Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Winter Training: Current Assessment

  For the readers that have been following my posts in regards to my winter training; you are already aware that at the end of January 2017 I completed my power lifting and "bulking" phase and began a "cutting" and climbing specific phase to get my body ready for the upcoming spring climbing season.  The power lifting and "bulking" phase worked extremely well for increasing my overall size, strength, and raw power.  I found myself at the highest body weight that I have ever been (186.5 lbs) and all of my weight lifts in the gym were also at an all time high.  Below are my highest recorded lifts for various exercises:

  • Bench Press = 255 lbs
  • Standing Barbell Military Press = 155 lbs
  • EZ Bar Bicep Curl = 125 lbs
  • Weighted Pullup = 105 lbs
  • Weighted Reverse Grip Pullup = 115 lbs
  Based on my goal of becoming bigger and stronger, I feel like I definitely succeeded.  As an avid rock climbing, there was one major issue with this increase in overall size and muscle mass.  My fingers were having a tough time coping with the additional weight despite climbing indoors continually throughout the 13-week power lifting phase.  I knew that if I wanted to have a productive and enjoyable spring climbing season, I would have to cut back on some of the excess weight while increasing my finger strength at the same time.  

Here are some pictures of me immediately following the 13-week power lifting phase back in January:

  So in preparation for the upcoming spring climbing season, I refocused my training to be more climbing specific and more cardio based to help "trim" myself back down to a more ideal climbing weight/physique.  My weight training shifted from 4 days a week of heavy lifting to 2 days a week of a continuous full body circuit that lasts only 30 minutes.  Each of the 8 exercises in this circuit utilizes a lighter weight so I can perform 15 repetitions for each exercise.  Once all 8 exercises have been completed, I take a brief 5 minute breather and then repeat the entire circuit 2 more times.  In addition to these 2 days of lifting, I have been doing cardio 4 times a week for duration's of 30-45 minutes.  The cardio has included cross country skiing, running on a treadmill, and my absolute favorite...the dreaded stair master machine.  

  Outside of the weight room, my climbing training has consisted of 2 days a week of hangboard workouts utilizing the 3-6-9 workout that I mentioned in a previous post.  2 days a week of campus board training, and 3 days a week of rock climbing (either indoors or outdoors).  

Here are some pictures of me in my current shape at roughly the halfway point through my "cutting" phase:

  So how has all of the training been going?  Well to be honest, pretty damn well!  I have lost some of the strength and size that I obtained during the power lifting phase but my climbing related activities has increased at an extremely noticeable level.  

  The most obvious comparison was a physical fitness evaluation that I tested back in January and again this week to see where I currently stand.  This physical fitness evaluation was provided in the back of Eric Horst's "Training for Climbing" book and consists of the following:

  • Test 1:  One set maximum number of pull-ups.  Do this test on a standard pull-up bar (or bucket hold on a fingeboard) with your palms away and hands shoulder width apart.  Do not bounce, and be sure to go up and down the whole way.  

Evaluation:  Total number of pull-ups in a single set to failure.
Results:  January = 19 / March = 23

  • Test 2:  One repetition maximum pull-up.  Do a single pull-up with a ten-pound wight clipped to your harness.  Rest three minutes, then add ten more pounds and repeat.  (If you are very strong, begin with a twenty-pound weight and increase at ten-to twenty-pound increments).  Continue in this fashion until you have added more weight than you can pull up.  
Evaluation:  The maximum amount of added weight successfully lifted for a single pull-up divided by your body weight.
Results:  January = 0.486 / March = 0.520 (for both tests, my max pull-up was 90 lbs but in January I weighed 186.5 lbs and in March I weighed 173.0 lbs)

  • Test 3:  One-arm lock-off.  Start with a standard chin-up (palms facing) then lock off at the top on one arm and let go with the other,
Evaluation:  Length of time in the lock-off before your chin drops below the bar.
Results:  Right Arm:  January = 0 sec / March = 3 sec  Left Arm:  January = 0 / March = 0 

  • Test 4:  One set maximum number of frenchies.  Perform the exercise as described on page 95-96.  Remember, each cycle consists of three pull-ups separated by the three different lock-off positions, which are held for five seconds.  Have a partner time your lock-offs.  
Evaluation:  The number of cycles (or part of) completed in a single set.
Results:  January = 2 3/4 cycles / March = 3 cycles  

