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Benchmarks to help create a training plan (or just give a bit more focus!) (Read 6038 times)

KeithScarlett

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After a surprisingly extended autumn with some good outdoor action I now find myself facing a winter of (largely) indoor climbing. I don’t however think I can go with my ‘just turn up and do some stuff’ approach this time round. So I’ve decided to try and create a winter training plan and am looking for benchmarking resources.

When I say benchmarking I mean if somebody wants to climb at a certain standard (sport) then performance across different elements (stamina, power endurance, strength…) would ideally be at x level.

There are things I can do that I know will help (I do zero training currently so anything would be an improvement) but I would like some guidance on what the focus might be given a particular objective i.e. what are my weaknesses.

I have a copy of The Self-Coached and remember thinking this was really good when I read it ages ago. In it there’s a table that shows the level required across different performance areas in order to have a realistic expectation of making a quick redpoint at a certain grade. Interestingly however there’s no explicit mention of fingerboading (looking at the index).

How much is that as good a place to start as any? If it helps I can post a photo of the table on here. What other similar resources are people aware of? Or is it just as valid to go with my experience / feel for what’s lacking? I did a brief search on here but didn't come up with anything obvious.

Any help much appreciated!

Steve R

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. I don’t however think I can go with my ‘just turn up and do some stuff’ approach this time round.
Why not?


If it helps I can post a photo of the table on here.
Yes please, never seen it and would be interested to.

Duncan campbell

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What are your goals?

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Would focusing on technique or mental game be more beneficial?

jwi

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I have a copy of The Self-Coached and remember thinking this was really good when I read it ages ago. In it there’s a table that shows the level required across different performance areas in order to have a realistic expectation of making a quick redpoint at a certain grade. Interestingly however there’s no explicit mention of fingerboading (looking at the index).


The table in Self Coached climber looks pretty reasonable to me, but also slightly useless unless you know exactly how long the routes that are used for benchmarking local aerobic/anaerobic goals are. I guess the writer was thinking about long indoor routes of around 13-15 m using the commercial US version of the YDS for the table to make sense.

I would never ever use the fingerboard to benchmark my own strength against other climbers, just against myself. Using a non-climbing implement to compare yourself with others is an utter waste of time imho. Especially compared to benchmarking with actual climbing.

jwi

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I just took down the Self Coached Climber from the bookshelf again to make sure my recollection is correct. And now I am troubled.

The table you refer to is likely the table on page 192 which is actually a lot worse than I remember. It does not state how long the boulderproblems used to benchmark 4x4 are supposed to be, or how long the routes that are used for benchmarking are supposed to be. For the "laps on routes" benchmark it does not say how many laps and how long rest between the laps.

For the aerobic test it is not abundantly clear if the author is testing LT1 or LT2.

In short, I have seen better tables.

Better than benchmarking on a wooden edge though...

Fultonius

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Just to wind JWI up: https://strengthclimbing.com/finger-strength-analyzer/

Apparently I should be projecting 7A+ boulders, despite the fact I often flash 7A and have flashed 7A+ (outdoors, once), still dining out on that low level achievement  8)

mrjonathanr

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Debatable predictions based on very specific data are very much the domain of Lattice, if that's what you're after. Otherwise get stronger, work on technique, and see where the combination leads you?

jwi

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Just to wind JWI up: https://strengthclimbing.com/finger-strength-analyzer/

Apparently I should be projecting 7A+ boulders, despite the fact I often flash 7A and have flashed 7A+ (outdoors, once), still dining out on that low level achievement  8)

hahaha

For the OP:

Every time I suggest that people should judge their weakness or strengths on routes instead of a short wooden strip I just get looks of general in-comprehension back...

Anyway, here is my opinion for sport climbing benchmarking.

Suppose that you want to be able to redpoint most 8a reasonably quick (about 5 tries or so in any style from cruxy to long stamina plod) then you should be able to:
1. (Lactate treshold test/Endurance) Climb a 7a of 30 moves 10 times with 1 minute rest between the laps
2. (Anaerobic capacity at 80% of max/Strength endurance) Climb a 7b of 30 moves 6 times with 8 min rest between the laps
3. (Anaerobic power at 85% of max/Strength endurance) Climb an 7c of 30 moves 2 times with 30 min rest between the laps.
4. (Strength) Do a technically basic 7B of about 5-6 moves in five tries.

