Lactid Acid - The route climber's enemy!
Climbing separates from other sports by the high amount of lactid acid which is created and preserved in our forearm muscles. For most of us, it takes some 45 minutes rest in between attempts on endurance routes to get completely fresh. Some are not that lucky, in fact the highest frequency of compartment syndrome, which means a permanent condition of the pumped feeling, is found among climbers.
Lactid acid breaks down the muscle tissue. If you train hard and end your session with a high level of acid you will most likely loose strength while you are sleeping. In the short run, the muscles will learn how to work with acid as fuel instead of pure blood and you will have a short peak but this will be followed by a longer and deeper down period.
Warming-up and capillarity blood flow
The warming-up is more important for climbers than to other athletes as the forearms muscles are not used in the daily life as compared to leg muscles etc. Jogging will start the circulation but it doesn't get the forearms fully prepared with increased blood flow in the capillaries and it's really boring.
In order to do a proper climbing warming-up, it is important to very slowly increase the blood flow in the capillaries. Most climbers begin with a load (grade) that is too high, increasing the risk for a tsunami in the veins. As you keep on climbing with your arms above your head, the blood flow seems to be perfect but as soon you stop and your arms hang at the side, the capillaries can get flooded.
Start up with the lowest possible load (difficulty). Climb 5 to 10 moves, depending on load, rest, shake and squeeze your hand gently and climb again and feel how your blood slowly starts to circulate in your veins and the forearm muscles get warm and prepared for the session. This means that you should not climb that ten meters vertical wall directly in a row, if you are not really fit. The best thing is off course to start off at a slab.
Practical tips during training sessions
· In the beginning, stop tries when high levels of acid is at risk
· Increase the rest in between tries
· Lift and lower your hands to increase blood flow
· If performance go down, stop the session
· Finnish with a warming-down to transport possible acid
Endurance training without lactid acid
Your endurance ability depends to a large extent on your technical capacity to climb carefully and find good rests and your mental capacity to stay relaxed and to rest. The physical aspect of endurance relies on your forearm muscles blood flow performance and to a less extent how they deal and work with acid.
To practice your physical part of endurance one should focus on training that builds capillarity, in order to increase the possible blood flow in your forearms. To create more stamina, you should climb as many metres as possible without getting any lactid acid. By doing so, you will automatically strengthen your technical and mental part of the game and you will create a motor that will give you more fun taking you higher up on long onsight attempts on your next climbing trip. Good luck!