  • Test 5:  One set maximum number of fingertip pull-ups on a 3/4" (19 millimeter) edge.  Perform this exercise as in test 1 except on a fingerboard edge or doorjamb of approximately the stated size.
Evaluation:  The number of fingertip pull-ups done in a single set.
Results:  January = 4 1/2 reps / March = 9 reps   

  • Test 6:  Lock off in the to position of a fingertip pull-up (3/4" or 19 millimeter edge) for as long as possible.
Evaluation:  Length of time in the lock-off position until your chin drops below the edge.  
Results:  January = 8 sec / March = 22 sec

  • Test 7:  Straight-arm hang from a standard pull-up bar.  Place your hands shoulder width apart with palms facing away.
Evaluation:  Length of time you can hang on the bar before muscle failure.
Results:  January = 1:10 / March = 1:48  

  • Test 8:  One set maximum number of sit-ups.  Perform these on a pad or carpeted floor with your knees bent at approximately 90 degrees, your feet flat on the floor with nothing anchoring them.  Cross your arms over your upper chest and perform each sit-up until your elbows touch your knees or thighs.  
Evaluation:  Number of sit-ups you can perform without stopping.  Do them in a controlled manner- no bouncing off the floor.  
Results:  January = 30 / March = 40

Concluding remarks:  I still have a LONG way to go with my training until I will be ready for the spring climbing season.  I am seeing pretty good results already though, with noticeable increases in finger strength and a handful of new V8's being send already outdoors locally here in the northeast.  A lingering weakness that I still have is my lock-off strength so I will be revisiting this weakness as I continue to train.

Happy climbing and training everyone!!!



Sunday, March 12, 2017

Gunks Bouldering (Late Winter 2016)

  So winter here in upstate New York is continuing to hang tough.  We have seen seasonably warm days followed by blistering cold, high winds, snow, sleet, etc.  At this rate I am convinced that outdoor climbing in the Adirondacks will not commence until the end of April/early May!  Hopefully I am a couple of weeks off with that assumption because I am not a huge fan of having to traveling for hours in the car to find snow free and dry boulders.  This is the nature of the sport and our climate so it is what it is in all reality.

  This past week, Ken Murphy and I again traveled out of town to seek out warmer conditions and dry rocks.  Our destination was New Paltz, New York and we were fortunate enough to have some local friends (Nyle Baker and Mike Cohn) rendezvous with us for what turned out to be a stellar late winter bouldering session.  There are so many different areas to boulder in New Paltz and we were having a tough time deciding on where to climb.  We ended up selecting a less known area, The Waterworks which I had only seen once before back in 2009 when I was able to send Sharma Roof (V8).  There were a handful of high quality boulder problems on the same outcrop that shut me down on my previous visit.

  The goal for the day was to try hard and hopefully to dispatch The Spike (V8).  Good friend Mike Cohn was able to finally conquer this problem after numerous sessions and his send got me psyched to do the same.  Despite my personal mini epic on the problem and countless failed attempts, I was able to complete the climb and it stands out as one of the better boulder problems that I have ever done!

  Below are some pictures from the day, a short climbing video, and two older videos from like 7 years ago where a handful of locals showcase the climbing potential at The Waterworks.

Media Update:

Monday, March 6, 2017

Sunny February Day in Great Barrington, MA

  Last week I was able to make it out to "Reservoir Rocks" in Great Barrington, MA for a quality bouldering session with Ken Murphy.  I did have a boulder problem in mind; In Plain Sight (V8) that I was close to completing last fall but was cut short by early winter conditions.  The conditions were absolutely mint...sunny skies, upper 40's, slight breeze, low humidity.  Those are the type of climbing days that every climber dreams of being able to enjoy outdoors!

  Murph and I ran into some of his friends from various locations and in no time we had a solid crew working on various problems together all over the mountainside.  It was an extremely enjoyable session fulls of lots of laughs and sends...more importantly, all of my winter training has really started to pay off and I am already noticing significant improvements in finger strength, core strength, endurance, and power.  I have six more dedicated weeks of training until a trip out west to Joe's Valley in the middle of April.  SO, back to training!!!

Media Update: