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UpToTheOzone


May 21, 2013, 1:31 AM
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Lifting weights and the effect on climbing
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I'm currently living in a state and living a lifestyle where I don't get to climb more than once a week. That being said I've got a nice gym at my disposal (no climbing gym though). My primary goals are to become more flexible and to prevent injuries, while climbing, snowboarding, and just daily activity.

I currently am doing Yoga to improve flexibility, and I'm surprised at the muscular endurance and core building benefits that I am receiving as well. I've been lifting 2-3 times a week and doing yoga 1-2 times a week lately. I'm not necessarily trying to gain weight, but I've put on 10 lbs in the last 2 months. This is probably a combination of lifting and working a real job instead of being a ski bum and eating pbj sandwiches and clif bars exclusively.

Anyways, aside from losing finger strength, what effects will I likely see as I gain muscle? I've always had trouble gaining weight, so I'm hoping to keep it on and turn it all into muscle. I'm 6 feet tall and currently weight 178.

For anyone else who lifts on a regular basis, what exercises do you do? I've been working my core a lot... I feel like there's no such thing as having too strong of abs and they're great for stabilizing / preventing injury. I've been working my chest for opposition to my back, and also trying to avoid "the climbers hunch." And of course I've been working my legs so that long approaches and descents can be managed more easily with less of a chance for injury.

Anything I'm missing here? The descent is my least favorite part of multipitch, no lie I'd take a 10+ pitch rap over a 3rd class or worse descent


johnwesely


May 21, 2013, 7:17 AM
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6 foot 180 is already pretty heavy.


shimanilami


May 21, 2013, 12:50 PM
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It sounds to me like you spend too much time in a gym and not enough time doing the things you actually want to improve at. Being fit is, of course, better than being unfit; however, the benefits to your climbing will be tangential at best.

Sorry to tell you, but if you want improve your performance in the vertical realm, then you need to spend more time there.


Partner rgold


May 22, 2013, 9:52 AM
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A lot of people have found a modified crossfit-style weight-training program to be an effective training tool for alpine climbing. Such programs emphasize multiple full-body exercises done at intervals that tax aerobic capacity.

The benefits of such a program for, say, high-level sport climbing are nil and may even be negative.

Classical body-building is nearly worthless for climbing, and if you are one of those people who can gain weight doing this, it is counterproductive.

If you want to get better at rock climbing and can't make it to a climbing gym and can't climb outside, then your best bet is a relatively small number of exercises for shoulder health, perhaps a little leg work if you are otherwise sedentary, a little body-weight training such as uneven grip pullups, some elementary flexibility exercises, and the rest of the time invested in good hangboard routines.

You also don't seem to understand the basics. It is the chest muscles that pull the shoulders forward into the classic hunched position. Working your chest more will, of course, only exacerbate this. Suffice it to say that posture is a complicated subject and chest exercises are not the answer. I'll leave the details to those on this site with far more expertise than I have.


johnwesely


May 22, 2013, 1:29 PM
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Anecdotal evidence I know, but my posture improved dramatically after I started lifting weights and doing chest work.


Partner rgold


May 22, 2013, 1:30 PM
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Maybe so, but it wasn't the chest work that did it.


johnwesely


May 22, 2013, 1:33 PM
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rgold wrote:
Maybe so, but it wasn't the chest work that did it.

I am choosing to withhold judgement one way or another, but aesthetically, having a larger chest makes me appear to have better posture even when I am slouching. I attribute most of the better posture to actively changing the way I hold myself, but the chest work certainly did not make my posture worse.


phildenigris


May 30, 2014, 8:25 PM
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You're right about tight chest muscles pulling someone into internal rotation (rounded shoulders and upper back).

