It’s that time of year — when I get too busy with climbing and friends and yoga teaching and planning this AWESOME Bighorn Climbers’ Coalition (BCC) event to spend my time writing training articles. I hope you are enjoying your summer season so far! If you’re looking for training information here, just check out the Improve Climbing! portion of the site. Otherwise, I hope to see you at the Ten Sleep Climbing Festival on July 2, and also at the International Climbers’ Festival in Lander from July 13-16.
Don’t forget to show your support for the local climbing organization (Bighorn Climbers’ Coalition for Ten Sleep Canyon and the Bighorn Basin/Mountains area) while you’re here, either by joining the coalition ($25 for an annual membership) or simply by purchasing a copy of Aaron Huey’s latest Ten Sleep Canyon guidebook. The 2016 Xerox-Style Punk Rock Guide to Ten Sleep is 290 pages of (mostly) black and white glory and will be available for only $25 . All the same great beta and routes, with some corrections (and some new falsifications!), and comes complete with dozens of vintage punk rock fliers!
A special shout out to Aaron Huey, as he has donated all his work for this BCC fundraiser guide and has given up any connection to author profits so that the BCC can use the profits to continue its work maintaining the routes, trails, and relationships.
THIS GUIDEBOOK WILL NOT BE SOLD IN STORES OUTSIDE TEN SLEEP! So pick one up in Ten Sleep or head over to the BCC website to order your copy today! (Book will be available in almost every Ten Sleep business and online by June 15th.)
Do you ditch training entirely during the climbing season, and just climb for months on end as your training?
Let me start by saying that if you just want to climb and you don’t mind a) losing strength gains gradually over the course of the season; and b) potentially incurring some repetitive use injuries or muscle imbalances, you should go right ahead with this plan.
However, if you would like to avoid a) and b) both, you’ll likely want to keep some of the strength training elements from your off-season training plans in play during your on-season. You will just want to severely taper down the volume of each workout as well as the frequency of workouts. You do this to avoid cutting into your actual climbing performance as much as possible.
The question changes from “How much of this type training can I get away with and still make gains?” to “How little of this type of training can I get away with without losing my gains?”
You shift the focus of your lens to performance climbing, but strength work has to stay in the periphery, as does opposition muscle work, for best results in terms of strength maintenance and overall body balance.
The steps I take in my program involve the following:
- Examine my list of strength-training exercises I do in the off season, and try to whittle out any that I don’t deem completely necessary. This is hard for me as there’s a reason for each exercise I do!
- With that list in hand, I prioritize the exercises, and split them into two or three shorter lists of 3 to 6 exercises that can be done together. Each list represents one short workout. I am free to combine them if I want to stack workouts, though – it’s up to me!
- In each workout, I do way fewer sets of each exercise. I still try to lift heavy, though – this is strength maintenance, after all.
- I try to not go to failure. I definitely try to leave one rep in the tank, lifting to fatigue rather than failure. I lift the same weight I have been lifting throughout my strength-training cycle. Sometimes I even add weight, as I have consistently gotten stronger during my climbing seasons the past few years, too.
- I lift far less frequently. I aim to get a lifting session in at least once a month (working to hit all lifts on my list at least 1x a month), but no more than 2x a month.
- I try to lift when it interferes with my outdoor climbing performance the least – when I know I’ll have a bunch of rest after lifting. But at the same time, if that month deadline looms, I bite the bullet and lift anyhow (usually!).
- I understand that lifting during my performance season may negatively impact my performance in the short-term, immediate future. Over the long-term, the benefits of keeping my muscles strong and balanced outweighs this short-term drain on performance.
By keeping lifting in play through the climbing season, you may actually end your season stronger in terms of pure strength than you started it. You also will be working more on climbing fitness, movement, tactics, and technique throughout your season(s) outside. This means that by the end of your season, you may be experiencing new peaks in performance that weren’t possible the previous season. And then, you’ll repeat for better results in the future.