Translate for other levels. 8c climbers (quick redpoint) should have the levels 7c/8a/8b/8A

Personally I am disproportionally strong on test 3, spot on on test 1 and 2 and substandard on test 4.

Wellsy

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Just to wind JWI up: https://strengthclimbing.com/finger-strength-analyzer/

Apparently I should be projecting 7A+ boulders, despite the fact I often flash 7A and have flashed 7A+ (outdoors, once), still dining out on that low level achievement  8)

Apparently I should be projecting 7C+ despite never having done anything more than 7A+

Think we can agree it is a precise and scientifically unquestionable piece of technology

cheque

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Let’s not forget that being in the process of “projecting” something can be independent of whether you have a chance of ever climbing it.  ;)

shark

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Anyway, here is my opinion for sport climbing benchmarking.

Suppose that you want to be able to redpoint most 8a reasonably quick (about 5 tries or so in any style from cruxy to long stamina plod) then you should be able to:
1. (Lactate treshold test/Endurance) Climb a 7a of 30 moves 10 times with 1 minute rest between the laps
2. (Anaerobic capacity at 80% of max/Strength endurance) Climb a 7b of 30 moves 6 times with 8 min rest between the laps
3. (Anaerobic power at 85% of max/Strength endurance) Climb an 7c of 30 moves 2 times with 30 min rest between the laps.

Are these on routes you've already got wired?

moose

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My analysis came back with:

"Your upper body strength is very low.... This may limit the boulders you can climb to slabs and vertical aretes. Focusing on your pull-ups and lock-offs will let you climb roofs, overhangs and powerful boulders."

But it also said my finger strength meant I should be projecting F7c+, presumably slabby ones!  I'm now faintly depressed that SCIENCE has ruled I cannot try anything overhanging until my pull-up and lock-off game improves.

Fultonius

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Just to wind JWI up: https://strengthclimbing.com/finger-strength-analyzer/

Apparently I should be projecting 7A+ boulders, despite the fact I often flash 7A and have flashed 7A+ (outdoors, once), still dining out on that low level achievement  8)

Apparently I should be projecting 7C+ despite never having done anything more than 7A+

Think we can agree it is a precise and scientifically unquestionable piece of technology

Can't argue with SCIENCE. We all know you're an overstrong beast just waiting for the moment to strike...

jwi

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Anyway, here is my opinion for sport climbing benchmarking.

Suppose that you want to be able to redpoint most 8a reasonably quick (about 5 tries or so in any style from cruxy to long stamina plod) then you should be able to:
1. (Lactate treshold test/Endurance) Climb a 7a of 30 moves 10 times with 1 minute rest between the laps
2. (Anaerobic capacity at 80% of max/Strength endurance) Climb a 7b of 30 moves 6 times with 8 min rest between the laps
3. (Anaerobic power at 85% of max/Strength endurance) Climb an 7c of 30 moves 2 times with 30 min rest between the laps.

Are these on routes you've already got wired?

reasonably wired (you obviously don't have to have the route in test 1 particularly wired, otoh the route in test 3 should be fairly well worked out).

For max strength bouldering I just like to compare performance on single moves vs linking. I think that everyone should be able to do individual moves in 3-4 tries on a boulder half a letter grade to a letter grade harder than the boulder in test 4.

The benchmarks are from a survey I did once + a lot of tests a friend has done at various gyms around the world when he has given clinics.

Wellsy

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Just to wind JWI up: https://strengthclimbing.com/finger-strength-analyzer/

Apparently I should be projecting 7A+ boulders, despite the fact I often flash 7A and have flashed 7A+ (outdoors, once), still dining out on that low level achievement  8)

Apparently I should be projecting 7C+ despite never having done anything more than 7A+

Think we can agree it is a precise and scientifically unquestionable piece of technology

Can't argue with SCIENCE. We all know you're an overstrong beast just waiting for the moment to strike...

Given how Made in Sheffield 7A+ felt today I may wait a while for that 7C+ attack  ;D

jwi

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Just to wind JWI up: https://strengthclimbing.com/finger-strength-analyzer/

Apparently I should be projecting 7A+ boulders, despite the fact I often flash 7A and have flashed 7A+ (outdoors, once), still dining out on that low level achievement  8)

Apparently I should be projecting 7C+ despite never having done anything more than 7A+

Think we can agree it is a precise and scientifically unquestionable piece of technology

Question: if you compare yourself to others who boulder around 7A+, are you much stronger than them on holds of realistic sizes as well. On e.g. 8 mm deep crimps (which would be a pretty good hold on a 7A+ unless it is super steep) are you lots stronger than most peers?

