Do you think rock climbers should wear helmets? Do you think helmet use today is essential, dependent on the type of rock and route or just being paranoid? Cast your vote and share this on, lets see what we think!
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When I first started out rock climbing about 5 years ago, I aspired to climb the really hard routes and boulder problems because of the strength required would be rewarding to work for. I wanted to climb hard because I knew I would always have to push past limits and plateaus to achieve these goals. I knew this would not be an overnight success to climb really hard routes or problems. I knew there would be a ton of training.
I decided to train like a marathoner would train for their 26.2 mile run, which is to start out slow and not try to “run 26.2 miles in one day”. I actually did not start training until I was able to boulder v8 and climb 5.11/12 in the gym and outside. The training I decided to perform for the last 6 months was a progressive style of training on campus rungs at a local gym called Prime Climb (where the toughest climbers in Connecticut train!).
Note: The first campus board was set up at a university gym called The Campus Centre. This is where the term “campus” came from in which one climbs with only hands and arms and was subsequently given the name to the style of climbing (wikipedia).
I decided to use campus rungs for training after researching what would be the best way to train. I came across the invention of the campus rungs by Wolfgang Gullich and read about how he created the campus rung training regimen for his route Action Directe(world’s first 9a in Frankenjura, Germany).
Since a lot of the problems that I want to work on involve explosive movements, I figured this would be the best style of training for me. When I started training I started with making small movements on the easier campus rungs while slowly making advanced movements as I felt stronger and more confident in the moves. Through all of this work I was able to achieve my goal of sending a v10 boulder problem.
My training routine was inspired by multiple sources, but a good place to begin would be at this article I found on the Moon Climbing website. I use the half crimp approach when I perform my campus rungs training routine. Open hand can be performed but involves use of only 3 fingers and can be painful!
This is my typical workout routine when I head to the climbing gym:
- Extensive warming up on boulder problems until I feel slightly past my peak performance.
- Move to campus rungs and perform 2 sets of 1×1 movements up and down.
- Perform 2-3 serts of 2×1 campus movement
- Perform 2-3 sets of 2×2 campus movement
- Perform 2 sets (with switched hand start to total 4 sets) of 3×1 campus movement
- Perform 2 sets (with switched hand start to total 4 sets) 1,3,6 campus movement
- Perform 2 sets of “double-ups” power campus movement
- 2 Endurance sets: mix small movement sets back to back without coming off the rungs
- Perform progressive lock-off movement.
- 2 Power/endurance sets: mix hard movements with easy movements back to back without coming off rungs.
- Rest for 5 minutes and then move to most difficult of rungs and perform progression routines (“typical burn-out period and is usually not performed extensively).
- Cool down by climbing a hard boulder problem then progress downward to easier problems until at the easiest.
These training tips for climbing usually takes up to 3 hours which includes warming up, rests, hydration and socialization periods. This also is just my perspective of training and may not be acceptable or suitable to others’ standards of training. All caution should be taken before performing any of these routines, especially campus rung exercises.
Listen to your body, if an exercise hurts, don’t do it! Most importantly, stay safe and have fun with your training sessions!
About Mike Bowsher: Mike is a climber from Connecticut, has been climbing for 5 years and in sponsored by Asana Climbing. We’re also proud to have Mike as pro-active member of GOCLIMB.IN | Social Network for Climbers
- #ROCKCLIMBING – Climbing tips on training strength for beginners (goclimbin.wordpress.com)
- #ROCKCLIMBING – Tips on training strength for beginners (part 2) (goclimbin.wordpress.com)
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- On the Mend (crazyflyinggecko.wordpress.com)
As a result of my previous blog I had a few requests for specifics on how to train for climbing. The purpose of this blog is to go into a bit more detail on 2 of the methods I have picked up. One for at home when it’s not possible to make the climbing wall and one for when you are in the climbing wall itself.
Home training is a useful tool that we can use in order to learn many things. The obvious one being strength but there are also benefits to your balance, cardio vascular endurance and mental strength. A workout for climbing will obviously focus on the muscles of the arms, back and shoulders however lifting uses different muscles that pulling does so we must be careful that we don’t over train the wrong parts of our body. A further area of importance to strengthen is the core muscles. It is from here that much of our balance and coordination begins and what we do with our centre of gravity has a knock on effect on the rest of our body. Therefore if we work on strengthening our core then we shall see a marked improvement across our climbing enjoyment, the types of routes we attempt and you may even push up a few grades too.
So, to my workout. I do this at home and the only equipment that is required is a pair of dumbbells. I use 5kg ones, you can use larger or small if you wish. Just make sure they are comfortable. You don’t want to be maxing out by the 3rd exercise! I do each exercise for a minute with 15s rest between exercise. Between each set of 9 exercise take a 2 minute break then go again. We do each set 3 times.
