Thursday, September 15, 2011
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
So far, training can be strictly planned, but measuring the intensity that poses a route is not so easy, and worse in climbing, an sport dominated by complex technical gestures. Repeating a route and technically perfect their movements (those little subtleties that make movements easier), decreases the intrinsic intensity of the route, and therefore the athlete is not training with an homogeneous intensity over the sets and reps.
An example of this can be seen in the following graph heart rate, where a climber climbed the same route, on different days.
Here we take heart rate as a value that indicates the effort intensity on the climber's body (can also include psychological aspects) and not as an difficulty index of the route.
Fortunately, since early this year, Vanessa España Romero et cols, published a very interesting study in the Euopean Journal of Applied Physiology (1). They evaluated 9 experienced climbers in the same same route in a number of physiological parameters. The study consisted of climbing a 35 moves 6a (5.10) route in 9 opportunities, separate them by 1 week. The climbers were allowed to continue their usual training, but they could only climb the route in the instances provided for evaluation.
The researchers compared the first, fourth and ninth attempt. The results are detailed in the table below.
And the latter is very important to keep in mind when prescribing exercise. In climbing there are constant technical adjustments that makes that the different intensities are related to the degree of processing each individual gesture (movement) of the route, which makes the intensity varies over the time if the athlete trains on the same route. Following are some recommendations to keep in mind when prescribing climbing endurance sets/:
-design new routes for each training session, this does not give time to the climber to fits technically to the route
-Using previously known routes, where there is no possibility of technical improvement, which will definitely be a greater difficulty than those proposed above.
- Monitoring the execution time of each route, that is not reduced sharply, thus losing the desired intensity of the effort to produce the corresponding adaptations.
What we must not do is to use the same route several sessions, so the intensity will be decreasing as the technique is suited to the route, and therefore the training stimulus will be of lower quality.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Prof. Juan Martín Miranda
How many times we hear in a crag or in a comp, that wall conditions do not help, that previous night we didn´t sleep well, that the holds are humid, that I do not have enough strength, etc., especially when climbing is stimulated by evaluation pressure, like public approval (not necessarily in a competition, but the pressure of the nearby friend), achieving a new onsight or redpoint level, or a competition, where the uncertainty for the success or failure is an important agent of pressure. These self-handicaps can be real or imaginary.
Self-handicapping are any action or choice that prepare a person to be responsible of failure. In agreement with Jones and Berglas (1978), the self- handicaps are obstacles created by the individuals in anticipation to a performance failure. These behaviors allows to externalize the mistakes and failures and internalize the successes, accepting the credit of the achievements and allowing excuses for the failures. It has a double function, it allows the individual to diminish all that of the personal skill that plays a major role in failure (protecting the selfsteem) and in case of success, it increases the skill of the sportmen, since the success was obtained in spite of the obstacles. (increasing the selfesteem) (Prapavessis y Groove, 1998)
Martin and Brawley (2010) concludded that self-handicap can also be understood from the own efficiency. The sportsmen would use excuses in situations where they have poor efficiency for their skills or to introduce themselves in a certain way (i.e.: I am not good at overhangs, technical moves, etc.).
Those individuals with low selfsteem tends to use more frequently the self-handicapping before a performance that those of high selfsteem, since they encounter more situations where they are uncertain about their ability to solve the task (Prapavessis and Grove, 1998). The athletes who frequently use the excuses incline to take commonly the responsibility of potential failures out of himself and in case of team sports, inside the group (Prapavessis and cols, 2010).
All these excuses that we self-impose, are impediments before a performance. People who use these impediments or self-handicaps can be divided in two categories: chronic or occasional. The chronic selfhandicappers use self-handicaps that are more applicable over time and in varied situations, as physical or psychological symptoms. The occasional ones use self-handicaps for every specific situation.(Ferrand and cols, 2006)
The more frequent self-handicaps used by the sportsmen before a competition are the study and physical conditions or injuries, but they change depending on age, level and sex.
Ferrand and cols. (2006) analyzed the self-handicaps of 6 french elite teenager climbers in three major competitions, where they had the aptitude to reach the podium, with this goal setted by their coach. Before every competition, they had to report their self-handicaps that might affect performance.
The results that the study showed are summarized in the following table. Self-handicaps can be categorized in 6 categories.
It has been argued that the criterion that the trainers use can impact in the way that the climbers perceive the environment, which can be a source of stress in the teenagers elite athletes. The climbers of this study report different types of impediments that allowed them to deflect the reason of the failure away from their sport competente and reduce the coach´s expectations in the subsequent performance.
