Sunday, November 9, 2014

Goals Not Met: Freedom and Transworld Depravity.

Photo by Taylor Frohmiller
I was through the middle crux for the first time from the ground.  The hardest moves were behind me, with only a V5ish mantle and a 12+ish headwall guarding the chains.  And it was wet.  Not damp wet.  Soaked wet.  Dripping wet.

I'm still not sure how it got that way.  It was dry the day before, and I'd decided to hedge my bets on the better temps and better sleep that I could get.  It hadn't rained.  But there it was, dripping from the mantle onto my face, mocking me.

50 feet prior, at the big rest before the business, I'd had a conversation with a new friend on a neighboring route.  She had read my "Don't Squash The Banana" post, and it resonated with her.  I hung out there talking to Katy Dannenberg, shaking out, laughing, and generally relaxing, all the while discussing commitment.  And then I was climbing, her reassuring voice just beside me as I stuck the move for the first time.

Drip.  Drip.  I was this far, my first real chance at sending, and I had to commit.  The entire Motherlode had congregated in the cave, anticipating the battle.  The wet V5 above me had gotten into my nerves, and I desperately needed a plan.  My next shake, The Basketball, had water streaming from it.  The terrible Tooth hold above it was smack dab in the middle of the waterfall.  However, I could see that the line of holds out right was dry.  If I could just get out there, I could recover on the first two good edges before launching into the final terrible crimps.

The mantle never felt easier.  I didn't hesitate, just executed.  Instead of my normal knee scum/hand jam/layback rest on The Basketball, I kept moving, barely making the hard lateral reach off of The Tooth to the incut edges I intended to rest on.

Both incuts were filled with tiny, taunting puddles.

Photo by Taylor Frohmiller
I tried to recover, but my mind was spinning.  12 feet from victory, past the wet rock, and I was going to fail.  Many of my best friends were watching.  My fiance was on belay.  I had battled my heart out to get to this spot.  Knowing I would have no opportunity to dry my fingers before taking the worst of the grips, I committed once more.  I crimped hard, pasted my foot on the good smear, lunged, and I fell.

The moans of the gathered crowd echoed throughout the cave.  "Do over!", someone shouted.  "You were robbed", Dan Mirsky told me, "but at least now you know it's possible."

And then the weather turned toward summer, without so much as a glance over it's shoulder at me.

For weeks it was a mind fuck.  I was 2 moves away from a long time goal, and I had the experience of reaching it... I just didn't quite close the deal.  Did I want to get back on it?  Was there any reason to finish it?  Was it really the experience and the progression I was after, or does the number itself mean anything to me?

For nearly a month, I wasn't sure I'd go back.  However, while standing in the shower after a gym session, I came to a realization.  I really loved climbing on that route.  Sending it is essentially a formality, and I'd already had the send "experience", but I WANTED to go back and climb on it.

It had long been a goal to climb 5.14 by the age of 40.  As my 40th came and went, several people asked me if I was bummed not to make good on my goal.  

Photo by Taylor Frohmiller
Goals aren't made to be met.  When I meet a goal, I celebrate by moving the bar higher.  It's become incredibly cliche to say that it's all about the journey, and I'm not so sure I completely agree.  It isn't only about the journey.  For me, it's about a chase.  It's about being eluded.  It's about some chunk of rock showing me who's boss until it decides to allow my passage.  It's about reaching past my own perceived limits, and realizing that I can change my own perceptions.  So no, I'm not bummed at all.  Quite the opposite.

21 days after my random deadline passed, I climbed 5.14.  8 years of sport climbing, with 65 5.13's under my belt, Transworld Depravity, a Bill Ramsey masterpiece in Red River Gorge's Madness Cave, decided that I'd grown up enough, and it allowed me to climb from bottom to top without falling off.


In the end, I never had to really fight.  While I'm usually vocal, this time, other than deliberate breathing, I didn't make a sound.  As is often reported, it felt eerily easy.  Like I could do it again, and maybe I will.  Maybe not.  There are cracks to be climbed.  Big walls to be freed.  Music to be made, and books to be written.  Another house to build.  Other climbers, still reaching for their ultimate goals, to help train.  So many other worthy opponents.

