/ Resting / taking a break from climbing/training? (beginner, 55)

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johann_p - on 04 Dec 2017
I would very much appreciate your thoughts on this: how do you decide when to take a rest and for how long?
It probably all depends on overall fitness, genes, experience etc but what I am after here is more related to the "body signals".

Personally I just love climbing and want to go every day, but being 55 and having done no sports at all before I started climbing about a year ago, that means that sometimes muscles, fingers, etc. start to hurt.
Now, as much as I love climbing I also do not want to get worse/weaker instead of better/stronger or even get injured, but I have really no instinct about when taking a few days off may be the right thing to do.

How do you handle this? Would be really curious for you to share your own experiences and insights!
GridNorth - on 04 Dec 2017
In reply to johann_p:

Listen to you body. Don't listen to 20 year olds telling you "Send it dude, No pain no gain"

Al
afx22 - on 04 Dec 2017
In reply to johann_p:

I'm still the other side of 50 but started late (99% bouldering). I seem to have a cycle where I get stronger and climb better, then I get overuse / strain type injuries. I then stop until the pain goes and get back to it. The more this has happened, the earlier I spot the symptoms and I now have a better feel for how long to leave it before I climb again.

My two tips would be;

- If you feel an injury coming on (while climbing) - stop. I'm guilty of telling myself 'one more climb' - over and over again. Don't do that.

- Don't climb for so long that you're wasted. Climb until you're just past your best (for that day), then pack in. That should allow you to climb more often (time permitting).

Then there's the obvious stuff like warming up, stretching and so on.
Bandage - on 04 Dec 2017
In reply to johann_p:

> Personally I just love climbing and want to go every day, but ... that means that sometimes muscles, fingers, etc. start to hurt.

If I've got this right and you're climbing every day, then I'd suggest that this is far too often and you're working against yourself by not giving your body enough time to recover and build strength.

I guess its all a matter of how intense your sessions are, but if you're training strength then having rest days is just as important as the workout.





johann_p - on 04 Dec 2017
Thanks for all the feedback! Just to be more clear: if I think there has been injury (of muscles or tendons etc) I am determined to surely take a break (did not happen so far, luckily).

I am more talking about aching muscles, pain in the finger joints etc. Many people who train for some sport tell me that unless you get some muscle pain, there will be no increase in strength. So I try to find the right balance of having a training stimulus but hopefully not injuring myself.

The thing is, because I started late and because I have not done any sports before I started I had to start at a very low level. A very very very low level So in order to be able to climb the routes I want to climb I need to do a little bit of training before I get sent off kicking an screaming to the retirement home

To give you an indication of how slow my progress is: after more than a year I am currently climbing around only 5+ to 6a and I am still unable to do a single proper pull up.

So I tend to have aching muscles after every time I climb and sometimes it takes 2 days for them to calm down.
I *want* to go climbing every day (yes, I am addicted) but I tend to go about two or three times usually.

And yes, there are those climbing buddies who keep telling me: no pain, no gain

Finally, let me just make sure that getting better and increasing my grades is not really my primary motivation - I just love climbing and love doing it a lot, and obviously being able to climb higher grades would open up more and more interesting routes to me, especially outdoors!
Tony Jones - on 04 Dec 2017
In reply to johann_p:

Speaking as another late starter (with my share of finger injuries, golfers' elbow, etc), I would suggest that leading 6a after a year is pretty good. You mention that you've done very little sport before: are you reasonably active apart from your climbing? Maybe mixing things up by doing some aerobic exercise (cycling or running for instance) on some of your days free from climbing and only climbing two or three days a week might help the recovery of your aching muscles and finger joints. Losing a bit of weight (if it's an issue) can help with those pull ups!

HB1 - on 04 Dec 2017
In reply to johann_p:

You say you've never done ANY sport. Not even at school? I don't know how much you weigh. This can make a difference to how easy it seems to climb (climbing walls favour those with less weight to take up with them) You say you've never got beyond 5+/6a. That sounds eminently reasonable to me, given what you tell of your background. I don't think I ever got beyond climbing 6a on the Sheffield walls when I was that age, but was leading E1/2 outside on a good day. That leaves 1000s of good climbs within 10 miles of Sheffield!

Don't beat yourself up about it. Go to the wall a couple of times a week, do some walking/running for body fitness. Smile when you're climbing. It's not a sport for most of us, but a pastime, a hobby, a can't-do-without.

