Trainer to the JStars: Part 1 – New Post on RCTM.com!

Check out my new post on “Trainer to the JStars – Part 1” over at RockClimbersTrainingManual.com:

“Over the past six months we’ve been extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to train one of America’s most accomplished sport climbers. I can say unequivocally that the experience has been one of the highlights of my varied climbing career. It’s every coach’s dream to work with the very best athletes within a given sport, and we are no different. While we have tremendous confidence in our program, and its long track-record of producing results for mortals like us, we’ve long ‘fantasized’ about recruiting an elite-level guinea pig for some next-level experimentation. Would it work for a top-level athlete? Can it be adapted to the full-time climbing schedule of a legit pro? There was only one way to find out, but we needed a strong climber with an open mind….”  Continue Reading

Lander Days – New Post on RCTM.com!

Check out Mike’s new post on “Lander Days” over at RockClimbersTrainingManual.com:

“The family and I just got back from a great week in Lander. If you’ve never been, Lander is a throw-back; it’s a small community at the foot of the Wind River mountain range in Wyoming, so the pace of life is a little slower, and life is a bit simpler. When we’re in Lander, for whatever reason, there is no TV watching or any of those distractions. Instead, we’re outside a lot, and we spend time with great friends. On this trip we were fortunate to stay with Steve and Ellen Bechtel, and BJ and Emily Tilden. Thanks for the hospitality!  When we first arrived, I was in the midst of my Power phase, so I sought out powerful routes to supplement my training. That’s a big reason we were in Lander in the first place, to climb at the Wild Iris…..”  Continue Reading

Unfinished Business Part 1 – New Post on RCTM.com!

Check out my new post on “Unfinished Business – Part 1” over at RockClimbersTrainingManual.com:

“In 2011, Denver climbing activist, king of psyche and all-around great guy Luke Childers bolted a stunning arête at The Armory, a compact crag at the top of Clear Creek Canyon.  Clear Creek is quickly becoming the epicenter of sport climbing on the Colorado Front Range, largely thanks to guys like Luke who have a knack for finding great new lines on supposedly tapped out cliffs.  After finishing off American Mustang at the end of March, I had a few more climbing days to spare before beginning my summer training cycle.  I was really psyched to check out Luke’s Armory arête, which looked to me like the best unclimbed line in Clear Creek . I was stoked when Luke generously encouraged me to have at it….”  Continue Reading

Focus – New Post on RCTM.com!

Check out my new post on “Focus” over at RockClimbersTrainingManual.com:

“Focus is all about summoning maximum concentration and attention at the moment it is crucially needed.  Most climbers think of this when its time to send, but the ability to summon and maintain sufficient focus is also vital during daily training.  With training cycles that last for months, often involving several weeks of training on plastic, maintaining this focus can be quite a challenge.  When I have to post-hole through two feet of fresh snow to get to the Lazy H for a workout, the moment of tying in for a difficult send may be the furthest from my mind.  Regardless, the effort & attention given to the ensuing workout, completed two months before booting up below my project, could have as much bearing on the eventual outcome as the effort put into the redpoint attempt….”  Continue Reading

Adjustable Mount for the RPTC – New Post on RCTM.com!

Check out my new post on “Adjustable Mount for the RPTC” over at RockClimbersTrainingManual.com:

“Ever since I first conceived of the Rock Prodigy Training Center, I’ve been pondering a cheap and simple mounting system that would allow for instantaneous spacing adjustments. Once the RPTC was unveiled I got a number of great ideas from other climbers. Julian Marks suggested a “French Cleat” system in this Mountain Project thread, which uses two pieces of angled lumber to create an integrated hook on the mounting structure that slides along a fixed receptacle…”  Continue Reading

Announcements! – New Post on RCTM.com!

