Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The training conundrum

In the past my training has always been somewhat haphazard consisting of one or all of the following at any time – 1) go to the wall and climb till you drop 2) campus always trying to beat a personal best 3) get on rock where possible, and 4) master a specific problem and then try to burn your friends off on it. While this approach worked to get me up to 8A, as I have got older and gained further responsibility I have had to look at how to gain efficiencies in my training which necessitates that I have a detailed plan for my training.

The old approach used to work purely because I was getting enough volume, but as the “corporate call” has strengthened this approach’s effectiveness has diminished; the goals I have set are just not possible to achieve with a diet of only one day training and half a day bouldering per week. Work hours dictate how frequently you can get out which has meant that I have had to adapt my training around this.

My Beastmaker was the catalyst for my training paradigm shift. Suddenly having a decent training tool at home made a world of difference allowing greater flexibility to fit training in to my busy work routine. Moreover a whole new addiction arose – hangboarding performance is highly measureable so my background in research soon dictated that I meticulously captured data from every session. This was highly useful as it showed me where my strengths and weaknesses were and allowed me to plan a course of action.

While my learning /training curve was steep (5 months later I sent my hardest problem ever) I realized there was a danger as this type of training is highly specific and in isolation would not be a long term solution. I did however enjoy the measurability and flexibility of hangboarding so had to factor this in to any new tool. Enter the system board! In the past I have toyed with the idea of using a system board and have liked its simplicity (Emile’s system crimps at UCT’s old climbing wall were also one of my favorite training tools). It allows for a greater variety of hold types than hangboarding and as well as very simple engram training. The added benefit is that one panel system board is easy to fit in to most houses which was once again a priority given that the key for me is having it at home.

So what have I learnt from this process?
1) Have a plan – Put together a plan based on your goals and stick to it for the long term. Broadly I try to follow a 3 month cycle of Hypertropy, Power and Power endurance. 2 months is sufficient to get in to good shape, but the final month is necessary to fine tune.
2) Routine flexibility – You need to be able to training regularly and frequently so find practical solutions to allow this.
3) Measurability – Record what you do so that you can see your improvements and identify relative strengths and weaknesses. It is also useful to have old benchmarks which you can use to measure your current ability.

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