/ How to 'measure' bouldering progress

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Simos on 04 Jan 2014
Just curious to see how people gauge whether/how much they are improving? I am mainly interested in bouldering (indoors).

The problem is that grades are so varied that they are almost meaningless over a short/medium period of time. Over a longer period obviously any improvement will be also reflected in the grade ranges one tries but has anyone come up with any way of knowing whether their current training approach is working well or not?
Nath93 - on 04 Jan 2014
In reply to Simos:

If i can do a move i couldn't do the week before then i'm getting better. I'd imagine a lot of people might have a similar gauge. But then again, performance can vary week in week out but if the time goes in properly then surely it can only be positive results ?
Jon Stewart - on 04 Jan 2014
In reply to Simos:

Not sure what other measure you could have except what you can and can't climb? You might just have to relax about it a bit and see improvement over a longer period.
Steve nevers on 04 Jan 2014
In reply to Simos:
> The problem is that grades are so varied that they are almost meaningless over a short/medium period of time. Over a longer period...

Over a longer period they can be fairly useless as well, walls and/or areas grades can vary a hell of a lot too, not to mention the 'style' of the problem. For example a (pulling a grade out of the air) Font7A thats overhanging is going to require different strengths in technique compared to a Font7A slab.

Some common advice to improve is:
*) identify the areas of technique you are weak on, and send more time working on them.
*) Spread your time in climbing sessions between different types of problems, not just ones your strong on. Like aim to climb 1 or 2 of each type, ie slab/crimpy/sloper/overhanging/etc each session.
*) Then climb them again, seeing if you can find a different or cleaner way up them. Just because you've done if before doesn't mean you can't do it 'better' and still learn something.

Also don't be afraid to drop a few grades working on areas of technique your weak on. Setting goals over a time period is often better then in a single session, instead of saying "i'll climb that F6C slab tonight or never" think " i'll climb the F5+/F6A/B stuff repeatedly over the next few weeks and see what i learn".
Post edited at 03:25
Kimono - on 04 Jan 2014
In reply to Simos:

were you wearing a beanie before you got into bouldering?
are you now wearing one?
Have you started to talk in a strange manner? Using words such as wad? rad? etc

these are the sort of questions you should be asking yourself
Simos on 04 Jan 2014
In reply to Kimono:

Sadly I haven't changed at all :( back to the drawing board :)
Simos on 04 Jan 2014
In reply to Steve nevers:

That's helpful, thanks. I found out the hard way when I kept trying to do harder problems but wasn't improving, in fact at some point I remember reaching a point where I felt I just couldn't do any problems at all! Working on easier problems and focusing on technique really helped me I think.

Having said this I definitely need to spend more time doing problems that I don't like - perhaps a good gauge would be to identify a few 'types' I am weaker at and work them for a couple of months and see if they feel easier.
Simos on 04 Jan 2014
In reply to Jon Stewart:

True but it's tricky in indoors bouldering as the problems get reset every few weeks so not very straightforward to have a like for like comparison. Sometimes it feels like the ground is moving under your feet as you turn up one day and everything has been reset and you know there is no way you can get any of the old problems that you couldnt do back. Having said this, it keeps things interesting of course.

For outdoors I could see that it could work ie I could return to try again a problem in 6 months or a year etc and hopefully as i got better I would be able to climb problems that had escaped me in the past.

JIMBO on 04 Jan 2014
In reply to Simos:

Get on a campus board, they never change... measure things like lock off time, max laddering, etc.
Simos on 04 Jan 2014
In reply to Simos:
Forgot to mention, one thing I feel I definitely got better is the ability to actually work out the problems ie what are the right moves.

This is great but it also makes it more difficult to know if my technique in actually doing the moves themselves is better or whether I just do less 'wrong' moves if that makes sense?

By the way please don't think that I sit at the wall stressing about all this! Lol i just enjoy climbing but just good to be a bit critical of how you are doing from time to time to keep motivated and improving
Post edited at 09:06
Simos on 04 Jan 2014
In reply to JIMBO:
Good idea, bit worried about the campus board (injuries etc) but I could actually use the training walls that seem to hardly ever get reset...
Post edited at 09:08
Steve nevers on 04 Jan 2014
In reply to Simos:

> Good idea, bit worried about the campus board (injuries etc) but I could actually use the training walls that seem to hardly ever get reset...

If you've been climbing less than say roughly 2 years shy away from the campus board for now.