 Check out my new post on “Annoucements!”  over at RockClimbersTrainingManual.com:

“We are very pleased to announce a new feature of RCTM.com — a user forum! This will be a great tool for interacting with each other, and will hopefully facilitate the development of a vibrant international “Community of Interest” in rock climbing training. For now, the forum is hosted on Pro Boards.com, which is a great forum site with lots of functionality. We have a link to it in the menu bar at the top of the page (or you can click here)…” Continue Reading

The Rock Climber’s Training Manual is NOW AVAILABLE!!!

The long winter is over—The Rock Climber’s Training Manual is finally available! If you’ve been waiting for this moment to order your copy, you can do so here. If you’re still on the fence, read some of the feedback the book has received here. It will probably be a while before distribution is set up and the book arrives in retail stores, so ordering online now is likely the quickest way to get your copy.

Seven towering pallets of The Rock Climber’s Training Manual arrived in Colorado on Thursday. After work I went up to Fixed Pin Publishing’s storage facility in Denver to see the goods and pick up a few crates of books. The books look great! It’s tempting to just sit and flip through it, but we still have a lot of work to do to get the books out to you!

One of seven pallets of The Rock Climber’s Training Manual. Your copy is in there somewhere!

One of seven pallets of The Rock Climber’s Training Manual. Your copy is in there somewhere!

Kate has graciously allowed me to convert our living room into a mini-shipping hub so we can get all the books signed, packaged, and shipped. We’re currently in the process of rapidly filling all the existing pre-orders (in the order they were received). I’ve learned more about the US Postal Service in the last week than I ever wanted to know. We expect to have all the pre-orders in the mail by the end of this week, and we will continue process new orders as we receive them.

Learning how to use a Pallet Jack–nothing could possibly go wrong with this :)

Learning how to use a Pallet Jack–nothing could possibly go wrong with this 🙂

The first batch of books went in the mail yesterday, so some of you should start receiving books any day now. We’re striving to get books out as quickly as we can; it’s a lot of work but it’s really rewarding. We’ve been working on this project for so long, and we can’t wait to get it out to the people we wrote it for. It’s pretty cool to see some of the addresses we’re shipping to; all over the US, Canada, Germany, Belgium, Norway, Ireland, Switzerland… Word is getting out and its very exciting.

Loading just shy of 1,000 pounds of books into my creaking Honda Civic.

Loading just shy of 1,000 pounds of books into my creaking Honda Civic.

To me this feels like the start of a big project—the project of sorting and filling hundreds of orders—but when I step back from what is right in front of me, I realize this event is also the end of a project that’s spanned 18 months. During this time period we’ve spent countless hours researching, brainstorming, writing, reviewing, and editing copy; scheduling photo-shoots, taking, selecting and editing photos; arranging, reviewing and revising layout; arranging for book reviews and marketing our concepts to climbers and media outlets. It’s been a lot of work, and we had a ton of help along the way.

Signing books and stuffing envelopes.

Signing books and stuffing envelopes.

Many people contributed time and resources to help us (see below), but first and foremost, this book never would have happened without all of the folks out there reading this blog. This project was originally conceived by the users of the Mountain Project Training Forum. They gave us the inspiration—and ultimately the motivation—to put our ideas on paper. They, along with my loyal ‘Lazy H Climbing Club’ followers, challenged us daily with questions and discussions that broadened our knowledge and motivated us to keep learning and exploring. We hope you feel like this project belongs to you as well as to us, and hopefully you can join in the modest sense of celebration (and relief) that we are experiencing today. Sometime in the future, when the dust in our shipping hub has settled, perhaps we can get together in person and share a toast to the end of this adventure.

RCTM_Acknowledgements

Designing A Transition Phase – New Post on RCTM.com!

Check out my new post on “Designing A Transition Phase”  over at RockClimbersTrainingManual.com:

“In this post I introduced the concept of the Transition Phase.  This is the several-week period during each training cycle in which you shift your focus from primarily indoor training to primarily outdoor climbing (and sending!).  Chapter 10: Building a Seasonal Training Plan from the forthcoming  “The Rock Climber’s Training Manual” thoroughly describes how to build a training plan, and it provides numerous sample plans to get you started.  These plans include these transitions, but we’ll talk about some of the “how and why” in more detail here, to help you build your own plan …”  Continue Reading

Introducing RockClimbersTrainingManual.com!