First, I'll set a few more ridiculous goals to fail at.


Lowering off after the send.  Photo by Lee Smith.







Monday, November 3, 2014

Guest Post with Aicacia Young, RDN: How To Delay Muscle Fatigue

I won't bore you with the details of why I haven't posted in two months. Instead, I'll just say that it's been an action packed start to the season and I'll update you shortly.  For now, I'm going to hand over the writing reins to a lovely young lady by the name of Aicacia Young.  I figured you could all use a brief break from my snarky, blunt, punch you in the face style of writing.  You might recognize the name from an earlier post about her recent e-book, Rock Climbing Nutrition:  The Essential Food Guide For Climbers, which you can buy HERE.  Or hopefully, you've already discovered her information packed website, Climb Healthy.  I've already asked Aicacia to talk to me about nutrition for our "The Specialist" column, so be on the lookout for that in the near future.  



Now, on with the show.  



How To Delay Muscle Fatigue

By Aicacia Young, RDN
Last month, some of you asked about the connection between diet and forearm pump. And since I'm about to take a trip back to the amazing and utterly pumpy, Red River Gorge, I figured it would be a fitting post for sending season.
In this article, I will explain the causes of muscle burning, muscle fatigue, and muscle swelling (aka getting SWOLE). All of these factors work together to create that "pumped out of your mind" feeling you sometimes notice after a tough climb.

Let's blame lactic acid, right?!? 

Many people tend to believe that muscle burning is the result of too much lactic acid, but since my purpose in life seems to be pissing off the masses, I'm going to explain to you why this is not the case - according to SCIENCE.
Professor Matthew Hickey, who earned his PhD in bioenergetics and currently serves as the Director of the Human Performance Clinical Research Lab at Colorado State University, says, "The bottom line is... there is no lactic acid in human beings."
Before you start yelling at me, Hickey explains that your body is actually producing lactate, the alternate base to lactic acid, and you keep producing it 24/7.
He goes on to say that lactic acid doesn't really show up until you have a blood pH below 6. Intense exercise can send your blood pH down into the high 6's, but a blood pH below 6 will reserve you a comfy bed in the hospital

So what causes the burn?

There is actually a difference between the muscle burn that you feel during intense exercise and true muscle fatigue. The burning sensation, or acidosis, that you feel after a round of weighted squats or 4x4's is actually an accumulation of hydrogen ions in the muscle tissue.
Scientists used to believe that lactate was the cause of muscle burning because it accumulates in the muscle tissue along with hydrogen ions, but they have since realized that they were following the wrong trail.
Lactate also leaves the cell along with hydrogen ions, but the liver can actually recycle lactate and break it down into glucose for more energy. So, it's the hydrogen ions, and not the lactate, that cause the burning sensation in your muscles.

Why can't I hold on anymore?

Since the body contains a network of complex systems, there are many factors that contribute to muscle fatigue. a muscle can no longer contract in response to a stimulus.
During exercise, muscle fatigue occurs when
This is why you can eventually fall off jugs if you keep climbing while extremely pumped. Your forearm flexors can no longer contract, even though your brain is telling them to, and your hands can open up on holds that once felt solid.
Just like the engine of a car can malfunction for various reasons, there are a number of factors that can cause your muscles to stop contracting properly. If you think about a car that won't start, it could be an electrical problem (i.e. the alternator can't generate the energy to start the engine), a fuel problem (not enough gas), or an engine problem (i.e. sludge buildup).
In the same way, there are two main causes of muscle fatigue: neural fatigue (weakened electrical signals) and metabolic fatigue (too much or too little of a given substrate).

Neural fatigue

For new climbers or climbers who don't train regularly, a common cause of muscle fatigue is actually neural fatigue. This condition is characterized by a nerve's inability to generate a sustained signal after prolonged exercise.
When you engage in any form of training, you train your nerves, as well as your muscles, to generate stronger and longer-lasting nerve impulses. This is why the stronger you become as a climber, the harder it is to completely exhaust your muscles.

