Sunday, May 17, 2015

Leather and Lace: A Comeback Story

If you've ever been to, or even paid attention to, the 24 Hours of Horseshoe Hell event held in Arkansas at the beginning of Autumn, then you've no doubt heard of Leather and Lace.  They are a husband and wife team, Dick Dower and Natalie Neal Dower, from Las Vegas, whose dominance in the event is well documented.  Over the years at the 24HHH, they've combined to climb 1,734 routes.  Last year alone they each sent 152 routes in 24 hours to combine for an impressive 304 routes.

It's safe to say that, several times, Dick Dower has climbed more routes in 24 hours than you have in an entire season.  He's in his 60's.

Photo from Natalie Neal Dower
But that doesn't stop mistakes from happening.  Last November, in a classic "that could never happen to me" moment, Dick had a lapse in concentration that anyone could easily have.  He had been working out on the autobelays at his gym, and while resting for one last burn on a project, he unclipped.  Because during his workouts he usually doesn't unclip, he neglected to clip back in for that final burn.  The crux was at the top, and he fell off again.

As he says, "I couldn't hold the pinch, so my hand came off before my right foot, thus I fell horizontally, thankfully."

Dick titled his facebook post about the accident "A Cautionary Tale".  With the heavy news that Dean Potter and a partner died over the weekend in a Yosemite wingsuiting accident, every cautionary tale is welcome.  We can all learn lessons from the mistakes, but that isn't at all what this post is about.  

This post is about a comeback. 

Friday, May 15, 2015

Strength Training: The 4 Basic Movements You Should Be Doing.

When I was just starting my love affair with athletics and moving heavy weights, the science of how to train for sport hadn't trickled down to the teenage set.  Despite how clueless we were, we inadvertently got one thing right... we were doing all 4 basic movements.

Squat.  Hinge.  Push.  Pull.  

As I've mentioned before, we also did millions of bicep curls, whole sessions of umpteen variations, but that's beside the point.

Now, before I go further, let me say that I think the current trend in the climbing training world toward lifting or crossfit type fitness workouts is not necessarily a good trend.  Could we all be more fit?  Yes.  Could we all stand to get stronger?  Yes.  Is it all we need?  Not even close.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Why the Daniel Woods 4x4 is Not a 4x4.

Recently Rock and Ice posted This Video, from Daniel Woods and The North Face to their Facebook feed, and like everyone else, I watched.  At first I just dismissed it, but the more I thought about it, the more I needed to rant a little to you guys (and whoever else will listen).  I mean, it's already confusingly impossible to navigate the amount of training for climbing information out there, and this video is just plain and simply wrong.  This isn't the only video like this.  There are loads of pro climber "training" videos that are, at best, silly, and at worst, irresponsible.  Once or twice a week there is a new pro training video that makes me smh (I just learned what that means!).  It just so happens that this video is the most recent that I saw, and I have some time to write.  And to rant.

This is certainly not a knock on Daniel.  He's a good dude.  I've seen him spend an inordinate amount of time talking to his fans and admirers, always with a smile.  I've got zero problem with Daniel.  Nor is it a jab at the North Face... they are simply selling their athlete (though they could be smarter about it).  Honestly, I'm not really even mad at Rock and Ice, though they should know better than to promote it, but I get it.  It's a business.  Daniel Woods sells things (why do you think I put his name in the title?).  And if it gets people psyched to go to the gym and try harder, then great.  Still, it's problematic.

Shit, am I getting soft in my old age?

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Broken Wing: 28 Days Post Surgery (A Tale of Atrophy)

Therapy.  Atrophy.  Ever wonder why those two words are one letter away from being anagrams?  It's because they go hand in hand.    Luckily, I've got plenty to do getting this app and new site running the way I want it to run, so I'm not going stir crazy.  It is, however, pretty amazing the way the body starts to feel when you can't do much in terms of physical exercise.  It feels like crap.  Not to mention, when you aren't using muscles, your body has zero interest in maintaining them.  They disappear FAST.  Particularly quick to go have been my supraspinatus (the supraspinatus tendon was one of the repairs) and infraspinatus, as well as the bulk of my deltoid.  One of my friends remarked that the right side of my back feels like I'm a "gamer", like I just sit and play video games all day.  It's a little freaky.

