Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Broken Wing: 122 Days Post Surgery: Feeling More Whole.

Has it really been 60 days since I last posted an update on my shoulder?  Not that there was much to report on, save the same old routine of PT and mobility.  Getting new little exercises I could do quickly lost it's novelty.  Until recently, that is, when the "little" exercises that I was capable of got much bigger.

I've been on the road for about 3 weeks now, the last 2 of which have been in my second home of Lander, Wyoming.  While here, I've been in Elemental Performance and Fitness nearly daily, working hard on my mobility and strength.  I've gotten creative with some of the exercises that I can do to stay in some semblance of shape while I can't climb, and it's been a fun process.  I'm watching my strength skyrocket as I see my mobility slink ahead at a glacial pace.  If mobility were fast, we'd all be flexible, so I'm being patient.

While I still can't hang from my arms with them overhead (I can now reach the top of a door frame, barely, but it feels like a huge step!), I have been able to do inverted rows with no pain at all.  Besides all of the PT exercises and hours of slooowwwwllly stretching out my shoulder, I've also discovered that I can bench press with light weight on my right arm.  Thanks to a suggestion from Steve Bechtel, who owns Elemental and Climb Strong, I've been using Kettlebells, which put the weight in a safe place and allow me to move a little more.  I can't deadlift, but if I can get the weight up with one hand, I can do good mornings, which don't need nearly as much weight to be punishing.  Add in goblet squats, and I'm starting to feel whole again.  Pretty exciting!


Speaking of Steve Bechtel, while here I've been recording conversations about training and specific aspects of climbing style with a few folks.  I got about 3 hours of Steve on tape, talking about 3 different topics, an hour of Carlo Traversi, and an hour of Alli Rainey.  These aren't "interviews"... just directed conversations about a specific topic.  Once this app is ready and out, I'll start editing and posting those talks!

I'm headed to Estes Park today to hang out with good friends Rannveig Aamodt and Nathan Welton for a few days before flying back to sweltering Cincinnati, where I'll likely be getting more work done on this damned computer.  See you guys again soon.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Campusing, Part 4: Programming

So in Parts 1 thru 3 we learned why we should campus, the basics of how to do it, and when to use the plyometric approach to campusing.  Still, that doesn't tell you much about how to actually implement it, now does it?

There are a few rules I follow, and questions I ask, when programming for campusing.

  • Campusing, when appropriate, is always part of a power phase.  The campus board can be used for exercises during other phases, but campusing itself is a powerful activity by definition.  
  • If bouldering and campusing in the same session, boulder first.  Bouldering is much more demanding technically, so it should always come first in your workout.  If you are doing other exercises, such as various powerful lifts, those should always be programmed after.  These bouldering sessions are usually very short to save energy for campusing.  If you are already very sound technically, and pulling strength and explosive power are your true limiters, then this rule may not completely apply to you... but that is a very small percentage of the climbers I've observed.  
  • Campusing may not be necessary.  I always first look to determine if the climber stands to gain more from improving their technical abilities, including in more powerful techniques.  If so, then campusing won't be the best use of their time.  I generally don't advocate campusing until an athlete is climbing mid 5.12 and V5, and have a good grasp on how to climb dynamically.  Campusing will NOT help you learn to climb dynamically.  
  • More isn't better.  I generally ramp up the volume of campusing as the athlete improves, and then reduce it again as they transition to another phase.  Beginners do less than intermediate climbers, who do less than advanced climbers, and so on.  Also, more than twice a week, for more than 4 weeks, is going to be too much for most people, even elite climbers.

The following 4 images are screeenshots from the web version of the mobile app that I'll be integrating into our training platform later this summer.  They are the campus portion of workouts for the people we train, from around beginner (climbing mid 5.12 and V5) to elite (approaching 5.14, V10, and beyond).  Occasionally these will change slightly depending on individual needs of the climber, but the basic template is there.  

