How I maximise my training potential

How I maximise my training potential

Sports science tells us that there are certain underlying rules that govern how we can train for best effect with physical hobbies.  What is striking when we look at the training professional athletes do, is how bloody much of it they do.  Its not like I am unwilling: I just haven't got the time that these lucky bastards have, with their twenty mile runs, and ice-baths and heart monitors.

Instead I have to cunningly use a few tweaks to maximise my training potential, so I can achieve my claim to super-humanity in the narrow highly specialised field of climbing something it is usually quicker to walk around.

As if living in Norfolk's desert of unclimeable geology wasn't enough, its not like I am near Highball, the best of the indoor walls. Oh no.  Norfolk is England's fourth largest county and it takes me an hour to drive in from where I live in Thetford Forest.  As I have a family, and have to work - admittedly as little as possible- it is not possible for me to climb more than two or three times a week.

I religiously climb on Tuesday and Thursday nights.  I have to duck Monday nights as it is a club night and just too sociable.  I invariably get caught up in chats with non-climbing related subjects like Land Rovers and Brewing, thus eating into my training time.  Bear in mind that I will have driven for an hour to get there and have an hour's drive home after I am levered off the last climb by the staff.

So a typical week has
-two climbing sessions of 2.5 hours each
-two drives there, an hour each
-two drives home, an hour each.

So here are my top tips for maximising my training potential:

1.  Chat to mates while warming up

My standard warm up is planking for thirty seconds/minute, then one legged planks for fifteen seconds on each foot.  This followed by thirty minutes climbing well below my grade, at Highball on the greds, pinkles, mangoes, greens and blues.

As a marker of whether it is a low enough technical and athletic difficulty for a warm up, having a conversation about absolute shite is a good marker.  If I am failing to respond or follow the thread of whatever inane prattle I am gibbering about (it was risk assessments including ghosts last week) then the warm up is too hard.

Training gain: 15 minutes extra warming up per week

 2.  Shake hands with people to chalk up, recycle excessive chalk deposits on popular holds

I compulsively shake hands with everyone I meet, at the wall, I usually make a tour of mates who have already started to climb, thus stealing chalk from the very palms of their hands.  BEWARE!  do not shake hands with those yet to chalk up, or the excessively sweaty palmed, or this will mitigate against your time gain.  

After the initial period of handshake chalking, climb on big juggy holds which collect useful 'recycled' chalk.

Training gain: 20 minutes chalking up saved per week

 3.  Warm down on the way home.

Five minutes self serving petrol at Morrisons saves money and significantly contributes to your recovery period - well, I reckon...  Other useful techniques are steering with your legs, stretching your fingers against the horn button, stretch fingers with frequent random use of your indicators, high beam and windscreen wipers, and hand gestures to other morons on the roads.  Not sitting back in your comfy seat but instead maintaining a rigidly upright board -like driving position also helps work the core and the resulting bent elbows reduce the risk of golfer's elbow.

Training gain: 2 Hours warm down extra per week, significant increase in recovery.

4.  Open fridge using a thumb sprag.

I cannot claim to have invented this one: Becky Inch a climber from Sheffield, attributes her pushing of her trad grade to opening the fridge at work using a thumb-sprag'Everyone thinks I am mad.  I couldn't care less,' she says.
Becky opening her work fridge with a thumb sprag.

Don't forget to work the other thumb.  NB.  Her boyfriend wishes it to be pointed out that it is not technically a thumb sprag, but actually a one-handed gaston.  What do YOU think?  Don't message me.

Training gain: within 1 month have mastered an iron tendoned thumb sprag and enhanced neural connections - to the thumb.

5.   Go up the stairs using rockovers. 

Training by using drills is not well utilised within climbing training.  Dave MacLeod, in his essential book Nine out of Ten Climbers Make the Same Mistakes makes the point that badminton or tennis players might practise a shot hundreds of times per training session.  As climbers we seek often just to train by climbing, and are resistant to the idea of training by using drills.
 Realising that I could improve my rockovers, I started going up the stairs by using only rockovers, gradually increasing the numbers of steps I would rockover up, and decreasing the amount of assistance my hands and fingers provided.  Caution: this will significantly increase the sheer amount of time spent in going up the stairs: if you find it eating into primary tarining time i.e. you are missing climbing wall sessions because you had to go and get a comb from the bedside table, then you need to scale back this exercise.

 Training gain: I actually am genuinely much better at rockovers since doing this for a week.

 Get creative with these simple tips and I guarantee (not literally) your progress up into the higher echelons of elite climbing.  What is frightening is not a) that I have bothered to write this shite, or b) the amount of elite level climbers who will simply not admit to using these techniques.  What is truly frightening is that within a week some of you reading this now will actually find yourself opening the fridge with a thumb-sprag. Or one handed gaston (see caption above).