Oh well, I suppose I have no choice but to be patient.  Besides, it gives me some workouts to look forward to.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Campusing, Part 2: When and Why to Use the Smaller Rungs.

In the previous post we discussed at length why you spend most of your time on the campus board on the larger rungs, gaining power.  But those smaller rungs are there... and you really want to use them.  So let's talk about when and why you might want to make the switch.

Can You Gain Power On The Small Rungs? 

We're talking raw power here.  Big, dynamic pulling.  The answer is an emphatic YES.  HOWEVER, if, and only if, you are able to do big, dynamic pulls.  If you've moved to the smaller rungs and you can only do single ladders, you may not be quite ready.  

It might be easiest to take your cues from how you're performing on the larger rungs.  Once you've maxed out some of the exercises on the large rungs, particularly the 2 Move Max Ladders and Touches, then you're ready to test those exercises on a smaller rung.  

Rarely, it happens that a gorilla type climber can very quickly master the big moves on large rungs, but when they move to the smaller ones, they get nowhere.  In this case, it's obvious that the weak link is in finger strength.  It's best to go back to the fingerboard and ignore the campus board for awhile. Raw power is NOT what you need right now. Because of the forces put on your fingers, you're far more likely to get injured if you continue campusing on rungs you can't hold very well.  Obviously, if you're injured, you won't be doing a damned thing, so back off and shore up your weak points before you get hurt.

If you've moved on to the small rungs, and you're doing the big moves, I just want to reiterate that these workouts should be brief.  Campusing isn't a fitness or endurance workout, so don't treat it as such. Keep your time on the small rungs to only a few moves, and rest at minimum 2-3 minutes between each repetition.  I can't emphasize this enough, so forgive me if I seem repetitive.    

Of course, while raw power is the meat and potatoes of the campus board, there are other reasons to use it, and this is where the smaller rungs really start to pull their weight.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Campusing, Part 1: For Power...Big Rungs, Big Moves.

I've been meaning to write this post for quite some time, so to those of you whom I've told "Coming Soon", I now say "Finally!".  I've recently been designing training protocols for our mobile app, and while building campus plans for several types of climber, it reoccurred to me how misunderstood campusing is.  In this post, I'm simply going to go over the basics, and then I'll get into more detail soon.  Promise.

First, let me say this.  Campusing is misunderstood.  Is it dangerous?  Sure.  So is climbing. The bad reputation arises from the campus board being misused.  Whether doing circus tricks or some sadistic form of "endurance campusing", gym rats long ago began destroying themselves on a tool that, when used correctly, is potentially safer than plain old bouldering.

There are two essential reasons to use the campus board.
  • Contact Strength.  In my opinion, this is the least of the two reasons (for the majority of climbers), so we'll get into this a little more later.  Those small rungs on the campus board... this is where they come in, unless you are ridiculously strong.
  • Explosive Power.  This is the main reason for which I prescribe campusing, and will be the focus of the workouts I describe.  Nearly everyone I direct to the campus board, for the large majority of their workout, stays on the biggest rungs (we use the Metolius Large Wooden Rungs, which are 1 1/4" deep, incut side up), myself included.  I've only recently moved onto the smaller rungs, because I've maxed out a few exercises on the larger ones.

I'll just go ahead and say this now.  If you aren't regularly climbing mid to hard 5.12 or V6/7, then it's very likely that you can stay away from the small rungs altogether.  I know, you feel cooler when you get to use the little ones, even though you get nowhere.  In fact, if you aren't climbing into the 5.12 range, or V4/5,  then you should probably just stay away from the entire campus board for now.  However, if you're doing this to feel cool, then by all means, continue with the delusion.  If you want to get the most out of a campus workout, keep reading.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Half A Milli

Sometime yesterday we passed half a million views.  That seems a little crazy to me, considering the tiny niche that we occupy.  Regardless, thank you!

Following some of my traffic back to reddit recently, I discovered a very spot on critique that my recent posts have seemed like advertisements.  I looked back, and it became obvious to me how review heavy I've been the past several months.

I 100% stand by my reviews of those products, but it's true... there have been far too many reviews as of late.  That's changing.  I committed to a handful of reviews, and when life threw me a sinker last fall, blogging became one of my lowest priorities.  I still felt the pressure to get those reviews out, and not just throw them together, so those posts ended up being the only ones to see the light of day.