/ weight training

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crimpsoplenty - on 22 Aug 2017
The level I'm climbing at (around 6b-6b+) I know the best way to improve is to climb more (luckily this is an enjoyable form of training!) I just wondered if anyone had seen any climbing improvements from supplementary weight training. Would be interested to hear from other women especially. I sometimes feel my lack of upper body strength holds me back, esp on overhanging routes, interested to know people's opinions.
In reply to crimpsoplenty:

Ive found Power Pump works really well. Actually some pretty specific weight training for climbing. I usually go once a week, its kind of soul destroying with all the horrendous music but then becomes weirdly enjoyable when you stop feeling like you might die. Also using a grip master when your sat at your desk or something.
MuckyMorris - on 22 Aug 2017
In reply to crimpsoplenty:

Callisthenics, street workout or gymnastic strength training would fit best (in my experience anyway). In layman's terms, pull ups, dips, push ups and levers, particularly using rings ( but start carefully, as it's hard on the tendons, to go with climbing which is also hard on the tendons ). The girls I train with have got damn strong, doing muscle ups, Russian dips and no leg rope climbs...If you use weights, go for compound exercises rather than isolation as a general rule.
There's loads of websites to aid you, and the book Overcoming Gravity (Stephen Low) is a great programming tool, or a good personal trainer would be a great aid. Plus the movements look dead cool.
Good luck
alx - on 22 Aug 2017
In reply to crimpsoplenty:

Hi Crimp!
Both myself and Mrs Alx train with weights, callisthenics and gymnastics 5-6 days a week, we are both boulderers. Both of us jumped up in grades quiet quickly after we started putting consistent time in the gym. Over the last 3yrs since starting out in this direction Mrs Alx went from 6B/6B+ to 7A+ and I went from 7B to 8A. If it's any help Mrs Alx is 5ft 2" and 73kg's and does a lot more weight training than climbing, perhaps only climbs outside 2-3 weeks a year and maybe climbs indoors once a week for a few months each year, her favourite type of climbs are steep overhangs or roofs.

The thing is to really understand what attribute you suck at, then look at the underlying movement patterns, then which bits of the movement are determining why you can't do the move. Then target that area through weights whilst still working on the movement with reduced resistance so you can gain both skill and strength at the same time.

What part of you tends to power out first when you climb overhangs?






1
alx - on 22 Aug 2017
In reply to MuckyMorris:

Good points and Steve Low's new version of the book is excellent. I found that the gymnastic feats were an excellent goal to focus on as they give you the strength to weight ratio climbers desire and get you used to moving your whole body weight around in control.


crimpsoplenty - on 23 Aug 2017
In reply to alx:

> Hi Crimp!

> Both myself and Mrs Alx train with weights, callisthenics and gymnastics 5-6 days a week, we are both boulderers. Both of us jumped up in grades quiet quickly after we started putting consistent time in the gym. Over the last 3yrs since starting out in this direction Mrs Alx went from 6B/6B+ to 7A+ and I went from 7B to 8A. If it's any help Mrs Alx is 5ft 2" and 73kg's and does a lot more weight training than climbing, perhaps only climbs outside 2-3 weeks a year and maybe climbs indoors once a week for a few months each year, her favourite type of climbs are steep overhangs or roofs.

> The thing is to really understand what attribute you suck at, then look at the underlying movement patterns, then which bits of the movement are determining why you can't do the move. Then target that area through weights whilst still working on the movement with reduced resistance so you can gain both skill and strength at the same time.

> What part of you tends to power out first when you climb overhangs?

Always the arms that power out first, so I think there is my answer! I shall get building the strength and hopefully get some results glad to hear you saw big improvements, although your starting grade is something I can only aspire to!
planetmarshall on 23 Aug 2017
In reply to crimpsoplenty:

> Always the arms that power out first, so I think there is my answer!

Yes and no. It's also important to know *why* your arms power out. It may indeed be because you lack strength (Your engine isn't powerful enough), but it may also be because you do not move as efficiently as you could (Your engine is leaking fuel all over the place).

At lower grades I think the latter is more common. At the gym it's always easy to see who is moving efficiently and who isn't - one of the biggest breakthroughs for me on overhanging terrain was to watch how experienced boulderers move, how their centre of gravity always takes the shortest path up the wall, whereas less experienced climbers their centre of gravity tends to zigzag, using up lots of energy.
Siderunner - on 23 Aug 2017
I rate weight training as something to do a block of once or twice a year.