Metabolic fatigue

In addition to neural factors, muscle fatigue can also be caused by metabolic factors, including:

  1. Not enough muscle glycogen = not enough carbohydrates stored before exercising to make ATP
  2. Too much inorganic phosphate (more research needed) = normal by-product of muscle contractions (see video)
  3. Too much ammonia (NH3) = by-product of intense exercise and protein metabolism
  4. Too much potassium outside the cell = exhausted Na/K pump weakens electrical current needed for muscle contractions
  5. Too much heat = normal by-product of strenuous exercise


    How to prolong metabolic muscle fatigue


    Of course more research is needed in the world of exercise physiology, but for now, there are a few things you can do that may prolong muscle fatigue.

    1. Insufficient muscle glycogen

    If you're burning through your stores of muscle glycogen too quickly and just plain running out of fuel, you can better prepare by consuming carbohydrates before climbing.
    You don't have to carb-load like it's a marathon and stuff your face with bread and pasta, but keep in mind that carbohydrates are your primary fuel when climbing. See my article "How to Eat on Climbing Days" for more specifics.

    3. Ammonia accumulation

    One small study of 11 male subjects suggests that consuming an 8% carbohydrate-electrolytes solution during prolonged intense exercise (like a full or half day of climbing) can reduce the negative effects of ammonia accumulation (and therefore prolong muscle fatigue), but more research is needed to confirm their findings.
    *Translation: Consuming a source of easily absorbable carbohydrates during exercise may help to prolong muscle fatigue.

    4. Potassium accumulation

    If you remember your basic chemistry courses, then you may remember the term "sodium-potassium pump" or Na/K pump. If you think about shooting a slingshot, then you know that the further you pull back, the harder and faster the slingshot will shoot forward.
    The further you remove the slingshot from its state of equilibrium, the more energy it generates surging forward. In the same way, the sodium-potassium pump in your cells generates a powerful electrical charge needed to trigger muscle contractions.
    When your Na/K pumps become exhausted, that crucial electrical signal gets weaker and weaker, leading eventually to muscle fatigue. Luckily, this is something that you can improve with diet and proper training.
    • Consume plenty of potassium on a daily basis
    • Consume plenty of magnesium on a daily basis
    • Climb regularly
    • Consume carbohydrates before exercise
    • N-acetyl-cysteine supplements may be helpful for trained individuals
      If you happen to be potassium-deficient, then you will likely encounter muscle fatigue much faster than your well-nourished counterparts. In order to avoid a potassium deficiency, try to include plenty of potassium-rich foods in your diet on a daily basis.
      Potassium deficiency can also be caused by magnesium deficiency, so be sure to consume magnesium-rich foods in your diet as well. If you do have a potassium-deficiency, then continue to exercise as you increase your intake of these minerals.
      Exercise has been shown to help improve potassium muscle stores, and trained individuals are able to regulate their potassium levels more efficiently than untrained individuals who do not engage in regular exercise. So keep climbing.
      Carbohydrate consumption before exercise may also improve potassium muscle stores, as the two appear to be directly related.
      Finally, the antioxidant N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) appears to help delay fatigue, especially in the limbs, during prolonged exercise. One study from 2006 found that NAC was capable of delaying muscle fatigue by improving potassium regulation in trained individuals.
      Unfortunately, this study used intramuscular injections of NAC, which isn't really practical for any human beings, but this review from 2008 confirms that NAC can play a role in delaying muscle fatigue in trained individuals.

      5. Hyperthermia

      Too much heat does more than just make you sweat and grease up all the holds on your project. Climbing in hot climates, without acclimating properly, can lead to faster dehydration and muscle fatigue. It also makes you grumpy... or is that just me?
      If you're going to climb in the sweltering heat, make sure you acclimate and hydrate properly. You can also help lower your body temperature by drinking ice cold fluids and placing cooling packs on your body. The other alternative is to flee from the heat altogether and learn how to climb with numb hands, but who really enjoys that?

