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New Year’s Training: Board Climbing Week 2

A wall-focused training plan to help you push your level on the board. We discuss movement and look forward into Week 2.

The hardest part of climbing progression is trying hard. Digging deep is undoubtedly made more difficult by the extra stresses of the pandemic and general inaccessibility of the perfect training environment. Being self-motivated is not something that comes easily to everyone, but is an excellent skill to practice especially within the context of hard bouldering.

Progression, in bouldering, is dependent upon the individual’s ability to sacrifice the more social side of a training session for the uncomfortable positions training puts us in. Fortunately, climbing training is pretty fun and, after this last week, you are almost certainly feeling a little stronger than you might have on session 1 of Week 1.

To that effect, congratulations! Week 1 of the cycle is complete and it genuinely does get easier from here. Every week from here on out will more or less reflect that first week in its format. If you are on the 3-days-a-week schedule, then stick to that schedule. If you are on the 4-days a week schedule, but it feels too stressful on the fingers, drop a day and move down to the three-days a week schedule.

There is no point in digging extra deep pointlessly. Many V10+ climbers are only able to board climb 3 times a week simply due to the sheer difficulty of slick holds and a steep angle. Remember, the goal is to get as many high quality sessions as we can. The goal is not to stew in frustration until the four weeks is up. To try hard, your body needs rest. Rest, eat, stretch, then consider pulling again. If at any point you feel like you could really use an extra rest day, take the extra rest day.

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Conditioning is for conditioning. We are not conditioning. We are climbing hard and it is about to get a whole lot harder, but only in terms of moves. If anything, these next sessions will be defined more by rest and precision and slamming our biceps against the board.

Week 2:

Board Climbing

Due to the fact that each of our weeks will look more or less the same as last week,. These articles will turn their heads toward a bit of training theory each week in lou of a complex training program. The Schedule, given below, will be given each week with slight modifications but for the most part, it boils down to a few simple processes: set boulders, try boulders, rest between boulders, rest between sessions.

Expanding on this however does lead us to the first session of this week which will be different from the other sessions of Week 2.

Session 1, regardless of which schedule you are on, will have the climber coming off of two rest days. Over these rest days you will have felt sore in the lumbar from trying to keep your feet on, and very possibly through the forearms and hands as well. Day 1 of Week 2, however, will probably be your best session of the week and, as such, we are going to dish out the hardest possible moves.

Step 1: Warm Up

This will look differently for each person, but I always prefer to complete a light hangboard regimen before I pull on the board. This allows the climber to grip hard, pull hard, and move easily between the difficult holds of the difficult angle. This reduces the opportunity for injury and ensures that your fingers are properly warm before you begin.

Building on this principle, it is a good idea to climb some of the boulders you have left over from last session. Ideally, you would begin with some of the easier boulders that you have already completed and then move onto some micro-projects that require a little more tension and finger power. Continue this process until you are warm enough for limit bouldering

Step 2: 10 Moves

These will be the same 10 moves as last week. Today, it will be your goal to try to complete each of the movements. Here, you should allow yourself a reasonable mount flexibility in terma of attempts per move. 3 attempts per move, with a solid rest period between each attempt (1-4 minutes), could be suggested, but if you are close on your third go and think that you could potentially do it next try, then perhaps it is worth giving it another go.

It is not recommended to burn endlessly on any particular move. The reason for this is in the attempt constraint. By only having a certain number of attempts per move, you might be able to stimulate a sense of urgency on each attempt and that, in turn, will urge the climber to try hard on each attempt. As this is our strongest session of the week, it is important that we use the power top the best of our ability.

If you finish a move, push the holds further apart, use smaller grips, or change the foot: anything to make it just the slightest bit harder. This will allow you to have 10 moves for next week too.

Step 2a: On the Move

When working crux moves, everyone has their own process and it is important that you try and find yours. One efficient way to move through moves that feel impossible is to break them down into many little parts. To begin, you can try holding the position between the start hold and the grip that you are going to. Feel it out in an effort to determine what your body orientation might have to be to hold the position in the most efficient way. The first position you find might not be the best. If the move is hard enough, that is something worth keeping in mind.

Once you find that position, recognize that you can do the move if you are able to generate from the start hold to the next hold. Grabbing on is almost always the crux of any move. If you can hold the position and you can touch the next hold, all you have to do is hit the hold without speed (Check Bosi’s third move below) This is to say that you should try to complete the move in such a way that your body effectively stops moving once you have reached the position previously practiced in the holding of the two grips. This is a precise way to approach a move, but if it is truly limit, precision will be important.

Considering that we are becoming stronger all the time as a result of climbing on the board anyway, practicing precision while simultaneously working on our board climbing will beget high quality climbing results that will neither rely too much on finger/grip strength nor precision, independently. Instead, our practice will ask the climber to marry the two concepts in each and every movement.

Step 3: Warm Down

After finishing the 10 moves, either end your session or finish out the two hour climbing session with a warm-down period consisting of easier boulder problems. There is no need to thrash yourself. Ideally, you will be all but spent by the time you finish with the 10 moves.

Step 4: Antagonist

Push ups:

This is for the antagonist muscle training. It keeps your elbows safe.

  • 100 elbows-back, military-style, push ups. This style isolates the triceps.

Stretch:

It cannot be overstated how useful flexibility is. The more flexible you are, the less strength is required to move your feet up. To that effect, greater flexibility gives the climber a wider range of foothold options. As such there are a few areas that you should stretch specifically, and this is definitely a non-exhaustive list.

Hamstrings

  • Hand to toe-hook matches
  • Heel hooks
  • Drop knees

Hip flexors

  • High steps
  • Drop knees
  • Heel hooks

Middle splits

  • Getting your hips into the wall.
  • Middle splits are very useful. Flexible hip flexors are equally important.

Step 5: Schedule your sessions

It is recommended that you keep to the same schedule as last week unless you are reducing your number of sessions. Of your remaining two or three sessions, you should spend each of them warming up in the same way we did for Session 1, but instead of the 10 moves, consider projecting within 3 grades of your limit. Ideally you will build to climb your most difficult boulder or moves before then easing the pressure of your fingers and finishing the session with maybe one more comfortable boulder.

At first it will be easy to climb unique problems, but, before long you will likely develop ,many boulder problems that climb the same. To avoid this, build boulders of similar holds: side pulls, flat edges, pinches, etc, and, upon exhausting those options at a certain difficulty, change the format form feet-follow-hands to maybe something that has specific foot holds, or try and mixing the holds in different combinations. As you climb more on your board, you will realize that everything is a pinch of some sort, and it will be more about where the move puts your body than what the grip itself is like. In this way, be careful not to set too many ladders.

Featured Image by Robbie Phillips. Check him out on Youtube here.