You've still plenty of time left. Use it well
Andy Morley - on 04 Dec 2017
In reply to GridNorth:

> Listen to you body. Don't listen to 20 year olds telling you "Send it dude, No pain no gain"

....but more important, though you should by all means listen to your body, that does not mean you should do what it says every time!
Treat it like a 6-year-old - don't pander to its every whim, monitor the flow of whinges it gives out every time you ask it to do something involving effort; monitor and assess them like the adult you are and, if and when it comes to a point when you think the whinges need some attention, do that but wait for an opportune moment that suits you rather that your body, unless you notice some real distress going on. Your body is usually capable of doing far more than it says it can and mostly, in the long run you will feel better for not giving into its demands too soon.
mrchewy - on 04 Dec 2017
In reply to johann_p:

It's a really difficult thing for many to read the different signals of DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) and the precursor warnings of possible injury. DOMS is what you're aiming for if you want to get stronger, have a good read up on it.
I'm 52, also a late starter and I envy you the fact your body isn't already worn out and broken from other sports. Mine is trashed and a constant source of annoyance but I'm learning to stop before injury strikes and also how to keep climbing whilst carrying injuries. I'm just back from a month in Font where I was injured before I went but came back having climbed a lot, had fun and completed my physio stuff everyday - stretching correctly is super important but I'm again a late starter at this.
Avoiding injury is super important as recover gets harder as you age and taking 6 months out when you might only have 10 years left isn't a great option. I take zero risks indoors bouldering.
A couple of years ago, I stopped working full-time to enable me to climb a lot more and if I've learnt one thing - 1 day on, 1 day off is the way to go if I want to get stronger. It's different for the youth but I'm no longer one of them.

Dell on 04 Dec 2017
In reply to johann_p:

You're not not as old and crap as you think you are, and if your footwork is good then you don't need to worry too much about pull ups.
Just pace yourself, when it stops being fun you've gone too far!
GridNorth - on 04 Dec 2017
In reply to Andy Morley:

Personally I would err on the side of caution but I am quite a bit older. You are right, a bit of pain does not necessarily mean stop but as a novice the OP is not well placed to make this judgement call. I readily admit that I don't really push myself but I do seem to be lasting longer than many of my peers and I put it down to this. Many of my friends had that character trait that would not allow them to quit when faced with a hard, painful move but everyone of them has had to give up climbing mostly due to pain in the joints and specifically fingers. I'm just shy of 70 years old and still anticipating climbing f7a next year. And by climbing I mean ground up, on sight.

Al
johann_p - on 05 Dec 2017
Thanks everybody all very interesting, much appreciated!
JLS on 05 Dec 2017
In reply to johann_p:

If you want some ball park numbers then I'd say take a week off every six weeks.
Generally life and minor illness intervene periodically and force rests upon you.
That said, if you are psyched to climb then why not?
From a training progression point of view, yes, often "less is more" but from an enjoyment point of view often "more is more".
I tend to err towards the "more is more" though I am making *some* efforts towards "less is more".
stp - on 06 Dec 2017
In reply to johann_p:

It's very tricky to answer because climbing is such a varied sport. Unlike most sports where one is doing the same movement over and over again there is a huge amount of variation. The good thing is you can use this variety so you can climb every day if you want. For instance if your fingers are hurting have a day or two where you are just climbing on large holds, or maybe balancey slabs where you're barely pulling with your arms at all.

Although strength and endurance a important for climbing it is generally seen as primarily a skill sport. And there's no reason not to practice and learn new skills everyday. This is particularly so as you haven't been climbing very long.

In terms of avoiding injuries if you feel a slight tweak or pull somewhere it's probably best to stop what you're trying for the rest of the day and see how it is on something else. The quicker you stop can make massive difference in how fast an injury heals. Earlier this year I got tennis elbow in both elbow from doing an exercise on gymnastic rings. One side got better in just a few days whereas the other side, which was a bit worse probably took 6 months to fully recover.

You need to know how to differentiate between muscle soreness or DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) and other pain. DOMS is pretty normal if you do something strenuous, particularly moves you're not used to. It usually comes on a day or so after climbing and is nothing to worry about. It will decrease over time the more you do whatever type of climbing caused it.

As an older climber I find I get minor injuries a lot. Yesterday my elbows were hurting a little so I had a rest day and today I had a fairly light day.

As a very rough guide I'd say maybe take one rest per week plus extra days as and when you feel you need them. But it very much depends on what you're doing, how much time you spend climbing each day and crucially how hard you are pushing yourself physically.
kenr - on 07 Dec 2017
In reply to stp:
Of course you get injuries a lot, with your philosophy of climbing every day for several weeks.

I'm older than the OP, and I get some kind of active exercise every day, but I do not climb every day. Maximim 2 days in a row.

4 days a week is the most someone 55 and older should climb and expect to get optimal improvement benefit.
3 days likely better for many.

