Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Route Training / Projecting

            For my first training blog post I want to address the philosophy I use for training my route endurance, as well as the methodology I use to prepare for an upcoming project.  These are not new training techniques, rather, they are the ones I have discovered which are the most effective for myself.
            Before we get started, it is important to remember that motivation is key. I won't lie and say that training is more fun than climbing on real rock, but with the right elements training can be just as gratifying as climbing.
            For most people training is a bi-product of climbing that can seem more like work then fun. To keep a positive and progressive atmosphere here are a few items that I find help a great deal to keep you motivated while training:
                     Having a good music playlist
                     Tracking your progress by keeping a journal of your training and training goals
                     Having a like-minded training partner
                     Scheduling training times and dates
These items can take the "labour" out of training and help make it through those challenging sessions.


            Admittedly, my training methods are greedy. At least in the sense one will be climbing 1-4 routes/boulder problems continuously without sharing that part of the gym. With this in mind, I have a few tips to respect other members climbing.
·         Climb at hours that are not known to be busy
·         Ask the other members climbing around you, if they mind you doing your training program
·         Don't ask/ cut off another climber because your 20 minute rest is done. Wait until the other climbers are done their route and ask if you can start your training program again.
·         Know when to pick your battles. If the gym is too busy one night, try doing another style of training, or, just don't train that night.

Pure Endurance

                     Climbing partner
                     Climbing rope (preferably a short rope, to save time with pulling the rope down between climbs)
                     Harness, shoes, chalk bag
                     IPod / headphones
                     Three different routes ( Preferably close together to save time running route to route) and I will be explaining how to pick these routes later in the blog
                     Your A game ;)

You're going to hate me during your session and love me after this session. Or, maybe hate before and after.
            Before you go into a crazy training mode please remember you should not do any of these training methods more than twice a week. Most of these training methods are very strenuous and taxing on your body. Specifically, your finger tendons.
Endurance training is about pushing through that fatigue/uncomfortable zone to see how many moves you can really go after thinking, "I'm letting go." All your body wants after going through maximum torture, is a great rest day (aka enjoying tea and cookies in bed served by your loving sister). Rest days might sound lazy, but are highly recommended for tendon and muscle to recover and build. If you don't take rest days your muscle and tendon's may tear due to the high strain and lead to serious injury.

Just a typical rest day/tea date with my Lovely Grandmother ;) 

Example of my week during training season:

·         Day One - Boulder/Route climb at max level
·         Day Two - 4x4's/ Light endurance session 
·         Day Three - Rest day- Make playlist
·         Day Four- Pure endurance and maybe Campus board
·         Day Five- Boulder/route Climb at max level
·         Day Six - Rest day- Steal my mom's dark chocolate
·         Day Seven - Pure endurance/ 4x4's

Training Breakdown
1)          Warm up!
2)                   Three sets of lead climbing three routes back to back.
3)                   Take a 20 minute break between each set. Meaning, one set would entail climbing
a route up and down, without any rest between the three routes (To help save time between the climbs, the acting belayer will pull down the rope end attached to the climber, so the climber does not need to untie and retie the knot).
            The difficult part for this training is finding three grades that work best for you (try to pick routes that are the tallest in the gym). Also be sure to pick your routes before you begin each set so it is a quick transition to the next climb thereby minimizing your down time.
            Always pick the hardest route as your last climb to mimic the crux at the top of a climb. For example I climb my routes in this order-
·         Set One -5.11 - 5.11 - 5.12.
·         Set Two- 5.10 - 5.11 – 5.12 (Feel free to make any set easier or harder due to how pumped you are).
·         Set Three - 5.10 - 5.11 - .5.12. If you are repeatedly falling while climbing a route up or down, try turning it down a notch.
For example: when I'm at the top of a 5.12 and I know I won't have the energy to down climb the 5.12, I'll down climb whatever route is easier left or right of the 5.12.
Please keep safety in mind while down climbing right or left of a route. Climbing too far left or right could cause a huge swing, which could cause a injury to yourself or other members climbing around you!
Finding the perfect set might take a session or two. One last thing! If you fall, take a maximum rest of five seconds or set your own time, so you don't overdue your rests. Have fun =)

Power endurance

For Ontario climbing, power endurance is a must! Ontario routes tend to follow this equation:

Boulder problem + No hands rest or a juggy rest + Boulder problem + Rest + Boulder problem

4x4 Training

·         Stop watch
·         Chalk bag
·         Climbing shoes
·         Four different boulder problems (Preferably close together to save time running route to route)

