Training Talk 5: Getting Stronger by Resting Enough (1)

I’ve said it before: Training for maximal strength is (or should be) a component of every serious climber’s training program. (By serious climber, I simply mean climbers who want to improve their personal climbing ability in the most efficient way possible, not climbers who take themselves and their climbing way too seriously, of course!) I’ve talked about the importance of maximal strength training before, as well as the importance of resting and recovery time to allow muscles to compensate and grow stronger – since you only reap the benefits of training if you allow for enough recovery time between workouts.

And lucky me, if I didn’t get a huge dose of “you’re not recovered” to gnaw on and ponder yesterday, getting me thinking about this bit of a conundrum yet again. See, the thing is, in the bigger picture, it’s smartest (I believe) to spend a good amount of time every year trying to push your maximal-strength levels in climbing-related areas (like finger strength and pulling strength and core strength, for example), since max-strength is the ultimate governor of all other athletic skills (read my three-part series on training for maximal strength for more on this).

In a nutshell, even if your endurance or power endurance kick ass, you will ultimately be limited in those areas by how strong you are in the max-strength department, because if you don’t have the power/strength to do a move, it doesn’t matter how great your endurance/power-endurance are – and also, the stronger you are maximally, the easier all power-endurance and endurance moves are relative to your maximal-strength level, meaning each individual move on any given route has the potential to tax your body’s systems less (though you will likely need build up your power endurance and endurance to be able to utilize your strength fully to your advantage).

Anyhow, back to yesterday. So, until last Friday, I’d been spending my climbing days on steep and powerful climbs that did NOT tax my upper strength limits in and of themselves. The three routes I’d been trying all relied more on power endurance instead of really difficult, strength-sapping individual moves for me. And each day, as is often the case when a climber starts to build up his/her endurance and/or power endurance closer and closer to his or her actual power/strength levels, I’d been making progress on the routes – sending one, and high-pointing the others daily. Because these routes weren’t pushing my muscles at a max-strength level, I was also recovering quickly from each climbing day – a day off in between seemed to be enough for my body to regroup and recharge and improve performance the next day.

Until I tried Joe Daddy. As I talked about in my last entry, Joe Daddy kicked my butt, or rather, torched my muscles – each move pushed my pulling power pretty maximally, leaving my lats in particular drained and flamed. Though I didn’t really feel actively sore yesterday, as soon as I tried to climb, after one day off, I discovered that I’d lost all the pep and bounce in my climbing; I felt like sacks of sloppy sand had been attached to my bones instead of strong muscles. Everything felt slow and draggy. I was obviously not recovered from Friday, barely at all.

(to be continued)

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