Friday, June 5, 2015

Broken Wing: 58 Days Post Surgery (It's the Little Things)

It's interesting how fast perspective can shift when one's situation is altered.  Each time I get the clearance to do a new exercise it's the highlight of my day.  Mobility or strengthening... doesn't matter... it's all the same level of exciting to me right now.  Some weeks it seems like I'm making huge leaps and bounds, and then I'm faced with something like starting my car, and while I can contort enough to get my right hand to the ignition, it certainly isn't as comfortable as the awkward left hand around the steering wheel reach I've become accustomed to.

But we focus on the little victories, because that's where real progress happens anyway.

Outside of the sphere that revolves around healing this shoulder, I've been productive.  More work on a book, the app is nearly ready (we have to film videos for the exercises and then we're live), and we're officially an LLC with a bank account and everything.  Growing up.  There's also song writing going on, my good friend Jeff helped me (well, did the work while I supervised) build garage doors for my garage, and we got our gardens in this weekend.  I've started a series of new paintings as well (which I can do as long as they are around waist level on a table) that will be showing and for sale in Lander this summer during the International Climbers Festival.  We ordered a new run of hoodies, tees, and tanks, which will be posted up soon (provided they don't go out the door so fast again that I don't have a chance).  I'm just starting to study for the NSCA Certified Personal Trainer exam, along with my friend Sarah Rottenberger, who I've been teaching my training system to.  She'll be joining Power Company Climbing as a trainer, and helping me to write training plans via the new app. She'll also be joining me for clinics, as she's extremely good at working with climbers (you may have guessed it, but I tend to be a bit blunt for most people's taste, so Sarah tempers that a fair amount).

But more on all of that later.  Right now you just want to hear the slow details of the recovery.

It's actually a considerably fast version of slow.  Slow, as in, I wish I were just ready to climb NOW.  Fast, as in, everyday brings new small gains to get excited about.

Mobility-wise I'm slightly ahead of the curve or right on the peak of it in all aspects.  This means that I still have a long way to go before I can hang from a jug directly overhead, but it certainly provides some motivation.

The photo above was actually taken at more like 48 days, but you get the point.  I may have a few more degrees since then, but it's slow going.

Monday, June 1, 2015

The Importance of Daniel Woods and The Bubble Wrap Project.

Many of you have seen the video of Daniel Woods sending the infamous "Bubble Wrap" project at CATS in Boulder, Colorado.  If you haven't, you should.  But prepare yourself... this isn't the typical bouldering video.

It's indoors.

Yes, I'm suggesting you watch a video of someone sending their indoor project.  I'm also suggesting that you'll enjoy it.

You see, in building our training area, The Engine Room, we built a small bouldering wall that won't change.  We'll add holds to the wall until it's maxed out, but we'll never re-set the wall.


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Campusing, Part 3: Plyometrics

**This post is Part 3.  If you haven't yet, go back and read Part 1 and Part 2.  

As far as I can tell, and I've looked pretty extensively, not many people who are campusing
understand exactly what plyometrics are.  More often than not, I see articles or videos labeled with "plyometrics" that contain little or no actual plyometric work.

This post is going to be short, because frankly, plyometrics are simple.  Possibly too simple, which would explain the fact that they've been over complicated, in order to make it look like a "real" workout.  However, before we even start talking about HOW, lets talk about some ground rules.

  • If you aren't regularly climbing at least mid 5.12 or V6, you don't need to do plyometrics, so DON'T.
  • More than 4-8 reps of each exercise per session, for 2 sessions per week, is TOO MUCH.
  • QUALITY over quantity.  If you're tired, don't risk it.
  • Rest a minimum of 1-2 minutes between reps, preferably more.
  • You need to be 100% for each attempt.  DO NOT do this to get tired.

Now that we've got that worked out, we can move on.  If you're in doubt, refer back to the above list.

What Are Plyometrics?

Originally developed by Soviet scientist Yuri Verkoshansky, plyometrics have often been called "jump training", which is something of a mislabel.  Contrary to what you might find in a quick internet search, plyometrics are not just jumping.

Single Box Jumps are not plyometric.  
Campus 1-5-9 is not plyometric.

While both of these things are expressions of power, plyometrics and power are not  absolutely synonymous.    To put it as short and basic as I can, plyometrics is a powerful movement consisting of  3 phases, so lets look at those phases and how they relate to campus training:

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.