• Coming Back From Injury
  • Get Trip-Fit Fast
  • Systems Wall and Symmetrical Training
  • Coaching Climbing - How To Train Juniors with Care and Caution
  • Grip Trainers - Gimmicks, or Worth the Money?
  • Hangboarding for Endurance: Not Just for Power
  • Simulation Training: How to Do a Move You Can't Do
  • Planning a Year's Climbing
  • Portable Training Rigs - How to Stay Fit on the Go
  • How to Keep Your Job and Family and Still Climb at Your Limit
  • Suspension Training for Rock Climbing
  • Eat Fat, Climb Harder - The Ketogenic Diet
  • Witness the Mental Fitness: Set Thought Aside to Improve Performance
  • Mental Training Made Simple
  • Counterintuitive Climbing Tips to Change Your Game - Part 2
  • Endurance Training Tips for Winter
  • Five Counterintuitive Climbing Tips to Change Your Game - Part 1
  • Staying Power - How to Last All Day at the Crag
  • Attack and Defend - Tips for Effective Resting
  • Change Up - Plug the Gaps In Your Strength Training This Winter
  • Training While Injured
  • The Hard Way, Easier: How to Cope with Redpoint Nerves
  • Climbing Literacy - Get Better Instantly by Reading Routes
  • The Numbers Game - How to Use Your Age to Your Advantage
  • Injury-Free Bouldering: 15 Tips to Keep You Healthy and Strong
  • Injury-Free Boarding: 14 Training Tips to Save Your Fingers
  • The Truth About Caffeine and Climbing
  • Pushing Past Your Training Plateau
  • Five Strategies to Sharpen Concentration and Climb Better
  • Five Ways to Get Better Without Training
  • Beat the Burnout: Only Ondra Should Train Like Ondra
  • Effective Gym Training Strategies (for Route Climbing)
  • Should You Add Weight or Use Smaller Holds on a Hangboard?
  • Map Out a Plan with the Radar System
  • Managing the Fear of Falling
  • Projecting 101 – 6 Tips For Sending
  • Slowing the Pump Clock - Three Strategies to Prevent the Pump
  • Training on the Go
  • How to Train for Compression
  • Nutrition: Eating Your Way to Better Climbing
  • How to Dyno
  • General Conditioning for Climbers
  • Transitioning from Gym to Crag
  • Staying Strong to Perform Your Best All Season
  • How to Lose Weight for Climbing
  • Building a Better Climber: Final Phase - Peaking
  • Building a Better Climber: Phase 7 - Power Endurance Training
  • Building a Better Climber: Phase 6 - Endurance II
  • Building a Better Climber: Phase 5 - Strength and Power II
  • The Training Effect - Steve House and Scott Johnston
  • Training for Climbing: Injured? Train Your Core!
  • Building a Better Climber: Phase 4 - Power Endurance
  • Building a Better Climber: Phase 3 - Strength Training
  • Building a Better Climber: Phase 2 - Low-Intensity Endurance
  • Building a Better Climber: Phase 1 - Conditioning Phase
  • Gain Confidence by Learning Not to Fear Falling
  • Get Better When You Are Scared and Pumped
  • Never Get Pumped Again
  • Gutbusters - Core Exercises for Rock Climbing
  • Rest ... or Else
  • The Intuitive Approach to Training
  • Free Climbing Tips: Why Get Stronger When You Can Get Better?
  • Crank Like a Russian - How to Power Train for Climbing
  • How to Mentally Train
  • Boost Power With Eccentric Training
  • Tips for Better Onsighting
  • Should You Lose Weight or Get Stronger?
  • Is Protein Important?
  • Getting Strong After a Layoff
  • Does Running or Biking Improve Your Climbing?
  • Training While Hungry
  • How To Use Microcycles
  • How to Improve Slab Technique
  • How to Unlock a Crux
  • How to Use a Hangboard
  • Using a Weight Belt For Training
  • Training During Pregnancy
  • Maximizing a Small Home Wall
  • How to Stay Psyched
  • How to Prevent Bonking
  • Best Ratio of Resting to Bouldering
  • The Importance of Finger Strength
  • Regaining Confidence After a Fall
  • Overcome Anxiety and Send!
  • Maximum Training in Minimum Time
  • Dynamic vs. Static Stretching
  • Do Forearm Trainers Work?
  • Ultimate Strength
  • The Secrets of Warming Up
  • Periodized Training For the Year-round Approach
  • Resting the Perfect Amount
  • How To Recover On Route
  • Does Creatine Work?
  • Recovery Supplement Truths
  • Euro Training Secrets
  • Can Old Guys Get Stronger?
  • Training With an Injury
  • How to Beat Fear
  • How Often Should You Rest?
  • Warming Up Without Warm-Ups
  • How to Develop Sloper Strength
  • Beating the Lactic Acid Pump
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    Change Up - Plug the Gaps In Your Strength Training This Winter


    World champions like Kilian Fischhuber train their weaknesses until they no longer have a weakness. What do you do?  PHOTO: BERNHARD FIEDLERWe’ve all heard that changing your game is one of the best ways to get more from your training. But what does this really mean? Everyone tends to drift into routine. What ingredients can be added in order to freshen up your training and help you bust through plateaus?

