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