Like so many of us, my time is very much monopolized by parts of life that have nothing to do with climbing up rocks. Between building a house, work, fathering, and boyfriending, I had already come to grips with the fact that my fall 2011 season would be a short one. Rather than get into any big projects I had decided to just consolidate my climbing where it already is, send a few more 13c's, and get back to building the house before winter hit.
Now I've almost changed my own mind.
Not that my time has magically been freed up. Not even close. I simply made a few changes to my training that might allow me to come out of the gate swinging, without that period of getting back into route mode.
Before we go any further, notice that I wrote "might allow me to come out of the gate swinging". It also might backfire, I might crash and burn, and my season could be over before I start. However, when I began training, I was going on 90% instinct, and that instinct that got me to 13b tells me that my new plan is working.
Even if it isn't, I BELIEVE that it is, and frankly, that's what matters most.
My new magic bullet exercise is a bit like ARCing, but opposite in it's fundamentals. While ARCing, you're looking to border on a pump, but never go over that line, for a period of 15-20 minutes. This is designed to increase the capillary network that feeds oxygen to your muscles. While I've always thought ARCing to be a useful tool, it doesn't teach you how to climb once you've already taken on a massive pump. As a Red River climber, that was something I needed to be good at.
That's where the CAP comes in. Climbing After Pumped. Yes, it's a simple anagram. It doesn't sound nearly as convincing as Aerobic Restoration and Capillarity. What it does is teach you a definite way to control your pump. It shows you, in a few diligent sessions, exactly where the line lies between a debilitating pump and falling off. If you ask me, those are important things to know when climbing a steep, 120 foot pitch.
Not to mention, when people ask what you're doing, you can say "CAPping my workout." Sounds way cooler than "I'm ARCing." We all know how important it is to be cool.
My CAP sessions are included in my anaerobic endurance phase. Being my final phase (other than a rest week) before my short outdoor season begins, I know that now is the time to start putting all the components of my training program together, and get all cylinders firing. The staple of my AE phase is the 4x4, or some variation of interval training. Normally, this would end my climbing for the night and I would move on to core. Now, after I reach failure on the final problem my intervals, I hang a stopwatch on my neck, strap a chalkbag onto my waist, and get back on the wall for 20 minutes of continuous climbing.
These 20 minutes start with a solid pump, and my goal is to move that pump back and forth between near failure and solid redlining. That window may be very small on your first CAP session. As you get to know your body more, and better understand your limits, the window will widen.
A few tips for CAPping:
1. If you reach failure on a move, don't worry. The whole plan is to get as near to failure as you can, and you can't toe that line very many times without going over it a time or two. When you fall off, get right back on and continue the session.
2. Resist that urge to shake out on easy terrain. I don't allow myself to go into any vertical sections, and I make sure to spend a fair amount of time at really steep angles. That doesn't mean you should do what I do... it just means that you should set a few boundaries that don't allow you to cop out while CAPping.
3. Choose your angle and hold size based on your project or local area. If you're only going to be climbing at Maple Canyon, is there any point to spending alot of time relining on a vertical wall with small crimps? If all of your projects are in Rumney or Wild Iris, you'll probably not need the benefits of CAPping.
4. You don't have to follow the tape or climb established problems. Traverse, climb up and down on any holds, and if you want to throw in a problem, or a single move that you have dialed, just to see how it feels, by all means, do.
4. Again I'm making an educated guess, but it seems that twice a week is plenty for this type of workout. I don't plan on doing more than 4-6 sessions of it near the end of my training cycle. Once I've moved on to climbing more outdoors, my CAP sessions will end entirely.
I have many questions about what adaptations this exercise promotes in the physiological sense. I have theories, but only time and testing will tell whether those theories hold up. What I do know is that psychologically it has made an enormous difference for me. Maybe its that my psyche craves more workouts that end in utter bodily failure. Maybe my body is learning to use lactic acid as the efficient fuel that researches claim it can be. Or maybe it's just fun for me.