Friday, May 28, 2010

Dai Koyamada Interview: Climb to climb!

It's been a really good spring for interviews with top rock climbers. Climbing's "The Low Down" just did an OK one with Dai Koyamada, surely one of the all-time best boulderers on the planet. He is repeating cutting-edge problems in short order, while living in a country without very many high-end technical rock climbers (Yuji and a few others obviously are amazing, but Japan isn't Europe).

Part of becoming really good at any sport is hanging with the best in the sport, at the places in the world with the best venues for the sport. Surfers go to Hawaii, Sharma moves to Spain, Graham to Switzerland, etc. etc. That Koyamada does what he does in relative isolation is extra impressive to me. This "get together with the best" program is important no matter what your climbing level; the fastest way to go up a grade or two technically is to climb with people who are a grade or two better than you. Anyhow, in keeping with Ondra, Sharma and others, Koyamada describes his training as, yep, climbing:

For training I just climb in the gym. But I climb kick-ass hard problems and volume! And I also do campusing occasionally.

If anyone has any doubts about what basic training apparatus is required to become a stronger, better and higher-performance climber the last three links to interviews with the best climbers in the world should remove them. Want to be a better climber? Climb. Of course there's some art and science with quantity, quality and programming, but that's secondary and not that hard to figure out if just get a little guidance from a book, coach, friends, whatever, and track your performance.

Specific injuries, rehab, etc. may require gym time as Clyde Soles noted in the comments.

Personally, I'm doing some Crossfit-inspired programming for general fitness as well as short rock and gym sessions, along with paddling, mountain biking and running. Yeah, I'm a multi-sport mess, but I've got some goals that are going to require high fitness in three different sports, so stoked!!

My elbow feels good, but I am sure that if I push it too hard it will blow up, I need to build it up slowly. I'm also getting some great results with these thera-bar exercises, which is what I'm going to do as soon as I stop typing on here.

Today's workout is going to involve a short (45 minutes of movement) session at the climbing gym, followed by moving a ton or two of logs (we heat with wood, time to get next year's wood!), then driving to the Crossfit Canadian Regionals in Okotoks, which my wife, Kim, has qualified for! I'll likely run part of the course before she has at it this evening, busy day. And some kid wrestling....

strongest all

Monday, May 24, 2010

Rock climbing, Dave MacLeod's blog

There's a lot of information on the web and in print about how to get stronger for rock climbing, but very little on how to actually get better at climbing. Those two aren't the same thing. Being stronger will help, but really you need to climb a lot to get better at climbing. Anybody promising that doing any form of non-climbing training will make you a better (better means climbing harder) climber is flat-out missing the point. I really mean that: If you want to climb better then climb, and structure the vast majority of your training around climbing or climbing-based skilled movements. Why this is so hard for people to understand I don't know, but let's flip the argument around for a minute: If you wanted to be a better Olympic lifter would going climbing help you more than doing Olympic lifts? No. So why would traditional weight lifting make you a better climber? I have yet to see anyone fail on a route because they couldn't do enough bicep curls, lunges, weighted pullups, or bench press. Not once. But I have seen those with huge biceps, quads, and pecs fail on 5.9, which is a grade anyone not clinically obese, missing more than two limbs or massively brain damaged ought to be able to climb on TR after a few days of actual climbing. Enough said.

Then I finally read something that actually makes sense, like Dave MacLeod's training blog. I'm sure Dave and I could find something to argue about in terms of climbing performance, but it might take a while. Here's a quote I like from the same blog about moving fast (one component of climbing well under duress):

"Climbing fast comes from being good at climbing. And being good at climbing comes from having a lot of routes under your belt. So if you realise you are climbing too slowly on a redpoint, but can’t seem to go faster without making mistakes, there’s no shortcut unfortunately - if you clock up more routes, you’ll slowly be able to make movement decisions quicker."

Lots more there, worth a good long read.

Now it's time to start rock climbing again. I'm in sad rock climbing shape, but most of my winter injuries are healed up (I can get my feet into rock shoes again, elbows healed up pretty much, etc). I'm also paddling a fair amount through May and June, and have a hideous travel schedule in June and July, so my climbing training is going to have to be effective to get results. I'm going to post what I'm doing with my overall and specific rock climbing training time on here, which over the next six weeks will amount to about 6 hours a week of actual climbing time at the most. I aim to be back to onsighting at a reasonable (for me that's 5.12c or so more than 50 percent of the time) level by August 15, which is when rock season gets really going for me, and when I have a few big rock climbing goals to throw myself at. Giddyup.