      On-the-wall tricks to fight forearm pump

      One of the main causes of forearm swelling is restricted blood flow. If you think about the position of your wrists while you're climbing, you are almost always in an extension position.
      Constant extension will make it more difficult for blood to flow in to your fingers and out to your heart. It's very similar to pinching a hose when you want to stop a stream of water.
      When you make it difficult for blood to pass through your arm to your fingers and back out to your heart, then it begins to build up in your forearms - and you begin to look like the hulk. (This is when you should take pictures of your forearms if you're looking to attract a mate.)
      According to Eric Horst, climbing trainer and author of multiple training books, the best way to combat this restriction in blood flow is to flick your wrists between moves and shake out your hands above and below your head.

      Conclusion

      Phew! I just drowned you in knowledge, so hopefully you found it somewhat helpful.
      If you are a new climber or even an experienced climber who has never really trained for climbing and you'd like to improve, then you might want to consider a basic training program (like these), as you most likely experience neural fatigue while climbing.
      If you're an experienced climber with trained nerves and muscles, then it may be time for you to focus on your diet and possibly consider supplementation. So in order to recap:

      • Consuming carbohydrates (starchy vegetables, fruits, grains, etc) before a long day of climbing can help build up glycogen stores
      • Consuming carbohydrates during a long day of climbing can help reduce the effects of ammonia in your muscles and blood
      • Consuming roughly 4.7 grams/day of potassium (for ages 19+) can help increase the efficiency of your Na/K pumps
      • Consuming the recommended intake of magnesium for your age can help prevent a potassium deficiency
      • Taking 1800 mg/day of an oral NAC supplement (like this one) may delay fatigue in well-trained climbers
      • Acclimating and hydrating in hotter climates can help delay muscle fatigue
      • I'm your favorite and you love me the most

        Hopefully this has helped you understand the role that proper nutrition can play in your climbing performance. To download a shopping list of potassium- and magnesium-rich foods, click HERE!




        Sunday, August 24, 2014

        The Top 5 Bad Gym Habits of Route Climbers.

        Here at The Power Company, we don't often talk about the differences between climbers who choose to mostly climb on routes and those who choose boulders.  I'll go ahead and call that neglectful on my part, because there are some fundamental things that are different about the two.  We'll talk more about those differences in a later post, but for now I want to focus on a difference that wasn't obvious at first, the fact that while in the gym, for the most part, boulderers are closer to training the "right" way than route climbers are.  Since internet readers have a tendency to automatically jump to extremes to discount everything they read... let me note here that I said "for the most part".  No, of course this isn't a hard and fast rule, but it happens too often to dismiss it.

        To paraphrase several readers of Jaime Emerson's excellent site, B3 Bouldering, "Why 5?  Why not 10?  Why not 20?"  And to paraphrase Jaime's answer, "Because it's my site and my list."

        Any more questions?  Ok then, on with the show.


        Going Climbing.

        Let me start by saying this... if you go to the gym just to have fun, with no desire to improve, then you should go and do exactly that.  You should climb.  Do whatever you want.  Treat it the same way you do when you go outside.  Just climb.  
        If you want to improve, you should definitely not go to the gym to just go climbing.  If your goal is to treat the gym as "training" for climbing, then you'll have to structure it differently than you do your outdoor sessions.  If your normal routine is to warm up, sample a few climbs, see how the project "feels" today, and then do 3 laps on the same 5.10... STOP.  Do something different.  Anything.  Spend the night working on a project.  Spend it on vertical topropes instead of leading the roof again.  Go bouldering.  And whatever you're doing, try hard.  Learn something and take note of what you learned.  This doesn't have to be an endless treadmill.  If you do it right, it could get you somewhere.

        Staying In Their Strengths.

        When I look around the climbing gym, it's always the same people on the same angles.  The crimp masters post up at the near vert walls.  The compression junkies find all the biggest slopers and stake out the aretes.  Those opposed to footwork are campusing up the steeps.  It never fails.  Hooray, you did another 45 degree V9 sloper rig.  Good job.  But why do you keep telling people that the 15 degree techy balance problem is awkward and stupid?  Because you suck at it, that's why.  Which is precisely why you should be doing it.  
        It's true, your hardest outdoor sends will likely be the ones that suit your strengths.  However, the level of return you'll get on climbing solely at a particular angle or always on a particular grip will diminish rapidly.  Paying closer attention to your weaknesses will make you a better climber.  No question. And what happens when your ultimate compression project ends with a runout, techy headwall?  
        You'll wish you had spent more time on those awkward, stupid problems. 