The likely reason that many climbers (particularly male boulderers that I've seen in the gym) have the same issue is tight lats. Latissimus dorsi inserts towards the front of the humerus and is an internal rotator. Foam rolling and stretching this muscle, along with strengthening external rotators should help square anyone's rounded shoulders.


isayne14tennis


Jun 2, 2014, 2:35 AM
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None of the skills or strengths obtained in a weight-lifting gym are transferable to rock climbing. There might be some very minor peripheral benefits-such as a small increase in grip strength and forearm endurance-if one were to tailor their regimen precisely for the benefit of their climbing None ambitions; however, these improvements would not have an appreciable long-term effect on oneís performance, as the specifity of the exercises means that the benefits obtained would be short lived.
From my experience, weight lifting meant weight gain, and Iíd appear at the crag at the start of the climbing season bristling with muscles after a winter in the gym, but unable to tackle climbs that would have been simplicity itself at the end of the last climbing season due to my increased bulk.
If you donít have access to a climbing gym/bouldering wall/campus board, then your best bet would be callisthenic training, or bodyweight exercises. Muscle-ups, front levers, pistol squats, the v-sit, l-sit pull-ups are all monstrously challenging and leave you perfectly match fit for climbing.


skelldify


Jun 2, 2014, 7:16 AM
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Re: [UpToTheOzone] Lifting weights and the effect on climbing [In reply to]
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I lift weights 1-2 times per week. I find that my climbing always seems to improve during a deadlift phase. I feel much more comfortable and stable climbing on overhanging terrain when I've been doing deadlifts. Can't explain it, but it's true...


phildenigris


Jun 2, 2014, 6:19 PM
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I completely disagree with the first part of your statement. Certainly there are good and bad exercise choices for climbers.

I think you contradict yourself by saying that no skills or strengths from a gym are transferrable to climbing, then advocate exercises. Adding an external load to pullups can be incredibly beneficial for strength gains.


sonso45


Jun 2, 2014, 6:52 PM
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I lift but light weights only. I try to max repititions and keep weight manageable. Definitely use more pushing of the weights than pulling, which I get plenty of while climbing.

I am one of those that can push all the weights I want and I don't get big. Tried when I was younger but now it keeps me fit.

Being fit through weight lifting and biking helps me climb better, IMO. Then again, I climb more than the OP.


isayne14tennis


Jun 2, 2014, 8:34 PM
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 completely disagree with the first part of your statement. Certainly there are good and bad exercise choices for climbers."

Name them. All the lat pull-downs in the universe will not help you to become more proficient at pull-ups, and will only slightly improve one's forearm endurance for rock climbing. Again, without the correct technique, these gains will not be the deciding factor in one's climbing success.

"I think you contradict yourself by saying that no skills or strengths from a gym are transferrable to climbing, then advocate exercises."

You'll note that my original quote was "Weight-lifting gym". The exercises that I've recommended are calisthenic exercises, not weight-lifting exercises.

How many climbs have you encountered where the climbing motion was similar to doing weighted wide-grip pull-ups? Again, the exercises I've recommended provide an excellent basis for one's climbing ability, but they do not supplant the ability to move with optimal efficiency on the rock. Weight lifting makes your muscles larger, but if you can name an application for the bench press, shoulder shrug, and military press to climbing, I'm all ears.

Most people can fire off a few reps of weighted pull-ups. It takes many months, however, to build the lat and core strength necessary to hold a front lever for more than a few seconds. It takes months to be able to do one muscle-up, and many more months to do more than one cleanly. The skills built through calisthenic training are more applicable to climbing, and this is why you'll see some of the big guns performing these exercises.

The proof of the pudding:

I had taken two years off from climbing, devoting this time to long-distance running. Because of my calisthenic training, on my first day back on the rock a week ago, I climbed a 12a my second try, and redpointed a 12b after four attempts.

Providing some context, before the climbing season two years ago, I had spent the winter lifting weights in a gym, and tried to configure my workout so that it would be climbing specific. When I got back on the rock in the spring, it took me a month of sweaty labour to hit 12a.

