After a spring of relative success I came to the realization that I had a few remaining glaring weak points. Not necessarily that these facets are weak, I think of myself as a pretty well rounded climber, but that I had been working on them in the wrong way, or hadn't needed to in some time. At the root of all of it was that my thoughts on training had gotten maybe too complicated. Too many exercises, not enough real focus on a few of the basics.
What are the basics, exactly? It could be boiled down even further than I will take it, but in my mind, for my purposes, the basics come down to the following 5 facets: Finger strength, power, climbing endurance, technique, and - the one I feel should be saved for last - strength to weight ratio.
Endurance and technique? I'm solid. I've spent a huge amount of time the last few years learning and mastering new techniques and their subtleties. Endurance comes and goes, but is always easy to get back when it's needed. The base is there, so it's not something I'll ever need to REALLY train again.
Power and finger strength are different issues. I've spent time working on both, but that work has been complicated by several factors. When bouldering for power, much of the time has been spent on stronger techniques, rather than pure gorilla power. Hangboarding time has been plenty, but skin has been a severe limiting factor. And then there's the weight thing. I certainly don't have much to lose, but I've never once tried to lose weight for the purpose of rock climbing (other than the extra weight I lost after my 5 year layoff). Maybe now is the time that I should try it?
So with these things in mind, I engineered my new training plan for the summer. I'm through the first 4 weeks, and I feel stronger than ever. It's been more intense than ever before, but after much fiddling over the years, it fits right into my busy schedule. To top it off, my skin is a little thin in spots, but holding together perfectly. So far, only one split and it barely held up the session. This isn't luck... it's all part of the plan. A plan that was based on one thing:
That's right. Remember how Rocky went to Russia and got all primitive leading up to the fight with Drago? Me too. And how he was pummeling sides of beef in the meat locker before fighting Apollo. Yeah, that. So it's back to basics. With a vengeance.
4 weeks: July 16 - August 12. Strength.
Monday A.M.: Hangboard
Tuesday A.M.: Hangboard Tuesday P.M.: Threshold Bouldering (focus on 1-3 moves)
Wednesday: Bike or equivalent.
Thursday A.M.: Hangboard Thursday P.M.: Threshold Bouldering (focus on 1-3 moves)
Saturday or Sunday: Threshold Bouldering (focus on 1-3 moves)
Saturday or Sunday: Bike or equivalent.
4 weeks: August 13 - September 9. Power.
Monday A.M.: Hangboard Monday P.M.: Campus
Tuesday P.M.: Recruitment Bouldering (focus on 3-7 moves), Core.
Wednesday: Bike or equivalent.
Thursday A.M.: Hangboard Thursday P.M.: Recruitment Bouldering (focus on 3-7 moves), Core.
Saturday or Sunday: Campus
Saturday or Sunday: Bike or equivalent.
6 weeks: September 10 - October 21. Power Endurance.
Tuesday: Red River Gorge. Short term projects and major project links.
Wednesday: Bike or equivalent.
Thursday: Recruitment Bouldering. 4x6. Core.
Saturday or Sunday: Either Red River Gorge OR Recruitment Bouldering, 4x6, Core.
Then I rest. Then I crush. That's the plan, anyhow. The simplicity of what I'm doing doesn't come through entirely in the written program. The bouldering is just what it says - no searching out of new techniques, no drills of any kind. Just finding single moves and short sequences to get gorilla on. For core, I just do it 'til it hurts. No more counting, timing, or analyzing. I know it's working because I feel like a midget could do pull ups off my ankles while I'm in a lever. Forever. When I bike, I don't use a watch. I just go as hard as I can on an antique Italian roadbike for about 8 miles or so and I'm wrecked. If walking is unsteady, I've done good. My diet has vastly improved, though you'd be hard pressed to see me as a "health nut". Nothing crazy. Just simple, simple, simple.
But that's not all. Much of the boiling down to the basics has to do with the hangboard and campus workouts I'm doing. Slick. Streamlined. I believe I've cut out all the unnecessary parts and kept what I need, and only that. The results have been surprising. And that's... well, that's next time.
In the Red River Gorge, "Omaha Beach" is everyone's favorite route to hate on. Locals love to depict it as a mindless jug-haul with no "hard" moves. In 2010, I decided to give this jug haul a go. I hung more times than there are bolts...
We measure our sport in numbers. A silly concept, really, but it's what we've got, and I've come to accept that. However, as an individual, I reserve the right to measure my own progressions however the hell I want to, and often times, the numbers don't quite reflect what I know to be the truth.