        Counting Pitches, Discounting Quality.

        Often when I ask people how their session went, I get an answer that details the number of pitches they climbed, as if they're in direct competition with Alex Honnold or they're training for the 24HHH.  There's no mention of how hard they were trying, whether or not they learned anything new, or if they made progress on something.  Only a confirmation that they reached their arbitrary number of scheduled pitches for the session.   
        Again, let me say this:  If your goal in climbing is to get in a predetermined number of pitches each time you climb, and that is enough to make you happy, then by all means, keep doing it.  I wish my goals were as simple to achieve.  I envy you.  However, if you want to improve at rock climbing, then somewhere along the line you got bamboozled into believing that a certain number of pitches is directly related to getting better.  It isn't.  
        Well, that isn't entirely true.  Sometimes it is directly related.  When you are a beginner, or new to route climbing, then it may very well be to your benefit to get in lots of pitches.  If it's early in the season and you're getting your route legs back under you, I'll give you a pass.  But if it happens every week, your pass is revoked.
        Instead of concerning yourself with number of pitches, try paying attention to the quality of the pitch, and the quality of the rest between pitches.  If you're cramming 24 pitches into a 3 hour session, it's likely that you aren't rested well enough to give 100% to either your physical, mental, or emotional performance on 23 of those pitches.  If the desire is to improve, I would rather see someone give 3 high quality attempts at a hard project or a climb that exploits their weaknesses than send 15 pitches at the same grade they've been climbing at for the past 5 years.
        Quality, not quantity.


        Take!

        While I used to be a staunch traditionalist (ethical midget), I now see the truth.  There is a time and a place for saying "Take" and sitting on the rope.  While working out moves.  While warming up.  For (actual) safety reasons.  
        There is also a time and place when "Take" should be completely removed from your vocabulary.  While in redpoint mode.  While onsighting or flashing.  While training.
        If you're on a rope for training, it's likely that you're doing one of two things... an "ARC" type workout in which you should never get near the point of failure, or a workout that requires reaching failure to affect adaptation.  In either case, unless for safety reasons, the word "Take" has little place.  
        The gym isn't only a training ground for the physical aspects of climbing.  Perhaps more important for many of us, the gym can be where you get to hone your mental and emotional skills.  Learning to go for it in the gym can make for much more productive days outside.  For the many of you who find that several days are spent on your project just convincing yourself to make the next move or clip, it can be a major shortcut to sending.   
        Use it when appropriate, but when you're ready to go hard, forget the word entirely.


            
        Ignoring Bouldering.

        I used to be you.  I "trained" solely on routes.  I mean, I wasn't a boulderer, so why waste my time on bouldering?  Essentially, routes are a bunch of boulders all stacked on top of each other.  Sometimes those boulders are stacked in your favor, sometimes they aren't.  In every case, sending depends on how efficiently, if at all, you can do the moves.  It all comes down to strength and power.  If the hardest moves on a route are at your utmost limit, it's unlikely that you'll send, and the best way to get better at harder moves is to try them bouldering.
        You can absolutely work on difficult moves on a rope.  However, even if you've mastered the art of trying 100% despite the fall potential, you've climbed a number of moves just to get there.  You'll use energy to pull back up the rope.  It takes more effort.  It takes an excessive amount of time. Stop wasting time and energy, and work on hard moves right on the ground.  There is no better way to get stronger.
        I've heard many route climbers claim that they've never been shut down by a move, so there's no reason to train bouldering.  Either you're abnormally strong, or you aren't trying routes that are difficult enough.  I'd guess the latter.  Even if you've never encountered a move that you can't do, gaining more power will make all those moves seem easier.  You'll be less depleted for that last move showdown, or you'll have more left for the pump fest following that first bolt nerd gate.  
        More power can't hurt, but less power certainly can.


