Something To Consider About Beta.

My first blog in a few weeks because life has been hectic, with the birth of my daughter Olive, life has definitely been driven in an exciting new direction. Life is good, busy but good! Anyways onto the blog.

Through out our lives some our greatest memories are those times we thought to ourselves “H*ly sh^t” or those moments where we had a huge paradigm shift, those Ah Ha moments of overcoming adversity. Think about it, what’s the most memorable climb or challenge you have overcome? maybe its the one you fought the longest to achieve. The biggest frustration creates the wahoo moments.


With Beta, there are a few things to consider.

Beta is the way a climb is climbed, this could be different for every individual. Every climb that is set indoors has an intend beta or 2, the way the route setter planned it to be climbed. Micro beta is the small adjustments you may make, like shifting a foot 1 or 2 degrees left.

Theres 3 types of conversations that are common in the gym regarding beta:

Athlete To Athlete: Discussing climbs, Micro Beta, asking if people had tried this or that, that bit of this hold is good, watch out for that.

Coach To Athlete: The discussion of principles, balance, breathing, tension, momentum and the asking of questions to guide people to finding their Ah Ha moments and challenging them to see things differently.

Beta Sprayer To Climber: Put your left foot here, move your left foot, use your toes, grab that right hand now.

While the first 2 types of voicing beta can be used in a constructive way, I do not believe that the last option of Spraying Beta is beneficial to the climber, while it feeds the sprayers ego into feeling good because they are “helping” or because they “know” the beta it often holds the climber back from learning how to climb in their own style and completely removes the option for the climber to play with a climb. At the end of the day isn’t this why we all climb? Because it’s like play.

Coach To Athlete: A skilled coach will be able to help you find the beta that works best for you through asking questions, this allows you to do 2 things, Keep Finding Ah ha moments and to be able to play with a move or sequence.

Athlete To Athlete, this is an amazing way to grow fast, to be able to see things from many peoples perspectives, to learn and grow with you friends and peers. Some thing to be mindful of is where the line changes from Athlete to Athlete to Sprayer to athlete, I think it can be pretty simply drawn when one of the participants is on the wall. Yes, I admit that I do this too, sometimes in the heat of the moment its hard to resist the urge to yell out “left foot here” or “right hand there”, I catch myself yelling something out, I think we all need to get better and allowing others to make their own mistakes on the wall and maybe, just maybe discus principles of the wall such as balance or calmness maybe even creating but I am wary of even drawing then line there, maybe we should just let people climb.

Gratitude and Owning Your Shit

I was recently working with a talented young climber who I set a challenge, this climb was what I would class as particularly anti-style but well within climbing grade and ability if the time was taken to working it out.

Half a dozen attempts later and progress towards holds had been made but holds had not been held, the words “I can’t”, “Holds are shit” and a list of all the other problems in the gym that they wanted to try had been rattled off, an attempt at negotiating to get out of putting more effort into this climb had been made and finally sitting down trying to ignore the climb. You know how it goes, the frustration had well and truely set in.

For me this is always a tough position as a coach but I have to hold my ground, the emotion that this climb was invoking was in its essence the true reason for the current lack of progress for this athlete. “Why are you letting this climb affect you mentally? Its just a climb”. Emotion is a natural part of the human existence and Im not saying it should be bottled up or ignored, but when it is directly affecting the outcome that you wish to achieve I believe that this is definitely something we should get curious about. We should start asking ourselves questions.

curiosity.jpg

To be honest, when I googled “curiosity killed the cat” I didn’t know it had a second part to the saying! But how fitting is that!

To get curious is where FAILURE starts to become LEARNING which opens the door to SUCCESS.

I read a book a few years back called Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink, to sum this book up in my own words.

“Everything that happens in your life, every response, reaction or action you have or take is a result of you. If you choose to you can take ownership of all these aspects of your life and when you do, you will be the one in control of your life.

You cannot change external circumstances but you can change how you Act, React or Respond.”

Seems very wishy washy writing it like that but I think it begins to paint the picture and I hope it inspires you to read the book to get the full picture.

The challenge for this athlete was their approach to the lessons that were being offered, they could see not sticking the move as failure, boring, frustration, shit, crap, make me want to cry kinda stuff or they can accept the challenge infront of them, become grateful for the opportunity to learn something and keep trying hard. Its hard as a coach to let someone fail, fail repetitively but in the course of learning the bigger the effort put into a challenge the greater the “AH HA!” moment of realisation and the greater the retention of the lesson.

#lightbulbmoments.

Some action that I took as a coach during the course of this 30 minute series of events was to explain the purpose of my actions and the lessons that I was offering to the athlete.

“Know the why, know the nature of the questions to ask”

I have given you this challenge because at the moment you struggle with working on begin able to move between fluidity and tension of the wall, you can climb a climb fluid or you can climb it with tension but to chop and change and apply what is necessary to each individual move is something that one of your lowest hanging fruit as I see it right now.

Now they have context, they know why they are doing it, suddenly the change of mental state from Anger and Frustration with me as a coach and the climb as a stupid climb they couldn’t do, to one of curiosity. over the next 15 minutes they slowly ticked off move by individual move, sure by the end of the session they still had moves to work out but they had done 4 or 5 moves that they were originally saying they couldn’t do.

It takes a strong individual to be able to work on their true challenges, maybe it’s not a lack strength, maybe it’s not that move, maybe it’s not that your coach is being a dick. Maybe its focusing on the wrong lesson infront of you, maybe its the blame game rather than owning your shit.

Be grateful for these lessons, be grateful for the challenges you face, they are all here to teach you something they are all your opportunities for growth and improvement.

Specificity In Training

I often have conversations with climbers regarding their training programs and the nature of their focus, I.e strength training in the gym, hangboard repeaters, hangboard max hangs, campusing and projecting all in a week. A little bit of everything training, the generalists approach.

Training is a lot like cleaning a house, you can either go room by room ensuring every room is clean before moving onto the next one or you can clean every room a little bit more often.

A couple of things jump out at me with this analogy.

  1. One of these options is a lot more time efficient than the other

  2. Having a completely clean room is nicer than a bunch of half clean ones.

Personally I find that these 2 different approaches to training have 2 different purposes, a little bit of everything at regular occasion is a maintenance program, you may get a little bit of progress but the main focus is to not lose what you already have, for real progress I believe that a training program needs 1 major thing. Specificity.

Over the past 5 years of coaching I have found 2 things to make consistently fast progress.

  1. Specifically focus on your goal.

  2. Work on your lowest hang fruit first.

low-hanging-fruit-570x177.gif

Your lowest hanging fruit are your biggest areas for improvement or your most noticeable lesser strengths also often called weaknesses. (You don’t have a stronger arm and a weak arm, you have a strong arm and a stronger arm haha)

The human mind loves to do things its good at, it relishes in its own ego at the way you can perform when you are doing well, it takes a strong person to be able to focus on something you aren’t quite as good at or doesn’t feel as natural. Last week I saw a climber campus the crux moves of a V7 overhang climb and yet they fell on a v3 slab, for me I would rather be a V5 climber across all wall angles and styles than to have such a big gap in my skillsets, for me the climber who is skilled across all styles is a better climber.

