Several times a year I force myself to take a scheduled two week break from climbing, 1 week of no activity (other than walking and stretching) and 1 week of general strength and conditioning (heavy on the strength).
Most climbers (and CrossFitters) periodize by accident. It looks like - Hard, Hard, Hard, Injury, Rest, Easy. I choose this periodization instead - Rest, Easy, Medium, Hard, Easy, Hard, Rest.
Your body needs rest, and it will take it if you don't give it.
You need to continuously break meaningful records if you want to reach your next climbing level. Let's explore each element of that statement.
Continuously You should be able to break your records at will. If this is not possible or happening, it is an indicator of suboptimal training. You need to change what you are doing if you are currently at a plateau but want to get better.
Breaking Your should be setting new personal records in training. Even before I enter the gym, I have the goal to set a new specific record. Here are my campus and hangboard logs from a previous cycle. I have the dates when I broke my previous records, in addition to recording each session.
Meaningful The records should be personally relevant to your limiters and goals. My goal is to send everyday, so I focus on refining my tactics and maintaining stamina. Your meaningful records might be different. It might be maximum number of pull-ups in a set (most likely your definition of "meaningful" should have nothing to do with pull-ups). Records You should have specific, objective benchmarks. One of my favorites benchmarks is the number of climbs I can send in a session at 3 grades easier than my current onsight level. That is my preferred indicator for stamina. Another one of my benchmarks is the number of tries to send a climb 3 grades harder than my current onsight level. That tells me how my sharp my redpoint tactics are relative to my onsight ability.
Here are my new standards for claiming a first ascent:
Video Any quality but the complete climb. HD is nice but not necessary. You can edit however you like but also provide the uncut version.
Pictures Any quality. Color is required. There is no reason for black & white beta photos. Drawings are unacceptable.
GPS A majority of the time there is no specific information about the location of a climb. It would add value to the climbing community if the location of climb was expected when discussing a new climb. In addition, I don't want your vague directions. I demand the unequivocal accuracy of GPS.
These standards apply to all media (i.e., books, websites, and blogs). I won't waste my time and attention on anything less.
This is the third and final segment in the "A Practical Guide to Training Plan Construction" series. Part I and II can be found here. The next steps in the "Natural Planning Model" are organizing and identifying next actions.
What is the best way to organize?
Since my collected ideas are physical, I organize on the floor by topic. Each column in the picture is a topic. My current topics are: warm-up, strength training, footwork improvement, and bouldering tactics. I'm missing a column for over-gripping with my whole body and small hesitations.
How do I identifying my next actions?
This is an important step since we want a change in the world and actions are vital to changes in the world. My first next action is filling in the missing columns. I can do one of two ways: Research (e.g., online or training book) or brainstorm. Another next action is incorporating my collected ideas into an ideal warm-up for my winter training plan. I do the same for my strength ideas. My footwork improvements ideas need to be refined so I plan to video my next training session to better understand precisely how my footwork changes when I'm pumped. My tendency to hesitate will be addressed in the same way. I realize that I have many ideas but lack a coherent plan. I will resolve that issue by contacting someone to help me create a plan.
All I need is a clear goal and a script for the first steps. I don't need to completely plan all the steps. I'll repeat the natural planning model if I need to reassess my goal or if a next action is not clear.
This is the second segment in the "A Practical Guide to Training Plan Construction" series. Part I can be found here. The next steps in the "Natural Planning Model" are outcome visioning and brainstorming.
What will the conclusion of a successful training program look like the physical world?
Outcome visioning creates your best-case scenario goal. Personally, I don't focus on long-term projects. I enjoy climbing things quickly (e.g., onsight or in-a-day) to maximize my limited time outdoor climbing time. A successful training program for me will increase my ability to quickly send a wide-variety of climbs in a wide-variety of contexts.
Your outcome might be focused on a specific climb or competence at a specific grade.
What are important questions to ask?
Brainstorming is what your mind intuitively does to connect the dots between your current state and your envisioned outcome. These are best phrased as questions. Here is a selection of my brainstorming questions: "What is the path of least resistance to my outcome?" "Do I want to try a different training program?" "Should I get someone else's input?" "Do I need access to additional training tools?"
Writing down these questions will unlock your mind's creativity.
By this point you should have the raw materials to construct a training plan. The final segment cover the nitty-gritty of transforming the raw materials into a plan by organizing and identifying next actions.
"It's not the plan that is important, it's the planning."
Dr. Graeme Edwards
Winter is encircling the North Hemisphere in its icy talons, thus for many people is time to create a winter training plan. My step zero for creating a training plan is the collection of limiters. I have a written laundry list of reasons of why I didn't send (e.g., over gripping with my whole body, poor footwork when pumped, small hesitations, suboptimal redpoint bouldering tactics, ...). My goal for the winter training cycle to eliminate those specific limiters. I use "The Natural Planning Model" as a general framework for constructing my training plan:
1. Defining purpose and principles 2. Outcome visioning 3. Brainstorming 4. Organizing 5. Identifying next actions
What is my purpose for training?
Primarily, I enjoy the process of improvement. I like to improve my climbing for the intrinsic benefit of seeing progress. In addition, physical activity makes me happier. I especially enjoy being active with a positive purpose. Lastly, I can complete more climbs on performance days and choose from a wider selection of climbs because of my training.
Everyone has their own reasons. You need to find yours.
What are my principles?
Principles are the boundaries of the plan. It is important to write down your principles to have an objective inventory. Here are a selection of my training principles: I have the ability to make to a plan and follow it. I'm willing to train, instead of defaulting to performance-oriented climbing or doing what other climbers are doing. I have the desire and opportunity to train 4 days a week for 2-3 hours each day.
Currently, I have easy access to a commercial climbing gym with about ~35 quality problems that range from V0-V9, a system board, and a hangboard. I have access to a commercial weightroom with a lifting platform, limited free weights, light dumbbells/kettlebells, treadmills, and indoor rowers. I have a video camera.
I don't list the things I don't have unless I plan to do something about them.