Monday, December 27, 2010

Ice, Range of Motion, Intervals

Photo to left is of a cool "Plice" (is it a plice if it has ice?) from my bud Tom Comet. And someone needs to tell me how to put photos where I want 'em...

The Christmas tree is already showing signs of pine needle exfoliation, the sun doesn't come up until 8:30, there are beer bottles in the streets every morning and my liquor cabinet is stripped almost bare. It must be the week between Christmas and New Year, which is often a great week for ice here in the Canadian Rockies if it isn't -30. Temps are actually great, lots of friends rattling around, Happy Ice Season to everyone!

Some things to think about relating to training:

Range of Motion: You get what you train.
A few weeks ago I was in Bozeman, Montana and hit a local gym because I had no ice tools, no clothes beyond what I was wearing (thanks United!), and it was too late to scrounge. I note why I was in a gym because going to the gym in Bozeman is silly in the middle of ice season, go climbing already! But in the gym was a guy doing "pullups" by jumping up onto the bar and flexing his shoulders back and forth for ten "reps" at a go. I counted. I couldn't help myself, I asked him if he wanted to do some pullups, next thing he knew I had his feet and he was busting out legit pullups with a bit of a push from his feet. I'm a complete freak for grabbing his feet, but damn, a pullup starts with the arms straight and finishes with your clavicle nearly hitting the bar, elbows behind your front ribs. And full range of motion is not just getting your chin above the bar or bouncing your chest off the bar like a spastic, it's getting your Adam's apple (or equivalent) above the horizontal plane of the bar and at least breaking the vertical plane of the bar with your entire chin, not the dimple on the front of it. If you're a climber I think it's important to lock that top position for a brief moment, especially if you're an ice climber.

One of the best things I've learned through Crossfit is how to scale pretty much any exercise to get full or as close to full range of motion as possible. Doing one full "ROM" rep of any exercise is far, far superior to ten "fakie" reps. A good strong set of full ROM reps done with assistance are 1,000 times more useful than one "fakie" rep done without help. Use bands, use a friend, use the fancy anti-gravity machine, but for God's sake do a real full ROM pullup! Being mentally lazy in the gym will lead to mental laziness in life. STFU and do the full ROM or you'll get no respect from me or yourself, and you know it.

A quick note on "kipping" pullups: Crossfit popularized these, and they kick ass in general. I've seen many people who couldn't do one pullup learn how to do tons of 'em using this technique. But many kipping pullupers fall far short of full ROM, and the full kipping motion may be less useful to climbers if there isn't a brief pause or at least control over the bar. I did a lot of kipping pullups last year and found my lockoff strength collapsed compared to doing "normal" pullups. I now use momentum as I fully buy that theory, but try to get and maintain control over the bar, and keep active, engaged shoulders at the bottom of the pullup. Edit--the main site WODs have had a fair amount of weighted and "chest to bar" pullups in the last while, I think that would address the weak lock off issue that can come with kipping pullups. I just noted that today's workout has L-sit pullups, you can't kip those, that's a nasty workout!


We tilted the plice back to between 30 and 45 degrees overhanging. This is stellar training for both mixed climbing, and radically overhanging ice climbing, which is the current obsession that I'm training for. I can handle day on, day off on the plice, it's more than enough! Here are a few "fun" workouts we've been playing with, useful for working in groups or just keeping the motivation high:

Do a plice lap every minute for as many minutes as you can keep it up. Mentally as well as physically painful. If your plice is vertical either tilt it back a bit or add a pack with 1/4 your bodyweight in it, that'll make it hard enough that a lap every minute will be an adventure.

If you're working out with more people add more exercises. We've been doing a plice lap, then ring dips, then air squats, then back into the plice. Or thrusters, or deadlifts, whatever. Resting is useful for pure power training, but I'm becoming more and more convinced that resting is a waste of time in general when training for sport... Lots in that idea, but rest for power, go the rest of the time. Except when doing the long slow distance sessions. One of the reasons I think specificity counts in training is that "training" is a massively broad idea. Like writing, or engineering, you need to know what you're trying to do, but somehow people think one form of "training" is going to do it for them. "I do TRX." "I do Crossfit." "I do XXXX" Cool, but the definition of what you do is not in the training but in the action, not in the gym but in the real world.

