13 May 2007

Weight loss - some numbers to educate the process

trying a project in October 2006

7 months later, 7 pounds lighter, project sent…

Over the summer I’ll be writing some essays on weight and climbing performance, but for now, here is a quick hit. The problem for many climbers is deciding whether it’s a good idea to lose weight at all. For sure it influences performance, but unless your technique is good, you might not even notice the difference if you lose a few pounds! The climbers who will benefit most from lowering their body weight are a) those who are well trained and have excellent technique but have a body fat percentage over 10% for men or more for women (who carry more gender specific fat), and b) any climbers who have are carrying some significant fat (i.e. a spare tyre).

But if you have already decided that losing a few pounds is a good idea an you are going for it. Here are a couple of handy points:

You can work out a very rough estimate of the amount of calories you need to function. Try working out the following equation. Note this applies only to adults.

Women:655 + (4.3 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) - (4.7 x age in years)
Men:66 + (6.3 x weight in pounds) + (12.9 x height in inches) - (6.8 x age in years)

Once you have done this, add 20% to the figure if you are sedentary, 30% if you do some light activity, 40% if you do some exercise most days, and 50% if you train pretty hard. This should give an estimate of how many calories you need to eat each day.

One pound of body fat is roughly equivalent to 3500 calories (kcal), so if you under-fuel by 500 calories per day, you should lose about a pound per week (with many assumptions about hormonal and other conditions!). Of course you can achieve the underfuelling either by using more calories, taking in less, or both.

Aggressive dieting is counterproductive, causing your metabolic system to start working against you by making you feel too tired to train hard and increasing appetite and adipose (fat) deposition at any opportunity.

Check out the photos above. I just lost some weight myself and it had a very positive effect on my climbing – but I have 13 years of hard technique training behind me to milk every drop of the power-weight ratio change.

Weight loss might be a red herring in certain situations for getting better at climbing in certain situations. In other situations in might be a killer advantage. Get a coach or a lot of education so you can make a good decision which it is for you. But if you decide it’s a good plan, it sometimes helps to put some numbers on things to get good data to work with.

4 May 2007

Research digest - Sleep and risk decisions

A new study published in the journal ‘Sleep’ has demonstrated that we tend to take riskier options in decision making in conditions of sleep deprivation. This has obvious relevance to climbers in the area of trad climbing and mountaineering. In fact if the effect size of sleep deprivation on risk taking behaviour is large then it’s a wonder our best alpinists are still with us! But it also has strong relevance in avoiding injury too. Knowing when to let go or adjust position in a high risk body position or move is critical for avoiding injuries in climbing. It’s no accident that climbers with poor footwork or a sloppy ‘rushed’ approach always complain the most about tweaks and soft tissue injuries, or indeed have climbing accidents.

The study found that the part of the brain associated with anticipation of reward becomes selectively more active with lack of sleep, slewing our judgements towards more risky options and away from concern for possible negative consequences.

So we can add one more reason to the list of reasons to get plenty of sleep if you want to improve at climbing and avoid injury.

This news came from Science Daily

3 May 2007


It's funny how despite just about everything can be found on the internet these days but it still seems to take bloody ages any time you want to actually find it. The websites I run (davemacleod.com, Online Climbing Coach and this blog) are information sites these days as well as just 'stuff about my climbing'. So I've been trying to find ways to help folk find easier ways to get to the type of information they are after when visiting my sites. The main thing I think people use my sites for is to find information about:

My climbing and routes
Scottish climbing
Improving at climbing, including coaching
Information about climbing injuries and recovering from them

If you can think of any others then please comment on this post and let me know!!!

I will have more time over the summer to work on my websites and want to improve all aspects of them. One of the main things will be to get a much more comprehensive information bank about climbing injuries since I get emails from injured climbers almost every day now. One of the things I’ve been doing is using an Amazon feature to create my own ‘bookstore’ to help you find good books related to climbing quickly. I’ve set up three stores:

Online Climbing Coach store: A complete catalogue of all the decent books on training for climbing ever written!

Scottish Climbing Guidebook Store: A definitive list of all the guidebooks you need to climb anywhere in Scotland in any climbing discipline.

My Favourite books! Just a fun list of the favourite books on my shelf that inspired or informed me and my climbing.

Click on them to have a look. In the future you can find the OCC store in the sidebar of this blog, and the rest on the Shop page of my main site. I’ll keep them regularly updated and try to get reviews up of new books that come on-stream. It an Amazon based thing, so you can buy any books straight from the shops if you like them. I thought it might be handy as it saves you searching through reams of pages and wondering which books are most up to date or highest quality.