Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Route climbing seems to becoming more and more out of focus, which is a shame as it was originally the main reason I came to Austria. The main reason is its getting too cold, and even if you can find people as crazy as you who want to do routes in this weather, when you get on the rock your fingers become almost instantly numb. After warming up, things improve a little but there comes a point in difficulty that just seems impossible to overcome. When the holds become just a little too small, and the moves become just a little to hard, and you step just a little outside your comfort zone then BOOM – suddenly you have frozen candles where fingers once were.

Perhaps I should have considered this time of year a little more carefully when making my original decision about moving. The trouble is, when things are way off in the future, you either don’t think of that time as important, or simply cant accurately imagine what it will be like. Until you are living in that specific moment, how you will feel, and what you will do are relative mysteries; well they are to me anyway. You just have to do the best you can when the time comes.

Whilst racking my brain to think of ways to keep my endurance without climbing routes every day, I remembered reading something a few years ago that some old school hero (possibly Jibe) wad said about pull-ups and their equivalent route grades. Now I don’t remember much, and there is a chance that what little I do remember is wildly incorrect, but I think the statement was “30 pull-ups on a small campus rung is equivalent to F8b+”. The thought process that followed was something like; I have a small campus edge under my fingerboard, and surely climbing an 8b+ whenever the mood takes me will be good endurance training, why not give it a shot?

The man who started it all!

So the first time I tried, it felt like the living end. The first 3 pull-ups felt good, only 10 sets of these and it’s in the bag. At about 10 pullups I hit the wall, and it wasn’t many more before all I could do was hang limply from straight arms. Before pulling on I had thought “it will be ok, whenever i get tired ill just shake out one arm and then continue” and for some bizarre reason it didn’t hit me that dead-hanging one arm is tough at the best of times ( I certainly can’t hang there comfortably) so why on earth would I be able to do it when my arms are too tired to do pull-ups!

It was over, at a number so low no one needs to know what it was. I was genuinely shocked at how hard it was, how such a simple, relatively easy movement, could become so impossibly difficult after doing a few of them back to back. But if there is one good thing about trying something new, and failing hard, its that the only way is (hopefully) up. The next day I tried again, and was marginally better, and a few days later I tried once more. Every time I tried, it felt a little easier, until I was getting close to the magic number. Finally 30 came, and the next time I did one more, then a few more , and before I knew it, I was heading towards the next mile stone.

In probably 6 or 7 sessions, I have seen almost a 200% improvement in my max reps which I find quite shocking, I wonder how long it will be before this progression begins to slow and eventually plateau, and also what the maximum amount will finally be (depending on if I can stay motivated and my elbows don’t explode). Most importantly, I wonder what (if any) impact this will have on my climbing.


Unai said...

what you do, you become. i´m sure it will work of you mix it with power exercises. all the best.

Peter Beal said...

Watch your elbows. I can't think of a better way to induce tendonitis than lots of pull-ups.

lore said...

when i started climbing i read "grimper" by the great patrick edlinger. the training charts that it featured, marked my life for the following years. there was an identical conversion chart, from pull ups to french grades. it said 28 pull ups on 1 cm edge ---> 8a.
i didn't stop until i reached the magical number, and when i finally did 28 pull ups on that 1 cm edge, at the crags the 6b+'s started falling!!!
keep it up you fucking beast.

Benedikt said...

@lore would you mind sending me this convertion table? im just curious :).

@james maybe its possible to gather some more infos like "when i finally got this and that working on my fingerboard i was able to climb font grade X..." from many different climbers and then come up with some font grade specific workouts :).. not that i think it would work that easy but im highly interested in what people achieve at specific climbing training and how it effects their overall climbing.

Ghostface said...

My name's Patrick Bateman. I can nearly do a thousand pressups a day now.

Think therefore you are James. I can't wait to see you and Keith next. I miss you hunks.

lore said...

sorry mate, i don't have the book anymore, i am curious as well, because it featured many other tests and references.
anyway the original title is "grimper" by patrick edlinger, i don't know whether it's still on the market but i'm sure if you find it it will be a pleasant reading!