The tricky part is either being subjective enough, knowledgable enough and know your ego enough to be able to write yourself a training that actually focuses on your lowest or you can get a coach, a coach has the added benefit of having their own data set, they have trained numerous people and have the information to see what improves who the most. Or you can have a maintenance focused program, the generalist approach, this I find I have noticed in route climbers the most, their fear of losing endurance while building strength keeps them at maintaining their Endurance but not really gaining any strength. Often then climbers and run laps on a boulder that is close to their max but they can even touch a climb that a grade or 2 higher.

Often these climbers will gain more endurance from a focused strength program than they will from trying to maintain endurance at the same time, why? let me explain.

These are only generalisations to make a point, not specifically science to suit these numbers.

Lets say there are 2 climbers, Climber 1 can hang on the hang board with bodyweight plus 20kg but is relatively unfit or their endurance is not great, climber 2 can hang at bodyweight but it super fit. Now, here’s where the subjectivity on the nature of the route would step in but hang with me…..

Climber 1 may be climbing a grade 27, for the course of the route they are operating at 60% max effort, they can find recovery here and there, they are not super stressed or operating near their limit.

Climber 2 on the same climb, may be fitter but they are operating at 80 or 90% max effort, they cannot find many rests and the additional stress of operating so close to their limit raises cortisol levels which in turn makes them more tired.

I know which climber I would rather be….

Focusing on strength for a few weeks and you may not lose any endurance because you get so much stronger than you were that you are operating at a lower RPE (rate of perceived exertion) than when you were less strong, then you change and put in a week or 2 or endurance before your trip and suddenly your route climbing ability jumps a grade or 2 or 3 depending on how you adapt to the new strength and technique and your ability to apply it to the wall.

Personally I would rather train specifically in cycles than to generalise but each to their own, where’s your training focused right now?

My Life As A Coach

Keeping on with last weeks theme.

I was sitting on the couch one day after a rough break up, my job was going now where with the mining crash and I was feeling blue, I asked myself the age old question “What am I going to do with my life?” half a second later and the AIF add popped up on the screen and I figure “f it” that’s what I’ll do. I rang up the next day, booked in a consult and 2 weeks later I was enrolled for Cert 3 and 4 in health and fitness and a business diploma and attending my first class. I was working full time and studying full time, I decided to go with 2 afternoons a week after work and a full day on Sundays I think, 3 months later I qualified with AIF’s Master Trainer Certificate in Cert 3 and 4, unfortunately the business degree was not to be as AIF became increasingly harder and harder to get hold of, I got to the final assessment and it just became easier to not continue to try and get AIF to help me finish it off.

3 months later I was still trying to make bootcamps work from my home in Belmont, I was getting a couple of friends to turn up for $10each and lets face, that’s just not a successful business model ha, but I had no idea where to go or what to do next.

I had met a guy called Jason Dick at one of the AIF fire nights and I can’t remember how we got in contact after that, I think maybe he called me to see if I wanted to do a kettlebell course with the AIK (Australian Institute of Kettlebells), either way we got to chatting I mentioned to him that I was lost and I asked him for some guidance and he said No. Apparently Im persistent because a few months later we met and I started and apprenticeship with Jason at the Wesley Sports Club in South Perth, I had picked up my first regular client Ryan who would be training with me for the next 4 years and the PT journey had begun. I was still working full time at this point then in the afternoons running PT privates and classes, we moved after a few months to some space at Inner City Crossfit, a quick competition to pick up some new clients and I left Westrac to join the Self Employed PT world, I registered the name “Earn The Right Personal Training” and we continued to grow to the point where I signed a lease for a small space of about 100sqm out the back of Inner-city and we were looking for a 3rd coach, along came Nash and this is where my philosophy for training began to change.

Now at this point I feel I should mention, that its super hard to even begin to list the upskill work and courses that went on from the point of finishing PT through to the modern day so I won’t list the qualifications or workshops, but over the next few years I would be introduced and become friends with some of the greatest minds and athletes in there respective fields in WA and have my whole perspective shift on what I felt training was all about or even what health and fitness is at its core.

The Loss Of “IT”

Everything we do is built around something we believe in, I guess that this thing could be called the “IT”, I love IT, I hate IT, I’ve got IT or I don’t understand IT. All I know is I lost IT, the business was failing, I lost clients and didn’t gain new ones, I just no longer had the drive to continue to put the time and effort into the business that it needed to survive. I just couldn’t do IT any more. I was exhausted. After a hard conversation with Jason we came to the conclusion that if we were to do the best by the clients and to be able to keep an income for ourselves that it was best for me to hand over the reigns to Jason and for me to become a subcontractor again until I found my Mojo. It took a while but I realised that with the removed stress of running a business I was able to do 1 thing and that was focus on what I loved to do and that was get people results, to focus on the very skill that I had grown to love and become the best coach that I could be. Fck being and entrepreneur, fck being a business owner, f*uck all those titles I just wanted to coach, develop myself into learning how to guide people and chase 1 thing and 1 thing only. PERFORMANCE.

Some of the more memorable gym focused achievements that the dedicated soles that I worked with performed over the next few years.

TB - 200kg Deadlift for his 50th birthday.

AM - Double Bodyweight Pull Up

TS - From shoulder dislocation to pressing 32kg single handed overhead

CD - 25kgs weightloss

RC - From not touching his toes in 20years to cold toe touches every time

LF - 99kg deadlift at 48kg bodyweight

These are some of the people who have inspired to me to become better as a coach and have help me realise that’s performance and progress is what drives my coaching style and my own personal life.

Somewhere in there I came to the conclusion that ETR was no longer the right place for me to continue to work, the vision for what ETR was to help people achieve was not the same vision I had for myself or the people I was coaching, so I moved the equipment home and coached from my garage until I was clearer, while this time was closed off from outside development and challenge in comparison to working in a gym with other coaches it also gave me time to practice my craft without distractions or other influence, to be able to make mistakes and fix them myself along the way. I think to many people start a Self Development journey or continuously upskill but never put the time in to make mistakes and practice what they have learn, to cut out what doesn’t work for you and to improve the stuff that does.

The Beginning Of Climbing Coaching.

At this point I had been climbing for a about 4 years and I wanted to know more I wanted to start becoming involved with climbing coaching and chase Performance for climbers. I was climbing regularly at the Hub and approached them about starting some strength classes to get my foot in the door towards working with climbers, after a few months I was back in the “I Lost It” bucket, lifting weights just wasn’t where I was being driven anymore, I wanted to coach climbing, to be involved with on the wall development of athletes.

I was approached by Portside Boulders to become a PT or strength coach at a new gym that was opening in O’Connor, my terms and conditions were simple, as long as I can coach climbing. And so Boulder Stronger was born, A mixture of on the wall training and weights, a one stop shop for v2-v5 climbers who want to progress faster or are stuck in a plateau.

At this stage I didn’t want to coach kids, I wanted to focus on adults and improve my skills as a climbing coach through a means that I was reasonably skilled or comfortable with.

Almost 2 years later and I had applied for and been accepted as the head coach for Portside’s Youth programs, with climbing classes from 4 to 18 years old and skills from playing climbing games to competition climbers or Outdoor Weekend Warriors, I have the opportunity to directly or indirectly coach over 100 climbers per week either through coaching the other coaches at Portside or working directly with the climbers themselves and I love the work just a little more everyday.