The strength on juggy edges and medium edges is correlated but it is not a one-to-one relationship. The correlation is even weaker between juggy edges and tiny crimps. I am almost twice as strong as my better half on 20 mm flatties and she is slightly stronger than me on 5 mm incut edges.

petejh

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Indoors for the routes (as you're suggesting) probably a better benchmark then trying to do it at a typical British crag. Maybe more homogenous Spanish or French routes would work ok.

Wellsy

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I don't really know enough climbers well enough to know their ability on such holds. I know that I'm definitely stronger in terms of fingers than some friends, but I also climb harder than those people.

I can hang the beastmaker 6mms for about 5 seconds if I am allowed to engage my thumbs on the ends. On sharp incut ratty lime crimps I always feel really secure It's generally technique and lack of body strength/experience to know what I should be doing that holds me back if that makes sense? Also I suck on grit cos usually its all body positions, slaps and smears, which I'm not used to (getting better mind).

My feeling is that the idea that finger strength translates directly to grade is something that people who've climbed for years and don't appreciate how technically able they are say, because for them it's probably true. It ain't true for most people imo. Technique is more important.

Liamhutch89

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I seem to be an outlier going by comments in this forum, but finger strength on a fingerboard has always had a pretty direct correlation with my performance on rock (bouldering). Every 10% I've gained on my max hang has equaled 1 grade, and that's happened like clockwork, across 5 grades over 3 years. But I was clearly finger strength limited, so your mileage will vary.

Jwi - that's interesting about relative performance on different edge sizes. Bradders and I chatted about this a month or so ago and he has a better max hang score on larger edges and I'm a bit better on the micros. However, he is a much better climber than me so perhaps lattice are correct and a 20mm edge is the holy grail  ;D

jwi

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I seem to be an outlier going by comments in this forum, but finger strength on a fingerboard has always had a pretty direct correlation with my performance on rock (bouldering). Every 10% I've gained on my max hang has equaled 1 grade, and that's happened like clockwork, across 5 grades over 3 years. But I was clearly finger strength limited, so your mileage will vary.


No, I think most climbers can climber higher grades, especially on boulders if they get stronger fingers. (One counter example is a guy I know who can one arm the mid beastmaker 2000 slot with 20 kg extra weight in the other hand and still cannot manage to climb 7b. I doubt more fingerstrength would help in this case).

MischaHY

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Just to wind JWI up: https://strengthclimbing.com/finger-strength-analyzer/

Apparently I should be projecting 7A+ boulders, despite the fact I often flash 7A and have flashed 7A+ (outdoors, once), still dining out on that low level achievement  8)

hahaha

For the OP:

Every time I suggest that people should judge their weakness or strengths on routes instead of a short wooden strip I just get looks of general in-comprehension back...

Anyway, here is my opinion for sport climbing benchmarking.

Suppose that you want to be able to redpoint most 8a reasonably quick (about 5 tries or so in any style from cruxy to long stamina plod) then you should be able to:
1. (Lactate treshold test/Endurance) Climb a 7a of 30 moves 10 times with 1 minute rest between the laps
2. (Anaerobic capacity at 80% of max/Strength endurance) Climb a 7b of 30 moves 6 times with 8 min rest between the laps
3. (Anaerobic power at 85% of max/Strength endurance) Climb an 7c of 30 moves 2 times with 30 min rest between the laps.
4. (Strength) Do a technically basic 7B of about 5-6 moves in five tries.

Translate for other levels. 8c climbers (quick redpoint) should have the levels 7c/8a/8b/8A

Personally I am disproportionally strong on test 3, spot on on test 1 and 2 and substandard on test 4.

Emailed you about this as I really like how straightforward it is  :w00t:

duncan

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From a previous thread, jwi suggested the following for those aiming for a 7c in a day or a sieged 8a:

Strength:
1. You should be able to do all the moves on a sustained six move boulder @ 7A-7B within two sessions
2. You should be able to boulder 6C-7A regardless of length (3 to 8 moves)

Strength endurance:
3. Climb three consecutive boulder problems ~6B with ≤10 s rest between them. Repeat 6 times with 6 min rest.

Threshold:
4. Climb a 30 move 7a-7b 8 times in a row with 6 min rest between them.

