Three DIY Boul­der­ing Work­outs


Whether you’re a bolt-clip­per, gearplug­ger, or peb­ble-wrestler, boul­der­ing is one of the best ways to get good. It builds power, re­fines tech­nique, and im­proves your abil­ity to de­ci­pher tricky se­quences. The fol­low­ing three boul­der­ing-spe­cific drills dis­till boul­der­ing’s most ben­e­fi­cial as­pects into fo­cused work­outs. If you’re a roped climber, add one into your rou­tine once a week, ro­tat­ing through each; if you’re a boul­derer, do all three once per week dur­ing a power-build­ing phase.


In boul­der­ing, af­ter you’ve reached a base­line strength, you won’t see im­prove­ments un­less you try things at or above your per­sonal thresh­old. With limit boul­der­ing, you cre­ate your own mini-se­quences (ver­sus pre-set prob­lems, which tend to have greater vari­ance in move difficulty), let­ting you train hard, tech­ni­cal move­ment while also fo­cus­ing on power.

To be­gin, warm up on easy ter­rain for 15 min­utes, prim­ing your shoul­ders, mak­ing large and small shoul­der cir­cles (both di­rec­tions) or work­ing with a band when you step off the wall to rest.

Now in­vent a boul­der­ing se­quence. It should be three to seven dif­fi­cult moves. The goal is to do re­peated pow­er­ful (quick, dy­namic) move­ments that force you to dead­point to poor holds. If you com­plete it on the first try, it’s too easy. If you fall off the first move, con­sider that one at­tempt. Rest two to three min­utes be­fore try­ing again, fo­cus­ing on form, power, and pre­ci­sion. Aim for five at­tempts to­tal per se­quence, and move on to the next if you com­plete the se­quence in fewer than five tries. (This drill is great for a home wall, where you move the holds in­fre­quently and can keep a few se­quences as bench­marks.) REPS: 4–5 SE­QUENCES, MAX 5 AT­TEMPTS PER SE­QUENCE; REST 5 MIN­UTES BE­TWEEN SE­QUENCES DU­RA­TION: 30–60 MIN­UTES


Lockoffs—static moves in which you pull down un­til one arm is bent, then hold that en­gaged po­si­tion to grasp the next hold with your other arm—are es­sen­tial in boul­der­ing: The bet­ter your lock­off strength, the far­ther you can reach, which is es­pe­cially im­por­tant for shorter climbers.

Once you’ve warmed up, find a boul­der prob­lem you can do con­sis­tently—usu­ally a few grades be­low your max level. As you climb, lock off ev­ery move, hold­ing the reach­ing hand just be­low the next hold for three sec­onds. This will force you to fo­cus on main­tain­ing a near-per­fect body po­si­tion to ex­e­cute ef­fi­ciently. If you didn’t have to try hard, down­climb in the same fash­ion, paus­ing the hand that’s reach­ing down to the next hold. REPS: 5 PROB­LEMS TO­TAL, REST­ING 2–3 MIN­UTES BE­TWEEN EACH DU­RA­TION: 30 MIN­UTES


Some­times it’s not a route’s moves that are dif­fi­cult, but link­ing them. That’s where power-en­durance—or the abil­ity to do mul­ti­ple hard moves in a row—comes in. 4x4s are a great power-en­durance tool.

To start, warm up on easy ter­rain for 15 min­utes. To com­plete a 4x4, pick four boul­der prob­lems three grades be­low your limit (50–80 per­cent of your max). Climb the first prob­lem four times, drop­ping off be­tween goes and re­peat­ing it im­me­di­ately or down­climb­ing an easy route back to the start. Rest two min­utes, then climb the next prob­lem the same way un­til you’ve done all four prob­lems four times each. REPS: THREE SETS TO­TAL, REST­ING 5 MIN­UTES BE­TWEEN SETS DU­RA­TION: 2 HOURS

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