Plateaus (2): Climbing Without Any Thought to Specifics Training Is Not
Another crucial aspect to keep in mind with plateaus is that the more you do an exercise or physical activity, the more your body adapts to that activity (called the SAID principle: Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands), and at some point for pretty much everyone (thanks to genetics and training potential), it becomes more and more difficult to make remarkable improvements/adaptations in that activity. In other words, as you near your absolute potential, gains will become smaller and smaller and harder and harder to come by. This sucks, for sure, but it doesn’t necessarily sound the death knell on your potential for improvement.
As I discovered in my personal journey, what could be lacking and causing the plateau, and what I believe is fairly regularly the culprit in climbing plateaus, is a lack of what I’ll call here “specifics training” – meaning that:
a) the climbing being undertaken regularly is too easy (i.e. lacking in intensity) and/or plays to the climber’s strengths/comfort too much (i.e. too much familiarity/routine) to illicit any further notable or efficient/effective adaptions in terms of visible, chartable progression in climbing ability level;
b) the climbing being undertaken regularly does not offer the most efficient means by which to address the climber’s specific and personal weaknesses, meaning that he or she may get tiny, incremental bits of progress here and there from this climbing, but that if a more specific and targeted program of training were undertaken, gains would likely come more quickly and efficiently than they would through continuing the random program of “just climbing as training for climbing.”
More on this in next week’s entry, starting with the various ways in which a) (above) can manifest in a climber’s world.
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!