulator (the only board on the market back then), led to a two month training cycle that transformed me from a 5.10 to 5.12 climber.
life at the @#$%! video shop
In the md-90s one of our friends followed his girlfriend to grad school. A shy lad, he didn’t bother trying to meet climbing partners. Instead he hung Yaniro Board in their apartment and started entering all the national competitions. Out of nowhere, he always finished near the top. This is a guy who’d only redpointed a few 5.12s, did very little actual climbing, and was suddenly beating guys you’d read about in every issue of Climbing. He simply became so strong that he could hang onto basically anything.
elijah demonstrating a move where technique will not help you but hangboard training will
Last year, what’s left of the old Santa Barbara crew, Phil and Elijah, lost their climbing gym, The Shed, a state-of-the art training facility. They bought a Beastmaker, a Moon Board, and hung them in a garage. Turns out a gym full of equipment was mainly keeping their focus from where it should have been all along. Both had the best climbing season of their lives.
phil shows stuff you can do in your mid-40s if you hangboard train
Another of our crew, Micah, used a hangboard because he had ankle reconstruction and couldn’t walk. Before he could even go on a proper hike he ended up redpointing the hardest route of his life.
micah shows stuff you can do when you can't walk if you hangboard train
There are plenty of stories like this. Check out the Anderson brothers, Sonnie Trotter, or the guys over at Beastmaker. As Ben Moon once said, “technique is no substitute for power.”
There are many ways to train effectively for climbing. Almost all of them have some amount of merit that vary in effectiveness due to the individual. Like I state in the article, if you don’t know how to climb there are better ways to spend your time. But when all is said and done, the ability to hang onto holds and not let go is always going to be the single most effective way to raise your level.
The routine I wrote for DPM is just one option that has worked very well for me. As a multi-sport athlete I’m always in and out of climbing shape. This is the best plan I’ve found for getting back into shape quick, without spending much time (I work a lot). Following the links in this post will give you other ideas. All of them are good. Training should always have an individual element to it. Find what works for you.
The lock-off hangs are very stressful. Proceed carefully. They are a suggested protocol. If you aren’t strong enough and need to alter them your training will not suffer. Do them when you’re ready.
Training is only as effective as your ability to recover. The article's schedule is a suggestion. Tony Yaniro once wrote an article stating that he never decided if he was going to train until he warmed up. If he felt strong he trained. If he didn’t he rested. This can be tricky to gauge but climbing is a tricky, subtle, sport where you put an excessive amount of stress on very small muscles and connective tissues. Listen, astutely, to your body. Hangboard training is generally safer than most forms of training because movement is controlled. Still, it’s easy to get hurt training for climbing no matter what you do. Remember Stevie Haston’s first three rules and live by them.
haston showing stuff you can do in your mid-50s if you hangboard train
The article presents a few tricks I use to lose weight. I dig a little more into the thought and history behind them next week. For now, drink water. A lot of water. It both keeps your connective tissues strong and helps you lose weight (note the scribbling on stevie's board). And nothing, not even a hangboard, can improve your strength to weight ratio as much as shedding some pounds.
pic at top, tommy caldwell. want to climb massive virtually holdless granite slabs thought to be impossible? hangboard train.