We're here. Finally. There is still much work to be done. All of the old blog posts will need to be formatted, and we still have apparel sitting in boxes that we need to photograph and get on here. That's just the beginning. But we're here.
Not too long ago I sat down and had a great conversation with John Blomquist from the "Chalk Talk" Podcast. We got into several things, including hiphop, art, and life, but the majority of our conversation revolved around The Power Company and training.
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.
Therapy. Atrophy. Ever wonder why those two words are one letter away from being anagrams? It's because they go hand in hand. When you aren't using muscles, your body has zero interest in maintaining them. They disappear FAST.
So surgery went well, they tell me. I have no idea since I don't know what's going on in there. I'll trust their judgement.
I'll keep this short and sweet, since you'll be hearing alot from me in coming months. I leave my house in about 30 minutes to head to the hospital for rotator cuff surgery, specifically to repair a full thickness labrum tear as well as a full thickness supraspinatus tear.
I was through the middle crux for the first time from the ground. The hardest moves were behind me, with only a V5-ish mantle and a 12+-ish headwall guarding the chains. And it was wet. Not damp wet. Soaked wet. Dripping wet.
Last summer I teamed up with my good friend Leif Gasch to try and put down a famous unfinished Todd Skinner project called "The Strawberry Roan."
Our new training space, "The Engine Room," is mostly complete, and it is exactly what we'd been missing. I'm psyched to get stronger than ever this training season with the help of the tools we've added to our lineup.
There's more to life than climbing. It's true. Some are willing to forego nearly all else for the singular pursuit of living a life on the rocks. Some aren't. None of us are right or wrong, we just make our choices and do the best we can with them.
I’ve been getting tons of questions and comments about the High/Low approach to training that I’ve been exploring and writing about. I figured that it might be prudent to let people know whether or not this style of training is for you.
Just a couple of quick notes to get me back into the swing of keeping you all updated on what's going on here...
Spring has nearly yielded to the stifling heat and humidity of the jungle-like summer, and I've not posted a single update on how it's gone.
It's easy to get discouraged by how quickly the pros seem to put down the hardest projects, when for two seasons you've worked on the same 12c, and still haven't been able to clip the chains. Maybe you're just in too far over your head?
The end of an epic. I finally clipped the chains on "Swingline". As it should be, it didn't go down without a bit of a fight, and over the last few sessions it's taught me a few lessons.
Goals are a funny thing. Unless they are once in a lifetime goals, we who make a habit of setting and reaching for goals often just check one off and replace it with a new one. Before I've completely moved on to my next goals and deemed it too long ago to bother blogging about, I just wanted to type up a quick update:
Tomorrow, Autumn officially begins. This year I'm taking issue with the word "Fall". I'm removing it from my lexicon. "Fall" is in the air... duh, of course it is... but that isn't where I want to be. This season is for sending, so no more "Fall".
After a spring of relative success I came to the realization that I had a few remaining glaring weak points. At the root of all of it was that my thoughts on training had gotten maybe too complicated. Too many exercises, not enough real focus on a few of the basics.
I feel stronger and more fit than I ever have at this time of year, but before we get down to business as usual, I suppose I should give you all a quick update on where I've been and how the spring season went.
Can you simultaneously be in an intense training cycle and realistically expect to perform your best? Doubtful.
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. That's where the CAP comes in. Climbing After Pumped.
I rarely get frustrated about a rock climb, but on my final day climbing on "Ghost Dance", I grew far more upset than I ever thought I would regarding a 60 foot line of bolts.
here is still something so satisfying about doing a hard route first try with no prior knowledge, testing all of your skills on the fly, requiring you to pull tricks out of your bag at a moments notice. However, there is something about redpointing that goes much deeper.
I've been here in Lander for 9 days, and have spent some quality time with a couple of different projects, including one of the best 13c's I've ever climbed on called "Ghost Dance", and my intended project for the trip, a short, fierce 13c called "Atomic Stetson".
"You have the key, right?"
"The key to the route. You know what you need to do. Do it."
Climbing, in terms of movement, is easily the most complex sport I've ever been involved with. In such a complex sport, can we even begin to train simply? You can, but you have to boil it down to specifics.
...while searching for dry rock close to the road (we arrived late in the day), we came across the huge boulder of "Super Mario". "Super Mario" is a short, powerful line, very reminiscent of Wild Iris...
If there is one thing I've learned in the past couple of seasons, its that despite the fact that the climbing I most often do is steeped in endurance, I can never have too much power.