        Thursday, July 31, 2014

        The Strawberry Roan

        Entering the techy crux and the heady exposure.  Photo by Adam Amick.


        I've mentioned before on here that last summer I teamed up with good friend Leif Gasch to try and put down a famous unfinished Todd Skinner project called The Strawberry Roan.  There isn't much I can say about it that Leif hasn't already said better than I can over on his blog, but I will say these words before you click on the short film below that we made while working on the route.

        While I fell on the last hard move on my last attempt at the route, the experience of working on this route with Leif was far more important than clipping the chains.  From hiking up there the first time and standing under the most perfect arete I'd ever seen, to working out improbable sequences, each of us with different beta, and watching Leif send at the eleventh hour, finishing with a standing ovation at the Lander bar afterward, it was an amazing adventure.  One that meant the world to me.

        And that The Strawberry Roan isn't going anywhere.  It's not gonna fall off.  This ain't Rifle Mountain Park.  :)


        Tuesday, July 29, 2014

        Ebooks for Climbers... Nutrition and Strength


        While I've not had the opportunity to read either of these books, I definitely plan to (and review them both), and wanted to let you all know of their existence, so you can check them out HERE.

        Rock Climbing Nutrition: The Essential Food Guide for Climbers, written by Aicacia Young, RDN, is of particular interest to me.  I grew up in a culture of canned and processed food.  It was less than a decade ago that I ate fast food EVERY day, often times two or three times a day.  I've gotten much better at monitoring what I put into my body, but it's a part of my climbing that could certainly use help, and I look forward to getting into this book.

        You Can pick up Aicacia's book HERE.

        Strength:  Foundational Training for Rock Climbers, written by respected trainer and legend Steve Bechtel (and with a cover shot of OG hardman Andy Skiba, the first American to climb V12), is sure to be filled with practical, no nonsense advice about ways that you can gain functional strength for climbing.  Steve is a friend of mine, and one of the most knowledgeable people I know.  I'm making the assumption that I'll likely learn a thing or two once I get to dig into this book.

        You can pick up Steve's book HERE.

        Knowing what my schedule looks like, it could be a while before I get to reviewing either of these gems, but I wanted to give you guys and girls the heads up so that you can get your hands on them at the start of this training season.

        Monday, July 28, 2014

        Review: Bumper Pads from Vision Climbing



        Out of nowhere, my brief break from climbing and training is over, and I'm back in The Engine Room.  I'd missed it, of course, in some sadistic way.  It's possible that I need this industrial attic space to balance out the wide open of Lander, Wyoming.  More than likely though, I just love it.  I love holing up, with no crowds around to feed my ego, and going to work.  So I am.

        My first visit back to The Engine Room was with the goal of finding new max boulder problems.  I needed bad holds.  BAD holds.

        And so, the Bumper Pads.

        Shaped by Vision owner Lynette Miller, but inspired by local strongman Aaron Schnieder, these edges are deceptively difficult to use.  I've witnessed the off the charts crimp strength of Aaron, so I knew that if he had input in the design, they would push me beyond my realm of comfort.

        I mounted the Bumper Pads on our Engine Room bouldering wall last year, and quickly discovered that at our 30 degree angle, they were often harder to use than I could muster.  This season, in an effort to switch things up a little, I readjusted our wall to about 25 degrees, and suddenly the Bumper Pads make sense.


        At our former angle (30), I can't imagine you'll be using more than the largest one in many problems
        easier than V10 or 11, unless you pair them with big footholds or have them simply to bump off of (get it... bump... bumper pads!).  As soon as you start to back off on the angle, they get more and more useful for us mere mortals.  At our current 25, I can (barely) use them on more of my limit problems, and when used judiciously, a few of them can now be the crux hold in V6's and 7's. At an even lower angle, they would really shine for creating crimp problems in the V4-V8 range.

        Something about these edges is confounding.  Before you bolt them to the wall, they seem big enough to use comfortably.  They seem better than your usual "crux" crimp.  Then you try to use them.  They have a deviously rounded shape that threatens to spit off the weak of body tension the minute fingers are laid to them.  Actually, I have a couple of theories as to why they end up being so difficult, and for me, each theory is a positive.