I guess by training walls you mean systemboards? ie set with mirrored holds? They are great for working on your weaknesses, you can mimic and repeat any movements you struggle with on them.
Simos on 04 Jan 2014
In reply to Steve nevers:

Yes I did mean system boards Steve - there are a couple of pretty decent ones where I climb so I think I'll start using them more.

e.g. I could go up and down (frontal) until failure and hopefully over time I'll be increasing how many times I can hold on for etc. I just use them for some dynamic moves now but I think I'll use them for a lot more going forward and see if they help.
misterb - on 04 Jan 2014
In reply to Simos:

if you are focused on indoor climbing then systems boards and campus style exercises must be the way forward to measure any improvement gains made over weeks/months.
You should know with in yourself how well you are climbing from month to month but maybe you should set yourself a few outdoor targets to really measure gains over a year or more.
Mostly i find that my improvements can be directly correlated by how big or not as the case maybe a particular hold feels that has caused me trouble on a route or boulder.
as646 on 05 Jan 2014
I think the real turning point in my bouldering career came when I started climbing without a shirt on. The decrease in drag caused by removing my shirt, not to mention the weight saved, made me climb at least 5 V grades harder.
Steve nevers on 05 Jan 2014
In reply to as646:

> I think the real turning point in my bouldering career came when I started climbing without a shirt on.

Recent studies have shown that keeping your shirt ON but being naked from the waist down is where the real gains are at.
Steve nevers on 05 Jan 2014
In reply to Simos:

> Yes I did mean system boards Steve - there are a couple of pretty decent ones where I climb so I think I'll start using them more.

> e.g. I could go up and down (frontal) until failure and hopefully over time I'll be increasing how many times I can hold on for etc. I just use them for some dynamic moves now but I think I'll use them for a lot more going forward and see if they help.

Seriously though.

System boards are great but don't just climb 'frontal' on them, they are there for working all areas. Try going from shite hold to shite hold, real high rockovers, awkward cross footed positions, all sorts.
Fraser on 05 Jan 2014
In reply to Steve nevers:

Interesting you say not to go 'frontal' on a systems board, as I'd always thought they were generally used front on. I remember seeing Ben Moon demonstrating how to use one in a video a while back and all his moves/holds were front on. Also Michael Caminati (?) demo'd one in a recent video too, and from memory he too was front on.

Having said that, I've never used one.
Dave Flanagan - on 05 Jan 2014
In reply to Simos:

Even if you mostly climb indoors, the odd trip outdoors could be a useful way of gauging your progress. It won't do your technique any hard either.
shark - on 05 Jan 2014
In reply to Simos:
Find a wall with a woodie where the holds arent changed you could benchmark yourself against a set of problems by going back to see if they feel any easier.

Or enter comps.

As said you can also benchmark yourself on the fingerboard, pullup bar and campus board and on outdoor problems.
Post edited at 11:09
Dave Garnett - on 05 Jan 2014
In reply to Simos:
> (In reply to Jon Stewart)
>
> For outdoors I could see that it could work ie I could return to try again a problem in 6 months or a year etc and hopefully as i got better I would be able to climb problems that had escaped me in the past.


I think you may have cracked it. You may need to go outside occasionally. Be careful out there.
Steve nevers on 05 Jan 2014
In reply to Fraser:
Front ons good for strength gains but you can also work any move you can think of on them as well, angle allowing. I did say 'don't just do front on' not 'don't do front on'.
Post edited at 14:56
Kieran_John - on 07 Jan 2014
In reply to Steve nevers:
> (In reply to as646)
>
> [...]
>
> Recent studies have shown that keeping your shirt ON but being naked from the waist down is where the real gains are at.

I'm currently pioneering a combination of both. I'm climbing three grades harder but usually only average one or two climbs per session.

I'm also running out of indoor walls to go to.
jkarran - on 07 Jan 2014
In reply to Simos:

Does it actually matter? I don't mean that to sound snippy, what I mean is what will you do with the information? If you're going to feed it back into your training program then reliable and near real-time performance information is useful. I've just settled for looking back on the season and seeing what I got ticked along with watching to see how I'm doing compared to friends and other folk using the crag/wall.

jk
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Simos on 08 Jan 2014
In reply to jkarran:

It used to think it didn't matter to me and just did sports for fun, which is great but I found after 2-3 years it gets a bit demotivating not improving much or not knowing if you do.

Also I climb alone so it's not as if I go to the wall to have a laugh with friends, so having some goals and plans to improve is motivating.

So the simple answer is that I would use the info to shake things up in my training whenever It looks like I am stagnating.

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