Ways to Improve Your Sport Climbing/Bouldering (7): Using Two Key Training/Exercise Principles – SAID and Overload, Part 3 of 4 (MEDIUM – HARD)

Okay, so how about some real-life examples of SAID/OP?

Sure, I have some already this season early on, though it has been long in coming (and I’ve never been the patient type, but I am learning to bide my time) – bad spring weather kept me off a rope consistently for the longest time in years, meaning my strength was up but all the other stuff was pretty much down when I started on a rope again this year (except my head – which I can only explain by the fact that I have noticed as a bonus that every time I’ve gotten stronger, my confidence goes up as far as just getting on and going for it).

I honestly didn’t mind this time away to train this winter/early spring – not after last year’s debacle of the nerve injury and the subsequent loss of training time, which was followed by a scary ‘n’ tentative rehabilitation training period and then make-up/catch-up training period that I chose to employ through most of the summer season. That decision, hard as it was to make, left me in a much more solid stance and a more educated place to train intelligently through the winter. By that, I mean that my biggest goal was to have enough of a base to not get injured in training, and after that, to train my weaknesses smartly using SAID/OP to my greatest advantage.

With strength and power still (probably always) being my greatest weaknesses, being more of the slow-twitch type than the fast-twitch, I chose to train these almost exclusively through the winter. In addition to some standard exercises and opposing muscle exercises that I will likely always include in my training, I chose some new ones this year – biceps curls and dumbbell rear delt rows, to share a couple. These motions mimicked areas we’d classified as severely problematic in my climbing – the culprits of many of my falls and failed efforts, though honestly I hate to use the word “fail” anymore, because I’ve come to view those longest-term, hardest projects that I’ve bitten off as the greatest educational resources in my climbing world – they’re much more instructional than the routes I send easily or onsight, of course.

Thouhg my season has just begun, I’ve already seen real benefits from using the principle of specific adaptations to imposed demands (SAID) and the overload principle (OP) in as training tools – coming out and being able to perform a move easily on one route, for example, off a hold that I couldn’t even begin to pull my body into, let alone execute the move off of the hold, last year at this time. And on another route, I’d been just constantly irritated by the knowledge that if I was a stronger short-ish person, I’d just jack my foot up on a high step and lock off deeply and grab the next hold, but I just couldn’t hold the lock-off, so I was doing this wild, unpleasant, off-kilter and power-sapping throw. This season, I went up and out loud said, “Well, I’m going to take here and try this move again how I want to do it and not be able to do it, and then go back to the other way,” (stellar positive thinking example there, but hey, I’m human, too!) and then I pulled on and did it the way I’d always wanted to – shockingly enough to me, because, yeah, I am still surprised when I see the results of training, even though I believe in it. And then I lowered down and climbed all the way through the sequence that way, and have since kept to that new, stronger-short-ish person beta.

(To be continued)

This multipart series of blogs and articles starts here, in case you have to catch up. Remember that 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 my observations from climbing coaching throughout the past four years. You may find some of the areas harder or easier to change than I do/did. 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, bouldering and training!

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