            A great way to mimic this style of climbing is 4x4 training. 4x4 training consists of
four sets of climbing four boulder problems back to back (one would only need to touch the last hold and jump down, chalk up and run to your next problem. There is no rest between problems).             The rest between each set is determined on how long it took you to complete all four problems. An example would be:
                     Climbed 4 Problems in 2 minutes and 20 seconds
                     Rest 2 minutes and 20 second 
                     Return to climbing and repeat this process until you have done four sets

            During a set if you fall off a boulder problem and you can still reach the holds that you fell from, get back on from where you fell. However, if you can't reach the holds then go onto the next problem. The general rule of thumb is that you want to complete all four problems in your first three sets and only falling on your last set. If you don't feel "dead" at the end of your fourth set, change one problem to a higher grade. Keep changing your sets until you have found the perfect 4x4's or until the setters rudely take away your problems ;)

4x4 Breakdown
·         Set one- v6( blue tape, if your climbing at grand river rocks), v4-v5( pink tape), and one orange(v3).
·         Set Two, Three, and Four - Repeat set number one
·         If you don't feel "dead" at the end of your fourth set, change one problem to a higher grade. Keep changing your sets until you have found the perfect 4x4's or until the setters rudely take away your problems ;)


            Projecting is attempting a route/boulder problem over a few sessions or many sessions. Or one could say I'm working a project, which is a route that no one has ever sent (Sent is a climbing term meaning that a climb was completed from ground to top, without any falls or tension from the rope). But in this case I will be talking about how to work a route over a long period of time. Projecting might sound like a simple thing, but I feel there are many tricks to perfecting this process.

            Step One- Pick a route that you know you won't send your first attempt. I usually pick a route three or four letter grades higher then what I can onsight (onsight is sending a route on your first try without knowing any information about the route). An example would be, if I know I can onsight up to 5.12d/13aish, three or four letter grades higher would be 5.13d/5.14a. But again, this style suits me and everyone needs to find out what they are comfortable projecting. But try to look for a route that looks pleasing because you might be spending your next 2 or 1,019,272 sessions on this route ;)

            Step Two- Since I know I won't send the route on my first attempt, I climb bolt to bolt.
This way I won't get pumped out and it gives me the chance to sit at each bolt to see if I missed any holds or key beta. At any point where you feel that you have come across a crux move (some routes only have one, most have several), then practice doing the crux move a few times to gain the muscle memory and confidence. This may mean that a whole day of working your project may actually translate to climbing a 5 foot section of a 50 foot route just to get the beta down for  a crux move. It is important to note that chocolate and delicious beverages are excellent ways to bribe your friends to belay you during these tedious times :)
            Step Three- Resting/Recovering. Finding holds where you can shake your arms and chalk up is key!! Shaking out is to have one hand holding onto a suitable hold that allows the other arm to rest; often by shaking back and forth and chalking up your hand. During your “shake out” try to focus on not over gripping your one arm that is holding on. Don't grip the hold with 100% power, but instead try to hold with 30% of your power. Knowing how to control your grip strength is something that comes with time and experience. Also try to direct pressure on your feet/heel/knee during this time. Get creative and find a knee-bar, but those are gross and hurt too much ;)

Proper way of extending a draw( not sure why the picture keeps rotating side ways)
            Step Four - Clipping- In some cases clipping a crux bolt can be very difficult. To help with this problem you could extend the draw by putting one or two draws together. Sometimes I have to find a better stance to clip the draw, which sucks, but always better then skipping a draw for me ;) Then there is the option of skipping a draw. Only skip a draw if you know you won't hit the ground while you're climbing past the bolt! However, if deemed safe, skipping a draw can save you a great deal of energy that can be used where it is most effective.

            Step Four- Ticking holds- I find it helpful to tick holds where they're the most positive (I mostly do this for the crux, where saving energy is most critical or when foot holds are hard to see). This will save time/energy from adjusting on a hold. A trick I found is ticking a
hold that your index finger will hit. This will keep it consistent on where you need to hit every hold. Please brush off the tick marks after you sent the route or if you won't be coming back to the route anytime soon (this will help keep the route looking clean and beautiful).

            Step Five- Fighting through all the emotions and nerves during your
send!!! Keep your mind focused and you will send!!
Fighting through the Emotions/Nerves/Pain during a Project :)

I hoped everyone enjoyed my training and projecting blog. Feel free to ask any questions on my training style. Any constructive feedback would be much appreciated.


Joe Skopec