I’m very excited to announce the launch of RockClimbersTrainingManual.comRCTM.com will improve on this humble blog in just about every imagineable way.  First and foremost, my brother Mike will be an equal partner, providing his encyclopedic training wisdom.  Although Mike & I appear fairly similar on the outside, we have somewhat different approaches to training, and we emphasize different activities.  I know this community will benefit greatly from his perspective.  Mike has been completely off the grid since we started writing the book over a year ago, so this will give everyone a chance to engage with Mike again, and get his thoughts on various training and climbing matters.

Next, users will quickly notice that RCTM.com is more visually appealing, with many new, spectacular photos and a much cleaner look.  You will also notice RCTM.com is far better organized than this pathetic cluster of a website 🙂  There are categories for different aspects of training and performance, with an easy to follow menu in the website header that will make it easy for you to navigate between topics. 

Home ScreenshotThere is certainly an advertising aspect to the new site–we want people to to find us when they google “Rock Climber’s Training Manual”, we want to encourage climbers to consider trying the Rock Prodigy method, and we want the site to explain what readers can expect to get from our book.  Furthermore, once the book is available we will be selling autographed copies through RCTM.com (if you’d like to be notified once we’ve begun accepting pre-orders, go here to sign up). 

However, RCTM.com will be much more than a static marketing tool.  It will be a live blog, just like this one, with weekly posts, and other new content added regularly (for those who check in periodically to look for new blog posts, you’ll want to click on the Articles Page to see a chronological history of latest posts).   Posts will also be organized by training phases and/or performance styles, so if you just want to know about Power Training for example, it will be easy to find all the posts related to that topic on the Power page.  We’ll also use the site to solicit feedback about both the book and the program, so that we can make the second edition that much better.  If you would like to share a testimonial about your experience with the Rock Prodigy method, please do so here.

While the framework for the site is based on our upcoming book, we want the site to be interactive and constantly evolving.  Our dream is to build a community of climbing training enthusiasts who can collaborate to further the community’s training knowledge.  We really want to encourage questions, comments, and other perspectives.  Users will have opportunities to contribute content, in an effort to achieve more than a one-way flow of information.  If you have questions, please ask!  If you have an idea for an article you’d like to contribute, please let us know!  Also, if you notice any bugs with the new site, tell us.

All of the content on this blog has been migrated to RCTM.com, including all of the great comments and questions that folks have submitted over the years.  The Lazy H Climbing Club will likely be riding off into the sunset soon, so please take the time to Bookmark RCTM.com and join me on the migration to greener pastures.  In the mean time, I will post links on Lazy H for any new posts that are added to RCTM.com.  For the many folks out there who are ‘Following’ this blog, please take the time to follow RCTM.com (go to RCTM.com, and click the gray “Follow” box in the lower right corner of your browser.  If your browser doesn’t display this box, click here, scroll down, and then click the button labeled “Follow The Rock Climber’s Training Manual” on the right sidebar). 

Follow Instructions1

ORFollow Instructions2

The experience of running The Lazy H Climbing Club has been transformative.  It’s not a stretch to say that without this vehicle, The Rock Climber’s Training Manual never would have been written.  Thank you so much for your interest, your questions, your comments, and your likes.  They kept me going and motivated me to push further into the unknown.  I’ll see you all over at RCTM.com!

Mark Anderson

Tips for Effective Campusing Part 2: Going Big!

As implied here, I’m inspired by the climbing career of the legendary Jerry Moffatt.  During his prime, Moffatt was the best climber in the world, and he dominated on redpoints, onsights, boulders and competitions.  What inspires me most though, was his commitment to hard work and his dedication to training.  He was a phenom in his early years, but that didn’t stop him from putting in long hours in training rooms, on the Bachar Ladder, and the campus board.  He was near the top when 5.12+ was the world standard, and he managed to stay on the crest of the wave as the grades exploded all the way to 5.14c over the course of two decades.

