How to Climb HARD: Training for the rest of us – Part 3: GO TIME!
Climbing is Key:
Climbing is a skill sport so while pushing through the moderate grades it’s essential to focus on using climbing to train. When you’re pushing in to the 13/15/15 range every little bit counts and so strength training becomes important, but for us it’s important to just get on the rock and move.
GO TIME – is for crushing so get your head ready to really push during these workouts.
From the list of “What You Need” the following can all come from simply getting on the rock:
- Power Endurance
- Finger Strength
- MOTIVATION – it’s why you’re up there!
Now, lets think about GO TIME! this is the time you have out on the rock or at the gym – it’s supposed to be fun, even social. So all this should do is be in your mind as you chat and play, let these steps give some structure to the party. Crags with high concentrations of varied problems/routes are VERY, VERY, good for training. It makes finding partners simple, and allows everyone to meet their own needs while still having a lot of fun together. Having someone warm up on your project is AWESOME you can learn a lot from watching someone who has a route wired! Gyms are great for training, though not always for motivation.
So here’s a suggested GO TIME! work out, with a little supplement that I use to fill in the gaps. I’m envisioning a work out at a boulder gym so the routes average 8-12 moves up to the finish hold, a good shake there, then a down climb. If you’re doing routes you can adjust the numbers down by a factor of 2 or 1.75 – or what ever feels right.
Here’s the short version:
10 min aerobic warm up (walk, bike, jog)
Some arm/hand exercises mixed with some easy climbing.
5 hardish onsights, 5 harder repeats (past projects) Focus on perfection, mix in checking out a move or two of potential mini-projects
Get after it:
2-4 mini projects (3 tries each)
I hit the finger hand and fist cracks, and if I’m feeling like I’ve got a go or two of unfinished business, I’ll head back to the mini project for a bit.
Hangboard/pullup routine: If I need to complete the burn – most often if my workouts get cut short, or if the day at the crag wasn’t quite hard enough. Details below.
Pedal 10 minutes to the gym.
Arm swingy, hand massagey, funny business mixed in with 2-5 easy problems, maybe a traverse. Focus on getting your hands and arms supple and ready to work. The Moon climbing blog has some wonderful advice on how to do this right, but find out what works for you and look for ways to perfect it. I’ve got asthema and so warming up my lungs is especially essential to for me.
Repeats of past projects 5-10 work on really climbing these well. YOur goal is for as many previously hard moves as possible to feel easy. Memorize and perfect sequences, shake out at the top then do a nice controlled down climb. It’s ok to get a bit gassed here, but don’t go too deep. Don’t rest too much between each problem, but as the pump increases and fatigue starts to accumulate sit down and read or chat.
This is a good time in the work out to make some modifications to focus on on your weaknesses. While I was working on Black Monday – a rather steep 11a – I spent a lot of time doing very steep problems with moderate difficulty. I needed to develop the core strength, and technique specific to steep terrain. I’d do some laps trying to learn to rest and recover on steep terrain, and add traverses to easier problems.
This section really focuses on mileage and technique, but you can think of it as the second half of your warm up. Once you feel like you’re catching the sending wave and you are really ready to go it’s time to Get After It!
Get After It:
Here it’s time for an idea I’m calling mini-projecting. The Power Company blog does a great job of laying it out. Find cool routes that push you, on varied terrain. Give them 3 tries. Your goal is to send them in three tries, so focus on pushing the envelope in a measured way. Note ones you thought were “realistic-just-not-today” routes, and note: first, what can you improve to help you send, and, if you think you just need to figure out the sequence then do some visualization and come back next session. If it feels impossible, move on. If everything goes in 1-2 tries you need to look at harder stuff, if nothing goes – look easier. YOu get the picture. You’ll be getting pumped and tired in this section so rest up between bouts. Depending on time and energy do 2-4 attempts/sends. Don’t get sucked into 50-try projects until later… well sometimes it’s fun so do it if you feel it, but make that the exception rather than the rule.
Also look for problems that prepare you for your goals. Again Black Monday – I was coming off at the end of the roof so I spent time at my limit on steep problems in the gym. Now that I’m working on Big in Japan I’m focusing on more vertical problems with small holds and awkward moves.
Cool Down: I like to throw on my crack shoes and do some work in the “Crack Shack” and then if I feel it come back for one last go on something. Then pedal home.
If you don’t feel like you’ve gotten in everything you need to at the gym, or crag. I’ve got a little set I like to do until I feel like it’s time to stop.
Hangboard 5X15sec hangs with 30 sec rest.
5 Pullups, 5 hanging leg raises
20 pushups with one leg raised (to get some back/core action) switch legs at 10
repeat ad nauseam. For a real workout link sets without rest between exercises, or take some rest to make it more pleasant. We’ll talk more about push-ups and core work in later sections, but here I’d like to take a moment to pay respect to the hang board.
First, be wise. You can get hurt. Use an open grip, engage your shoulders and elbows, but don’t to full pull-ups. Be a wimp… but get stronger. Quit early and come back stronger. I’m a huge advocate for the hangboard, used sparingly and gently. You’ll feel dumb if you hurt yourself on it, so don’t push this part of the work out EVER.
Two things are going on here though. The first is workload. When you’re climbing at mostly moderates, you never create the level of work for your forearms that the handboard creates. This should underscore the caution needed, but also, if you can get one 15 second hang in per week on a bad pinch or open hand a slopey crimp, your arms will be more than ready for a lot of the harder holds you’ll be coming across. Also, there is a little bit of pain involved in pulling hard on the small-but-positive holds. If you’ve done even a little hang board work you’ll be less freaked out when you get on some just-steeper-than-vertical crimp-fest. When I got on Big in Japan and dug into the crimps I felt some real confidence from knowing that I can hang repeatedly for 15 seconds from this sort of hold… and I wasn’t surprised by the pain.
Manage your efforts:
Especially when you’re adding in the supplemental workouts you need to learn the difference between good pain and bad pain. Tendon pain is never good pain. Stop before you’re so wrecked! You should be fully recovered and psyched to come back in a day or two. We’ll talk about this more in the timing section, but quit while you’re ahead. We want our bodies to adapt to climbing regularly, so again QUIT WHILE YOU’RE AHEAD.
Again – go hard, go deep, feel the burn, and quit while you’re ahead.