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.