Moffatt notes in Revelations that his best effort on the Campus board was 1-5-8.  Since I first read that, 1-5-8 has been in the back of my mind.  That is something I might be able to do someday. Furthermore, although I haven’t been able to find anything definitive, I’m pretty sure Moffatt is at least a few inches taller than me.  He looks to be within an inch or so of Ben Moon who is 5’11” (I’m 5’7″). Considering the obvious height dependence (or perhaps more precisely, arm-length dependence) of Max Ladders, I feel like it would be quite an accomplishment for me, to match Moffatt’s best.

[Historical aside: Moffatt also says in Revelations he did 1-5-8 statically, which begs the question, if he could 1-5-8 statically, why didn’t he do anything harder than 1-5-8?  Surely he could have.  Examining pictures of the original Campus Board and the Schoolroom Board in Sheffield, it looks like they didn’t have half-steps, so 1-5-8.5 was off the table.  Still, if Moffatt could do 1-5 statically, surely he could do 5-9 as well.  Perhaps the original Campus Board didn’t reach that high. The below pics shows at least 9 rungs, and this video appears to show Gullich campusing up at least 9 rungs on the original board (watch from 0:40 to the end). 

Original Campus Board on the left, Schoolroom board on the right.

Original Campus Board on the left, Schoolroom board on the right.

However, it’s quite possible that either or both of these boards evolved over time. Just because they have 9 rungs in these pics, doesn’t mean they had 9 rungs when Moffatt was using them in his prime.  The 9th rung of the Schoolroom board clearly looks “tacked on”; it’s not evenly spaced, and the material doesn’t match the other rungs.  The classic film The Real Thing shows footage of Moffatt and Ben Moon campusing together (beginning at about 5:00 in this clip ).  Moon does 1-5-“9” (the 9th rung is not at the proper height for a true 1-5-9; it looks to be at about 8.5).  Moffatt does many sick campus moves in this footage, but he doesn’t match Moon’s 1-5-“9”.]

Last year I did 1-8-15 on my Metolius-spaced board, which is pretty close to 1-4.25-7.5 in Moon Spacing.  So I was somewhat close, but as soon as I switched to Moon Spacing I discovered that 1-5 is extremely difficult for me.  I could do the move, but as soon as I latched rung 5, I felt a deep ache in my low shoulder.  The pain didn’t feel threatening, just quite unpleasant, like the burn you feel in your muscles when you have a deep pump.  It was impossible to sustain this position for more than an instant, let alone try to explode upwards from this position. This is where height dependence comes in to play on big campus moves.  The distance between rung 1 and rung five is about 34.6 inches.  The distance from my finger pads (when placed on an edge in a “half crimp” position) and the middle of my armpit is 27″. So even when locking my low hand all the way down to my armpit, I still have to eek another 7.5 inches of reach out of my body to span between 1 and 5, and I’ve discovered that to do so requires significant shoulder strength.

Any excuse to post a pic with my shirt off :)  Here's me spanning from Rung 1 to Rung 5.  Note the difference in height between my two shoulders (about 3 half-increments, or 33cm/13 inches). I've found this requires a lot of strength in the low shoulder.

Any excuse to post a pic with my shirt off 🙂 Here’s me spanning from Rung 1 to Rung 5. Note the difference in height between my two shoulders (about 3 half-increments, or 33cm/13 inches). I’ve found this requires a lot of strength in the low shoulder.

