Climbing IS the Best Training for Climbing, Part 2 (IYC 17)

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Image courtesy of vectorolie/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Football Analogy

Thinking that reaching one’s personal potential in climbing is possible without climbing (and climbing a lot!) would be as silly as expecting a person to master football without actually playing football.

If you wanted to get really good at football, when you first started playing football, depending on your coach, you’d probably spend quite a bit of your practice time learning and refining the basic movements and skills needed to play your position on the field (or a bunch of different positions). Maybe you’d do some sport-specific conditioning (i.e. weight or resistance training, power work, sprints, movement drills, etc.) right from the start, or perhaps (especially if you started as a small child), these components of training – especially the weight/resistance training – would be added in at a later time once you had the general skills down required to play. Or perhaps strength training or conditioning exercises specific to you (as opposed to a general program undertaken by the whole team) would come into play if or when a coach happened to note particular physical deficiencies holding the progression of your game back.

Regardless, though, after you reached a certain level of understanding and expertise at the game of football, you probably wouldn’t spend most or all of your time training for football by just running plays or practicing sport-specific skills that you loved and were already good at – and you definitely wouldn’t spend your time doing this if you had a good coach who could see the areas in you that could use more work to bring your game up to a new level.

In other words, if you wanted to improve at this point, you most likely wouldn’t show up at practice and spend two (or three, or six+!) hours, every time you practiced, randomly playing football with your friends, and you definitely wouldn’t do that every day you practiced and consider it a solid training plan expected to deliver clear, efficient and effective improvements in your game. Could you continue improve just by playing football this way? Sure, maybe – but probably not as efficiently and effectively as you might by adding some more structured and individualized components to your training/practice routine.

If this all makes sense to you and you find yourself nodding your head (but maybe wondering why the heck you’re reading so much about football in the Improve Your Climbing series), then it should also make sense to you that the same scenario outlined here might apply to climbing – and more specifically, to being effective and efficient about training for climbing. My reason for using football as an example is simply that taking a step back from something we’re close to can sometimes allow us to see things with a little more clarity than we usually do.

Next week’s entry will start to detail how the above process might play out in a climber’s development and efforts at improvement.

This multipart series of articles starts here, in case you have to catch up – you’ll also find a full table of contents, complete with links, in that entry. This information and advice is based on my 20+ years of climbing along with observations I’ve made as a climbing coach/certified personal trainer. You might not agree with me or my take on things. That’s fine – feel free to take it or leave it as you wish! Also, remember that the information I provide here is purely offered as advice and that no exercises or training program should be undertaken without receiving medical clearance from a healthcare professional.

One other caveat: As will be true for all of the entries and articles in this series, if you’ve already mastered or maxed out the topic at hand to the best of your ability level, you’ll reap far fewer benefits or none at all from my suggestions – good for you that you figured it out, but sorry I couldn’t help you out more. Happy climbing and training!

Climbing IS the Best Training for Climbing, Part 1 (IYC 17)

Here I am training for climbing...by climbing.

Here I am training for climbing…by climbing.

 

A shocking revelation, no doubt! But perhaps one that may surprise you given all of my entries on training for climbing here. Of course, I plan to elaborate on the “climbing is the best training for climbing” statement at great length in the next few Improve Your Climbing (IYC) entries here. So let’s get started!

Basically it comes down to this: if a person wants to do one thing and only one thing, year in and year out, to improve his or her climbing, it should without a doubt be climbing – not lifting weights for strength gains (or power endurance or endurance gains for that matter), not campusing, not working on strengthening fingers through some hangboard-training protocol, not stretching or doing yoga, and definitely not running or swimming or biking.

In fact, if pushed to prescribe a one-size-fits-all, one-level-fits-all, super-basic training scheme to improve at climbing for any given person who wants to rock climb or who already rock climbs out there, I would most assuredly say, “CLIMB.”

The reasoning behind this recommendation? Simple. Like any complex, multifaceted athletic endeavor, climbing cannot be learned, mastered or kept up with at a high level without logging some serious and dedicated time actually doing the activity.

More on this in the next entries, but until then, get out there and climb and feel good that you’re training for climbing every time you climb!

(And for just a hint of what’s to come in this series: depending on your background and level of experience, you might not be training for climbing very effectively or efficiently  by just climbing at this point…but still, you are indeed training for climbing by climbing, just like running is training for running, and playing football is training for playing football.)

This multipart series of articles starts here, in case you have to catch up – you’ll also find a full table of contents, complete with links, in that entry. My designation of each area as “easy,” “medium” or “hard” is purely subjective. I’ve arrived at the designations from my personal experience garnered from 20+ years of climbing along with observations I’ve made as a climbing coach/certified personal trainer. You may find some of the areas harder or easier to change. You also might not agree with me or my take on things. That’s fine – feel free to take it or leave it as you wish! Also, remember that the information I provide here is purely offered as advice and that no exercises or training program should be undertaken without receiving medical clearance from a healthcare professional.

One other caveat: As will be true for all of the entries and articles in this series, if you’ve already mastered or maxed out the topic at hand to the best of your ability level, you’ll reap far fewer benefits or none at all from my suggestions – good for you that you figured it out, but sorry I couldn’t help you out more. Happy climbing and training!

Improve Your Sport Climbing (16): Nutrition and Body Composition, Part 10 (HARD)

“Before trying anything else, athletes should consider a regular consumption of carbohydrate with plenty of fluids. This is, perhaps, the single most important thing an athlete can do to ensure both an adequate total energy intake and an appropriate consumption of the energy substrate most easily depleted.”

(Dr. Dan Benardot in  “Advanced Sports Nutrition-2nd Edition“)

Supplements are no substitute for sound athletic nutrition. (Image couresty of holohololand/FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Supplements are no substitute for sound athletic nutrition. (Image couresty of holohololand/FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The nutrition series’ final entry summarizes key nutritional aspects of athletic performance and recovery according to Dr. Dan Benardot, leading nutrition expert and author of “Advanced Sports Nutrition-2nd Edition” (ANS). Top takeaway points from this series, based both on my interview with Dr. Benardot as well as on the information covered in ASN, include:

• Never get hungry, never get thirsty, and eating six smaller, well-balanced meals a day is a better plan for optimizing body composition than eater three larger meals a day. These were the top three pieces of advice given by Dr. Benardot for optimizing athletic performance and body composition via a solid nutrition plan.

• Focus on getting calories in regularly in relatively small doses in order to sustain muscle mass and keep body fat levels desirably low, as well as engaging in sport-specific training programs that continuously challenge the body in new, more intense, ways.

• Body weight is not the measurement athletes should use to assess their body composition and/or strength-to-weight ratio; body fat assessment is a much more helpful and useful metric to employ.

• Alcohol works against athletic performance both acutely and chronically. In other words, if you want to drink alcohol, drink. If you want to be an athlete, be an athlete.

• Supplements should be used to be used to supplement known biological weaknesses, not as a preventive measure. Increasing carbohydrate consumption and timing carbohydrate delivery properly would likely have a greater positive impact on athletic performance for most people than any supplement would.

• Carbs are not your enemy. Carbs are your muscles’ preferred fuel. Aim for a diet made up of 55 to 65 percent carbohydrates, and ingest carbohydrates at regular intervals throughout climbing/training sessions.

• Start your climbing day or workout hydrated, and stay hydrated and fueled by drinking sports drinks regularly throughout the workout or climbing day.

• Nutrition is a key part of optimizing your climbing performance. As Dr. Benardot says in ASN, “Athletes would do well to remember that training alone, without a sound and dynamically linked nutrition plan to support the training, will be self-limiting.”

This multipart series of articles starts here, in case you have to catch up – you’ll also find a full table of contents, complete with links, in that entry. My designation of each area as “easy,” “medium” or “hard” is purely subjective. I’ve arrived at the designations from my personal experience garnered from 20+ years of climbing along with observations I’ve made as a climbing coach/certified personal trainer. You may find some of the areas harder or easier to change. You also might not agree with me or my take on things. That’s fine – feel free to take it or leave it as you wish! Also, remember that the information I provide here is purely offered as advice and that no exercises or training program should be undertaken without receiving medical clearance from a healthcare professional.

One other caveat: As will be true for all of the entries and articles in this series, if you’ve already mastered or maxed out the topic at hand to the best of your ability level, you’ll reap far fewer benefits or none at all from my suggestions – good for you that you figured it out, but sorry I couldn’t help you out more. Happy climbing and training!

Professional Climber, Climbing Coach & Writer. ACTION Certified Personal Trainer (CPT). Certified Yoga Instructor (RYT-200). Avid Lifelong Learner. Fitness/Training Aficianado. Video Game Nerd.

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