The repeated use of self-handicaps might place the athletes at-risk of motivacional difficulties that might have a negative effect in the long-term development and performance.
The authors conclude: ¨it is important for the trainers to gain knowledge of self-handicapping, to take into account the rehaznos underlying self-handicapping hmong teenagers for practical implications, and to examine more closely the ego relevante of high level context which may be an important factor determining self-handicapping in a sport context.¨
One important goal for coaches is to understand the reason of the previous impediments and to work on them to impede a performance reduction. Too many exigency, and the exposition of highly sressful goals in young climbers can lead to long-term consequences, like quiting the sport.
1. Ferrand, C., Tetard, S., & Fontayne, P. (2006). Self-Handicapping in Rock Climbing: A Qualitative Approach. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 18: 3, 271-280
2. Jones, E. E., & Berglas, S. (1978). Control of attributions about the self through self-handicapping strategies: The appeal of alcohol and the role of underachievement. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 4, 200-206.
3. Martin, K.A. & Brawley, L.R. (2002). Self-Handicapping in Physical Achievement Settings: The contributions of Self-Esteem and Self-Efficacy. Self and Identity, 1:4, 337-351
4. Prapavessis, H. & Grove, J.R. (1998). Self-handicapping and Self-steem. Journal of Sport Applied Psychology, 10:2, 175 – 184
5. Prapavessis, H., Grove, J.R. & Eklund (2010). Self-Presentational Issues in Competition and Sport. Journal of Sport Applied Psychology, 16:1, 19-40
6. Smith, T.W., Snyder, C.R., & Handelsman, M.M. (1982). On the self-serving function of an academic wooden leg: Test Anxiety as a self-handicapping strategy. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 42, 314–321.
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Prof. Juan Martín Miranda
To write this post I had to dig into some old training books of my student time, specially Prof. Jorge de Hegedus book: " The science of sports training " in which I would find the historical bases of what I want to detail.
" … on the fourth decade of our century (XX) there started being delineated two currents of work that in spite of their differences, had the same common denominator: to adapt exclusively to the means that the nature offers "
“On this premise there arise two eminences of the sports training (specially the athletics): Gosse Holmer and Gosta Olander.
The first one (Holmer) , founder of the Fartlek method (in Swedish: play with the speed), training method that includes all kinds of speed variations. This method can be summarized:
1- Efforts realized exclusively out of track
2- All kinds of distances combinations during the course
3- Intensity of the distances regarding their length
4- Rest periods related to the distances and characteristics of the run
Hereby a training session according to these slogans might have the following scheme:
a- Easy run to warm up
b- Médium speed run
c- Fast walk
d- High velocity sprints reps
Undoubtedly training hereby is not a very systematic and planned method, since the effort intensity is regulated by the athlete subjective sensations .
On the other hand another Swedish trainer, Gosta Olander, continuing with this current of training in the natural way, was taking advantage of the difficulties imposed by the area in which the sportsmen realized the training, since it can be mud, now, different inclinations, etc, that it were offered in his prestigious training center of Vololaden, in a former hotel lost in the depths of Sweden (for the fanatics of the athletics I recommend the website: www.vololaden.com). Giving more importance to the intensity of the actions than the tempo of the same ones.
Prof. Yuri Verkhoshansky proposes aerobic Fartlek method to increase the anaerobic threshold. It consists in a uniform and prolonged run with 8 to 10 (or more) seconds sprints every 10 to 12 minutes.
Well then, we have seen that this type of training takes as a premise to go adapting to the terrain in which it was realized, and therefore the intensities are imposed by the terrain. And is not this is what happens in climbing??
It is almost impossible to find climbing routes of that are completely uniform in their intensity, since they can have different angles, one o more crux, good, bad rests, without hands, technical moves, hard moves in roofs, everything what we can imagine. Whenever we climb a different route, we will face a completely different ground, which will force us to alternate different effort intensities, as is it is done by the Fartlek training method.
In an article published in Engineering of Sport (2006), M. Michailov experimented with this method on climbers with the idea of improving their anaerobic threshold. Six climbers were trained for seven weeks, three times for week with a specific training plan that alternate intensities during the climbing bouts
2-3 sets of 8-10 reps of: 20-30 moves easy route and 15-20 moves hard routewith 30-60 seconds rests. Sets rest was 20 to 30 minutes.
