/ Bouldering/Sport Climbing to a higher level

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BellX1 - on 25 Mar 2013
Hi all. Just a quick question for those in the know. I came to climbing quite late (age 32) and bouldering even later (35). Is it possible for someone like me to progress to the higher grades given my late start and having not had the chance to strengthen and train tendons/pulleys during my teens/twenties. I realise someone like Stevie Haston can on-sight F8a at 52 but he's been climbing since childhood and would have had many years' worth of 'muscle memory' plus he's, em, Stevie Haston. But seriously though, if I were fortunate enough to remain injury free and train sensibly, what's a realistic target for someone such as myself? Thanks..
AJM - on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to BellX1:

What do you consider to be high grades?

It's a question of the length of a piece of string really. It depends so much on how much time you have, how effectively you use that time, your current level, and so on. It's unlikely that you'll climb 9a I suppose. Most people starting in your position probably wouldn't climb 8a but that's not necessarily because its too difficult more that most people who start from any position just don't - if you want to be in the group that do then there's probably nothing more stopping you than anyone else. Age is nowhere near as big an excuse as some people like to use it as!
BellX1 - on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to AJM: Hi AJM. I'm 37 and trying to master 6a in Sport and have only sent 5c in bouldering. Nothing to write home about but I'm keen on making a bigger effort. Motivation wouldn't be a problem, my fears are more physiological - is it possible for a man in his late thirties to hit the 7's without courting serious injury?
AJM - on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to BellX1:

No question, definitely possible.
BellX1 - on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to AJM: Sound. Strap on the nitro )
pork pie girl - on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to BellX1: pretty doable with regular hardish effort... i have asked the same about 8as... going to try ... will require silly amounts of effort.. worth gthr try tho
Fluvial - on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to BellX1:

I am 43 today worst luck and started climbing about 10 yrs ago I climb regularly indoor and out but fail to get above f6c or E2 in bouldering and trad I keep trying but it's time that I have less of than anything else. I don't give up but I have just pulled another tendon in my hand after pushing myself too hard. Keep at it bro it will happen
BellX1 - on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to Fluvial: Hope the injury's not too bad mate. I'm a bit worried about the same happening to me. I'd consider our bodies to be roughly the same age when it comes to tendon elasticity. That said, on the flip side, if you don't crank hard you'll get nowhere too. Pork Pie Girl and Fluvial, let's keep in touch about our respective endeavours.
BellX1 - on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to BellX1: Btw Fluvial, E1/E2 in trad would be more than good enough for me. I couldn't see myself wanting to/being able to climb any harder than that outside. What Sport grade are either of you aiming for, indoor or out?
turtlespit - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to BellX1: I only started climbing regularly (2-3 times per week) at 33. I 'started' climbing a few years before that, but it was only averaging once per month as a social thing, so wasn't doing much.

I'm turning 37 soon, and managed to tick two F7b's at the end of last year (probably low gravity days ;). Hoping to consolidate that this year, and hopefully get a 7b+.

For me, one of the keys has been preventative antagonist muscle exercises. Look up rotator cuff exercises; exercises to prevent elbow tendonitis; pushups to balance out front vs back muscles. Also working on open handing a lot.

Also check out climbing grade pyramids. Basic premise is if you want to do one 7a, you'll need too have completed a minimum of 2 x 6c+, 4 x 6c, 8 x 6b+, etc as a solid base.

BellX1 - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to turtlespit: Nice one. That's the kind of stuff I'm after. I've been following a training plan in Eric Horst's Conditioning for Climbers book and there's a good section in there on antagonist training but the overall plan is probably a bit too general. I suppose a lot of it is trial and error and seeing what works for you. I don't know if you follow a week-by-week plan yourself turtlespit but if you've any other tips, they would be going to a good home. Ta )
ti_pin_man - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to BellX1: I was the same as turtle, I climbed once a week for about a year and didnt really improve, so in the last six months and as a indoor wall is now open nearer to me, I'm now getting there about 3 times a week and have moved up to a few F6c's and can do more F6a's. I'm aiming to get to a F7 sometime this year.

