Welcome to my blog. Feel free to search around the archives for some great pictures and what led up to now.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Campus Training and Golgi Epiphany

When I was at Baylor, I climbed a lot with a doctor named Steve Martin (Nelson Martin for those of you who have seen the Hueco Tanks orientation video) and  I remember him telling my about golgi bodies in the tendons.  I didn't really know what they were but that they basically make your hands let go.

Last Friday I did a campus workout and for the first time climbed after it and I have found something out that I wanted to share.  The process is called neuromuscular disinhibition.  Basically the golgi organ causes your hands, by a release of proteins to release when it reaches peak tension.  Campus board training teaches your hands to have a higher tolerance for what that peak is.

I haven't found a whole lot of material on this besides the Nicros  website, particularly in a Q&A session with Eric J. Horst.  It is brief but reads as such:

How to train for neuromuscular disinhibition?

Q:What is the best way to disinhibit the golgi tendon organ? Can you give me a single best training tip on this? – Jake (Moab, UT)

"Hey Jake,
That’s a pretty high-end training question. Regarding neuromuscular disinhibition, the best strategies are hypergravity training (bouldering/training with weight added to your body) and dynamic campus training (i.e. double hand dynos). Of course, both these strategies are stressful and not appropriate for many climbers. However, if you are in really good shape, already possess great technique, and you are not injured (fingers, shoulders, elbows), then you might try adding some of this to your regimen. My book, Training For Climbing, covers this subject and provides more in-depth details. Also, this winter I’ll be adding a few articles to the Nicros Training Center detailing safe, effective methods of Campus Training. Please check back!"

Eric Horst

As Eric briefly mentions, this type of training is not for many climbers.  Campus boards are used to train your hands to accept the amount of weight and force that you have already generated the strength for.  The golgi bodies are a safeguard to keep you from getting hurt and training above what you can handle is in the realm of popping tendons (sometimes irreparable damage).  BUT, for those who are to this point in their climbing and training, here is what I found out last week.

I started my session with some easy climbing and progressed up to about V8.  From there, I met up with a guy and did a campus board session. It was on small rungs starting on 1, campusing up each rung to 5 and then back down again.  After I finished I got back on and noticed something that really came as a revelation to me.  I noticed that on the problems I got on I was having a lot of trouble with dynamic movement in a big way.  Anything that was static, even a bad hold, was solid, allowing me to move to and from with ease.  Anything that was any bit of a jump, however, my hand just gave out.

This is it.  This is the epitome of climbing training.  There is no specific muscle group or movement you can ever work to make yourself instantly better at climbing.  You could be amazing at one arm pull-ups, but if you can't hold the holds, you aren't doing yourself a lot of good.  If you can hold onto the holds statically, but not dynamically, you are really limiting the types of climbs you can do.

My suggestion to anyone trying to break a plateau or just climb harder is to train all types of movements.  I was told this for years and didn't listen and now I finally get it.  I am sure there will be a lot more campusing in my future, so I will keep you updated as to how it affects my climbing overall, but it shouldn't be anything but positive.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Training and Motivation

This time it seems that I am sticking to my training a lot better. 

With Alex at the farm three days a week, it gives me a good amount of time to get into the gym and climb.  Yesterday I went in and worked on some stuff with some really strong guys.  I first got to the gym and it was packed, but there was a lot of new stuff up to warm up on so I got straight on the wall.  From V4s to V9s, there was plenty of stuff.  A lot of the stuff went first go, but I got stuck on a V6 that had a pretty tensiony sloper move that went to a pinch around a corner.  After trying to cheat past the move, I conceded to doing it the way it was intended and finally got it.

Then it was time to work the V9.  It was an undercling to two pinches and a large move to a sloper (at this point you should all know how much I love slopers) and then a left hand to another sloper pinch.  I tried and tried, but I couldn't get it.  After giving up on that problem, I started to go catch up on all the other new stuff in the gym.  I did all the V4s and up and went to go see what other stuff was around.  I ran into Josh Larson and began to boulder with him on some stuff he was making up.  It was HARD and Josh is a strong climber; which leads me to a conclusion about my climbing and motivation.

I have always been pretty natural at climbing, however I have never been that strong.  There is something that pushes me within climbing itself that makes me want to get better.  The grading scale helps with that, which is why I think it's a little silly when people say grades don't matter.  You shouldn't be walking around bragging about how hard you climb, but climbers don't get the luxury of beating a best time or score.  All we have to measure progress universally is grades. (and even those are often pretty subjective.)

Part of what pushes me though is people better than me.  Not because I want to be better than them, but because if I see a guy having a hard time with a move I'm working and then I see him get on a much harder problem I see that I'm not as far as I thought.  I may not try those moves in that V13, unless I see a guy I know is a little stronger than me stick them.  This is where I have had issues.  I have always climbed by myself or in pretty obscure locations.  I started at Baylor, where I climbed so often that I quickly became one of the best climbers there.  Then, I climbed at Hueco Tanks, but most of the time alone.  After that, I climbed at Fort Bliss, where most of the other climbers were beginners.  This makes it hard to push yourself; especially when you are doing most of the setting for yourself.

My recommendation for anyone is to find a climbing partner.  The best scenario is someone that is about you same grade, but a totally different climbing style than you.  If you are best at climbing steep crimps, climb with someone that climbs burly compression problems.  Or even mix it up and get with a sport climber, (whoa, crazy).