Climbing Legends

Some of the notable legends I have work with over the last 2 years on the wall.

IB - 2018 Open B National Womens Champion

AL - 2019 Youth B Womens State Champion

AB - 2019 Youth B Womens 3rd Place

So What Am I Focusing On Now?

Well my first child is about to be born so that’s the one big thing Im focusing on now I suppose haha. From a coaching perspective I am finding my balance between Development Coaching or the skills of giving people their own tools and Performance Coaching just plain old getting results SON!

Special Mentions

Along the journey there have been some absolute legends who have helped guide and shape who I am as a coach, each of them were there to help me when I needed it even if I didn’t realise it at the time or they are no longer influencing me or my coaching style. Thank you to each and everyone of the following

Nash Davis (Kazokukai Martial Arts)- taught me that among other things I like hard style kettlebells better haha. O and quality movement comes first.

Nathan Baxter (Baxter Strength Systems) - an amazing philosophy mind and all round legend, the nervous system and a basic understanding of how it functions or how to manipulate it to better performance.

Ross Field (Fieldwork Health) - nothing quite like a coffee with Ross and discussing the mysteries of life, the human body, pain management and a good walk in the park.

Jason Dick (Earn The Right) - My first mentor, without you I would probably still be working on engines.

There are probably more than 100 other people that I have come into contact with through workshops that have changed my perspective on how the body operates but I have left this list short with a few regulars in my life that have had huge impacts.

Thank you to everyone who has been along for the journey and to those who stepped in and stepped out at the right times.

My Life As A "Climber"

I’ve been writing blogs for a while now and I thought I would take a different spin on this one.

THE BEGINNING

For me climbing start in 2013 when a friend from work invited to me come along climbing with him. I don’t really remember the first time I walked into Rockface Climbing Centre and I don’t remember why I kept on going back, I know I was looking for something new as I had been a gym rat for years, I weighed just shy of 100kg at this point, which is not the greatest weight class for a climber but climbing for me was a lot more fun than the 3x10, 5x10 or 10x10 sets of deadlift, squat and bench that I was accustomed too. In all honesty I think that coming to climbing when I could deadlift 200kg, pull up bodyweight plus 60kg and bench press 120kg really held me back, I was “Too Strong” and I use that term lightly to be able to feel for technique or climbing style and I didn’t even understand movement really.

Wind the clock forward a few months and we were still regulars there 4 or 5 days a week and we had moved to lead climbing up the overhung walls with the polished holds. Dom started to develop Medial Epicondalytis as a lot of climbers do and slowly started climbing less and less, without a regular climbing partner I turned to bouldering.

The Boulder Hub

Along came the Boulder Hub and I was hooked, the setting was different than anything I had experienced and there was Coffee!! It was pod machine coffee but who knew that Bouldering and Coffee were a match made in heaven! My eyes were beginning to open as to what “climbing is a movement sport” really mean’t, up until now it was a “I need to get stronger and fitter” sport.

Watching Alan and Christina climb was something else entirely. The rabbit hole grew wider and deeper to proportions I couldn’t even fathom, not even sure I can now but down the rabbit hole I continue on. Before I thought of climbing as only Stronger….. now it was beginning to become Momentum. Balance. Fluidity. In its essence Movement in its purest form.

All through my teenage years I was a dancer, from social, to teacher, to competing at National events I enjoyed the movement more than the showmanship. It was fun, all the things that climbing is but on the ground, not the wall. For me it is still enjoyable but dancing misses the “Try Hard” aspect that is essential in climbing. Sure there is lots of practice in dancing but no grit your teeth, no getting your hands dirty, which is something I needed. But how to apply this to the wall?

I needed a coach, someone to challenge me to move in different ways than my set movement patterns, someone with an objective view of how I moved and the techniques to challenge me to move in ways that suited the climb rather than me trying to force my set techniques or movement style to work. So I started training with Al, I think this period of my climbing life was the fastest period of growth I have had and it opened the door to being able to understand climbing at a deeper level and I don’t think I would be where I am today without it. We did almost no strength work, if we were in the gym it was to understand a movement in a more controlled environment but 99% of all of our session were focused on wall skills, movement skills or developing the mental fortitude to Just Keep Moving.

Somewhere in the 4 years I was regularly at The Hub, I began climbing outdoors, a whole new world of movement with sharp granite holds and the ever challenging angles of rock to crawl over. Sundays were my relax days, heading out into the bush with some mates to chill out and climb some rocks.

ROUTE SETTING

I set for about 1.5 years, with probably more mistakes than absolute gems haha, I think a lot of these mistakes arose from 2 major things, 1. my lack of understanding of movement and 2. my inability to make than movement or feeling happen on the wall. As my understanding of movements grows and my experience increases I will look to start setting again eventually, hindsight has taught me a lot about the mistakes I made as a setter and I know that as a coach the best way to get people to learn is to have them experience something for themselves, what better way to help climbers find new experiences than to set a climb with an experience, movement or feeling in mind.

INJURY

I have been relatively lucky I suppose in keeping away injuries, a few small bouts with Medial Epicondalytis which I was able to quickly stave off with my Personal Training experience and the help of some good Physio friends until the last few years, a rupture A3 pulley and FDS sheath tear affected a finger on my right hand and a bucket handle tear of my right knee meniscus requiring surgery to unfreeze my knee but we are getting back ontop of these, the finger is now 95% and the knee is pretty similar too if I was too guess and it afforded me the time out of my own climbing to really focus on my coaching side.

Competitions

Over the past few years I have done maybe 30 or 40 comps and something I have realised is that personally I do not get excited myself about competitions, they are not my focus for my climbing, I continue to do them because I enjoy the challenge, both mental and physical, how quickly can you solve problem x and complete it too, I use them as training goals or just for the experience. I have only ever competed in Open A and have placed from 4th all the way to Last. I choose to do them because I believe that it will add something to my climbing skill.

COACHING

I will keep this bit short as I have ideas for another blog on my coaching life.

In 2017 I was offered the opportunity to work at Portside Boulders as a Climbing and Strength and Conditioning coach, this has been the second biggest area of growth for me in my climbing life, I truely believe that you cannot understand something unless you have taught it.

Climbing at Portside for me has been instrumental in my growth as a climber both personally and professionally. The quality and variety of the routes are some of the best anywhere and the training facilities are certainly some of the best that I have come across in my travels, the relaxed community of people all striving to become better climbers is amazing and something I am proud to be a part of.

Where is my climbing at now?

If I was to summarise my climbing life, my climbing time is My Time, its there not only for progression but for my mental health, the endless supply of learning how to apply tension through 4 point proprioception and to entwine momentum, balance and fluidity through this tension is what keeps me coming back, the love for searching for new challenges in movement and being able through my coaching to pass on some of these lessons to others and hopefully have the same effect as Alan did with me and my relationship with climbing.

I have bouldered up to V10, although the subjectiveness of climbing makes this grade debatable, onsighted up grade 23 with my limited rope climbing experience of maybe tying in once a year haha, climbed at a national level event… well fell of the start sequence of a bunch of climbs, placed 4th at Westcoast blocs with numerous other competitions behind me, But I think the most noticeable thing for me is that the more I explore climbing, the more I look for the movement, explore movement the more I love this sport.


