Jun 25, 2011

Saturday Syke

A beautifully, simple video, showing the pure beauty of climbing movement. He looks smooth (almost flawless), a treatise on redpointing steep limestone. Bravo!

Jun 21, 2011

A Contrary View On Eccentric Loading

Here is the official Climbing Lab position on eccentric-centric training- Never (Ever). There is no good reason. Concentric and eccentric muscle contractions are the Yin & Yang of strength training. However, people get suckered into focusing on eccentric loading because it feels subjectively harder and will leave you sore (especially the loaded, "as fast as possible" variety). I don't see much data, anecdotal or otherwise, that it improves athletic performance. If want you to "feel" like you worked out, that is fine but do not kid yourself that you are chasing performance improvements.

Eccentric-centric training does build muscle. I don't see a reason for ANY climber to build muscle. Get stronger! Yes (and more please)! Hypertrophy and strength are two different beasts. I know which one I can ride to Sendtown.

People also equate eccentric loading with slow movements. Those two do not need to be found together. Training the eccentric portion of a movement "greases the groove" but that should be done at regular speed. There is no reason to train to be slower. The best "greasing the groove" for a particular climbing movement is heaps (and heaps) of that movement. There is no reason to train the reverse engrams. One basic Climbing Lab training tenet is - You perform how you train. If your feet cut during training, your feet will cut on your project. If you primarily send during training, you're more likely send your project. If during practice, you climb 1 move, fall, and rest on the mat for 5 minutes talking to a climbing nugget, you are getting better at that (not sending your project).

Here are the practical aspects:

Don't down climb. Lower.

You should only down climb if you are training for onsights, especially of the traditional flavor. Some people claim that down climbing improves footwork. From my experience that is only true in novice climbers, but everything (and anything) improves a novice climber's footwork. Down climbing will just make you tired. Stealing time and energy from up climbing, which is the best use of your limited training time.

Don't down campus. Drop.

One of the best reasons to campus is to become more explosive and aggressive, both mentally and physically. Down campusing introduces an element of unnecessary control. It subtlety trains you to believe that you need to be in control. That is counterproductive to developing "pitbull on acid" mentally sometimes necessary in climbing.

One final note, climbing is about moving your corporeal body up. Why you want to get better at moving down?

Jun 15, 2011

Saturday Syke (Wednesday Edition)

I just love climbing, everything from digging through poop to get a "first ascent" to gym climbing. Lately, I have been climbing in every style from HOT (& heavy) sessions on leftover spring projects to onsight attempts (aka get gripped) on trad lines. There are no words or images that can capture the richness of the climbing experience. This video gets close.

Jun 13, 2011

1-Arm Starts, Party Trick or Party Starter

Ah yes, the 1-arm start. Is it a party trick to impress the Tuesday night shirtless crowd or a fundamental stepping stone on the path to Crankdom? Sometimes mandatory. Sometimes mandated. Always impressive. The following is my take on that dark art.

I break my training into three components - mental, technical, and physical. From a mental training perspective, 1-arm starts feel impossible until you do it (a micro-pattern for the macro-pattern of projects). You pull and pull and pull, then one time you float. I can stack little 1-arm start victories to build the mental fortitude for my big project victory, constantly setting new barriers and breaking them. From a technical training perspective, it forces me to move my body in new, productive ways. Each one is an unique puzzle to solve (again with the micro/macro pattern), building me into ATV climber. From a physical training perspective, it is the repetition method for 1-arm pull-ups. Following the Westside Barbell paradigm, you never use repetition method in the classical lifts (1-arm pull-ups), but rather with special exercises (1-arm starts). If you start every problem of an indoor session (~20 problems) with a 1-arm start, it will build strength, endurance, and work capacity to reach the next level for 1-arm pull-ups.

This is very interesting from a hyper-geeky training perspective. But will 1-arm starts help me to crush the outside gnar-gnar? It depends (possibly). In my experience, 1-arm starts have limited but vital transfer. You might never see a pure 1-arm start in the wild but often both hands of a start won't be prefect. I rather have the confidence from 1000 1-arm starts, then the shock of encountering it for the first time at a crux (I apply the same logic to monos). This effect is often times indirect, thus overlooked.

I suggest that it be folded into the training mix for the Advanced trainee, not to the exclusive of "bimanual" starts but just enough to impress the Tuesday nighters.