- Mountain climbers – assume the plank position and bring your knees up to your elbows alternately
- Single arm dumbbell swing – start with knees bent legs shoulder width apart holding the dumbbell with one arm, straighten legs and raise arm to shoulder height. Then lower in control to starting position. Switch arms after 30 seconds
- T push ups – assume the push up position with your hands holding onto the dumbells. Do a push up and when you reach the top turn the body and extend one arm above your head to you form a T position with the dumbbells. Work alternate arms.
- Supported Row – Brace against a wall with one arm, bend knees and lean forward. Let the dumbbell hang in front of you. Raise to chest height. Switch arms after half an hour.
- Crunches – A standard core exercise. Invert for more of a challenge
- Plank leg raises – Assume plank position and raise legs off the ground alternately without losing balance.
- Bench Press – Lie flat on your back and raise dumbbells from chest position to straight arms
- Fingerboard – If you have a fingerboard spend the minute either doing pull ups or just hanging on. DON’T LET GO! If I am without a fingerboard I substitute in biceps curls
- Press push – Hold dumbbells at shoulder height and push them skywards straightening your arms then lower in control and repeat.
In no way am I suggesting that this routine is the gospel. It just works for me and fits into the lifestyle that I lead. It gets the heart going and helps me maintain what muscle I have. For me climbing had never been about getting big and strong. I find it very difficult to wrestle my way up routes as in my own opinion I’m basically weak. I get up routes by being as fluid as I can be and relying on technique that I have learned simply by climbing regularly. The trick is to find out what works for you, what fits into your lives and what you are hoping to gain?
Training at the Wall
As previously mentioned the best thing for becoming a better climber is to go climbing! Trying routes, watching others, falling off and having another go are all very important parts of climbing. Perhaps one of the most important things about being a good climber is to keep your head up and have another go. Good climbers will have a go on a route 10 times and fall off will end up frustrated and move on to something else. I’ll get it the next time they say. Those that have the self belief to keep at it will get it the 11th time and leave feeling great. The mental side is as important if not more important than the physical side. However I am not a psychologist and that’s a whole different kettle of fish to discuss another day.
Strength in climbing is something that we gain by practice. For example when I go into a bouldering centre my partner and I often chose some easy routes to be climbed slowly and quietly and the beginning of our session. This warms the hands up but also helps with technique, there are no wasted movements. Following on from this we will move onto small circuits of similar graded routes, this works for improving stamina. Move around the circuit until we cant hang on any more to our routes. Then it is often necessary to take a break for a while to let our forearms recover. The second half of our session is a lot more open and depends how we are feeling. Usually it will be personal climbing. Finding ourselves a ‘project’ to work on for the afternoon.
Finally at the end of the day we usually find ourselves on the endurance board. At the TCA in Glasgow this is a 10 degree overhanging wall that we simply to laps on until it is impossible to hang on to. There are around 45 moves to a circuit and it really does work on muscular endurance and strength. As well as the ability to just hang on! This normally finishes me for the day. Don’t be surprised if you find it difficult to undo the top of your water bottle!
There are of course many other ways you can strength train. Fingerboards, campus boards and Beastmakers are very common at walls and if you need any advice on how to use them properly and avoid injury I’m sure the staff at your local centre would be more than happy to help you out. They can be fantastic training aids but always remember to warm up those fingers!
As always any questions just feel free to leave a comment and I’ll be in touch! Enjoy your climbing guys and everything else will follow!
Guest post by Mathew Berry on GOCLIMB.IN – Mathew is a 3rd year honours student at Glasgow uni and a keen climber and CWA holder. He instructs on indoor walls for his local Scout group and members of his climbing club.
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Many people that are new to climbing assume that the clothing they wear simply needs to be comfortable. Whilst it’s certainly true that the garments you wear for a climb should feel unrestrictive, they also need to be flexible, functional and durable. Rock faces are not the most forgiving; they tend to have abrasive surfaces and sharp edges, which will tear flimsy fabrics in an instant and may even end up cutting the skin of the climber. Consequently, it’s crucial to invest in high quality, robust clothing that has been specifically designed for rock climbing. There are a variety of brands that manufacture these clothes: Prana is one good option.
Fitted or loose clothing:
When it comes to rock climbing, the amount of mobility that your clothing allows for will determine how quickly you will be able to move up the rock face. Choose relatively loose fitting clothes, which makes…
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Embarking on our quest to provide the best networking platform for climbers we at GOCLIMB.IN are inviting experienced climbers to be guest bloggers. We are inviting you to write about your experiences and to share your climbing tips and advice to our growing rock climbing & bouldering community.
Sure, no mean feat. but we know you are out there and today we are proven right! We are very pleased to introduce you to our first GOCLIMB.IN guest blogger, Mathew Berry from Glasgow.
Over to you Mathew!
“I’ll start off by introducing myself. I am a 3rd year honours student at Glasgow uni and a keen climber and CWA holder. I instruct on indoor walls for my local Scout group and members of my climbing club. I’ve never written one of these before so any comments and critiques would be welcome, as well as any questions you may have on the topics I discuss.
