The Work­out


climb­ing. In­stead, this pro­gram fo­cuses on three po­si­tions—open hand, half crimp, and full crimp—be­cause they are the most com­mon used in real climb­ing, and they ad­dress the prin­ci­ple of “joint an­gle speci­ficity.” This prin­ci­ple says that iso­met­ric strength is gained only in a small range out­side the an­gle in which it was trained. By cov­er­ing all three po­si­tions, we’re guar­an­teed to gain strength in any hand po­si­tion one might en­counter on real rock. No mat­ter how dis­ci­plined we are about try­ing to hold an open­hand or half-crimp po­si­tion, when the go­ing gets tough, the full crimp comes into play. The idea is to train this po­si­tion care­fully in a con­trolled en­vi­ron­ment in­stead of rolling the dice when on the rock.

Find an open-hand grip that you can hang onto for 10 to 12 sec­onds. You can add or re­duce weight, but it’s best to start with a hold that you can hang on at body­weight. For the next four weeks, this will be your train­ing hold, so choose the hold care­fully. Us­ing this po­si­tion, hang for just three sec­onds.

Rest a while, some­where be­tween 10 and 60 sec­onds is fine. The ac­tual time isn’t im­por­tant. The rule of thumb in strength is this: Long rests lead to great gains in neu­ro­log­i­cal fac­tors such as recruitment and fir­ing rate; shorter rests lean more to­ward hy­per­tro­phy (mus­cle growth). Stay fresh to get strong. To fight bore­dom and con­tinue resting, stretch or com­plete an­other non-finger ex­er­cise. Fol­low the rest with a six-second open-hand hang. Rest again, longer if you need to. Fol­low this rest with an­other hang, this time nine sec­onds long. After the nine-second hang, you’ve com­pleted one lad­der of 3-6-9. The be­gin­ning of the pro­gram starts with three sets of 3-6-9 lad­ders for each hold po­si­tion. Rest as needed be­tween sets. Re­peat this pat­tern with a full crimp and then fin­ish with the half crimp, also for three sets of 3-6-9. Full crimp is trained second to en­sure you’re warmed up for it. We fin­ish with half crimp be­cause it is the strong­est po­si­tion. Ex­e­cute these moves well, re­mem­ber­ing qual­ity over quan­tity.

Do this ses­sion once more dur­ing the week. In the second week, in­crease to four sets per hand po­si­tion twice a week. In the third week, do five sets per hand po­si­tion twice a week. In the fourth week, do three sets for each po­si­tion, but add a 12-second hang so you are do­ing 3-6-9-12 twice a week.

After com­plet­ing the fourth week, as­sess your strength, and then restart the pro­gram with slightly in­creased loads, mean­ing add some weight to your hangs. Big load jumps aren’t nec­es­sary, so add weight con­ser­va­tively. If you add some­where around 2 to 5% of your body­weight each cy­cle for sev­eral cy­cles, that’s great. The ul­ti­mate goal is to con­tinue to progress over the long-term, and adding too much weight too soon will only re­sult in a plateau.

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