So, try to do one front lever, or one muscle up, and get back to me about how a climber's time would be better spent doing dead lifts and military presses.


phildenigris


Jun 3, 2014, 6:02 AM
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Fair enough, but I feel like you're creating an unnecessary distinction. You can do bodyweight exercises (is this what you mean by calisthenics?) in a weightlifting gym, and supplement them with other exercises. I'm not advocating for climbers doing military presses either.

I never said anything about wide grip pullups, just the benefit of adding an external load to pullups. Interestingly, a narrower grip appears to result in higher lat activation than a wide grip. I believe that increased strength from weighted pullups could easily come in handy when climbing, relative hand position doesn't have to come into the equation.

Maybe you can quickly add mass when you lift weights, but for many it's not so easy. Further, I think the majority of climbers have a weightlifting training age close to zero, so nearly all of their initial gains are of the neuromuscular variety.

Anyway, I'd agree with you on the benefits of front levers and muscle ups, though I feel you're overstating the difficulty of such maneuvers. But if they are difficult for people not as strong as you or I, it's appropriate to regress the exercise. RGold has written about the use of latex tubing and pulleys to artificially decrease bodyweight in order to train things like one arm pullups, but thats not the only way to do it.

Cable columns and a lat pulldown machine can be great choices for someone using them with one arm, as there is a pulling and anti-rotation quality. It can also serve as as a regression to one arm pullups.

Split squats and single leg deadlifts my prove useful for strength and balance gains requisite for advanced lower body exercises like a pistol squat.

Lastly, I'd advocate some amount of pressing (training antagonistic muscles of our pulling muscles), whether it is overhead or horizontal (bench pres). DB's are probably a better choice for climbers.

Sorry if my post came off as negative, I didn't intend that.


(This post was edited by phildenigris on Jun 3, 2014, 7:18 PM)


olderic


Jun 3, 2014, 2:31 PM
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What was your body weight before and after your climbing layoff for running?

You could spend a month (or a year) doing every possible workout - climbing, weights or whatever - or you could get the flu and loose 10 pounds in a month. When that month is up which alternative do you think is going to find you climbing harder routes?


isayne14tennis


Jun 12, 2014, 8:47 AM
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As they say, communication usually fails, except by accident; misunderstandings are intevitable in such a venue. Sorry if I inadvertently trampled on some toes as well.


isayne14tennis


Jun 12, 2014, 9:11 AM
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-170 on either end.

-In order to reach your goals, you have to cut. Intermittent fasting is the best method to get there, as you can easily shed quite a bit of weight in a very short period of time. As a general rule, athletics is made up of 20% training and 80% nutrition, and climbing is no exception. However, there will be instances when you do need to take extreme measures to get there. Itís something that is rarely discussed, but is simply the norm; it isnít a coincidence that the top end climbers are sickly thin.

-All athletes will ďcutĒ at some point in their training.


skelldify


Jun 12, 2014, 12:34 PM
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isayne14tennis wrote:
As a general rule, athletics is made up of 20% training and 80% nutrition, and climbing is no exception.

Completely disagree. Good eating, crappy training, you won't get strong. Crappy eating, good training, you'll still get strong.


Partner Jeff
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Jun 12, 2014, 12:47 PM
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skelldify wrote:
isayne14tennis wrote:
As a general rule, athletics is made up of 20% training and 80% nutrition, and climbing is no exception.

Completely disagree. Good eating, crappy training, you won't get strong. Crappy eating, good training, you'll still get strong.

I'd have to agree with skelldify--for me, training has always had much bigger improvement then healthier eating. The other factor that was huge for me when I was running twice a day for XC was how much sleep I got. It's crucial when you're training hard.


(This post was edited by Jeff on Jun 12, 2014, 1:25 PM)


ncrockclimber


Jun 12, 2014, 1:23 PM
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In my experience, the older you get the more important diet becomes. In HS and college I lived on fast food while wrestling. It never mattered, and my body fat stayed in the 10% range (lower in season when cutting weight). Now, in my 40s, i have to keep a very close eye on what i eat if i want my pants to continue to fit. I workout more today than I did in my 30s, but without limiting my caloric intake I get fat. IMHO, "diet isn't important" is only true for the young who have a naturally fast metabolism.


isayne14tennis


Jun 12, 2014, 9:35 PM
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I was answering Olderic's question regarding weight loss. Weight loss is a function of one's nutrition.