        One, because the edge isn't situated against the climbing surface, but against the rounded surface of the hold, it's not as comfortable to "dig" your tips into.  Two, again because the edge is in the middle of the hold, it doesn't flex like a normal edge.  If you watch a normal edge when grabbed, it flexes, and if you're "digging" your tips in, you get a little bit extra to hold.  Not so with these.  Also, these seem to mimic the rounded edges you so often find on southern sandstone.  I have an inexplicably difficult time on those edges, and it certainly translates exactly to the Bumper Pads.

        The edge itself is rounded enough to be friendly, but make no mistake... the Bumper Pads will spit you off, and you'll leave skin behind.  A few swipes with sandpaper (a must for all new holds, in my opinion) makes it a little more comfortable to accept the inevitable ejection.  The shape of the edge differs from hold to hold... some are curved as if smiling, while others frown at you like a coach who knows you're not giving it your all.

        At their widest point (across the edge), the 5 hold set varies from about 3.5" to 4.75", easily making room for 4 fingers (for those of you who use your pinkies when you climb, unlike me).  Because of their diamond shape, they can be squeezed into the most packed of bouldering walls (except for maybe Steven Jeffrey's wall).

        The shape and design would seem (to me) to lend itself to spinning, particularly when oriented in such a way that you aren't pulling directly in line with the bolt and edge, but either I can't pull hard enough to make them spin, or the physics of it escapes me.  Regardless, I've had no more trouble with them spinning than I do with any other hold.

        As I (hopefully) get stronger, the Bumper Pads will play more and more into my limit bouldering.  They force the precision and focused finger strength that I value in my training.

        Vision tells me that they'll be running a nice special that puts the 5 hold set at only $25.00.  At that price, these are a steal. The special runs from today to 8/15/14, so go get em now!

        Get em while they're on sale!



        Tuesday, July 1, 2014

        You Aren't Actually Training.



        It's the new buzzword... "Training".  Everybody and their mom wants to train, has training advice, and can give you a 3 minute video depicting their training.  This may sound like a plus, particularly for someone who sells training programs, but that isn't necessarily the case.  Just take a look at your Facebook timeline.  Click on the first "training video" you come across, and you'll find 27 comments from people tagging their friends.  "We HAVE to do this!"  No you don't.  It's a good bet that it won't help you at all, or if it does, it's only because you're so "untrained" that you'd probably get that much stronger just by watching Cliffhanger.  You already know my thoughts on doing the same workouts as your friends... so we don't need to go into that.

        What you want to do is workout.  This isn't training.  Two totally different animals.

        Semantics, you say.  Blah blah blah.  But for me, these are important semantics.  So what's the difference?

        Working Out is essentially the pursuit of being tired, sweaty clothes, and next day soreness.  Its unlikely that simply working out will make you much better, because it lacks direction and specificity.

        Training is a series of progressive, measurable workouts that move toward a clear set of goals.  Training takes into account the strengths and weaknesses of the athlete, and stays specific to the needs of that athlete.

        Not the same.

        Now, to play devil's advocate, it's possible that the workout video you're watching is exactly what you need.  Doubtful, but possible.  However, 9 times out of 10, most people don't have a clue what they need, so every workout video, even when they contradict each other, is the RIGHT one.

        This isn't to say that working out is bad, and I'm not saying that these videos aren't useful.  They give a glimpse into how the pros workout, which is interesting to see.  For me, they give an idea of how much further climbing can go when smarter training finally takes hold.  And frankly, most of you could use a workout or two.

        Just keep in mind that you can't do "a little training".  You can't go into the gym and "train a few times before my roadtrip".  It doesn't work that way.  Training takes thought, diligence, and dedication.  Working out can happen spur of the moment, but training requires planning and sacrifice.  There are plenty of ways to train, even if you don't know how to get started.  Talk to someone you know has a track record.  Buy a book.  Read a blog.  Visit TrainingBeta.  And finally, really pay attention, and learn to put your ego aside to self evaluate or take criticism.

        Or just go work out... there's no shame in that.  Just stop telling everyone that you're training.