THE FUTURE

Its a funny thing to set climbing goals, I have grade goals in mind but at the end of the day grades are pretty subjective so I also have volume goals in mind too, I was once told you can’t claim you climb grade x until you have done at least 3 of them, so how cool would it be to climb 50 or 100 of a grade but mainly I dream of learning to perform move x or move y with better efficiency, to continue to grow my movement databank larger and larger to understand the scopes of movement I am not even aware of now….. But how do you set a goal around something so immeasurable?

I also have a dream to open a bouldering gym, I have location ideas and am formulating a plan and the skills to complete this dream. Somewhere in the future, in someplace we will be setting some climbs hahaha. Thanks for reading!

The Healthy, Safe Climber

Whether you like to admit it or not, over coming the risks and challenges that climbing presents is a huge part of why you climb, this blog is going to touch on the following points on how to maximise the chance of you stay injury free.

  1. Injury Prevent or Rehab, what, how and why?

  2. Falling, Intentional and Unintentional

  3. Risk Mitigation, What to consider when make the go or don’t go decision.

* image from Ivyrehab.com

* image from Ivyrehab.com

There are always going to be injuries, you cannot avoid every single one of them.

Something about me.

In 2018 I was climbing, not long before heading to nationals, some friends and I were making up some boulders and trying to flash or get them in a few shots, there was a move on some small crimps, the foot position was on a good footer, rocked over my right heel which ended up with essentially sitting on my right foot with my heel on top of the hold. To move my hand I needed to lean away from the wall pull in and as I was moving towards the wall move my hand….. Pretty common move right! Suddenly POP from my right knee, the deep knee flexion, a little twisting and an old injury that I never Prehabed properly all mixed together and I had a bucket handle tear of my meniscus, it folded inside the knee and locked my knee at almost straight. Almost a year post surgery and function is getting there, maybe about 80% function back in the knee with only deep knee flexion and load being the issue now, no high steps or rock overs yet!

I was not competent with this kind of injury so I got assessed by a physio, referred to a surgeon, had surgery then worked with a physio for a rehab program, thanks to the team at Fieldwork Health I am almost back to full function.

So! IF THEY AREN’T AVOIDBALE THEN WHATS THE POINT?

Thats the thing, many injuries aren’t avoidable but the majority of them certainly are. The most common injuries I have seen in my years of climbing are ankle sprains. There are 2 groups of people that are most common for this injury type: “People climbing less than a year” and “Lead/ Top Rope climbers who go bouldering”….. There’s a common denominator between these newbies and lead climbers. Neither practice falling.

  1. Because they don’t understand the risks

  2. and because “I can climb”

Drop off only 10 climbs per session, 1 session per week, 52 weeks in a year and that’s 520 falls! Most people climb 2-3 times per week and fall off upwards of 50 times. I cannot stress enough the importance of falling practice, every time you climb you hit the ground again! It is the most underpracticed skill in the climbing world in my opinion and I have seen many many people escape with pure luck over the years.

PRACTICE FALLING! ITS A SKILLL!

You may understand and be able control falling when its intentional like dropping off from the top, but what about unintentional falls, the kind where your foot slips, or you miss the handhold? This is where practicing falling at all other times really comes in handy, if you have always dropped and rolled then your body has an automatic response when it drops to hit the ground and roll, if not then you are more than likely going to splat.

(Something I feel I should note here, is that falling while bouldering outdoors has a different set of rules and is a different falling style and skill set to falling indoors)

Ok, rant over, now for Prehab.

Whether you like it or not, a healthy body for climbing or even general life is built by spending time on the floor or in the gym working to improve the function of your body.

Tight Muscles - Getting them moving better

Unstable Shoulders - Improving their stability

Imbalances - Physical Optimisation.

Prehab - Before Rehab

I would guess that 95% of injuries in life are preventable or if you already have them, removable. Its just that most people aren’t prepared or forget to put the 10-20 minutes a day into removing these aches or pains.

I see so many people do exercise internal rotation shoulder exercises because its what youtube told them they must be doing to improve their shoulder health but in reality when tested they are super strong at IR and need those muscles released and external rotation exercises put in place, or people stretching because they want to get more mobile, when in reality those people are weak through those ranges of motion so their muscles have “locked on” in a protective state and no amount of stretching is going to help them.

Where too from here then? Assessment, to know which exercises are appropriate for your dysfunctions you need to get assessed. You can probably find these assessments online somewhere, probably even youtube but I think you will get a much clearer picture of where you are at by getting assessed by a competent professional, someone who has seen hundreds if not thousands of people which similar if not the same functions or dysfunctions as you.

A 1 hour assessment costs $70 and will get you progress that is specific to your wants and needs, Don’t Guess. Assess. If you can get to Portside or South Perth then email us at hello@axis-coaching to find out more.

Risk Mitigation

My rule of thumb, Only climb as high as you feel comfortable climbing and only drop off from as high as you feel comfortable dropping off from. People may cheer you on but that is your decision to continue to climb higher or just do THAT move.

Every day we get to make the decision: Is climbing this climb worth it to me once all the risks are considered and knowing my skillset?

If yes, then pull on, try hard and have fun.

If no, then there is always more climbs to be climbed and maybe one day when your skill set improves and confidence levels improve you will look at that climb and think hell yes, or maybe that could be tomorrow.

I found this blog really hard to write from a point of I don’t want to be a fear monger, I hope that fit comes across as educational rather than trying to scare you out of climbing but I felt that people need to understand the risks better so that they can make decisions for themselves rather than being unaware and suffering the consequences.

Whats your thoughts, comments or questions?

Climbing and Yoga - Subject Matter Expert Chee Lai with his thoughts.

Chee has been a yoga instructor for a number of years and I recently attended one of his classes, all be it in payment for writing this blog ha, but its something Ive wanted to get him to do for a few weeks, so here is his thought on Climbing and Yoga.

Yoga. 

 

Depending on how your brain is wired, that word will tend to bring up different ideas. 

Chanting, slow stretching, weird breathing, all natural deoderants, people with the flexibility of Gumby, expensive tight fitting clothing, beads, the list goes on...

While these may form some components of what people consider is modern yoga, the world of yoga is so vast and broad that you can develop a practise that is uniquely individual to you.   

I know what you’re thinking, “I stretch for 5-10 minutes before I climb, it's basically the same thing.” Yes and no. Whilst you might throw some downward facing dogs in when you’re feeling particularly spicy with your stretch routine, what distinguishes yoga and stretching is the incorporation of mindful breathing. Yes breathing, that thing we tend to forget about when we’re near the top of a climb and can’t make that final move because your heart rate is jacked, your forearms are gassed and your brain is telling you can’t to do it.

 

Slow deep mindful breathing stimulates the vagus nerve, which integrates with the parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS). If you were to use the analogy of a car, the PSNS acts like a brake, and the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) acts like an accelerator.  Your SNS controls your fight or flight response whilst the PSNS conserves energy in the body by slowing the heart rate and calming the mind. 

A yoga class is essentially a number of uncomfortable positions, while trying to keep a calm mind using a steady breath. Doesn’t this sound awfully familiar to another activity we love? 

