3 January 2011

Base training detail

I was just talking on my main blog about my own training over the past few weeks, building a base of strength and addressing various fitness/physiological issues at the start of the new year. Various folk have asked I elaborate a bit on this.

The normal progression of a new macrocycle is generally to begin with high volume, low amplitude work (with oscillations within smaller cycles) and gradually progress to higher intensity work with more rest as you get closer to when you need the fitness for your goal routes.

If you live in the northern UK then the dark months of Nov-Jan of are a good time to mark one training season’s end and begin again with a new period of foundation training. The tricky thing for most is resisting the temptation to rest and have a mini ‘peak’ because something (like Gritstone) happens to be also in condition right now. The decisions about the trade off between short term ‘peaks’ and long term progress are totally down to you. But the detail of that is another blog post…

If you have a ‘dead’ month or two and want to do a base training phase then usually keeping the intensity low and progressively increasing volume to a high level is the thing to do. The idea is to get your body used to a high training load. But increasing volume rather than intensity is less injurious than racking up intensity early on. It’s also a great (essential if you are advanced) time to address any strength deficits, niggling causes of recurrent injury or technical flaws you might have. For girls this might be a little weights or pull-ups to strengthen comparatively weak shoulders and arms. For guys this is likely to be rotator-cuff exercises and stretches to realign gorilla shoulders (I’m doing this 90 mins per day right now).

High volume means doing something every day, even at an intermediate level. But because intensity is low, rather than feeling wasted, you’ll probably feel really good. Certainly this phase for me leaves me feeling fit, refreshed and highly motivated for the training that follows in February and beyond.

Some typical components for a base phase:

-Bouldering with short rests on problems/angles you know you’re bad at. No getting addicted to one problem and repeatedly thrashing at it.
-Static or CRAC stretching of the muscles around the hip joint. For men especially hamstrings and hip adductors.
-Full stretching and exercise workout to correct shoulder instabilities/postural faults.
-Repeated drills of particular moves you are bad at e.g. Foot swaps.
-Fall training on lead, LOTS of it.
-Weights to address muscle weakness or injuries.


Alison said...

Hey Dave, great blog, keep up the good work. Our bouldering season is in full swing here, but a nagging tendon issue on my little finger has prevented me from training on plastic very much. I can climb hard outdoors, for some reason only plastic holds irritate it. So my question is, I recently determined that a little weight training would be good for me as I sometimes feel like a little extra shoulder and arm muscle would help me with big dynamic moves. I noted you said that for women this can be a good thing to develop (stronger shoulders/arms). So my question is - what exercises would you recommend?


Anonymous said...

Great work Dave. Always very useful advice.
Currently starting with the lead fall training now. I'm just wondering - what stretches do you do to correct "gorilla shoulders"? Anything similar to this - http://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=119
Thanks and I hope you can be of some help.
James Oswald
P.s. sorry, I don't have a google account.

Sean said...

Hi Dave

Thanks for blog post, as always very useful.

A quick question about base training: at the moment I'm doing lots of laps of routes, sets of around four or five routes back to back, doing 200m+ of climbing per session. I get pumped (it's not ARC climbing) and struggle to complete the last routes.

The idea is to give me a good base of stamina (always a weak point) before going for bouldering and PE work later in the winter. Is this a good base training exercise, or would I be better with something else?

Thanks and best wishes,


Richie Crouch said...

Interesting and timely post Dave.

Quite apt as I am currently getting over a rotator cuff strain from ~3.5 weeks ago and have been doing roughly 90 mins a day of rotator work/light weights/stretching and corework on the ground to keep from going insane.

I was wondering if you had any experience of coming back from shoulder injuries which didn't require surgery? Do you have any recommended load progression in terms of getting back to full strength without over doing it as I boulder 99% of the time!

I'm assuming keeping up all of the above rehab/strengthening exercise is important... and guessing the climbing will be a case of progressive volume on slabs/flat walls on to steeper ground as long as it is pain free, stopping while strong?

Apologies for the long post. It's a shame your book on injuries is not out just yet! :)

Idar said...

Both my shoulders are a mess.. :P My left AC-joint is separated (but didn't need surgery) and i tend to get pain in my right. (rotator cuff issues) This fall i did my hardest boulder ever. Give it a month or two and you will be fine. Just keep out of pain, and do your shoulder excercises.

@Dave: What intensity do you recomend for the boulder session. 80 to 90% ?Each single move should feel relatively easy, but failure after 4 to 6 moves?

Anonymous said...

Hi Dave


some interesting and effective exercises here.

Good luck with Glen Nevis project. Go crush.

James Riley

Nom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nom said...

I'm officially "on it" for the first time in my life. I've been doing a lot of campus board training, assisted pull-ups on small holds, power-endurance and my initial warm-up is on the slabs at the wall (sounds weird but I'm crap on them and hate them and you always recommend getting out of your comfort zone. Falling off V2's is definitely humbling and well out of my comfort zone.)

I'm going to buy the nutrition book off your site this evening but the question I have is this:

I currently weigh 65kg and I'm 5'7" and fairly slight. I think this is too heavy and I have been 60kgs in the past and didn't look too skinny. How do you know what weight to go down to? and how much stronger/more competitive do you think 10% lighter really is?

If you are interested I can try to keep track of this and tell you when I know.

Cheers and thanks for the blogging it's always a good read.