At some point in one's climbing development, it will be quicker to reach one's goals by shedding a few pounds of fat than it will be to train. When I wanted to climb my first 13b, dropping a few pounds was pivotal to my success.

All serious athletes pay scrupulously close attention to their nutrition; you cannot train every second of the day, but you can watch your diet every second of the day.


sungam


Jun 14, 2014, 6:15 AM
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Re: [Jeff] Lifting weights and the effect on climbing [In reply to]
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Jeff wrote:
skelldify wrote:
isayne14tennis wrote:
As a general rule, athletics is made up of 20% training and 80% nutrition, and climbing is no exception.

Completely disagree. Good eating, crappy training, you won't get strong. Crappy eating, good training, you'll still get strong.

I'd have to agree with skelldify--for me, training has always had much bigger improvement then healthier eating. The other factor that was huge for me when I was running twice a day for XC was how much sleep I got. It's crucial when you're training hard.
For me it's 50/50, but I am naturally a fatty (I freaking LOVE eating, have a huge appitite, and I put on weight very easily) so I could train hard as all hell but if I didn't control my diet I'd get really fat.

I actually got quite fat while living in moab and climbing every day because I was like "I can't get fat! I'm climbing all day every day!" and ate whatever I felt like.

Edit: Fat enough to make me worse at climbing despite how much milage I was getting in.


(This post was edited by sungam on Jun 14, 2014, 6:15 AM)


flesh


Jun 15, 2014, 8:11 PM
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If you can't spend time outside climbing and at a climbing gym, you can do the following. Also, if you do climb outside or at a gym you should probably do a couple one month cycles including these per year.

1. Ring flys and supa flys. In a push up position with rings barely off the ground, do a fly or do a supa fly. This is where you put your hands straight out in front of you. Combining them is best. This will make you strong at the apex of your reach and strengthen core which helps with all climbing. If you can't do it at first do it on you knees. Form is important.

2. Front levers. If you can't hold a normal one for seconds, only lift one leg until you can. Form is important, you don't need a ton of reps.

3. Weighted pull ups. Generally, if you can do a pull up with seventy percent of your weight hanging off you, you can do a one arm.

4. Hang boards. There's a study around somewhere that shows triple the strength increase doing dead hangs on a larger hold with added weight vs only going to smaller holds as you progress. All you need is a edge. 10 seconds till failure is optimal based on studies. Three sets at first with two to three minute rests working up to five sets. Hang boards are cheaper than a gym membership.

5. Campus board. Do doubles, ladders, bump ups. Three sets of two of these is plenty, each set leading with one arm then the other. Rest two to three minutes between. The distance you can cover is more important than the size of the rung. You can build a campus board for 200 or less. This if for recruitment, which activates the muscle fibers you already have. Also, it will strengthen your ability to do moves at the apex of your reach.

6. Pinch blocks, make them out of wood, hang weights off them, can do this anywhere. 10 seconds till failure is optimal based on studies. Three sets at first with two to three minute rests working up to five sets.

All of these things will improve your climbing and don't require a gym or rock.

If you have a gym, to train power, spend thirty minutes warming up, then redpoint a boulder problem or two for forty five minutes, then finish up with the above listed items split into two different days. Do half of them one day, then the next climbing day do the other half.

Yay, other than being light, all of the training you'll need for power is covered. Eat loads of protein as well. I shoot for 100 grams plus per day.

I wouldn't waste my time lifting any weights unless they are attached to me while bouldering, dead hangs, pull ups, or pinch blocks.

Doesn't hurt to end a session or two per week doing push ups till failure, one set .

