/ Technique vs Physical Conditioning

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needvert on 12 May 2012
Recovering from an injury, I've lost a whole lot of hand and arm strength. I've been wondering just how far good technique can get you when you've only got average muscles to do it.

Keep in mind I mean average as in the whole population, not peoples bubble of climbing friends. (I suspect if everyone in the UK were to do a pullup rep count test the median would be zero.)

So how have people found their grades dropped when they stopped climbing for a year or few? Or as they put on weight?

Conversely what kind of grades do well physically conditioned people managed to make it up without prior exposure to climbing (and consequently no chance to develop technique)?
Monk - on 12 May 2012
In reply to needvert:

Since having kids, I've gone from climbing 3-5 times a week to getting something done every 10 days on average - although when you factor in low intensity trad days (i.e. no training benefit) it can easily be a month between wall sessions. Before kids I was climbing f7c+ and V8 (with work). With my new regime, I can still get up 7a (just) and V5 or occasionally V6. Although anything really powerful shuts me down completely, if something requires technique, I can be climb closer to my old grade. My grades have dropped, but the biggest difference is in my session stamina - I get tired really quickly now. Where I would have been able to maintain a reasonable intensity for several hours, I am now normally exhausted in under 2 hours.

Basically, I think that residual technique counts for a huge amount and is keeping my grades higher than other climbers who are stronger than me.

Another thing I have noticed after previous layoffs, is that you can get back to where you were relatively quickly. I'm hoping that will remain true!
cripper - on 13 May 2012
In reply to needvert:
When i first started climbing it didnt take long until we (me and my friend started at the same time) were both climbing around HVS and we got our first E1's before the first year was up (including one short but powerful one that i had so much fun on i felt that i had to go back and solo it, perfect end to a long days climb!). but then i had done 4 and a bit years of whitewater paddling at that point which is a lot of upper-body strength, and also did a load of swimming, running, sailing and played football or rugby most lunch times at school. now i've been climbing just over a year and a half, coming up to two year this autum, and have recently managed my first 7a, V6 and ticked a couple of E2's a while back (havent been out on proper trad in a while). however when my technique fails me )(as it often does as im rubbish with technique) i resort to making a wild dyno for the best looking hold and if thats not possible then cutting loose and campusing up. I know i gotta stop this so im trying to get onto more slabby problems where i cant do this, but its just so much fun to swing around like a monkey!
as for how my grade dropped if i stopped climbing for a year or two, well i cant tell you now as i havent stopped since starting, and hopefully will never be able to tell you as i wanna keep climbing til i drop!
Duncan Campbell - on 13 May 2012
In reply to needvert: This is going to do your climbing a world of good.

Losing strength means that you will have to find technical solutions to problems you used to pull through.

I have seen it many times where mates of mine who had plateaued, got injured and then came back weaker but then suddenly made a break-through as they improved their technique and then regained some strength!

Focus on using your legs as much as possible and the arm strength will come back and you will soon be cruising your last top grade!


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