More Power!

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Another Monday meant another early morning at Central Rock Cambridge. Today I worked a bit more on power and footwork than on endurance. Here was the routine (the warmup is similar to last week):

  1. 5-10 mins stretching, focus on shoulders and hips.
  2. Pick a bouldering level that is two grades below your redpoint level, so for me that’s a V0. Do a V0 three times in a row. For the first one I took my time and stretched out on each hold.
    1. Do a core exercise until exhaustion. Here’s a list of the exercises I did today:
      1. Tornado situps (lie flat, swiftly bring legs up straight, bringing up the butt and into middle back if possible, twist hips, come down and then bring upper body up to a situp)
      2. Straight leg-lifts
      3. Side crunches
      4. High plank rhomboid shrugs (I just made up this name as I’m having trouble finding an example, you hold a high plank position and do pushup action just with the shoulder blades: draw shoulder blades together and chest comes down, push shoulder blades apart and chest comes up)
      5. TRX plank knees-to-chest
      6. Pull-up prep (more on this below)
      7. Bridge with alternating legs up
  3. Repeat #2 with two more V0s, focus on overhanging V0s.
  4. Repeat #2 with four V1s but only do each V1 twice, again focus on overhanging V1s.
  5. Repeat #2 with one V2, climb it only once if you flash it, climb up to three times if you don’t.
  6. Work at least 5 minutes on your project. My project is a slabby V3 so it was a nice contrast to the power prep I did. I made it about three moves past last week and am just one move from the top so I’m stoked!
  7. Hit the weight room for this circuit (if you have time repeat this at least twice, I only had time for one set):
    1. Seated tricep press low weight for 12 reps, higher weight for 8 reps (I used 15 + 20 lb)
    2. Reclined tricep press low weight for 12 reps, higher weight for 8 reps (I used 15 + 20 lb)
    3. KB lunge and row x 10 each side (I used 26 lb KB)
    4. Situps on the ball x 20
    5. Grab two weight plates (I used 2 x 10 lbs) and hold with your fingertips while doing deep lunges the length of the room x 2 (~25 paces in that gym).
    6. Pull-up prep or pull-ups to exhaustion
  8. Spend at least 5-10 minutes cooling down and stretching. Focus on releasing shoulders, triceps/biceps, forearms/wrists/hands and hamstrings + quads.

Overall this was less bouldering problems than last week (15 plus about 5 tries on my project, as opposed to 30 plus projecting last week) but since I chose overhanging routes and harder problems it was quite a workout. I also felt I could focus more on my footwork with the harder problems. V0s are so ladderish that while my intent was footwork, I mostly worked on quiet feet and played a bit with flagging where appropriate. Today I was able to do more with heel and toe hooks and I really needed to up my flagging and drop-knees and get weight in my feet to support the steep climbs. It felt really good and I can feel myself progressing and using more of my entire body when I climb.

Finally, I want to give a bit shoutout to Coach Rich of Mountain Strength Crossfit for his helpful advice on pull-ups. I believe I mentioned that I finally have started being able to do unassisted pull-ups. Well, there’s a little catch to that. I’m doing well at engaging my lats to start and then my biceps to finish but I get to a point where my biceps are pressed against my forearms and my head is barely over the bar; it’s like I get stuck. Another trainer told me I had to engage my rhomboids there so I went to give it a go and Rich checked my form. He immediately noticed a few things. Yes, I do need to engage my rhomboids, but I needed to alter my posture altogether. I need to look up (I was looking forward) and aim my sternum towards the bar. As a beginner I also need to widen my grip to start so as I pull back my elbows have space to come next to my ribs and my rhomboids engage. He has me doing an exercise where I hang in this wide-arm position, look up, point my sternum at the bar and just work on engaging rhomboids as I do continuous “mini pull-ups” (my word, not his). I will update you all on my progress, but I’m hoping this advice also helps others. This “mini pull-up” is what I mean by “pull-up prep” in my routine above.

Rich also gave me the weight plate exercise (#7F). This seems like a great exercise for climbers as it works grip strength, shoulder/back and legs.

More next week, along with hopefully an article on the importance of working antagonists. I can’t tell you how much better my hands are feeling now that I’m regularly using PowerFingers to strengthen my extensors. If you have any training tips please send them my way!

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