Friday, April 7, 2017

Are You a Bodybuilder?

Are you a bodybuilder? Then why are you training like one? This is my thought when I see climbers and other alpine athletes stuck in the fitness industry ideal of resistance training, cross-training, supplemental training, etc. 
Way too many people think that somehow doing bodybuilder movements will then translate into better climbing. Many have adapted the concept of training body parts from large commercial gyms and the fitness business media. So that their non-climbing training is based on doing some form of resistance exercise for a specific body part. 

I have nothing against bodybuilders per se, however, bodybuilding and fitness model training protocols will not be the best methods to improve your performance on the rock or in the mountains.

Athletes need to train their bodys as one holistic integrated part. Athletic qualities are universal and involve accurate movement, patterning the movement, increasing the movements range of motion, increasing the strength at the ends of the range of motion, then focusing on developing speed, power and quickness.

This is so obvious when you say or write it, however every time I am in the climbing gym I see someone doing bicep curls.

Bodybuilding is not a performance sport. The point is the aesthetic development of your physic, not whether or not your physic performs well. Looking good naked does not mean you will climb 5.12a/7a+ or not.

When you train climbing, you are either improving your skills or you are improving your climbing specific fitness. The aspects of fitness that apply to climbing are predominantly, 1) finger strength and, 2) body composition.

Yes, you can use climbing to improve your body composition. However, body composition is without a doubt, first and foremost an issue of nutrition. Additionally, it makes no difference if excess muscle or excess fat limits a climbers strength-to-weight ratio. It is both excess.

All climbers are concerned with increasing their strength-to-weight ratio. You can 1) keep your strength and lose weight, 2) increase your strength and stay at the same weight, 3) combine weight loss with strength gains. So the optimal situation is to lose excess body fat and make your muscles stronger but not not bigger. Then, when you get to the right level, start slowly, painstakingly and with a long-term view incorporating climbing specific finger strength work.

I believe that until you are climbing at around the 7b / 5.12b you do not need to do any supplemental training for your finger strength. Why? because you will progress much faster by simply climbing with as much variety as possible. All the necessary finger strength will develop as your climbing skills improve. More importantly, you are allowing the critical adaptations to take place in your tendons, ligaments, joints and bones - which progress much, much slower than muscle gains. All other muscle adaptation will nicely proceed as your climbing skill moves up to the level of 7b / 5.12b or so.

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