Endurance:
5. You should be able to do a 30 move sustained route of grade 6c-7a ten times with one minute rest between the goes. (A single fall on each of the two last laps is OK)

If your are on the strong side (can do 7A boulder of all lengths) it's ok to have less good endurance (ten laps on 6c), and vice versa. Select route accordingly.       




Can this be extrapolated down: eg to 7b by knocking a couple of grades off each criteria? My impression is nonspecific benchmarks (eg fingerboard tests) become almost irrelevant at lower grades but climbing ones should still work to some extent.




jwi

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From a previous thread, jwi suggested the following for those aiming for a 7c in a day or a sieged 8a:

Strength:
1. You should be able to do all the moves on a sustained six move boulder @ 7A-7B within two sessions
2. You should be able to boulder 6C-7A regardless of length (3 to 8 moves)

Strength endurance:
3. Climb three consecutive boulder problems ~6B with ≤10 s rest between them. Repeat 6 times with 6 min rest.

Threshold:
4. Climb a 30 move 7a-7b 8 times in a row with 6 min rest between them.

Endurance:
5. You should be able to do a 30 move sustained route of grade 6c-7a ten times with one minute rest between the goes. (A single fall on each of the two last laps is OK)

If your are on the strong side (can do 7A boulder of all lengths) it's ok to have less good endurance (ten laps on 6c), and vice versa. Select route accordingly.       




Can this be extrapolated down: eg to 7b by knocking a couple of grades off each criteria? My impression is nonspecific benchmarks (eg fingerboard tests) become almost irrelevant at lower grades but climbing ones should still work to some extent.

It can certainly be extrapolated down as the grade steps are extraordinarily even (except possibly in the highest grades where data I have checked seems to indicate that there is significant inflation — but as there is something called grave methodological error and I am not convinced I have not committed one I have not yet written anything on this).

I suspect that if you go down below 6b, 6c as goal for quick rp the test battery is also going to be difficult to administer as it starts to be hard to find sustained slightly overhanging correctly graded 5a routes.

abarro81

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In my experience, if you already understand your climbing reasonably well then most tests/benchmarks will just tell you what you already know, e.g. that you're strong but a bit unfit, or good at short PE but bad ant full-on enduro, or that you're disproportionately strong 1-arming an edge etc... Most of the time people know this stuff about their own climbing, especially if you ask for the views of a few thoughtful friends too.

There are rare exceptions, e.g. where I've wondered whether people are "genuinely unfit" or just "apparently unfit" (i.e. have the physiological fitness but are bad at relaxing, pacing, climbing well on endurance routes etc.). Here tests can be useful - I know two such people who used a critical force test, one was genuinely unfit (so now knows to do more fitness training), the other was actually quite fit so now knows their main priority is learning to climb well in that style.

As an aside, I find it incredibly annoying when people who test weak 1-armed on a 20mm edge half-crimp but are v strong on other grips or, say, crimping small edges, then go on instagram to faux-modest brag about how weak their fingers are vs their grade (usually on crimpy routes). I can only assume they're really fuckin' dumb and haven't realised that finger strength is a multi-faceted thing.

Stu Littlefair

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To follow up on Alex's point, I'm a little bit confused by the rationale behind JWI's benchmark scheme. There are many many shortcomings of benchmarking on a wooden edge, but I would have thought that the one place it does excel is to evaluate a climber's relative ability in various endurance zones (e.g long endurance, short endurance, etc, or aero/ancap if you prefer)?

Something like a critical force test in fact has many advantages over the testing JWI suggests:

1) It can be done in a single session, rather than over 4 days;
2) It's standardised, whereas JWIs test is buggered if your chosen route for test X is soft/hard/reachy/etc*;
3) It totally isolates the physical components, so can reveal if you actually lack physical fitness or just climb inefficiently.

There are many ways in which comparing yourself to other climbers by hanging on a wooden edge can be dumb. Especially so if you measure finger strength on a single hold and think that tells you much about what you should train. But if you are trying to decide on what type of endurance to train (or whether to train something else instead), it seems better to me...

*JWI's test 1 is the clearest indication of this to me. I'd place myself in the "quick 8c" area, but the idea of doing 10 laps of 7c on the minute horrifies me - if we are talking about a 30 move 7c indoors. Outdoors it ranges from plain impossible to something that wouldn't make me break a sweat, depending on the 7c.

 

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