New Year’s Training: Board Climbing Week 3
A wall-focused training plan to help you push your level on the board. This week, we discuss video and its uses in training.
This week will follow the exact same format as last week. Today we will discuss the importance of video and how to use the video that you take.
Though it can be annoying, taking video is one of the best ways to ensure that you are completing the most efficient beta. When you are starting out, however, it can be difficult to know what “good beta” even looks like. Though everyone has their own climbing styles, there are ways of moving on the board that are standard between climbers. The Moon Kick, for example, is irreplaceable in board climbing. It is the most efficient way to move between some holds but is difficult to figure out when you have not done it before.
Due to the dynamic and positional natures of this and other moves, taking video can help the climber see precisely what they are doing wrong. Frequently, we imagine that we are climbing in a certain way, when, in reality, we are barely moving into the correct position.
To that effect, it can be easy to believe that a move is too big or too small or not correct for a certain body type. In these cases, it is useful to watch the MoonBoard Master 2017 Competition. This event displays some of the world’s strongest board climbers and their efforts to quickly overcome some of the most challenging board problems in a matter of minutes.
Though we may not be as strong as the Miho Nonaka’s and the Alex Megos’s of this competition, it is useful to see which betas they rely upon in given situations. There is rarely a forced beta that cannot be adjusted to the climber’s strengths. Sometimes, all that holds a climber back from the next move is thinking that they have found the only beta. In board climbing, it is not uncommon for unconventional to be the best way up the wall.
If you are small and flexible, which holds could you match? If you are large and powerful, which holds can you skip? If you desire further training from your boulder problems, you can always climb them according to their intended beta, but a person should not limit their beta options arbitrarily. We are here to become the best climbers we can be. For most of us, climbing on a board is hard enough without removing the small tricks that make climbing easier.
There is a logic that says that the climber should only climb square (climbing without heel hooks, toe hooks, in steps, drop knees, etc.) as we should train the most difficult style, but if we are always climbing in the most difficult style, we might forget to practice problem solving.
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 the 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 amount of flexibility in terms 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 Session 1 is our strongest session of the week, it is important that we use the power to 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 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 necessary regardless.
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
This is for the antagonist muscle training. It keeps your elbows safe.
- 100 elbows-back, military-style, push ups. This style isolates the triceps.
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.
- Hand to toe-hook matches
- Heel hooks
- Drop knees
- High steps
- Drop knees
- Heel hooks
- 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 of David Fitzgerald by Sam Walker