E.g. this year I did 8 weeks thru Jan and Feb. It didn't immediately lead to climbibg gains, partly cos I did almost no climbing those months (v busy at work). But it allowed my body, esp shoulders, to cope with a lot of hard bouldery climbing I've done since with no niggles and I'm pretty sure that wouldn't have been the case without.

For gaining strength I really recommend lower reps, more sets, heavy weights, relatively few big compound exercises (esp squats, deadlifts, pullups). In the past I've spent months and months doing 12 reps of 20 different exercises for no ovvious gains. I used the free and simpke 5x5 programme this time and really liked it (https://stronglifts.com/5x5).

Good luck whatever you do, and try to stick to something for 6 weeks at least before judging its efficacy.
Siderunner - on 23 Aug 2017

One obvious diagnostic for if strength is a limiting factor is if you usually find overhanging boulder problems of a given grade dispriportionately harder than their less-steep similarly-graded brethren. (I say boulder probs because that takes endurance out the picture.) Given your comments this is probably the case.

Even then it could be a weakness in dynamic movement patterns (deadpoints/dynos etc), which are more important on overhanging terrain. Strength really helps execute overhanging moves dynamically, but if the movement pattern is a weakness you could get more out of a concerted effort to project those sort of boulder probs indoors (or indeed outdoors!), while still gaining strength. One downside is higher injury risk. If you do a weights program this'd be a good idea for a few weeks afterwards to convert the strength to recruitable clinbing skill.

It could also be a lack of overhanging ground technical trickery: dropknees, flagging, outside edging, heelhooks are all much more important on overhangs, esp on routes. Easy to diagnose how big an issue this is for you by watching a couple of really good climbers warming up on a few overhanging routes you've done and seeing if they use many tech tricks you didn't think of!

(Apologies for all the typos, fat fingers and small iPhone!)
Post edited at 12:10
crimpsoplenty - on 23 Aug 2017


Thank you everyone! My grade does drop considerably on an overhanging route compared to a slab. And efficient movement is definitely something I am working on. My movement is far from perfect but isn't completely awful. Although my lack of strength means I have learnt the ability to heel hook well so if the route has a heel hook in it I am fine probably wouldn't have honed that so well if I could hoik myself up using my arms!

stp - on 24 Aug 2017
In reply to crimpsoplenty:

Have you ever tried doing pull ups? If you can't do somewhere between 5 and 10 that's a simple exercise you could work on, get a bar at home and train on a regular basis. Consistency is key in training. Intensity is also key: you have to train with a high enough work load.

What we often think as our arms failing is often related to bigger muscles in our back. Lats are responsible for pulling our upper arms down in a pull up. If you want to do more than just pull ups then move onto core training.

The other way to build strength is through bouldering, specifically overhanging bouldering. If you have a good bouldering wall you can climb regularly at that's a more specific way to train. You'll also be improving your skill level too. Forget about grades and focus on overhanging climbing instead. If your upper body strength is holding you back you'll probably suck at first - it's a weakness after all. But if you keep at it over the months you should see good improvements.

Also with indoor lead climbing keep on the overhanging bits of wall and avoid vertical and slab routes. It'll probably mean lowering your grade at first but don't worry about it. That's the nature of training weaknesses.
crimpsoplenty - on 24 Aug 2017
In reply to stp:

I do have a pull up bar but I can't even do one pull up. Only if I jump into it. I can't initiate the movement from straight arms. I'm currently working on lowering down from the pull up bar to straight arms, any tips on exercises to be able to actually do one proper one?

Have started to do more overhanging bouldering, I don't mind it drops my grade lots I actually enjoy overhanging problems even though I'm not very strong at them.
davidbeynon on 24 Aug 2017
In reply to crimpsoplenty:
I managed to get from that point to being able to just about pull up with 15kg of extra weight in about 3 months. FWIW I used the strength programme described in "training for the new alpinism".

If you can't do a single pull up then take a bit of weight off. A pulley and counterweight with a stirrup or loop of elastic would do it. Beware of pushing your pull up bar beyond spec if you use a pulley though.
Post edited at 15:04
Ben_Climber - on 24 Aug 2017
In reply to crimpsoplenty:

Get yourself a couple of different strength resistance bands. You can use these on your pull up bar, tuck your knees in and it takes some of your body weight off.
Will help you build up to a full weight chin up. They are also good for use on the fingerboard if you have the same issue with dead hangs.

https://psychi.co.uk/catalogsearch/result/?q=resistance+bands
MuckyMorris - on 24 Aug 2017
In reply to crimpsoplenty:
Hi Crimps. Hope you don't mind me butting in, sure stp will give another good program, but an option for you....