I’ve tackled this weakness in two ways, and I would say each has contributed equally to my improvement.  First, several years ago I added some shoulder strength exercises to my Strength Phase.  For the 4-5 weeks preceding my Power Phase I will perform 3 sets of “Lateral-to-Front Raise” and “Shoulder Press” exercises after each hangboard workout (in addition to other exercises).  This has helped prepare my shoulders for campus exercises, and for doing big/reachy moves in general.  Furthermore, Explosive Pull-ups, Biceps Curls, and Hanging Leg Raises all strengthen muscle groups that are essential to limiting campus moves.  The pull and upper arm muscles are obviously pivotal to generating upward movement, but are also key for slowing decent, making it easier to deadpoint each move.  Not surprisingly, your abdominal muscles play a significant role, and you may notice your abs feel sore for a day or two following the first campus session of each season.  It’s tremendously helpful to prepare these muscle groups prior to beginning your Power Phase, so you have good strength to build off of when you hit the campus board. 

Second, I started trying 1-5 regularly.  About a year ago I started to introduce this move (or 1-10 on my old Metolius-spaced board) in my campus sessions (aka, “Max 1st Move”).  At first I just tried to stick the move, then drop off.  Eventually I start trying to match the high rung as my strength improved, or go to rung 5.5 or 6. 

As I was improving with 1-5, it became apparent that 1-5 is very hard to move out of, because you’re so extended the low hand can’t contribute much to the second move.   Improving your shoulder strength as described above will help a lot, but there are several other complimentary ways to improve at the second move:

1) Get ridiculously strong, such that you can do a 1-arm pull-up from a small campus rung 🙂  However, as discussed last week that kinda defeats the purpose, and there are much easier ways to do it.

2) Use momentum.  On the biggest moves, momentum becomes critical.  It’s much easier to pull up if you keep your hips moving and never stop pulling upwards.  Follow the methods described in Basic Tips, realizing their importance becomes magnified on bigger moves. 

Additionally, in the Basic Tips post I discussed aim and accuracy.  I find it’s much more difficult to accurately place my fingers at the correct depth than it is to deadpoint to the proper vertical height.  Failing to place your finger pads deep-enough on the rung can (and often does) ruin a set.  If you don’t get deep enough, you will either fail to latch the rung, or need to bounce your hand into position before proceeding, thus killing any momentum.  For this reason, I find it helps on difficult moves to aim “through the board”.  Assume you are trying to latch a rung that is a quarter-pad deeper than your rung really is.  This will often result in smacking your tips into the plywood, so don’t over-do it–try to aim for a 1/4″ or so deeper than you need.  Your tips may get slightly bruised and sensitive, so go easy at first.  With practice, you should be able to hit the correct depth on most moves without this technique, but on the most challenging sets, this can really help ensure you can keep your momentum flowing upward to the top.

3) Push with your low hand.  This is critical, and probably the biggest difference between medium and large moves.  For shorter folks in particular, once you are in the 1-5 position, your low hand will not be able to maintain a normal position for pulling for long (with your palm facing the board).  Once you’ve pulled up off Rung 5 a few inches, your low forearm will be more horizontal than vertical, and your palm will be more or less facing the ground.  Get in the habit of pushing down from this position (another reason I like the Shoulder Press is that it trains the Triceps for this motion).  Push for as long as you can maintain contact with Rung 1, before stabbing upward for the high rung (Ben Moon exemplifies this at 6:55 here.  His low hand pushes until his low elbow is nearly locked and his low arm is pointing straight down).  

This shows the action of my low hand while attempting 1-5-8 (Moon Spacing).  The left frame shows the moment of latching Rung 5.  The center frame is a point midway through the second move.  The right frame shows the right hand's last moment of contact with Rung 1. Note that my right arm is almost straight, and my hand is level with my thigh in the right frame.

This shows the action of my low hand while attempting 1-5-8 (Moon Spacing). The left frame shows the moment of latching Rung 5. The center frame is a point midway through the second move. The right frame shows the right hand’s last moment of contact with Rung 1. Note that my right arm is almost straight, and my hand is level with my thigh in the right frame.

