Jul 20, 2011

Pendulum Wave Loading for Threshold Bouldering

Lately, I have been trudging through the Westside Book of Methods. It is written by Louie Simmons, the bastard son of Jack Kerouac and Jack Lalanne. I don't apply the methods (e.g., reps, sets, and rests) to climbing. I do apply the principles (e.g., role of technique, mental attitude, and importance of maximal strength). In particular, I use the concept of pendulum wave loading to improve my threshold bouldering.

Threshold climbing is a concept I picked up from the Self-Coached Climber *. Threshold climbing focuses on successfully climbing your personal hardest moves. Mentally, it accustoms you to trying hard and succeeding. Technically, it can facilitate the identification and treatment of limiters. Physically, it strengths your entire body for harder climbing. The goal of threshold climbing is climbing few moves, as opposed to completing entire problems or routes. Threshold sessions are short, under 45 minutes, and intense, complete rest between attempts. I have successfully been using it to improve my climbing for several years. With anything you consistently do, you'll plateau. Applying pendulum wave loading has helped me break my personal plateaus. I'm excited to share it with you.

To use pendulum wave loading in training, you systematically manipulate some variables while holding all others constant. The two variables I manipulate for threshold climbing are number of tries and number of moves. For the first wave of a cycle, I set number of tries at 1. During the first session, I set the number of moves to 3. This is relative easiest combination on my joints which lays a healthy foundation for the rest of the cycle. I create mini-problems that should take me ~1 try to complete 3 moves, no more or no less. I stay at the 1.3 (tries.moves) level until I plateau (i.e., I stop seeing improvement. I'm no longer sending all my 1.3 projects). Then I progress to 2.3 and stay there until I reach the same criterion. Then 3.3. Then I start the second try wave. I aim to send a new set of 3 move problems on my second try. Sometimes they are too hard, sometimes they are too easy. I adjust and move on. During this process, I gain valuable insight into my climbing which helps me select the appropriate outdoor climbs. I continue through 2.2, 2.1, 3.3, and 3.2 threshold bouldering levels. Finally, I reach my mini-peak with 3.1. These are very hard movements. They would have felt impossible at the beginning of the cycle. Through systematic progression, I have improved my mental, technical, and physical capacities to succeed on them. At this point, I start entire process over again.

One of the prerequisites for this training is objective benchmarks. That is only possible if the training holds don't change during a cycle. It is possible to systematically progress with holds that change but not optional. For that reason, I choose to train at CATS or my home gym.

* The long awaited follow-up is scheduled to be published in October. Very Skyed!