I found my body lacked flexibility so do a yoga class once a week, it might be cos my body just is inflexible or because I've been cycling for 20 years.

I try and listen to my body and try to make sure I mix up routes, my local wall has a lot of fiddly crimps where as another wall I occasionally get to have more open hands and jugs. Mix it up, stretching and yoga and listening to my body hopefully will help me avoid injury's.

I'd also say dont chase grades too much, from what I've said it might seem I am but really I just use them as a measure and dont worry too much about it. I enjoy climbing, simples.
BellX1 - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to ti_pin_man: You're right about the not chasing the grades too hard bit. Tbh I'd say I'm panicing a wee bit cos forty is around the corner :D I also hear you about the yoga or pilates angle. If I found a class that was aimed at climbers, I'd def give it a go...
cha1n on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to BellX1:

I climb with plenty of people in their 30's and 40's who are climbing hard stuff so age is definitely no excuse. I actually find the prospect of still being able to push my grades as I get older really inspiring. True, many of them have been climbing for some time but many of them only started pushing themselves in the last few years.

Developing strength in your tendons/ligaments definitely takes time, years so pay attention to little niggles and steer well clear of the crimp grip (with thumb) as most of my injuries in the first few years were caused by crimping.

In terms of numbers, just pick a goal and go for it. When I first started climbing routes a few years back, I threw a number out there and asked my climbing buddies (at the time) if they ever thought they'd climb something like f7c - they all laughed in my face. We were climbing f6a at the time and they made some comment about it not being possible. Nearly 3 years on and I've climbed a few f7c+ routes now... Anything's possible but it helps to climb with like minded people who also want to improve.
turtlespit - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to BellX1: another one I'd recommend is 3x3's for power endurance - I had a bit of a break through when started doing these. Check out Robbie Phillip's training articles on here for details.

My weekly approach is generally indoor ropes on Mon evening, indoor bouldering on Wed evening, and then climbing outside Sat and occasionally Sun morning (mostly sport, as I live near a lot of sport climbing). For the indoor ropes, I'll switch 4-6 week cycles of power endurance (3x3s), endurance (4x4s), and strength (just hard routes). Writing it down makes it seem quite rigidly structured, but it's enjoyable as I climb with my girlfriend and we're around the same level. I'll also back it off if it feels like I'm at risk of overtraining, or if work/life gets in the way too much in a certain week.

Don't worry about the 40 thing - if you do, it might cause you to try too hard too quickly and then injury is around the corner.

Re: climber focused yoga - sometimes these focus on really powerful moves since they think that's what climbers want. I know climbers who prefer to work on the power aspect by climbing, and prefer more gentle flexible yoga to maintain their flexibility.

Finally shout out to read Dave MacLeod's blog & coaching blog. Lots of good training information and inspiration to be had.
ti_pin_man - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to BellX1: your still a youngster, I'm 44 in a month ;) As used to be said in Dad's Army, Dont panic. lol.
BellX1 - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to ti_pin_man: Folks, cheers for the great advice. If any of you are ever over to Ireland for a climb, give me a shout. As regards the impending midlife crisis, if I can avoid the physio, f8a should work out a bit cheaper than a Porsche ;)
In reply to BellX1:

I've just turned 36 and only now really venturing to outside climbing / bouldering after 1 1/2 years indoors. There has been improvement, moreso with my technique than anything else. There have been grade improvements, I do wish I'd got into it sooner but not a lot I can do about that, just enjoy it as much as I can now :-)
Fluvial - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to BellX1:
> (In reply to BellX1) Btw Fluvial... What Sport grade are either of you aiming for, indoor or out?

Do some indoor training on sport at about 6a to 6c but tend to do three up three down for training I have never sport climbed outside, not that I wouldn't I just haven't.

Keep climbing


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