For the people who claim doing pull ups is unnecessary, explain to me why after having not done a pull up, aside from climbing, for years, I could do one with `145 lbs hanging off me, the first time I tried. Therefore, weighted pull ups are beneficial. If you can do a pull up with one hundred percent of your weight hanging off you, you probably have all the pull power you could ever need. You can likely do 1 5 9 on a campus board as well, unless your shorter. I weigh 160. If you ask the question, why would I need to be able to do a pull up with twice my weight? You'll likely conclude that it's not important, which is unfortunate. It's important because you can pull your body weight faster. Think jumping to a hold, your feet cutting, the arm that's higher needs to pull up quickly in order to weight the hold you've jump to and cause more friction, allowing you to stick the move.


sungam


Jun 16, 2014, 4:19 AM
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Good post as always, Flesh.

I don't have any science to hand to back this up, but I feel like if you are doing weighted pullups you should be doing some opposition training to avoid injury/muscle imbalance.


flesh


Jun 16, 2014, 9:51 AM
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sungam wrote:
Good post as always, Flesh.

I don't have any science to hand to back this up, but I feel like if you are doing weighted pullups you should be doing some opposition training to avoid injury/muscle imbalance.



Sure, that's where the push ups till failure once or twice a week comes in, plus the flys. I should mention, I only do weighted pull ups about once a week. I'll do five reps with 70 pounds, 3 reps with 100, rest for awhile, then do 115 until failure. We're not talking many reps, low reps high weight, not very often.


bowlie


Aug 31, 2014, 12:33 PM
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I am new to climbing, so bear that in mind when reading this, but I do know a thing or two about weight training. I started when I was about 15, and if we really do learn from our mistakes then I have learned alot.

The single biggest thing I can stress with weight training is get the form down quick. Technique is just as important in strength training as it is rock climbing.

Second thing I would say is be smart with exercises. Learn why your doing something, instead of just doing it. I do plenty of exercises, but I do them for different reasons and approach them in different ways. I do the Bench Press as my main upper body pressing movement, for strength. I also do flyes, but not to gain strength. I do flyes because of a specific shoulder injury which they help. Stick to the 'meat and potatoes' exercises to begin with. Bench Press, Press, Dips, Barbell Rows, Chinups, Squats and Deadlifts. You can add in assistance exercises too, but you have to add them in for a reason, not just because. Stay away from machines.

Thirdly, you wont get 'bulky' just from strength training. It comes completely down to diet. If gaining size is something you want to do then great, eat loads and you will. If you dont want to gain size just watch what you eat. If you dont have the calories to build muscle and size you wont get any bigger, easy.

Strength training will make you stronger, which I presume will help climbing. At very least Bench Pressing will prevent a push pull imbalance, and deadlifts and squats are amazing back and core exercises. Maybe focus a bit more of your training on pulling exercises, like pullups. Towel pullups are a good variation that will help your overall pulling strength and your grip strength.

Programs like starting strength, stronglifts and 5/3/1 are all great programs and good inspiration. Good luck


(This post was edited by bowlie on Aug 31, 2014, 12:42 PM)


DouglasHunter


Sep 2, 2014, 5:22 PM
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flesh wrote:

4. Hang boards. There's a study around somewhere that shows triple the strength increase doing dead hangs on a larger hold with added weight vs only going to smaller holds as you progress. All you need is a edge. 10 seconds till failure is optimal based on studies. Three sets at first with two to three minute rests working up to five sets. Hang boards are cheaper than a gym membership.[unquote]

Hey flesh can you dig up a reference to that hang board study? I don't have it in my binders and I am not familiar with it.


flesh


Sep 3, 2014, 10:37 AM
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DouglasHunter wrote:
flesh wrote:

4. Hang boards. There's a study around somewhere that shows triple the strength increase doing dead hangs on a larger hold with added weight vs only going to smaller holds as you progress. All you need is a edge. 10 seconds till failure is optimal based on studies. Three sets at first with two to three minute rests working up to five sets. Hang boards are cheaper than a gym membership.[unquote]

Hey flesh can you dig up a reference to that hang board study? I don't have it in my binders and I am not familiar with it.