The aim was to climb near the anaerobic threshold heart rate estimated by ergometry. The author mentions (and it is a part of the conclusions) that heart rate is not an indicator of climbing intensity, but it was used to control that the climber is near to the threshold heart rate determined before, same conclusion at which Burnik and Jereb (2007) arrived after evaluating 11 climbers in three different intensity routes.
He used two different test to evaluate the improvements, the first one consisted on climbing the major quantity of movements during 5 minutes in a 120 degrees overhang wall to determine the capacity of mixed energy (anaerobic aerobics) supply and the second test performed in a roof wall during 1 minute, to determine the anaerobic lactic energy supply. The results showed an improvement of 32 % and 43 % in both test respectively.
Beyond the difficulties of evaluating these capacities (and obviously the proposed test can be questionable) the improvements are interesting, and definitively this methodology improves the specific climbing endurance.
With this type of trainings in which we alternate different intensities in the same repetition it has some benefits:
- Major specificity of the training
- The special endurance is improved
- The capacity to take advantage of the easiest climbing sections as recovery of the intense efforts is improved
- The in-climbing recovery capacity is improved
Here some Fartlek training drills used in climbing
Traverse + route
For this exercise a route must have from 15 to 20 high intensity moves designed in the bouldering wall where simultaneously we could realize a very low intensity traverse for a long period of time (more than 30 minutes). We must be kept traversing for a period from 4 to 5 minutes and then the 15 moves hard route. Once the route is finished continue with the traverse for 4 to 5 more minutes and then the route again. Keep this training for more than 30 minutes (up to 1 hour).
Design two or three circuits of 15 to 20 movements which the final hold of the first circuit coincides with the initial hold of the second one and so on. The circuits must be linked without stooping, but forcing the recovery period at the end of each one. It is possible to measure resting time, and force it up or down. I.e. a maximum rest time (of 1 minute), or a minimum rest time (of 2 minutes)
Design a set of three to six relatively easy boulder problems that starts from good holds. The problems must be performed linked by an easy traverse from the last hold of the previous problem to the firsts holds of the next problem (generally down traversing), and rest in that holds all the necessary time.
Burnik S, Jereb B. Heart rate as an indicator of sport climbing intensity. Acta Univ. Palacki. Olomuc., Gymn. 2007, vol. 37, no. 1
De Hegedus J. La ciencia del entrenamiento deportivo. Ed Stadium. 2006
Joan Rius Sant. Metodologia y técnicas del atletismo. Ed. Paidotribo 2006
Michailov ML. Evolvement and experimentation of a new interval method for strength endurance development. In: Moritz FE, Haake S, ed. The Engineering of Sport 6, Volume
2. Development for disciplines. New York: Springer Science and Business Media; 2006: 291-6.
Verkhoshansky Y. The block training system in endurance running. Sport strength training methodology. Elctronic publishing 2008
Thursday, May 27, 2010
One of the scientific articles, published by White & Olsen (2010), analyzed the performance of several elite english bouldering climbers during a national competition. Next chart shows the data obtained.
These numbers give us some guidelines about the effort during this type of competitions. Climbers tried only 3 times each problem (mean), where they spent 30 s to solve each. The work/rest ratio (for 6 minutes period) was 1:4 in each problem. If we consider contact time and time to reach next hold (8 s / 0.6 s) the ratio is 13:1. During route climbing this ratio was 3 s : 1 s (Watts et. al., 2000).
Another interesting thing of this study is that static time is lower than route climbing (25% vs 38 %) founded by Billat et als (1995).
Another study by La Torre et al. (2009) analyzed elite Italian bouldering climbing during two national comps and on simulated comp. In the firsts two comps they analyzed working time and lactate concentration at the end, and in the simulated comp they analyzed times, lactate concentrations at the end of each problem and heart rate during all the competition.
The data presented here differs little from the other study (keep in mind that there is a climbing time of 5 minutes here). Mean of each movement time was lower: 5.3 ± 0.7 s for the national comp and 5.2± 0.6 s for the simulated comp. Mean climbing total time for each problem was 65 ± 20 s and 92 ± 24 s and mean total climbing time for all the comp was 391 ± 85 s and 551 ± 96 s respectively.
Mean heart rate during recovery period did not increase in the simulated comp in males, but slightly increased in females.
Lactate concentrations during simulation didn’t raise with the increase of competition time, but mainly depended on the time needed to climb the attempts of the previous problem. Using regression analysis they determined that changes in lactate concentrations depended on effort duration, with an apparent cut-off value of 20 s. Describing this way short attempts (<20>
In the third study (Michailov et al., 2009), anthropometric characteristics and strength of elite bouldering climbers that participated in a world bouldering cup were measured. Next chart shows their results
Elite bouldering athletes had very low body fat and muscle mass close to 50% in males and 40% in females , same as difficult (routes) climbers.
