Case Study: Climber X part 3

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The goal of our last working session was to piece together a training plan for X. Before launching into our plan, let’s summarize what we discovered the two previous days. First, X’s strengths are

  • Physical: stamina
  • Movement: turning
  • Hold type: crimps
  • Solid route pyramid topping out at 11d
His areas for improvement can be summarized as:
  • Physical: maximum strength
  • Movement: foot precision and balance
  • Hold type: slopers
  • The process by which X learns, remembers, and executes a project

X can commit two days per week in the gym over the winter. The remainder of his time is spent instructing skiers, and in 2012 he wants to send a 12a. Remember that his indoor resource is a bouldering gym.

The first part of X’s plan is a targeted route pyramid for the 2012 season which for him begins in May. His homework for the other day was to designate those routes, and yesterday we put them into two progressive pyramids providing X with specific objectives for next year. For the winter training season he’ll need to improve his climbing in the following ways.

  1. To send 12a X will need to improve his maximum bouldering grade to V3.
  2. He needs to become more comfortable with slopers.
  3. He will need to develop a better sense of balance and the tools to manipulate it to his advantage. In other words, X will need to be able to analyze the quality of balance in a given climbing move and come up with a variety of alternatives to try and improve it. As a rule of thumb, the better the balance in a move, the less effort will be required to hold on.
  4. X needs to improve his redpoint process so it takes him fewer burns to send a project. Less burns per route means he can do more routes and advance his pyramid more quickly.
  5. In addition, X will need to maintain his fitness foundation. To sustain the workload I envision, he’ll have to retain his fairly well developed stamina. This will also help him come out of winter with a good base fitness to allow multiple hard attempts per day.

With all this information at hand it’s a simple matter to put a training plan together. X has two days per week to train so I’ve provided him alternating workouts.

Day 1

  1. Warm up by traversing easy terrain and by doing boulder problems in the V0 range. While warming up practice the silent feet exercise to improve foot precision. A full description and video for silent feet can be found in The Self Coached Climber. (15 minutes)
  2.  When well warmed up proceed directly to a 30 – 40 minute threshold bouldering session. This is how X will improve his maximum bouldering grade. He’ll work on individual moves initially at V4 with power spotting from a training partner or adding extra feet. As the move gets easier he’ll gradually reduce the power spot or eliminate the additional feet. Again, a full description of threshold bouldering is available in The Self Coached Climber. (30-40 minutes)
  3. After threshold bouldering X will work on problems in his redpoint range (initially V2-V3). In this exercise I’d like X to fully engage in learning the problem by developing and trying different sequences, looking for balance improvements, and then committing the moves to memory eventually leading to a send. Problems with slopers will be a plus. The goal here is not necessarily to send difficult problems but to develop and refine his ability to work and learn movement sequences. You can find very detailed information on learning routes in our second book Redpoint. (60-90 minutes)
  4. Lastly X will cool down for 10 minutes or so by traversing using silent feet of course! (5-10 minutes)
Day 2
  1. Warm up as for Day 1.
  2.  Threshold bouldering as for Day 1. (30 minutes)
  3. Here we diverge from Day 1 by engaging in balance refinement. X will select a moderately difficult problem; one which he can routinely send but that requires effort. On the initial ascent he’ll note how difficult each move feels. He’ll then examine each move with an eye toward improving the balance – remember that improved balance usually yields less effort. After examining and refining each sequence, X will again send the problem making a mental note of the difficulty. A full discussion of balance can be found in The Self Coached Climber. (40-60 minutes)
  4. To maintain his solid base fitness I’d like X to do 15 boulder problems at maximum bouldering grade minus 1 or 2 grades (V0 and V1 initially). For this continuous intensity repetition exercise there is no time limit for the rest interval. A full description of CIR can be found in The Self Coached Climber. (60-90 minutes)
  5. Cool down as in Day 1.

Well there you have it. A workable improvement plan tailored to the specific needs on one individual. Hope that helps you develop your own plan, but if not write us and we’ll try to help out.

4 Responses to “Case Study: Climber X part 3”

  1. Brett DowdenNo Gravatar says:

    I’ve really enjoyed seeing the step-by-step process for developing a training plan in this case study. Good luck Climber X!

  2. nordicknutNo Gravatar says:

    Super interesting write-up. I’m enthralled by your assessment process and the recommendations coming out of it. The case study shows how to apply a lot of the content in both your books, I think this will be very helpful for me to regroup this Winter and create my own training plan. Thanks for posting!

  3. Dan HagueNo Gravatar says:

    Glad you enjoyed the posts. It was my intent to showcase the process in the hopes that it could help climbers such as you create effective plans for winter. Good luck!

  4. Brendan NicholsonNo Gravatar says:

    Great to see a training plan based around movement refinement rather than hang boards and campus boards.

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