This will help with smaller moves as well, not just 1-5-9, but it takes practice.  Dedicate a few sets each session to practicing this movement.  Do the first move of your Max Ladder, but rather than focusing on latching the second move, focus on pushing with your low hand.  Don’t even try to latch the high rung, just try to improve your ability to generate upward movement by pushing with your low hand.  Once you start to get the hang of it, then try to focus on latching the high rung.  Note that this will be easier to do on steeper boards and vice versa.  If your campus board is less than 10-degrees overhanging or so it will be difficult to push properly.

This is another aspect of campusing that translates directly to rock climbing (and something that even beginners can benefit from improving immediately).  If you watch me climb, you will notice that I’m almost always pushing down with my low hand until the last possible moment, particularly on big moves.  Many climbers ignore their low hand once the shoulder passes it.  This is a mistake, and it puts unnecessary strain on the opposing arm’s fingers and pull muscles.

Using the low hand to push on real rock.

Using the low hand to push on real rock.

There are other factors that can affect your campus training besides strength and movement:

Body Weight – As in all aspects of climbing, body weight is a significant factor.  If you’re strictly training, and not trying to perform on the campus board, there is no need to be at your fighting weight.  However, in the interest of minimizing injury risk, it’s a good idea to be within 10 lbs or so of your fighting weight.  As discussed, campusing with added weight can increase the risk of injury, and it doesn’t really matter that much to your elbows if the added weight is iron or fat 🙂

If you are trying to perform on the campus board (for whatever reason, such as to set a personal best), dropping to at, or near, your fighting weight will definitely help.  As with any weight loss, don’t overdo it, lose weight intelligently, and incorporate it into your Seasonal Training Plan to ensure you can sustain it through your performance phase.  For me, I struggle to stay at my fighting weight for more than about 4 weeks, so if I get to that weight in time for my Power Phase, I’m likely to struggle mid-way through my Performance Phase.  Most climbers are concerned with their performance on the campus board, and so would be better off timing their diet to peak later in the season.

Arousal – As with any power-oriented exercise, your mental state of arousal can play a big part.  In other types of climbing, excessive arousal can be a hindrance (like a technical route where precise footwork is required).  There is certainly a technical aspect to campusing, as discussed at length.  It’s important to work on the technique, but it’s also important to just go for it at times and see what you can do.  If you are stilling learning the technique, spend the first half of the workout going slow, working on individual aspects of your Max Ladder, and using your conscious mind to control your actions.  Then get aggro for the rest of the workout.  This is the time to get fired up and go for it.  Don’t worry about doing the movements perfectly; focus on giving each attempt your most intense effort.

Different people have their own triggers, so experiment with different methods and see what works best for you.  I like to listen to  upbeat music, usually Hip Hop or something with a strong beat.  Occasionally I’ll grit my teeth and make a “GRRR!” sound just before I start a set.  I’m not much of a screamer, but I will occasionally let out a brief ‘yelp’ as I begin the second move of a Max Ladder.  Some folks have tried external stimulants like caffeine (and who knows what else in the ’80s), but I generally avoid that kind of thing.
 
Record Keeping – One could argue you aren’t training if you aren’t keeping track.  I went many years without documenting my campus work, and it was a huge mistake.  I had no idea what my plan was, or any way of telling if I was getting better.  As soon as I started documenting my workouts I started making significant progress.   Use a log sheet like the one shown here to document each set of your workouts.  Make not of your personal bests, and strive to match, and then surpass them, each season.  Also, use the log to desribe your campus board’s specifications in case you ever change venues.

At my ever-advancing age, I’m constantly tempted to think I’ve peaked as an athlete, and my best years are behind me.  Three years ago, at the spry age of 33, my personal best was 1-7-13 (in Metolius Spacing,  which equates to roughly 1-3.75-6.5 in Moon Spacing).  I couldn’t do 1-5 at all, let alone pull off of it.  Three weeks ago, I put all these tips into action, and sent 1-5-8, Moon spacing (admittedly, with some slight dabs against the wall):

Perhaps 1-5-9 isn’t out of the question for me after all?