Male climbers had 20% more grip strength tan route climbers (Watts et al., 2000), this is due to the strength nature of the contest.
The intermittent character of the prove, shows some specific determinants in recovery time during each problem, and during all the event. During a competition (more than 50 minutes) some recovery times are stipulated by rules, and other depends on the climbers tactics and strategies and their recovery capacity. The higher the level of the climber and the more experience has, without doubts the climber will give less attempts, administer better the effort, and therefore his recovery times will be higher.
Using specific training means to increase recovery capacity is a must. Intermittent training (aka interbloque) is an excellent choice to increase it. And due to some problems duration (more than 20 s), lactate accumulation must be removed rapidly, so high intensity interval training can be used to increase lactate removal capacity.
With regard to the action time of the muscles (holds contact time), training should be specific to maintain very high intensity intermittent efforts of 5 to 8 seconds approximately with an excessively short rest (<1>
Strength levels for this type of efforts are very high (20 % plus than route climbing), therefore the strength capacity is also another training goal. The climbers must use specific exercises like hangboard training, system training, campus training and especially boulder climbing, which is the specific exercise.
A high percentage of mass muscular derived from the unspecific strength training can be counter-productive, since the climber will have to move his overweight. That’s why any increase of the muscular mass must be specific and necessary to the demands of the event. It is necessary to control it by periodic anthropometric tests. Therefore the muscular mass should be ideal and the hypertrophy should happen only in the determinant musculature of the performance.
1 – White, DJ and Olsen, PD. A time motion analysis of bouldering style competitive rock climbing. J Strength Cond Res 24: 1533-4287, 2010
2 – Billat, V, Palleja, P, Charlaix, T, Rizzardo, P and Janel, N. Energy specificity of rock climbing and aerobic capacity in competitive sport rock climbers. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 35: 20-24, 1995
3 - Watts, PB, Newburry, V and Sulentic, J. Acute changes in handgrip strength, endurance, and blood actate with sustained sport rock climbing. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 36: 255-260, 2000
4 - La Torre, A, Crespi, D, Serpiello, FR and Merati,G. Heart rate and blood lactate evaluation in bouldering elite athletes. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 49: 19-24, 2009
6 – Michailov, ML, Mladenov, LV and Schoffl, VR. Anthropometric and strength characteristics of world-class boulderers. Med Sport. 13(4): 213-238, 2009
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
This is the last post of the speed climbing series. I will show some methodology and exercises.
The speed in a climbing route will depend on two factors: length and frequency of individual moves.
Length depends on:
1- Morphologic characteristics
Frequency depends on:
1- Contact time
2- Flight time (COG in vertical direction)
Improving each of these aspects will improve in final climbing speed. Some aspects can’t be changed like anthropometric characteristics or where the holds are screwed. But strength, flexibility, contact time and flight time can be trained and there is where our efforts will be centered.
- - Increase speed possibilities by high frequency innervations using low resistance and a short period of time
- Increase special strength preparedness using dynamic moves
- Increase speed endurance using interval method
- Reach perfect coordination and maximum efficiency of the neuromuscular effort
The following videos shows some methodologies to work upper body strength
Frequency campus exercises
And for movement length
Assisted exercise will be helpful to frequency improvement when using campus board because sometimes (always!!) body weight is excessive to apply a correct speed training load. Using elastic bands attached to a harness will be enough.
Non assisted exercises need to be performed after assisted ones, so we can finish with the real motor path
- Normal – resisted – normal
- Normal – resisted – normal – resisted – normal
- Normal – assisted – normal
- Normal – assisted – normal – assisted – normal
- Normal – resisted – normal – assisted – normal
- Normal – resisted – assisted – normal
7. assisted – resisted – assisted - normal
Some exercises to train lower body strength
For power nothing better than jumps
This chart resumes the tasks to train for speed climbing
Some reflections concerning speed training
- Technique and coordination are important do speed
- Max strength and power have a positive effect; max strength, power and speed makes a dynamic unity
- Muscular imbalances are counter-productive during speed development
- Exercises performed at sub maximal speed generate sub maximal speed neural paths.
- It is preferable quality than quantity. Maximum speed improvements is only possible by a complex and well developed process of load planning and control
Prof. Juan Martín Miranda