Saturday, February 18, 2017

Winter Training: Offset Pullups/Uneven Grip Pullups and Hangboard Workouts

  After months of strength training via lifting weights, weighted pullups, and indoor climbing at a "heavier than usual" body weight... I wanted to start to redirect my training so it was more climbing specific as the spring season was approaching and in preparation for an upcoming spring climbing trip.  One of my obvious weaknesses over the past few years has been lock off and finger strength.  Obviously both of these strengths will increase as I continue to gradually lose some weight, but I wanted to find training solutions that would help to maximize both my time and my results.

  Near the end of my strength training program where I was doing heavy weight lifting routinely and not focusing so much on my peak climbing ability; I did a 10 part fitness evaluation that is an appendix in Eric Horst's "Training for Climbing".  Part 3 of the test was a timed one-arm lock off with each arm.  My result of 0 seconds for a lock off with each arm raised instant red flags.  Part 5 of the test was maximum number of fingertip pullups on a 3/4" edge where I was only able to complete 4 1/2 pullups.  And finally part 6 of the test was a lock off in the top position on the same 3/4" edge where I was able to hold the lock off for 8 seconds.  These poor test results made it very clear to me that I had to specifically target these weaknesses in preparation for the spring climbing season.  

  My training solutions:

  • First and foremost, continue to gradually slim down and lose unnecessary body weight by reducing my daily caloric intake while increase my frequency and intensity of cardio workouts
  • Work on improving my lock off strength by performing offset/uneven grip pullups 2x a week
  • Improve my finger strength through continued indoor climbing sessions, HIT strip workouts, and now through hangboard sessions as well, also 2x a week 
Offset/Uneven Grip Pullups:

  I was able to devise a pretty basic and cheap setup to help with the offset pullups.  All that I needed was (2) eye hooks mounted above my head height to hang objects from, 2 carabiners, a pair of handles and a daisy chain.  I begin the workout by doing 10 warm up pullups with the pair of handles at the same level.  I then use the daisy chain to offset the handles so that one is lower than the other,  The daisy chain that I have offer a 3" drop between loops and my target rep range is 4-6 reps per hand.  I have been doing 3 sets of 5 pullups with each arm with the handles 9" apart.  I am hoping to work up to a 15" offset before I depart for my climbing trip at the end of April.   

Hangboard Workouts

  There are so many options and workouts out there right now for hangboard training.  I was looking for simplicity while still being effective and not overly time consuming since I knew that I would be doing various other finger training exercises in conjunction with the hangboard.  I settled on climbing coach and trainer Steve Bechtel's Hangboard Ladders program.

  To summarize this program, you first pick an edge that you can hold an open hand grip position for a 10-12 second deadhang.  This edge will be your training hold for 4 weeks.  Once the hold is determined, you cycle through 3 grip positions and a set amount of timed hangs and sets.  You start with an open hand grip for a 3 second hang, followed by a 6 second hang and then finally a 9 second hang.  Rest and repeat 2 more times for 3 total sets.  Then you switch your grip position to a full crimp and again do 3 sets of hangs for 3,6,9.  The final grip position is the strongest, the half crimp again for 3 sets of 3,6,9 second hangs.  

  Each week things gradually progress as follows below.  After 4 weeks of strict training you can evaluate the results and then add some extra weight to yourself or begin using a slightly smaller hold.  After 8 weeks (2 complete cycles), a month of no hangboarding should take place.  

**For these workouts I have chosen to utilize the adjustable depth edge hold on my BAM! Climbing board.

Sample Hangboard Progression
Week 1 (2x a week)
  1. Open hand: 3 sets of 3-6-9
  1. Full crimp: 3 sets of 3-6-9
  1. Half crimp: 3 sets of 3-6-9
Week 2 (2x a week)
  1. Open hand: 4 sets of 3-6-9
  1. Full crimp: 4 sets of 3-6-9
  1. Half crimp: 4 sets of 3-6-9
Week 3 (2x a week)
  1. Open hand: 5 sets of 3-6-9
  1. Full crimp: 5 sets of 3-6-9
  1. Half crimp: 5 sets of 3-6-9
Week 4 (2x a week)
  1. Open hand: 3 sets of 3-6-9-12
  1. Full crimp: 3 sets of 3-6-9-12
  1. Half crimp: 3 sets of 3-6-9-12

Monday, February 6, 2017

Winter Training: Indoor Session at the Edge

  Quick afternoon session at The Edge in Halfmoon, New York with some friends.  It was a nice change of pace to climb outside of my home wall to get a more accurate sense of where my current climbing fitness is at.  To be honest, despite this heavier weight...I did a lot better than I thought I would.  I was able to flash a bunch of V4's, V5's, and even managed to flash one V6.  Small crimp holds were extremely painful and difficult just as they have been on my home wall but any larger holds or pinches felt pretty easy.  I was also able to climb consistently for 3 hours.