Beyond the breath and mindset aspect, a regular yoga practise will help you develop awareness in how your body moves and how to mindfully move your body. Similar to climbing, you need to be aware of what every part of your body is doing, whether it’s how your hips are aligned, where is your big toe pushing, whether you are over gripping, whether you’re over tensing, or you don’t have enough tension etc. With a greater body awareness linked with a steady breath, we are able to develop our strength, mobility and flexibility.

 

Don’t get me wrong, to climb better you need to climb more. But there will come a point when you’re feeling stagnant and can’t seem to make gains, where only a change in mindset will do. It’s like spending hours/days on a problem, only to figure out a slight adjustment or idea is what was holding you back. A regular yoga practise will help you observe and approach things differently. 

I’ve heard every excuse in the book, “I’m not flexible enough”, “I’m not spiritual”, “I don’t have enough time” blah blah blah. But my question is, what do you have to lose and what do you have to gain? As long as you’re keen and motivated, you’re more than qualified. 

Portside Boulders runs yoga classes on Monday and Saturdays.      

Static vs Dynamic Stretching, A Time and A Place

Static Stretch, the uncomfortable kind of move to a stretch and hold for a minute or 2 that feels like a lifetime.

images.jpeg

Dynamic Stretch, the 80’s football kind, like swinging your leg back and forth slowly moving to greater ranges of motion.

dynamic+stretching.png

But whats the point?

To improve range of motion at a joint or flexibility.

Flexibility: The range of motion available at a joint, usually measured in a passive aspect. i.e how far you can be moved by someone else.

Mobility: The range of motion at a joint which YOU can move and control, usually measured in an active capacity, i.e how far you can move yourself using the muscles around that joint.

Something to note here is that everyone responds differently to different stimulus, some people will see good changes from static stretching and others from dynamic but for me I break them up into 2 categories, personally I like to use dynamic stretching for warm ups or general mobility improvements if I have a spare 5 mins and feel like I need to move more or better, I use static stretching for when I have a bit more time, a 5 minute dynamic warm up and then static stretching while resting in the 2 mins rest between sets of squats or whatever other exercise.

THE BREAKDOWN

STATIC STRETCHING, Muscles and Tendons respond to a principle called Time Under Tension (TUT), the more time under tension the more opportunity to adapt to the stimulus. The more time you spend under tension the longer tendons and ligaments are stressed this causes them to thicken and strengthen, muscles also have more opportunity to lengthen and become more springy.

It is taught in many practices that your ability to relax is your ability to breathe. Holding static stretches and breathing into the tight areas will more often than not help the stretched areas to relax and therefore have better lengthening, the more time the more opportunity to breath.

In todays “I want it now” culture people tend to push stretching too far, try and hold a stretch at a 9/10 on the pain scale for 10 seconds and wonder why they aren’t improving, your muscles will literally hold tension to protect themselves from damage, so stretching at a 4 or 5/10 for a longer period ( 2 or 3 minutes) often has better results.

Static stretching is also very measurable, personally I would measure when cold, just so you get a constant reading.

NERVE TENSION, Trying to stretch your hamstring and feel it in your calf? This is called nerve tension or long story short, either your nerve isn’t gliding in its sheath properly or the tension is being held elsewhere. For this symptom you either need lighter stretching for longer time, active assisted stretching such as PNF or to release the other tighter muscles where the nerve is being held hostage.

DYNAMIC STRETCHING, A great way to move through ranges of motion, get the synovial juices flowing and to connect the dots between your brain and a movement pattern.

This is typically not a long time under tension exercise, i.e you don’t swing you leg for 30 minutes and the time at the end range of motion is pretty short in the grand scheme of things.

The brain loves movement, it is one of its biggest functions and the more time we spend moving and challenging ourselves to move better the more the neutrons in the brain get stimulated and fired up, personally I have a 2 minute joint mobility sequence that I got through 3 or 4 times a day, it wakes me up, makes me feel more alive and it is a good opportunity to check in with my body and see whats going on.

In summary I think both are great and a good athlete will have both in their program, they just seem to me like they have different purposes and I use them differently myself, I may be wrong here and I am keen to hear your thoughts?

More Progress, No Training

Short and Sweet this one is.

Training for climbing is becoming huge, but many aren’t that keen to do much else other than projecting and the occasional pull ups, maybe there is another way….. This blog is for the folks who don’t want to train but still want to progress towards harder projects.

WARM UPS

Climb in a similar style to what your project is for the day, snappy precise moves? Warm up on easier climbs climbing with a snappy precise movement. In between different styles of boulders do a couple of easier ones to set your movement up for success.

IN THE GYM

If you do hit the gym focus on mobility and stability, these will often get you a lot more progress than trying to get stronger and they will also keep you a lot more injury free.

COOL DOWNS

Cool down on the wall, use this time to slowly wind down, play with a movement skill or just trying to climb better and more fluid as you warm down, your body will remember this and when you warm up next time it will be easier to get into a flow.

PLAY

The most important of all is PLAY if you are always playing with climbing, playing with movements not just trying to do things the same way everyday and having fun you will learn faster.

Enjoy :)

Climbing, Confidence and Comfort Zones

I was asked to expand on a previous blog that had mentioned risk assessment in climbing.

Standing on a slab and thoughts are running through your head, if I slip Im going to lose my face.

Overhung weird drop knee exposed position, if I fall Im going to land funny and DIE!

Firstly I feel that it terms of risk mitigation there are 2 types of injuries that happen in climbing:

  1. Maintenance, or really, lack there of. The human body is just like anything else if you want to use it and use it well, you are going to need to perform maintenance on it, elbow, shoulder and finger injuries fall into this category, you have spent 10,20, or 30+ years without the consistent loading that climbing forces upon the body, the body is not conditioned to cope with this load, you need off the wall based maintenance, you either directly or indirectly control whether these happen.

  2. Accidental, these are the unintentional falls, the knee knocks, shin scrapes or any of the more serious injuries that happens from falling. Climbing is a high risk sport, even if you climb indoors and its up to you what level of risk you choose to accept with this, you cannot control if or when these happen.

Secondly there is your Comfort Zones:

word-image-600x530.png

My first blog image… woooo

Ok, we have set the foundation for the blog and hopefully I won’t have to spend too much time explaining things.

Maintenance Based Control

Often left until pain is present, Maintenance is a sure fire way to grow confidence with how your body performs, if you know your fingers, elbows and shoulders are strong, stable and have good range of motion you will not be worried about them, you will have the confidence and experience through movement experience or weight lighting to know where your limits are, to know when you should rest or atleast move onto a different style of move.

A few things fall into this category:

  • Movement Patterns Improvement

  • Time Under Tension

  • Rest

  • Stretching and Lengthening

  • Antagonist Training

  • Healthy Eating and Hydration

It is your choice to do this maintenance before injury occurs, any maintenance based injury that you have or get is often a result of not doing enough or doing the wrong thing for the current state of your body, get assessed and make sure this is appropriate for you, doing what you find on the internet can be better than doing nothing but doing what’s right for you is the safer bet. Little tweaks and niggles are warning signs that you either need some deload time or a better rehab program.

Fear, Learning and Comfort Zones.

