Usobiaga Zlagboard interview


Thursday, 15 January

Celebrating 9a's with Adam Ondra
During the recovery, surfing was the focus.
Training on the Zlagboard
Patxi Usobiaga, one of the greatest climbers in the history both on rock and plastic who lately has been training Adam Ondra, gives some thoughts about training. Between 2010 and 2012, he did not train climbing after a car accident but now he is back doing 9a again.

In your opinion, how important is finger and upper torso strength in relation to the maximum performance of a climber?
The finger and upper body strength is practically the most important thing for climbing. Without finger strength your development will be limited, and without power in your arms, too. Therefore, especially when training we have to work on those parts of the body in order to improve our capabilities. On the other hand, we can also strengthen a core ability, the pressure strength which enables us to place and fix fingers, hands and arms on the holds, using body strength.

Regarding climbing grades, at what point does it make sense to start training and work specifically on your finger strength?
Specific training is not only important for improving your climbing, but also for avoiding injuries and physical overload. It enables you to develop as a climber, strengthening your tendons. Therefore, I would not set a minimum, like the grade someone climbs or the time period a person has been climbing. I would rather look at every climber individually and personalize their training depending on their abilities.

What do we have to consider when training for different gripping strengths?
Your actual gripping strength, your experience in climbing and your motivation. But it is important not to hurry too much to improve!

What is the biggest mistake climbers commit when training?
They do what they read in books, what they watch in the media... And they don’t really look at themselves in their real shape. You have to think honestly about your level, handicaps, age, etc. And then you need to personalize the training for yourself. Climbers have to know that sometimes the journey to be in shape is longer than they want it to be. This is one of the most important thoughts do consider: not to get frustrated.

What is the advantage of training with hangboards and specifically with the Zlagboard, for which you designed the training plans?
Training with hangboards helps you avoid injuries as much as possible, while you get more power in arms and gripping strength. The Zlagboard gives you a complete training cycle, each full cycle aiming at improving your climbing significally. Until now, everything has been subjective in climbing and somehow it was impossible to objectively track one's own evolution. Now this technology has given us the opportunity to track and register the performance, and we will finally reach our goal of climbing better.

For what performance levels did you write the Zlagboard training plans?
All different performance levels have been considered. You only need to choose your level. If you have doubts, it is better to start a step lower, to make things well and to be able to achieve similar results in all the trainings.

What is your personal favorite training exercise?
Pull ups and locks!! They make you a huge climber!! ;-)

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