Tabata Training on ice tools:

Get one of those Tabata apps for your phone (one with sound so you don't have to look at it), hang your ice tool over a tree branch, whatever, hang one-handed for 20 seconds, rest ten, repeat on the same hand eight times. This is so much fun... If you can't hang on one hand use two. I ripped this idea off Crossfit too, tons of fun protocols on there for your own training. I don't follow the mainsite WODs at all this time of year, but my training is heavily influenced by the ideas there, plus info from many other sources. Use what works, leave the dogma in the sweat pool.

Right, time to go climbing!


Marc Hanselman said...

Will- Can you elaborate (or post a link to another post) on your ice park built in the tree? This is something I've been contemplating for few years now and just saw your photo.
Thanks, Marc

Will Gadd said...

Mark, I'll try to get Tom to post up something how he did this. I've seen a few of 'em over the years, Tom did a good job, figures as he is a rigger etc!



Toby said...

Hi Will,

About the Tool Tabata (or any training, I guess) - would you advise someone too heavy/feeble to do 20 seconds one-handed to do it with two hands over just doing it one-handed for as long as can be managed?
In other words, is it better for me to bring the full exercise down to my level, or do just do what I can of the task set, or would it not really make much difference and I should stop typing and get training? (!)

Will Gadd said...

Toby, I can't do a full set of Tabata hangs one-handed, I'm too feeble also! So do your best--can you do one to three 20-second hangs one-handed? If yes then do those rounds and then put one finger of your hand on something for the next one, maybe all fingers for the next one, and when you "fail" in any one rep just get back on right away even if only for a few seconds, just keep trying to hang on!

If you can't do one round one-handed (and I couldn't when I started this year) then do 'em two-handed!

Do your best, and you should definitely stop typing and start training. Now!

Tom Comet said...

I can't take credit for the ice wall that my buddy Jonah built (pictured) but I do climb it often. I am pretty sure it is the only one in Southern Ontario but I would be happy to be proven wrong on this account.

Basically Jonah limbed the lower 30-35' of two large trees that were 5-6' apart. The trees were right next to his pond and about 10' from his back door. The pond made a great, unending water source and the proximity to his place was good for access to power (lights, pump) as well as bathroom, warm up and beer etc.

Now I wasn't there for the construction phase but this is my understanding of what Jonah did. I'd get him to explain himself but he can't work the 'ol google machine too good...

Jonah found a bunch of old chain link fence and ran that up the void between the two trees. He attached it to the trees by way of old climbing ropes and chain and anything else that was lying around. The fence gave the ice a structure to form around. He then hooked a jacuzzi pump to a length of hose and attached that to a shower head. The shower head was attached to a 2X4 that spanned between the two trees. This was rigged so that it would run up and down between the two trees by way of a simple pulley system. The pulley at top was attached to two industrial slings so that to hung dead centre between the two trees just above the top of the ice wall. This would eventually become our top rope anchor for climbing.

As the ice formed he hauled the shower head higher and higher. We were blessed with a week or so of -10C so it came together quick. At some point he added a stationary shower head at the very top as well.

The front side (climbing side) of the wall is just under vertical as the trees sloped towards the pond ever so slightly. At one point he tried to "flood" the back (overhanging) side by hanging some more ropes to give the ice something to form on to. This, unfortunately, never quite came together. Over New Years it went up to +9C. We had some awesome "plastic" ice to climb and had a lot of fun on New Years Eve but by the 1st the fence was showing through. Luckily it is back down well below zero and Jonah is ice farming away. Good thing too as it is the only climbable ice around right now.

Will keep you posted on our (Jonah's) progress...