Improve Your Sport Climbing/Bouldering (9): Building Power, Part 2 (MEDIUM-HARD)

Steep climbing usually demands a high level of whole-body power.

The good news is that whether you love to dyno already or you’ve never popped for a hold in your life (yet), SAID rules in training power just like it does for all other climbing training aspects (please try not to get bored with SAID – I’m going to keep beating you over the head with it for a while longer). This means that if you want to challenge your current power level, you need to push it higher by training specifically to this end.

Can you do this with weights? Yes…well, sort of. Strength training, which I discussed in WI 8, will definitely yield a gain in your power potential and is a cornerstone of improving your power. Another great and succinct statement from the same Naturally Intense blog entry quoted yesterday says simply, “…you can be strong and not powerful but you can’t be powerful without a certain base of strength as the two are very directly related.” This is why it can be so very helpful to regularly spend a chunk of time training strength in your areas of weaknesses with weights or other resistance methods – because if you have little, no, or simply not enough of a strength base to build upon for the moves you want to perform, trying to build power on those moves can be a painstakingly slow and ineffective/inefficient process, potentially leading to overtraining, injury or burnout. (Read “The Importance of Strength for Enhanced Explosiveness” for more on how strength training contributes to your ability to generate power).

But let’s say you already do have the strength base for the moves/level of climbing you’re attempting, whether from a smart resistance training program or from climbing or from a bit of both. When you’re aiming to build power, one option is to transition to using lighter weights than your strength-training levels and attempt to “dyno” the weights, or move them more explosively, optimally in climbing-relevant motions. Campus boards can help with training this type of motion, too, but only if you’re strong enough to campus correctly without getting hurt – and they may help you develop better timing and contact strength while also teaching you to recruit and deliver explosive power. And plyometric workouts for legs can help you strengthen and get used to the prospect of using your legs to help generate explosive movements in climbing as well.

However, though I’ve experimented with all of these outside-of-climbing power-training methods, I’ve come to believe that at least for me, alongside training with weights to build my strength up, that the majority of my time is more efficiently and effectively spent by training this strength-related skill (power) in a direct climbing context – both by repetitively practicing dynamic and power-sapping moves and sequences of moves, as well as deliberately moving through difficult climbing sequences more quickly and explosively, both in the gym and on real rock.

(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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