    This issue we’re going to take a different perspective on strength training. It’s time to be honest with yourself and focus on what you don’t do rather than what you do. Look at the list below and ask yourself how many of these basic principals genuinely feature in your training. If it’s over half, then you’re probably doing as well as most pros. If it’s less than a quarter, you’re missing some valuable tricks and it’s time to start plugging those gaps.

    1) Make a plan

    During the training season most climbers switch from bouldering to routes guided by whim and short-term requirements, but you will achieve far better results by planning. A great method is to follow phases of between three and eight weeks, prioritized either toward strength or endurance, an approach known as periodization. Start with endurance to build a fitness base, and then focus on strength. During the strength phase, train strength and/or power two or three times a week and endurance once (elites may train strength/power four times and endurance twice). This enables significant gains in strength while ensuring that you don’t simultaneously lose endurance. If you plan a longer phase (5 – 8 weeks, known as “linear periodization”) this is the best approach for achieving a peak at the very end of the program. The alternative is to do shorter phases (2 – 4 weeks, “non-linear periodization”), which is a better method if you need to maintain form during the period of training. In other words, linear if you have a big goal you’re working toward; nonlinear if you want to climb at a consistent, slowly improving level. These methods are renowned for being highly effective and yet climbers rarely employ them effectively.

    2) Start your program with general strengthening

    All serious power athletes in mainstream sports begin their training program with a phase of general strengthening before moving on to sport-specific training. In other words, go to the gym and do a general weight-training program for the upper body. Climbers are advised to keep this phase brief to avoid gaining unwanted bulk. For example, train for 2 – 4 weeks and keep repetitions low (3 sets of 4 – 6 reps). This phase plays a crucial role in maximizing performance and preventing injury. It also provides a great time to work on supportive aerobic fitness and flexibility.

    3) Vary the intensity

    Many boulderers simply adopt one gear, which usually means warming up, doing a few mid-grade problems and then sieging hard projects. The sessions that are easiest to ignore are mileage-based sessions where the aim is to climb a high volume of easier problems. These sessions are best positioned at the start of strength phases to help build a base of bouldering endurance. They also enable a critical focus on technique and provide an opportunity to work on onsight skills.

    4) Work your weaknesses

    You’ve heard it a million times and yet you still shy away from the holds you find toughest, whether slopers, small crimps or gastons. Instead, always start your session on problems with these holds or moves. Make this an unbending rule until your weakness is no longer a weakness. If you ignore this fundamental training principle, then the gap in your performance will widen to an insurmountable level.

    5) Leave time at the end of bouldering sessions for apparatus exercises

    Everyone knows that campus boards, fingerboards and pull-up bars provide the best means of developing pure strength and power, but there’s no point attempting this type of training if you’re burned out. If your fingers are tired, try working your arms and core on the apparatus. You are wasting your time and exposing yourself to injury if you attempt dead hangs when your fingers are reeling from the latest project. An alternative approach is to do apparatus training on a separate day where you can apply the required level of energy and focus.

    6) Set training goals

    Most climbers are very good at setting goals for the crag, but rarely take the time to work out the training goals that will enable us to achieve them. How will you know if you’ve gotten stronger if you don’t record the results of your campus or hangboard exercises? Moreover, if you have a target for every session, you will force yourself to achieve it rather than simply coasting and repeating the same performances.

    7) Train antagonists

    Do 3 sets of 20 push-ups and 3 sets of reverse wrist curls twice a week. We all know that antagonist sessions are boring, and yet not only will they provide your best chance of staying injury-free, but they play a crucial supportive role in strengthening your climbing muscles. The body will not allow major imbalances in strength to develop. If you never train your antagonists, your climbing strength will be seriously compromised.

    8) Train your core

    Just like antagonist training, core exercises are easy to forget because they’re boring and require willpower. Most climbers will rise to the challenge of a few sets of hanging leg raises or front-lever attempts at the end of a boulder session, but a real program of floor exercises will play a massive supportive role in developing core stability. If there’s no time at the climbing gym, do these at home on rest days, in combination with antagonist exercises.

    9) Eat properly

    Again, you’ve heard it before, but do you really eat protein-based foods or take amino acid supplementation immediately before and after strength training? The up-to-date research concludes that this significantly increases strength gains. Do you also make the effort to eat a decent meal or take a recovery supplement (including carbohydrates) within the crucial “one-hour window” after the session? If you don’t then, once again, strength gains will be compromised. Forget delaying eating in the interest of weight control. Don’t over-eat, but do make sure that you eat at the correct time in relation to training.

    This article was published in Rock and Ice issue 200 (March 2012).

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