Each move you perform will have its own comfort zone inside your head, this is why you might do the first 3 moves of a climb without even thinking then all of a sudden move 4 and you freeze up, Slab is a really common example of this as we are so close to the wall and feet often get all volumey and slippery, get to close to the edge of the learning zone and your reptilian brain will take over and just try to “save your life” you cannot learn here, you cannot perform, this is not an area of growth for you. How often do you pull onto climbs with the sole intent of just trying to relax into a scary move, just hold the position and breath, do even think about moving just hold the position for a few seconds and try to understand it then dropping off the wall.

I recently had an experience with a high ball outdoors, On my flash attempt I got to the top and got gripped, I couldn’t relax, couldn’t move forward even though the moves were well below my maximal climbing grade, I knew it was my head stopping me, fear had taken control. I knew I had to change my intent for the next go, so I said to myself, “Im just going to climb to the top and see if I can relax there, Im not going to try topping out, just relax and get comfortable, climbing up to that point I was focused on my breathing and staying relaxed, I got to the top hung there for a few seconds and realised I wasn’t scared, nervous or gripped, I made the decision then and there to top out and next thing I knew I was standing onto of the boulder.

Often times during learning different aspects of climbing we need to change the focus from getting to the top to understanding where we are better, its not always that the climb is too hard or that we need to get stronger, it is often that we need to learn more, to understand ourselves and how we apply ourselves in every given position, change the movement pattern, body position or mindset and that will more often than not unlock the move that you are stuck on.

We need to spend more time in uncomfortable positions to be able to become comfortable in them, remember when you first started climbing heights were the issue, now you have spent a fair amount of time not on the ground and they are not so big of a deal, spending time even dedicating time to those uncomfortable positions, 10 or 20 mins a session just on trying that one move will give you more information than just trying it for the purpose of getting to the top, even if you send it but the move was uncomfortable go back, do it again and again, especially on those climbs you said you were NEVER going to do again.

And Finally

Yes, there is always a risk in climbing, sometimes its inside your circle of confidence, other times it will be so far out of it you can’t even breath, pick and choose your battles based on these 3 questions:

  1. Can I think about anything other than dying in this position?

  2. Do I want to learn to understand this move?

  3. Is the reward of learning this greater than the risk and likelihood off that risk actually occurring?

Yes to all 3 then just get too it, practice and execute.

If no to the following:

#1 Maybe its too close to the outer edge of your learning zone or you need to try at least 7 times/spend time in a position to get comfortable.

#2 If not why not? maybe it’s just not that important to you.

#3 Probably not worth doing if the risk out weighs the reward.

As always, breathing and move.

Considering Training For Climbing?

Everyone climbs for different reasons, some just to release the stress of the day, others because projecting is fun.

Here’s a few reasons why someone might consider training.

Lack Of Progress

When we started climbing it was all progress, it came thick and fast, but now its slowed, there seems to be a ceiling that you just can’t break through, well maybe its time to shake that tree, maybe its time to make a short term i.e 6 week sacrifice for some long term gain.

Training Is Fun

Learning, progress, variety are all fun, a good training program will contain all of these to some degree, never trained before? Well you are in luck! even a small change in stimulus will result in big changes. A lot of gyms these days offer climbing classes, a regular crew of people who come to train together, you can book into them with your mates and all train together for a block.

It Is Cheap

In todays online world you can train for very cheap, design your own program from an E-Book for around $20, or have something designed for you, like our basic program which is 6 weeks of training through an app starting at $120, that’s only $20 per week. Often these online programs give you some ideas as to how to train yourself.

Better Climbs

Often the better moves, most aesthetic lines and more fun climbing are on the harder boulders, at some point you are going to have to put some work in to get tot them anyways.

Lack Of Motivation

Can’t be bothered training today? Well that’s the beauty of having a plan or program, you can just turn up and execute, start with a small goal, I want to do 10% of the program today, then expand it up from there.

Time Efficiency

Short on time? Having a coach look over your technique and write a 30 or 45 minute effective workout based on building your lesser strengths is a great way to boost progress while reducing time investment.

Whats your thoughts?

CBF Training? Well Should You?

Should you stick to a full training session even though you feel destroyed? Not Necessarily……

Here’s a little assessment to decide whether it’s just CBF or if training isn’t the best thing for you today.

Total Score /25

Hydration /5 1-Dehydrated to 5 Very Hydrated (1litre per 25kg of bodyweight + 1 Litre p/h of exercise)

Nutrition /5 1-Mal Nourished/super hungry to 5 Ate Very Well (3-5 small home cooked meals per day with all food groups)

Sleep /5. 1- Very Tired to 5 Well Slept (8hrs per night)

Do You Want To Train? /5 1- CBF to 5 Super Psyched

How Sore/ “Domsy” Are You? /5. 1-Kill me now to 5 Completely pain free and recovered.

Final Scores

0-10 Training will do more damage than good, focusing that time on beefing up the other areas will get you further than training will!

10-15 A lite training sessions focusing on better movement may be the right option for you!

15-20 Some training and a lite movement session is a good idea but a hard session will knock you back.

20+ Go For It! Train hard, chase the gains.

Often times people see training to chase better performance as the only option, the thing that will get you progress, they keep beating their head against the wall with little progress when what they really need is to put the effort into what really gets better performance. Recovery.

Maybe your score is a little low to train but you are super psyched, so drink a little more water and eat something healthy, this may push you up into the next category, or maybe not quite because you are a little sore, A proper warm up with some quality movement may reduce the amount of DOMs (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) that you are feeling and wallah you are ready to train.

A training program over the course of weeks should make you tired, it should be a slow progression into fatigue, that is why they have scheduled deload periods in them, for example a 6 week program followed by a week deload but you don’t want to be so fatigued that you are feeling beaten into the ground before you even start your session, if this is happening you do not have the energy to train with quality or quantity and you significantly increase the risk of injury.

You get stronger while you are recovering, not while you are training.

Motivation?? Get Determination.

The voices in your head, listening to them is the reason you are where and who you are today….

Starting strength training because you want to be strong? Those voices are the reason you aren’t strong now.

Starting a weight loss program? Those voices are the reason you have weight to lose.

Unskilled across all wall angles of climbing? Those voices are the reason you only climbing on your favourite wall.

Let me explain a little more personally. Some of your excuses may include (but are not limited too ;P)

  • Been a tough week, I won’t train today.

  • Im too tired to train today.

  • It’s been a long day, I will just relax this afternoon.

  • This is boring and I suck at it so I won’t try too hard.

  • It’s cold today, Im just going to wrap up and stay home.

Did some of those resonate with you? Good, I hope that creates the “motivation” to read on…. Or would it be better to be determined to read on so you can learn more about yourself.

If you are starting a new venture, whether its climbing, deliberate practice of climbing, strength training or any other area of life you are wanting to improve you are going to suck at it, you are going to have the voices in your head talking you out of it, you are not going to feel motivated for a few reasons:

  1. You don’t know what it feels like to be on the other side of the fence.

  2. You don’t understand what the road ahead is going to take.

  3. You will feel insecure about yourself, like everyone is judging you.

This is why I say you need determination.

One of the simplest ways to start to build determination is to list all the reasons you no longer want to remain where you are, weak, overweight, unskilled, inexperienced, inflexible or even unmotivated….

When you start to have some wins for the new thing you are pursuing, that’s when self generating motivation starts but that won’t last either, training will get hard, you will feel like whats the point, you will feel tired beat down or even like life was so much easier before you put the effort in you have towards changing. So now what?