Serious Rest time is critical for muscles and tendons to _grow_

Ken

stp - on 07 Dec 2017
In reply to kenr:

> 4 days a week is the most someone 55 and older should climb and expect to get optimal improvement benefit.

I don't think you can make hard and fast rules like that because climbing is so diverse. I also think optimal improvement for those who haven't been climbing that long is more likely to come from learning technique and skills rather than strength gains.

> Serious Rest time is critical for muscles and tendons to _grow_

I agree with that but only in situations where someone is first really stressing their muscles and tendons. Climbing, particularly stuff like limit bouldering, campusing etc. can be brutally hard on the body. However the way most climbers practice I think it's mostly a fairly gentle sport, especially when practised with good technique. Most people fail because they can't see how to do a move or are a bit scared to go for it above gear. These two things naturally limit the amount of physical stress on the body.

I think it's misguided to think of a fixed amount of rest per week, without taking into account what someone is actually doing. Sure, if he was training on a Moonboard, your suggestions might be a good ballpark figure. But if you look at Johann's profile you'll see what he's doing is top roping routes of around 6a. In terms of the amount of effort, exertion and sheer physicality, a Moonboard climber is essentially doing something completely different.

Someone posted on here several months ago that they had just completed their 500th day of climbing in row. So it's perfectly possible to climb without rest days for a long time without getting injured. It will depend on what you're doing, how hard you're pushing yourself physically, and how much volume you're doing.
Stone Idle - on 07 Dec 2017
In reply to johann_p:
At 70 I cant train is hard as I used to manage. I find I need at least one day a week completely away from major physical effort and I take two or three days a week of climbing and run or cycle instead. I also fit in some stretching and yoga. That said, a keen friend, now 71, trains 6 days a week and is mostly fine.

The guys who say listen to your body have it right. Tweaks need to be dealt with promptly and whilst time off is frustrating it does not appear to do long term harm. I had 12 weeks off last year, a gentleman plumbing problem and a broken rib enforcing rest. Go for it. Just remember that 21 was a long time ago.
kenr - on 08 Dec 2017
In reply to stp:
> So it's perfectly possible to climb without rest days
> for a long time without getting injured.

Yes possible, but at age 55 a long way from optimal.

old coaching lore from cross-country ski race training: "If you don't go slow enough on your easy days, you can't push hard enough on your hard days."

For best stress to stimulate growth of climbing-specific muscles and tendons, need a real hard day at least once a week, perhaps every four days. Younger climbers can make one in three work (or even one in two?) - or strategies like two hard days in a row followed by longer rest.

There's not much evidence that beginner's gains from learning technique happen much faster on six or seven days a week versus four or three.

Hopefully by the time you reach age 55, you figure out the variety of activity is overall more enjoyable.

Ken
mouseliveson - on 08 Dec 2017
In reply to johann_p:

A few points from my realisations:

- There is no formula and you should take all the other opinions with a pinch of salt.

- In any sport pursuit it is crucial to know the difference between pain and soreness. If you feel pain - stop. If you are sore, you may consider continuing. As other have said, listen to your body.

- If you are chronically sore or your form is suffering because of it, rest until the soreness is gone until you continue.

- Quality over quantity.

- Intensity is best done in cycles. Even pros do not climb at their max effort throughout the whole year.

stp - on 16:09 Mon
In reply to kenr:

> There's not much evidence that beginner's gains from learning technique happen much faster on six or seven days a week versus four or three.

Interesting though I've not come across anything that differentiates beginners from others. Would someone climbing for a year would still be classed as a beginner anyway?

Some interesting vids on this topic from the world of calisthenics.

Can I work out everyday?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=chc3jsPuRYw

What's the best workout routine?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PQQ3vLn9BVw
action - on 20:02 Mon
In reply to johann_p:

I am 59 and still climb regularly. However I did take a break, when I was diagnosed with labrynthitis, for about 12 months. I climb regularly around the grade 5-6A and enjoy it. Whenever I pushed myself my fingers would scream so I don't bother!
LeeWood - on 07:47 Tue
In reply to johann_p:

> To give you an indication of how slow my progress is: after more than a year I am currently climbing around only 5+ to 6a and I am still unable to do a single proper pull up.

Back in the day when all climbing was outdoor and trad startups were slower than this for many - myself included. Maybe 3yrs to be competent at HVS.

> Finally, let me just make sure that getting better and increasing my grades is not really my primary motivation - I just love climbing and love doing it a lot, and obviously being able to climb higher grades would open up more and more interesting routes to me, especially outdoors!

Sounds to me as if all your climbing is indoor and you are probably stuck in the flat south. The level you are now at allows access to a vast range of climbing outdoors with considerable diversity; so, take hope!

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