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Help a boulderer gain some sport (power-)endurance (Read 1706 times)

crzylgs

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Historically I used to mix boulder+sport but for the last ~5yrs I have essentially been purely a boulderer (max grade sent outdoors 7B, probably have more in me but wasn't huge into projecting), for various reasons I've taken back to sport climbing again recently.

Very predictably on sustained sport problems I fail due to getting too pumped (forearms physically pumped, fingers turn to jelly!) rather than not being able to do individual moves or sequences. I believe Lattice call this 'aerobic power' while most others call it 'power endurance'. I'm fairly well educated on the huge array of potential training methods but I thought I'd consult the hive mind for any personal anecdotes. With that in mind two questions:

1) Which work outs / training methods have people in a similar situation found most beneficial when attempting to gain fit for sport.

2) This is more for my personal curiosity but thought it could be a fun benchmark - my mind does quite enjoy training that is measurable, its a nice little mental boost when numbers on my spreadsheet creep up over time. I'm pretty sure I remember seeing an interesting discussion on these forums (but could not find from searching) around the type of curve you get from foot on campus 1-2-3-4-3-2-1 > work=rest type workout and the implications for the range between first max effort and plateau. There might have even been a web tool you could plug numbers in to? If anyone could point me towards that discussion I'd appreciate it.

Thanks all!


Carliios

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Me and my mate would wait till a new circuit was set and then attempt to send every bloc in one go without rest and time it, we’d then come back the following week and try and beat our time, eventually that circuit would become easy and we’d move onto the harder one and do it again. I think this was responsible for improving my PE a lot.

crzylgs

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Me and my mate would wait till a new circuit was set and then attempt to send every bloc in one go without rest and time it, we’d then come back the following week and try and beat our time, eventually that circuit would become easy and we’d move onto the harder one and do it again. I think this was responsible for improving my PE a lot.

Interesting idea. Sounds like a fun 'challenge mode' varioation on 10 boulders in 10mins. Roughly how many problems were involved, what ballpark was the work time and what level compared to your flash grade were the boulders?

Don Jebus

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Personally I think it's best to look at the energy systems you are using to understand what's going wrong.

First of all a really important thing to understand is that power endurance (or the anaerobic latic system) is not hugely trainable. If you do 4 to 6 weeks work in this area you'll max it out and you won't see much bigger gains. The true gains come from training endurance (aerobic system) and max strength (anaerobic alactic system). 

More than likely it's your aerobic system that is letting you down as a boulder specific climber, as you don't use this as much when bouldering. It's this system which is often the limiting factor for boulderers who go sport climbing (myself included).

I've personally found doing arc training has massively helped my sport climbing. So doing around 30mins of easy climbing (do NOT get very pumped, a little is fine), about a 2 or 3 put of 10 effort. This will allow you to rest easier, de-pump faster, and not get as pumped in the first place.

You can do more power endurance type training along side this, but I'd only do short 3-4 week blocks, then change it up. Foot on campus is one of my favourite to do, as you said, and is very measurable.
I do 6 reps to failure, and rest as long as the previous rep. So if the first is 2:15, the. I rest 2:15. If the second is 1:40, then I rest 1:40, etc.
You can then plot this on a graph (reps x time) and it will give you a lactate curve. This shows you your ability to deal with getting pumped. The flatter the curve the fitter you are (better your aerobic system is). So to start you might be able to do 3mins 1st rep, but then 1:30 on the 2nd, 1min 3rd, and level off around 40 secs for the last 3. This means you are not particularly fit (it's a step curve). If it's more like 1st rep 3 mins, 2nd 2:30, 3rd 2:15, etc then it's a flatter curve and it shows good aerobic fitness.

If you want more info there's loads of good podcasts, the Eric Horst Training for climbing energy system ones are very useful, as was a recent lattice one with James Spragg.

Hope that helps!
 

jwi

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I broadly agree with Lord Jebus. If you are a boulder specialist it is more likely that is your base endurance that lets you down than your strength endurance—and it might not make a lot of sense to improve your strength endurance until you base is better. The exception is if you have done tons of endurance work in the past, as endurance training leads to some permanent improvements of the motor system. (The same is true for strength training, but there are just a few permanent improvements following strength endurance training).

The bad news is that improvements in base endurance takes a long time, the good new is that if your endurance is bad you don't need specific training to improve it. Anything that could reasonably be classified as endurance training will improve your endurance (just as strength training beginners can do random stupid shit and still get stronger).

I am generally very suspicious of ‘ACR’ training (unless your endurance is shit, so you can do any training as above) as it seems to break the principle of specific adaptions to imposed demand. I would at least preface any infinite plodding with a short hard boulder to make sure that the aerobic endurance of type II fibres get at least some form of training.

crzylgs

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Thanks Jebus + JWI for your detailed replies.

I definitely intend to continue doing my max strength/power work outs which mainly include in rough order - limit boulder sessions, max hangs, some weighted pull ups + occasional campusing.

Interesting that you've both highlighted general aerobic endurance as the area to target. For some reason I have (until now) also shared JWI's suspicions of 'ARC' training. However, I could easily incorporate it into my regular climbing gym visits and do it at the end of sessions as a trial.

Regarding your info on the steepness of the curve my figures were quite steep... ~1m10 > 55s > 45s> 35s> 35s > 35s. In my defense this was at the end of a rather long limit/project lead session and on a a worse campus board than I'm used to - the feet rails are small and further way than an alternative wall I've previously done this test on. I'll try the other wall (which will be my primary use) and see if there is much difference.

Bradders

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+1 to what JWI & Jebus have said.

The other thing I'd add is, if you can, just to climbing! I was doing the exact same last summer, having always been a boulderer other than a handful of routes in 2020. I certainly did a bit of aerocap work, just sessions of easy climbing 5 on / 3 off, plus 1 min on / 2 mins off foot on campus.

However, the main thing I did was go sport climbing at least twice a week throughout the summer! I did lots of volume and generally tried to do things quickly. By the end of the summer the difference was enormous.

crzylgs

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+1 to what JWI & Jebus have said.

The other thing I'd add is, if you can, just to climbing! I was doing the exact same last summer, having always been a boulderer other than a handful of routes in 2020. I certainly did a bit of aerocap work, just sessions of easy climbing 5 on / 3 off, plus 1 min on / 2 mins off foot on campus.

However, the main thing I did was go sport climbing at least twice a week throughout the summer! I did lots of volume and generally tried to do things quickly. By the end of the summer the difference was enormous.

This nicely sums up what I've been doing so far. Sport climbing a lot (still doing max hangs and some limit boulder/board session to not lose max strength) mostly indoors but i'll be having 3-4days outdoors (really psyched for this - it'll be a nice change of pace and scenery) next week and have been ending most sessions with either an aero cap workload, or the more an cap/aero pow mixture such as foot on campus or 4min on/off.

Left to my own devices I would have definitely ignored or relegated the aero cap workloads to a very marginal status, so thanks again for highlighting the importance of those. I can definitely feel the 'noob gains' just over the last couple of months since I switched back into doing some sport and am really enjoying getting into the mind state/head game and 'flow' of leading near my limit.

 

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