Back to DETERMINATION… Back to that list of reasons to change or create a new list, at least 10 reasons for you to not go back to where you came from.

You need to keep creating reasons to change, all the reasons why you are pursuing something new.

But I feel to embarrassed to do this

But I usually climb V5, V2 is too easy to practice this drill on.

But… But…. But…. But….. What?

Again, this But is the reason you have something you want to change.

Yes, you will have some voices that you are not willing to or able to ignore, this is ok, this will change over time, right now they are your core values, they are what has created you today, the trick is to listen, assess and choose to ignore the ones that are holding you back from putting in the little bit of extra effort, the ones that aren’t trying to save your life, the ones that are trying to talk you out of doing the things you need to do to progress.

Take the small wins, remember them, they will foster drive and change.

Ignoring or changing the voices that are holding you back will take practice, do 10% of the workout or 20% take that as a win.

Mindset? Why set it, when it is fluid?

This is a topic I am deeply passionate about, recently I was asked to write a blog on a couple of these topics, here’s a few of my thoughts, it was definitely a struggle to not just keep writing and make this blog an hour long read!

Nervousness or Excitement.

Happiness and Struggle.

Fear and Reality.

Frustration and Self Worth.

Competitions and Results.

These are some of the relationships of mind I am going to discus somewhere in this blog and while these are my point of view I hope they start or continue the journey of realisation for you.

What qualifies me to write this post? Nothing and Everything at the same time, I have no formal qualifications but I have done a lot of reading for myself personally to overcome the challenges faced within my mind and this has helped to form my current perspective on life and topics I mentioned above. This is at the end of the day my point of view and is not scientifically proven and may not be correct for everybody but it is what has worked for me.

Nervousness and Excitement, Competitions and Results, Fear and Reality.

Sometimes you look at a hold or a weight we have tried before and instantly a spike in nerves happens, some people called this anxiety, nervous or even fear but what is it at its core? Its excitement, well if that’s what you decide to classify it as that in your mind anyways. What do I mean?

A change in your mental state is caused by a chemical change in the brain, when it comes to Nervousness, Anxiousness or Excitement these are all very similar chemical responses, its just that our consciousness often perceives Anxiousness and Nervousness as a Negative response and Excitement as a Positive one.

The question then becomes “ if the chemical reaction is the same then how do we change our response to the reaction?” does it not?. Firstly we must understand that our current view of the world, our reality, is based on the stories we tell ourselves about the world, the conditioning of our past, often these stories are worded in definite terms like “this happened or happens because of X”, “If I do that then Y happens”. Keep an eye out when you are listening to your own narrative for “if’s” or “thens”, these are your justification statements.

How then do we change our story? We do that by changing “if” or “then” statements into questions. Let me give you and example or 2…

Statement 1

If I compete I get too nervous to perform.

2 things are happening here, 1 - its a definite statement, 2 - its a blanket statement.

Change the narrative.

I got really nervous in the last competition I was in. - Now this isn’t a blanket statement.

Did I get nervous in the last comp or was I excited? - Changed from statement to question, same chemical response, different mental perspective. This opens the door to learning and change.

Somethings to realise about competitions:

  1. In climbing you are not competing against anyone except the route setter and the emotional responses they are trying to make you feel.

  2. You can use your emotions, need to try hard? use your excitement or former nervousness to drive your try hard.

  3. People want you to succeed! The energy in the room from a cheer is electric! What you think of as them putting you down is actually just the absence of this energy in the room, it is not truly a negative.

As always, assess the risk, if you are happy with the level of risk then the only things left are am I in a physical state to perform or is my mindset in the right place. if you are not happy with the level of risk then choose not to perform and be ok with that.

Happiness and Struggle, Frustration and Self Worth.

Happiness or joy isn’t the absence of pain, it is found through pain. Each of us finds our battles in our own way and each of us chooses every battle we face.

There’s a term called Extreme Ownership, it’s even a book by Jocko Willink, everything that you are facing right now is a result of who you are right now. We must accept ownership of everything that happens in our life to be able to change said thing.

“The weights to heavy for me to pick up” or “Im not strong enough to pick that weight up”.

“slab climbing isn’t for me” or “I don’t understand slab climbing”

2 very different meanings to the same statement, 1 that sounds like its out of your control and the other sounds like there’s something you can do about it.

If you are constantly giving away you control over any given situation you are lowering your ability to control your self worth, give away your car you can no longer call it yours. I have seen many many people stuck in a place of frustration in a world where they are not willing to accept or take back that ownership.

The bigger the struggle we choose to overcome the greater the joy as we learn what we needed too.

I think ultimately with sports we fail for only 2 reasons, mental or physical.

You are either in the right headspace to perform or you are not, either in the right physical condition or not.

A trick of the mind is that we think we need to feel progress as it happens in order to be obtaining “happiness” but this just isn’t true, if it was there wouldn’t be such a thing as a break through. Sometimes you must choose to follow the path you cannot see progress or feel a sense of moving forward to be ok with not knowing and to understand that somewhere in this darkness there is break through moments or light.

Sometimes you can’t even tell where the light or the darkness is for you and it takes someone such as a coach to help identify this for you and to guide you through it.

Theres a few markers to watch for if you want to identify an area of your life to face a challenge.

  1. Unchecked Emotions

  2. Definite Statements

  3. Repetitive Mistakes

Im going to leave this one here because I want to keep my blogs short, Mindset is something I can talk about forever and if I don’t stop now, I never will. Its something that will come back in another blog in the near future.

10 Reasons To Train For Climbing

Im often talking with climbers about training and whether training program x or y is right for their goals.

Heres a few of my thoughts as to how training can benefit climbers.

Training for me starts and ends with assessment, I honestly believe that you cant call workouts training without them. Training means following a plan.

For a plan to be effective you need to know a few things:

  1. Where you are right now, your strengths and lesser strengths - Your Starting Point

  2. What you want to achieve - Your Destination

  3. How to fill that gap in the middle

Look at it like driving from Perth to Albany at night time, when you have never driven there before.

You know where you are, You know where you want to be but you don’t know how to get there and you can only see as far as your headlights shine, illuminating the path as you go. You will get there a lot faster if you have a GPS…… or a plan.

10 Reasons To Train.

  • The quickest way to get to your destination is to assess, put a plan in place to build your strengths and lesser strengths.

  • Injury prevention, ensure you aren’t getting too repetitive with your movements or mistakes.

  • Planned sessions give you focus, get a good volume and variety of climbing in rather than just getting drawn into the new climbs or your own style.

  • Time efficiency, go in with a plan and execute, no wasted time during a session.

  • You have more chance of sending your project if you are training specifically for it.

  • Record keeping, know what has worked for you in the past so that you can change the stimulus when you start to plateau.

  • Analysis, if or when you decide to work with a coach, you will clearly be able to present what you have been doing, this will show the coach where the gaps in your training have been.

  • Over the course of training for a year or 2 you can check what you are missing, if your goal is to be a good or great climber you must get the variety of movement, technique and climbing styles in to absorb a wide variety of information to your internal movement database.

  • Understanding what program creates what outcome for you personally, you may find you get better results with a bit of endurance and strength mixed in, or more from power training with some balance work or a mixture of all things during a single training phase.

