I still owe updates to my Thanksgiving post, but somehow the time has flown and we’re past the holidays and on to another new year! I’m pretty happy with how my physical fitness went in 2014, but I definitely have plans to ramp it up in 2015. My biggest fitness accomplishment was my commitment to and improvement in climbing. I can’t believe that it was a year ago that I was gifted a membership to Central Rock Gym, but what might be more impressive is that I kept a regular routine there for the entire year, woot! I went from a casual climber doing 5.6/5.7s and working on V0s, to regularly red pointing 5.9/5.10s and flashing V2s. That still makes me a “beginner” in climbing classification, but it’s also motivating to keep going along with finding ways to get to the next level.
My biggest focus right now is footwork. I’ve watched hundreds of hours of climbing videos (literally) and have worked a little bit with trainers and I’m left with mentally understanding what I need to do with my feet, but not executing it properly…especially when I get tired which is exactly when the technique would really help me. So lots of work on soft feet, trusting the grip and pressing my weight into my toes. I will get there! The other focus is general fitness (esp. core fitness) and projecting more so I can stretch myself.
Today I did a power endurance routine that I modified from other climbing workouts online. Many of the climbing workouts I’ve found have been for people who are at the V5/5.11+ level of climbing. I’m not there yet and there are some things I can’t do safely: e.g. finger training, as I already managed to inflame the tendons of my right hand by overdoing finger training. My hands will strengthen as I climb more and eventually I’ll be able to get on the hangboard, but for now my focus is technique and, the topic of the day, power endurance.
I’ve been top roping and leading a lot lately, which is great for endurance but not ideal for power. Since CRG opened a new bouldering gym in Cambridge with morning hours that alternate their Watertown location I’ve been able to get in on Mondays and boulder. They also have an excellent fitness area so I’ve begun making my own routines to keep myself challenged and my heart rate up. This was my workout today. The intent was to build up sustained strength (aka power endurance). It was intense, rewarding, exciting and definitely got my heart rate up! I was bright red by the end of it!
- 5-10 mins stretching, focus on shoulders and hips.
- Pick a bouldering level that is two grades below your redpoint level, so for me that’s a V0. Do a V0 three times in a row. For the first one I took my time and stretched out on each hold. You will repeat this for every V0 in the gym (that was 10 problems at CRG). After each set of three take a “break” by doing one of these:
- Pushups to exhaustion.
- Tornado situps to exhaustion.
- Leg lifts to exhaustion.
- Tricep dips to exhaustion.
- Side sit-ups to exhaustion.
- Plank or forearm plank to exhaustion.
- Insert your own challenging core exercise here.
- Once done, work at least 5 mins on your project. Don’t have a project in the gym? Pick something at least one grade above your redpoint level.
- Think you’re exhausted? Great, do one last round of a challenging core exercise (I did TRX plank knee-ins and sit-ups on the balance ball) and then pull-ups to exhaustion, which was just two for me because I’m still working on my pull-ups.
That whole workout took me an hour. There was very little rest time. The trick is to manage the on and off the wall time so your forearms don’t get too pumped. The “break” time when you work on core should be equal to the time you’re on the wall. IF you run out of problems in your low grade at the gym go to the next level up (e.g. V1 in my example) and try your three rounds, or drop to two if you’re getting really pumped.
In theory, this workout will build strength, help you learn to get through the pump and help you burn some calories with the cardio rush. Since I was working on easy problems and repetition I was able to focus more on my footwork and also play with different ways to climb each problem (I tried to use slightly different body positions each time since V0s are loaded with holds).
If you’re a climber and you try this I’d love to know what you think of it and what your favorite climbing workouts are!