Steve Nelson, founder of GOCLIMB.IN [sic], has asked me to suggest some tips on strength training and training regimes in general for beginners and intermediates. Strength and how to improve is one of the most common questions that I am asked by the people I work with so I hope that some of what you find here is useful to you. There are many different aspects of strength training so I’ll run through the important ones and offer up some advice.
Strength is one of those things that beginners often focus on in order to see rapid improvement in their grades. It probably sounds obvious but the best form of training for climbing is, you guessed it, by going climbing. There are very few forms of training that match the mental and physical workouts of climbing. In fact if you plan on making climbing your number one sport then if at all possible, hit the climbing wall rather than the gym. Not only will this improve your climbing but you will learn an awful lot from simply watching those around you. However I do of course realise that this is not possible for everyone. I myself live around 45 minutes from the walls in Glasgow. Due to this I take part in my own small workout. This only takes me 35 minutes and I do it every other day when I’m not climbing. It focuses on core strength but also works other parts of the body. If anyone would like some details then just let me know and I can pass them on.
Another thing to always remember is ‘focus on your weaknesses.’ This might seem like an obvious statement to make but you would be amazed at how many climbers fall into the trap of focussing on their strengths. Allow me to use myself as an example. I am often best at steep routes with small crimpy holds and pinches. It is this type of route that I often break through grade barriers and earn myself a cake from the cafe. However I used to be terrible at slopers. It struck me one day that if I was ever going to improve my overall climbing I had to spend more time working those routes. It was frustrating of course, but as the saying goes; ‘nothing worthwhile is easy.’ So I stuck at it and over time I have seen improvement, and I feel better as a climber now that I can have a decent bash at most routes. This applies to everyone. If you love slopers, try a few extra crimp routes a session. Or of you are used to short routes, jump on an endurance circuit or see how far round the wall you can traverse without falling off. Over time you will see a dramatic improvement in not only your strength, but also your technique. (Technique is another subject that I may blog about in the future)
Finally another common question that I am often asked is ‘How can I improve my grip strength?’ This is a common question from those who find themselves getting pumped very quickly. Unfortunately as far as I have found there is no quick answer to this. You simply have to get out there and climb. Endurance routes are often excellent ways of working on this. Most bouldering centres will have them and if not it’s easy to make your own. Just keep traversing till you fall off due to simply being unable to hold on any more. In addition to this for those who work in offices I would recommend buying a gripmaster. Stick one on your desk and use it on your lunch/breaks or even while you work! It really is a case of every little helps!
As a lasting thought I would suggest that as a beginner you don’t worry too much about training strength. It is much more important that you get out there and have fun. Learning proper technique is much more important if you wish to rapidly improve. When we all learn to balance lean muscle and perfect technique then we will be unstoppable!
If you’d like to know more about training then I can recommend ‘9 out of 10 climbers make the same mistakes‘ by Dave Macleod. A truly wonderful book full of handy hints and tips for the future!”
If you would like to write a guest post for us, join GOCLIMB.IN and connect with climbers, let us know!
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If you’d like to live longer, it’s entirely possible that the best thing you could do is join a rock climbing gym.
I listened to a lot of TED talks yesterday to get through a 14-hour long drive from Ann Arbor to Boston. In the mix, I heard Jane McGonigal‘s talk on how games can increase your lifespan by roughly ten years.
Take away the game wrapper, and her thesis boiled down to an assertion that people can do four basic things to extend their lives:
- Be active (or, at least, refrain from being inactive).
- Set and achieve small goals.
- Connect with other human beings.
- Experience positive emotions—potentially by seeing cute things.
Listening to the talk, it struck me that my newest physical hobby, rock climbing at a rock gym, is one of the most efficient ways to achieve all four of those things. Here’s the breakdown.
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Here’s an excerpt:
There has been a lot of hype about the Blocfest series and now I know the reason why. TCA Bristol hosted the 4th round of the series last Sunday and I think I can speak for everyone that attended that it was an awesome event. The Blocfest team have got it down to a tee, led by the likes of Gaz Parry and Mike Langley, they provide all their own holds, specially made volumes, t-shirts, DJ’s, cash prizes and much more.
The qualifying round is made up of a 25 bloc tour, ranging from “really easy to seriously funky”. Jumps, pops, flicks, you name it they’ve got it. The quality of setting was outstanding with something for everyone. I finished up qualifying in 2nd place to fellow British team member John Partridge who cleaned up flashing all 25 blocs. Unfortunately I clattered my elbow whilst going for a hold on my last bloc. Frustratingly I sent it next go.
We definitely recommend you head over to the read the rest of the write up and check out the photos. Ben West is part of the British Bouldering Team and is a keen photographer. You can follow his blog here – http://ben-west.co.uk/blocfest-tca/