  This was a good indicator that I am on the right path so onward and upward with the training plan to maximize my finger strength and to slim down 10-15 lbs for this upcoming spring climbing season!!!

Media Update:

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Winter Training: End of a 13-week power lifting circuit

  This week and the beginning of the month of February marks the completion of my 13-week power and strength training "circuit" that I began back on November 1, 2016.  Since beginning this circuit, my focus wasn't on my overall climbing shape and conditioning...the fall season ended early here in the northeast so instead my goal was to get as strong and as big as I possibly could over the winter while continuing to climb indoors on my home wall.  My goal was to continually get stronger and bigger while slowly allowing my body to adapt to climbing on a larger/heavier than normal frame.  

  Fast forward through the 13-week circuit and I would say that I was rather successful at getting bigger and stronger.  My bodyweight increased from 170.2 lbs to 186.5 lbs, all of my weight lifts increased (some pretty considerably in fact), my body measurements all increased, and I was able to continually climb indoors 2-3 times a week even at a heavier than normal climbing weight.  The added weight was most noticeable on smaller holds and crimps but on larger holds and pinches, the extra weight was not an issue.  Also, despite getting a little bit heavier each week, all of my added weight increments on the Nicros HIT Strip workout continued to increase so there was definitely something positive going on there in regards to finger strength.    

  Now, with the outdoor spring climbing season approaching, my goal is to become more lean, reduce some excess body weight and most importantly get my fingers as strong as possible for the upcoming season.  My training plan involves no more heavy weight training, high repetition body weight training circuits, a lot of cardio (4-5 times a week), selective nutrition and dieting, hangboarding, lock off training, HIT strip workouts, campus board workouts, and vigorous indoor climbing sessions.

  Stay tuned for updates on the training approach and successes/failures.  I am going to be utilizing my blog as the motivation to stay on track for my spring conditioning goals which I plan to achieve by April 1, I don't then I am the only FOOL to blame ha ha.  

Media Update:     

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Winter Training: Intro

  Okay so it has been nearly a month since my last blog post.  This lapse in updates is a direct result of an early end to the outdoor climbing season for 2016 and does not in any way reflect how hard I have continued to train despite the early showing of a full on northeast winter this year.

  Over the next couple of weeks, my goal is to continually update the blog with various training exercises and activities that I have been utilizing lately in attempts to hopefully become much stronger over the winter season.  My main tactic in this training split is to "bulk" up with heavy weight training while increasing my caloric intake so as I continue to train my finger strength on indoor climbing walls, hangboards, HIT strips, and campus rungs; my body gradually adjusts to climbing at a heavy weight.  This way, when I cut back the calories and heavy weight lifting leading up to the spring season and cut some unnecessary fingers will be stronger from being "bulky" all winter.

  Aside from the routine weight training, one of the exercises that I have been utilizing to specifically help increase my finger strength is the HIT strip system workout which was developed by Eric Horst of Nicros Climbing.

As outlined in the training manual for this system training product, I begin with a complete full body warm up followed by some stretching and then 30-45 minutes of bouldering which gets progressively more difficult and ends on a couple of problems that are right at my personal limit.  Upon completing the bouldering session, I rest a couple of minutes and then start the HIT strip workout.  The HIT strips consist of (5) identical rungs and (8) identical pinches.  The rungs are evenly spaced on a 45 degree overhanging wall and the pinches are placed evenly between the rungs.  The workout looks like this:

  • (3) sets on the open hand crimp hold
  • (2) sets on the pinches
  • (2) sets on the 2-finger pockets (3rd team...pinky and ring finger)
  • (2) sets on the 2-finger pockets (1st team...index and middle finger)
  • (2) sets on the 2-finger pockets (2nd team...ring and middle finger)
  • (2) sets on the jugs 
  The key to this workout is to add enough additional weight for resistance to each grip position so that you fail on each set around the 20-25th hand movement.  After each set, there needs to be a full 3 minute rest period for recovery.  This workout is extremely taxing and 2 days of rest is needed before another climbing session should occur.  Also I have been limiting myself to 2 HIT strip workouts a week, maximum!  It is important to note that for me, the 3rd team 2-finger pocket (pinky and ring finger) are extremely weak and underdeveloped for for the first month of so I would simply do static wall hangs on them.  I am not able to complete 10 hand movements on them but it still feel really awkward and a bit tweaky at times so proceed with caution.  All of my resistance weights have increased on the other hold positions as well with an increase in my fingers are definitely getting stronger in the process.  Below are some pictures of Ken Murphy and I sneaking in a HIT Strip workout:

Media Update:  

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Marathon Day at Nine Corner Lake (200 V-Points)

  Ten days ago, on Thursday November 17, 2016; Ken Murphy and I rendezvoused at the Nine Corner Lake trail head in the early afternoon to embark on what I thought was an extremely ambitious goal for a single climbing session.  We had both set our sights on trying to successfully climb 200 V-points in a single session.  In the past I had successfully hit the lofty 100 V-point session (on three separate occasions), and last December I had achieved my personal highest single day total at Nine Corner Lake with 136 V-points.  That high volume session followed an extremely successfully fall 2015 season and I was feeling extremely strong and fit at the time and was still 64 V-points away from the 200 point mark.    

  Murphy and I began climbing at 11:00 am and I did not top out my last boulder problem until around 5:00 pm.  When it was all said and done I had somehow reached the 200 V-point mark and Murphy finished the session with 103 V-points.  We were exhausted, sore, lethargic, and missing layers of skin on our aching fingers.  This was an extremely difficult personal challenge and something that I am in no rush to attempt again anytime soon.  That night I had to work the night shift at the fire dept and am very thankful that we had a quiet night at the station.

  Next May for my 33rd birthday I am planning on attempting a 300 V-point day...100 V-points at three separate Adirondack Bouldering locations.  My rough plans start with spending the night up in Lake Placid so I can begin the challenge at McKenzie Pond early the next morning.  After completing a session there, I plan on traveling down Route 30 S so I can hit Snowy Mountain in the late morning/early afternoon.  Hopefully after successfully completing the session there, the final destination will be my local Nine Corner Lake for the remaining 100 V-points.  Is this even possible?  Will the mind, body, and skin hold of long enough to complete the task?  I honestly have no idea!!!

  This insane vision was influenced by a couple of Massachusetts climbers who successfully did the same V-point challenge at three separate New England bouldering locations in one day.  Pawtuckaway, Great Barrington, and finally Farley.  Their travel/driving time was much greater than the one that I am panning but all of the guys who successfully completed the challenge are extremely strong and gifted rock climbers.  Combined they successfully climbed over 1,000 V-points in a single day!    

Here is my tick list (200 V-points, 41 boulder problems):

G.  Lookout Boulder

        • #37     Andrugen                                (V2)
        • #37b   Lookout, Traverse                  (V4)
        • #41     Can You See my Eyeball        (V4)
        • #41b   Glass Eyeball                         (V4)
        • #42     Eye Socket                             (V4)
        • #44     Creeping Death                      (V3)
        • #45     Mind'r Business                      (V5)
        • #46     Cherokee Challenge                (V4) 
H.  Fortress Boulder 
        • #53     Meat and Potatoes                  (V1)
        • #56     Popadropolis                           (V5)
        • #57     Pop or Drop                            (V7)                               

E.  Wall Boulder 

        • #25     Spores                                     (V7)
        • #27     Long Live Legos                     (V7)
        • #28     Thorazine                                (V8)   
        • #29      Lighter Burden                       (V8)
        • #30      Heart Attack Man                   (V5)
        • #32      Bearded Arnie                        (V7)    

B.  Gate Boulder 
        • #4        The Gatekeeper                      (V8)
        • #5        Everything In                          (V4)
        • #6        The Origin                              (V5)
        • #7        The Cryptologist                    (V3)     

L.  Nick Stoner Boulder 
        • #90        Love Cats                              (V7)
        • #92        Diatom                                   (V3)
        • #94        Dave's Problem                      (V3)
        • #94b       007                                        (V7)

T1.  Wave Boulder  
        • #64a      Whip Tide, Stand                    (V7)
        • #65a       Lifeguard Training, Stand      (V4)
        • #66         Beached Whale                      (V3)
Q1.  Cave Boulder                 
        • #53         Nippin Out                             (V3)
        • #53b       Frost Bite                               (V5)
        • #54         Chillen                                   (V4)
        • #54a       The Earthling                         (V5)
        • #55         Psychosomatic                       (V6)
        • #57         Dry Ice                                   (V4)
        • #57a       Crazy Ice                                (V6)
C1.  Saccharine Boulder
        • #8          One Second Suffering             (V3)
        • #9          Even Stevia                             (V5)
        • #10        Diamonds are Forever             (V4) 
        • #13a      Instant Yoga, Var.                     (V8)
        • #15        Shape Shifter                           (V4)
B1.  Equal Boulder
        • #4          Sugar Buzz                              (V4)