One recommended method for most bodyweight exercises is practicing the negative or eccentric phase. Sounds like you are already doing these in lowering to straight arms, but the suggested amount is 2 - 3 sets of 2 to 3 reps, with a 7-10 second rep. If you can't do that time smoothly then take some weight off using a band or a spot. Having just said the book says do 6 - 9 reps, I've made good progress doing 3 or 4 reps before on stuff such as negative muscle ups. Because negatives are intense they again come with a health warning on the tendons, so suggest not more than two sessions a week.
To back up your pull ups, add bodyweight rows on a bar or rings. These are very adjustable by altering the angle of your body. Go for 8 - 12 reps, 3 sets at whatever intensity you can do with good form.
That program will cover both vertical and horizontal pulling movement patterns.
Don't forget to do push exercises as well!! (The plus side of the rows is holds at the bottom mimic climbing, although not the finger strength, and you work the core hard doing them, saving some time in the gym. Check out Global Bodyweight Training on the interweb for some killer progressions!)

Hope that's of some use. Paul
Post edited at 19:23
alx - on 24 Aug 2017
In reply to MuckyMorris & CrimpI think any training of any sort given our fledgling climber is naive to the ways of the weight will see benefits however there a couple of tweaks you can make this early on that are not too onerous that should set you up to make the most of your time:
-

Bands are a good option and are cheap, the downside is the resistance is very high when fully stretched out and low at the top of a pull-up. As such there is a tendency to miss out on using the correct form for retracting and depressing the shoulder blade (scapula) in place prior to initiating the pull up.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FnWrvWZDJTo This video will give you other types of progressions into the key pulling exercises. At 45secs they show you the shoulder locking sequence. You can train this independently from the pull up by hanging off the bar and performing repetitions (reps), start adding weight via a belt or harness if you can do 10 reps of 3- 5 sets, this will set you in good stead for having strong shoulders for when you want to take your pull-ups further.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eGo4IYlbE5g This video shows you the correct from for the pull up and common mistakes.

Now if you have never trained before it's worth considering what type of build you are along the body type spectrum as explained in outline in the article below. Few people are absolutely one type, most fall in between types. It does go some way to helping figuring out what your likely to respond to best in terms of resistance (reps, sets and intensity), number of days to train and life style.

http://www.coachmag.co.uk/lifestyle/4511/ectomorph-endomorph-or-mesomorph-what-is-your-body-type

If you can stick to doing these exercises 2-3 times a week, you should see gains within 2-3 weeks just based on your body understanding what your asking it to do, after 6-8 weeks you should start to gain muscle.

I would add a bad diet, stress and poor sleep with reduce or ruin any gains from training so sort them out as part of your new training plan.
Post edited at 19:45
MuckyMorris - on 24 Aug 2017
In reply to alx:

Good point about the scapular, forgot that. And a good video demonstrating the exercises, some of which are pretty hardcore.
crimpsoplenty - on 25 Aug 2017
In reply to crimpsoplenty:

Thank you everyone, I have some work to do then shall be climbing harder in no time
stp - on 25 Aug 2017
In reply to crimpsoplenty:

> any tips on exercises to be able to actually do one proper one?

Sounds like you're doing the right stuff and you've definitely identified a specific weakness. Working on the lowering portion of the pull up is a great way to train. But the key thing, with all strength training in fact, is progressive overload. That is you keep making the exercise harder every workout or two. You can add reps, reduce rest times, add weight. To add weight just use your harness and some weight (books or water bottles in a bag will do). You might need to add weight for negative (lowering) pull ups before you are strong enough to do your first proper pull up.

Another progression you might try when strong enough is just doing half pull ups. That is starting with bent arms and just doing the top portion of the pull up.

Chin ups (where your palms face you) are slightly easier for most people too so try those.

Lots of info on the web and Youtube. For instance:

https://breakingmuscle.com/fitness/how-to-nail-your-first-pull-up
http://www.wikihow.com/Do-Your-First-Pull-Up
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=search_query=first+pull+up

Choose exercises you feel are pushing you and ones you like doing. Be consistent. If you skip a week expect to go backwards a bit.

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