Lopez-Rivera, E., et. al. (2012): To my knowledge this is the only proper assessment of fingerboard training with actual rock climbers. There are many nice things about this study.
1. The climbers are experienced, having climbed between 8a and 8c.
2. The test is on a fingerboard and uses the half crimp grip.
3. It's a longitudinal study over 14 weeks with training periods and test periods.

In this study climbers were split into two groups training on different edge sizes using a half crimp grip. The research question asked is whether training a larger edge with weight added and then training a smaller edge at body weight (MAW-MED) produces different results in terms of strength and endurance relative to hanging the small edge first then hanging the larger edge with added weight (MED-MAW). One group started out with an 18mm edge on which they would add weight until they couldn't hang for a perceived 13 seconds (MAW). The other group hung at body weight from successively smaller edges until the edge depth was too small to hang for the perceived 13 seconds (MED). In both MED and MAW groups the time actually hung from the edge was 10 seconds. I believe the idea is to reduce fatigue for the testing period. The participants are asked to judge whether they think they could have held the hold for 13 seconds. If the answer is yes then weight is increased (edge size decreased) if the answer is no then this is the weight that is used for the training (or edge size used for training). The training then consists of two fingerboard sessions a week for both groups. The MAW group performs 3-5 sets of single hangs on an 18mm edge for 10 seconds using the weight determined previously The MED group performs 3-5 sets of singles on the edge size determined in assessment for 10 seconds.


Even though the study was designed to test order of training, the take home results are that the maximum strength gains (max weight hanging from a 15mm edge for 10 seconds) in the week 5 test are significantly larger in those participants training on a larger edge with added weight (+9.6%) against those training on a smaller edge at body weight (+2.1%).


DouglasHunter


Sep 3, 2014, 1:18 PM
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Re: [flesh] Lifting weights and the effect on climbing [In reply to]
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Flesh,

Thanks, I didn't realize you were talking about Eva's study. I do have that one. thanks for the notes, I'll do a more careful read of it now.


MED


Sep 6, 2014, 5:58 PM
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I don't have the Lopez study in front of me right now, but my recollection is that the climbers participated in significant training in addition to the hangboard exercises and that there were no controls in place to standardize this other training. Makes the results substantially less robust I would think.

Furthermore, my recollection was that all groups ended up weaker on the hangboard test on the post-measure after detraining for a couple of weeks. Hard for me to understand ending up weaker after 10 weeks of training.

I'll try to look at my copy of the study and correct my somewhat hazy recollections when I get a chance.


MalcolmX


Sep 7, 2014, 11:13 AM
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Re: [MED] Lifting weights and the effect on climbing [In reply to]
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Well, it is not a big surprise that the group who trained with added weight was better at the exercise with added weight. If the final test would have been, to hang on a small hold with only bodyweight, the results would probably have been different.


(This post was edited by MalcolmX on Sep 7, 2014, 11:13 AM)


climber511


Sep 23, 2014, 9:38 AM
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Re: [MalcolmX] Lifting weights and the effect on climbing [In reply to]
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One of the things the weight room is very good for is addressing imbalances in strength across different joints. Climbing - like any other sport - overdevelops some areas and sets one up somewhat for injury down the road. A well designed resistance training program can address this more easily than "just climbing" training. If you look at climbing as a whole - different styles such as Alpine Rock with more pack carrying etc should have different training methods than say sport climbing. Training should fit the task for which it is designed - and weight training should be a part of that. Not for a one rep max power lifting goal oriented style but a routine designed for a climber.

The term "weight training" can and often is used for a wide range of resistance training methods - some of course better than others for the goals of climbers.


skelldify


Sep 23, 2014, 9:55 AM
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Exactly! I kept reading the results, thinking "Am I missing something??"

This study is frustratingly inconclusive. They had the chance to actually discover something useful, but they screwed it up by testing the wrong thing at the end.


(This post was edited by skelldify on Sep 23, 2014, 9:57 AM)


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