Winter of Training......and the next steps

Note: anyone looking for ideas on a home fingerboard setup, see the bottom of the post....
Looking for ideas on how to improve, grab some of these excellent books for inspiration - you'll get more out of many of them than reading some email forum.......

After the progress over the winter, it's time for an update on training methods. Firstly, if anyone is looking for exact information/ideas/notes/advice, let me know and I can probably prepare something slightly more detailed.

I had some experimentation with some Personal Trainers since last summer. Not the usual method of training for climbers in Ireland!
It all came about through a wish to learn some extra skills for passing onto others, a belief that fingerboarding/campusing/climbing were not the only tools for training in climbing, and a recommendation from a physio to go to a personal trainer after injuring a hip flexor last summer. I guess this came about a bit over years of thoughts/ideas. I remember even trying to drag some of my fellow DCU climbers into the gym back in 2001 (I think) - although I'm fairly certain they weren't sold on it :) Over intervening years, stories from other people crossed my path, and a couple of years ago I came across GymJones. Set up by Mark Twight, a very hardcore climber, it has been known to have been involved in a couple of top-end climber's performances, not to mention a pretty hardcore training methodology.

After keeping an eye on some exceptional top-end performers in their respective fields (always keen to learn from other sports) -Aisling Coppinger, Rob Cummins, John O'Reagan - I took the opportunity to do some work last August with John Belton of No17 Personal Training (they're all his clients). It says a lot of the guy that he went out and bought a Beastmaker for his training suite...... He'd never worked with a climber before so this was going to be a proper experiment! Six weeks later (with some sessions being experimentation, some seriously hard workouts), I was feeling stronger, more powerful. I never really got the opportunity to try it out on rock (doubling up on jobs meant that free time was seriously curtailed in September), but I do know I was able to knock off problems that had completely shut me down with ease at the end of the block. I know I also picked up a bunch of excellent training methods of use to working with other people..... By the way, if anyone is wondering, John is excellent, highly recommended if you've got the spare cash (or sacrifice other pleasures to save the cash).

Anyway, as mentioned, That New Wall was opening and I was also working my job for Mountaineering Ireland (albeit part-time now). 60-70 hour work week were the normal until about February....... I hear a lot of stories from people of all walks of life that there's no time to train, they can't justify it as they'd rather go climbing (followed up in the same sentence by "but I really want to climb xyz..."?!?!?!?), work/family/life commitments. Even with my own commitments, I was very keen to make the most of the available time I had and see what progress I could make......there's always an excuse if you want one!

We were lucky enough to have access to two of the new Eva Lopez-designed Transgression and Progression fingerboards at the wall. With Eva's list of clients, or guinea pigs as she called them :):
Andrea Cartas Barrera (8b+), Ander Lasagabaster (9a), Dafnis Fernández (9a), Dani Moreno (9a), Eric López (8B Fb, 9a), Iris Matamoros (9a), Jairo Pandiella (8b+ on sport routes; 8A on boulder), Jose Luis Palao "Primo" (8c+), Luis Alfonso FélixPérez (9a+), Luis Muñoz (8A+ Fb), Mikel Ziarrusta (9a), Nacho Sánchez (2x8C Fb), Pablo Barbero (9a), part of the Belmez Face Brigade... was pretty evident that she was onto something. So I committed to the training program supplied with the fingerboards. I also aimed for regular Yoga classes with Naomi (who runs the climbing-specific ones around the city), some light sessions at the wall, and in the final run-up the trip I added in some attempts on harder routes at the wall to integrate the fingerboarding.
Slightly more detailed, it revolved around two fingerboard sessions per week, one yoga class, recently two sessions with another Trainer, and some limited other climbing. Perhaps about 6-8 hours per week I'd guess? Not impossible for most people.
I'm not going to post Eva's plan here (as to be honest the plan is worth as much as the fingerboards in my own opinion), or a full version of my own, as it's specific to me. But with it's well thought out plan (and ties in with all the other comments from coaches I've discussed with that strength work should only be twice a week to ensure good recovery time), good rest periods and excellent variation, I found myself in the position of the trip a couple of weeks ago. I was obviously very rusty while climbing, explained by the very limited time climbing, but also explains that I was strong. Like really really really strong. Who says you have to get weaker with less time to train?

Looking for ideas on how to improve, grab some of these excellent books for inspiration (from Amazon) - you'll get more out of many of them than reading some email forum.......

So, what's the plan now? I talk regularly to people to give them ideas/advice on climbing improvements, helped write a large part of the in-time Climbing Coaching Awards for Ireland (time has limited me in finishing it) and after my experiments with John at No17PT and Fitness Performance Systems (more recently as a double session per week for about five weeks prior to the trip), I'm hooking up for some work with a coach myself. Not one from the climbing scene directly (although he does have a good climbing cv), but one with a very good track record in other sports. The goal is two-fold:

  • Demonstrate what can/will hope to happen when getting fresh perspective from an outside observer (climbers are excellent at trawling the inter-webs independently for training advice which has it's benefits and downfalls! Not the same as dedicated coaching advice)
  • Eat my own dog-food of recommending such a method (i.e. coaching), and to see what I can do in Red River Gorge in October. 5-1/2 months away leads a decent amount of time to work with so exciting times!
What are your targets for the summer months? What are you planning?

My original setup of a home fingerboard. A pull-up bar, Petzl pulley tied to the bar, rope through the pulley with a snaplink for holding onto (the weights get attached to the other end of the rope, and a Metolius fingerboard. Climbing more than two years and want to improve your finger strength, especially if you have limited time for rock - these are pretty useful......

Looking for ideas on how to improve, grab some of these excellent books for inspiration (From Amazon) - you'll get more out of many of them than reading some email forum.......

Panorama(s) - Portrane and slacklining in Glendalough

Margalef Part 2: steeeep....and self-benchmarking