  • Motivation, sometimes you may not want to go in and do the “boring” or repetitive things, having a plan will reduce the chance of the voice in your head talking you out of climbing.

Something I have come to realise is that training or that style of focused mentality suits certain people, I have seen climbers who don’t train or rather just climb get very good, often times with holes in their climbing skills, whether its lack of power, strength, tension or some other aspect of their climbing but they are happy with that, they are happy to focus on their strengths and pursue those avenues to great lengths.

At the end of the day I train because I have things I want to climb that are outside of my current ability and I enjoy coming to the gym with a sense of purpose and direction allowing me to just focus on trying hard. Sometimes sessions aren’t fun and Im ok with that, it means I’m focusing on things i’m not good at or don’t enjoy.

Just remember to have fun, whatever that is for you.

Should climbers lift weights?

The age old question, should climbers lift weights?

A regularly debated topic, I thought I would make points for both sides, so you can make your own decision.

The 3 major reasons why climbers I have come across that climbers don’t lift weights:

  1. Its not as fun as trying to send projects

  2. Not sure how to lift weights

  3. They don’t want to get heavy

The 3 major reasons why climbers should:

  1. Injury prevention, prehab or function improvement is a requirement for anyone who wants to stay injury free

  2. Climbing is a movement sport, learning to move well on the ground with weight will benefit performance on the wall

  3. Weight lifting doesn’t mean getting heavy, strength training means strength gains without the weight increase.

Over the past 5 years of coaching strength training, I have seen basic easy weight lifting with a focus on movement improvement boost performance in every case that I have worked with. This doesn’t need to be high volume or heavy, it’s more about how you use the weight to teach you how to apply tension in different movement patterns.

There are 6 major body movement patterns:

  • Squat

  • Push

  • Pull

  • Lift

  • Carry

  • The 6th: Twisting and multi directional

The gym is one of the best ways to learn how to control and improve your movement skills, how so? You control the platform, focus, weight and the speed, these moves can easily be assessed and correctives put in place to improve them. On the wall we don’t have that option, moves are fixed, a wall angle is fixed and we are moving between holds that are a fixed size.

We don’t really have any control how far outside our own level of learning ability or capability this movement may be.

The other side of the coin

Climbing is and will always be a movement sport, we can get as strong as we like but without understanding the movement at its foundation, how to move between the holds, we will always find moves we struggle to unlock or find the flow of climbing through.

A conventional weights gym weaker climber will be forced to look for better movement on the wall because they aren’t physically strong enough to brute force their way through movement sequences.

Is there a place and time for both?

Over the first few years of climbing, progress comes faster from spending more time on the wall, climbing with the intent of moving better and understanding movement across a variety of styles and wall angles, over coming fears and learning to try hard and better, pair this with time in the gym doing prehab work such as rotator cuff strengthening, thoracic spine mobility, forearm extensors and rotational strength, pushing movements and mobility improvement is a sure fire way to progress faster and reduce the glass ceilings and injuries that are often created by just getting stronger.

After a few years of climbing, technique has the potential to be pretty good, this is a good time to talk to a coach to see what areas of your technique can still be improved.

After the first few years and some coaching, strength training can be a good way to take your climbing to the next level, eventually you will find moves that you aren’t physically strong, powerful or fit enough to be able to pull.

Whats are your thoughts or questions?

Cheers

Ash

Is Projecting Becoming A Forgotten Art?

Modern gyms are clean, tidy and there is an endless supply of new climbs, shiney new climbs that are at our flash grade or maybe just a little bit harder so we get the feeling of trying just hard enough, just long enough to make the sweet sweet taste of success from reaching the top irresistible.

Don’t get me wrong, its pretty awesome to walk into a nice clean gym with good coffee, endless climbs, new movements and the impending sense of immediate achievement of topping a climb has been the catalyst for the speed at which this sport grows.

It does raise a question though, Is real projecting becoming a forgotten art?

What is projecting at its essence?

For me it can be summed up pretty simply as - spending time to workout how to climb a climb.

This is broken into 2 major categories, short term and long term.

Short Term (new school) - The modern gym projecting, 10 climbs on the go at once, just enough attempts to almost feel frustrated, repetitive or make a few foot slips which are assigned to fatigue and onto the next, rinse and repeat, session in session out, sometimes rewarded with the sense of accomplishment when you reach the top of the 2 week project, that you whole heartily spent a small part of 10 sessions on.

Risks and rewards:

  1. Always climbing the new wall first leaves us too tired to really put an effort into something actually hard for us.

  2. Hell of a lot of fun always climbing the shiney new things.

  3. A wide variety of movement skills is accrued because we try a lot of new moves on all different wall angles.

  4. A glass ceiling for progress is created as we limit ourselves to climbs that are only just above our capabilities.

  5. We never try to learn a new hard move that is truely at our limit.

Long Term Projects (old school) - I guess I associate more with outdoor climbing, something you have tried for a few years, fallen lot, given up on, tried other things, come back to and maybe sent. In the modern gym, this could be limited to as little as 4 weeks depending on the setting schedule, so why try the really hard climbs? you’re never going to get them anyway, right?

Don’t get me wrong, I have been climbing for a relatively short time in the grand scheme of things but recently I have noticed a trend, in my own climbing and in others around the gym. Approaching climbs in the gym with the Short Term mentality, the success mentality.

A Time And A Place?

In my opinion there is certainly a time and a place for both, climbing should be fun and what is more fun than short term projects! But in the chase of progress it cannot fill the bucket, if we want to progress, I mean really progress we need to FALL ALOT! We need long term projects, but how do we make this work in modern gyms?

How To Pick Your Projects

The 7 attempt rule (This ones from the Power Company Climbing playbook)

  1. Pick a climb just above your limit, try a single move, make 7 attempts, if you make any progress in 7 attempts then the 7 attempts resets, if you stick the move then awesome!

  2. So you stuck the move, repeat this move twice more, then move onto the next individual move and go back to step 1.

  3. If you don’t make any progress on a single move then no stress, this one can be banked for next session. Move onto another move and go back to step 1.

  4. Rest atleast 3 minutes between each attempt, even at a single move, you need to be fresh to try your hardest.

Done all the moves?

Awesome! now to start linking, a good tip for this is to start at the crux or hardest move for you and go to the top, once you are successful at this sequence then add a move or 2 before the crux and head to the top again, slowly layering in the repetitive movements and growing level of fatigue will help you solidify your skills at trying moves this close to your limit.

Didn’t Make Any Progress In 7 Attempts?

Maybe this climb or this move has too many factors for you to be able to process right now, its to scary, to stressful, too hard and you are hungry, you can reduce these factors to make the move more processable in a few ways:

  1. Find a spotter, someone to catch you, reduce the stress of falling.

  2. No spotter? Practice falling, this is one of the most under practiced climbing skills, become comfortable with fall from this position.

  3. Use a better hold or footer so you can try the move with better attachment to the wall.

  4. Pull on at the end of the move so you can feel what the next position you are climbing too feels like.

  5. When you pull onto a move don’t even think of getting to the next hold, instead try and find a position between the holds you have to be able to move more controlled.

In 4 weeks you may never send but you learn’t a lot, this is the change from chasing Success to chasing Mastery.

Any questions comment below!