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How is climbing different from other sports?
OffLine 8a.nu
  2009-09-05 00:00:00    
Debate/Jens: Why do very few of the best rock climbers follow a strict training programme? Would they actually improve if they would periodize their training as other athletes? As climbing is mentally unique, See below, it might be as good with or without periodization? 1. Climbers "try to perform" continuously several times a day, the key is inspiration. Other athletes competes seldom, but train in a structured way for a given date, time and place. 2. Climbing is unique as we often stand still and rest which creates thinking/anxiety. A normal answer for other sportsmen are, "as soon as the game started my anxiety disappeared". 3. Fear of heights and falling is often involved in climbing.
OffLine User Deactivated
  2009-09-04 18:19:09    
It's a good question for a beginner like you Jens.
You will see in the future, with your experiences...
OffLine User Deactivated
  2009-09-20 22:33:46    
...there is nothing new, for up-grading this one after 15 days ?

Or is it just to keep the average of news posted in a day, in a week, in a month, in a year ?

OnLine Jens Larssen
  2009-09-20 22:43:16    
We try to have new articles every day. When we first published it (for 30 minutes), we had 5 news that day and the last 14 days it has been more articles than ever. This is the reason why debate article is republished today. But it is hard to debate with somebody who always just say everything is bad at 8a :-)
OffLine Jeff A
  2009-09-20 22:57:43    
Why would a top level climber want to spend 8 hrs a day in the gym? For some people Kinder & Sharma to name a few they've been given the opportunity to live the dream and travel around climbing. Given the choice I don't think many of us would follow a strict training program unless our goal was to keep traveling around entering World Cups if we were in their position. If your choice was to get paid to compete in a gym, or climb in an exotic area which would you choose?
OffLine Tye Watkins
  2009-09-20 23:27:54    
Climbers do not use advanced training principles for a variety of reasons. Honestly, the main problem is that most climbers are totally ignorant of upper level training concepts. There are several reasons for this: 1. Climbing is a relatively new sport, with far fewer practitioners than other, established sports. So, the studies and necessary research about sport specific training have not been done. 2. Climbers are mostly normal people with normal lives and busy jobs. They don't have the ability to spend several hours a day researching, or implementing and fine tuning advanced training programs. 3. Most importantly, climbing is horribly under-funded and thus, there are no practical reasons for practitioners to spend their time, energy, and hard earned dollars training for upper level performance in a sport that provides them with practically no financial compensation. Climbers who train hard, and try hard to achieve top level performance do so for their own reasons. They don't have gigantic incentives to get to the top. But mainly.. climbers simply don't know how to train. They don't understand real training for TOP level performance. Those who are at the top (and did not train strictly and specifically to get there) got there through lots of hard work and determination. EVERYONE can benefit from a structured training program. Unfortunately, knowing what to do, and actually doing it are both difficult enough in their own right.
OffLine John Meget
  2009-09-20 23:33:31    
It's a good question, Jens.  Hope to hear some thoughts about this.  It does seem remarkable that the (arguably) best climber in the world is 16 years old, mostly self-taught, and has never had formal training.  Is this true of any other sport?  Jeffrey, climbers can periodize on rock.  i.e. strict training doesn't necessarily require gym work, does it?    Mo, to put it bluntly, you're an asshole. 
OffLine Jeff A
  2009-09-21 01:36:17    
John: Skateboarding, surfing, snowboarding, and climbing are all examples of sports that don't require any type of formal training. However you are right that training doesn't have to be in the gym, but books like Horst's "Training for Climbing" pretty much only talk about campus, hangboard, system board, etc. This is by no means the bible, but as Sharma said in the new Progression video, "why spend 8 hrs in the gym everyday if you can go outside and just climb." This doesn't work for everyone unless you are pretty close to a crag to hit up after work, or school.
OffLine User Deactivated
  2009-09-21 07:40:07    
"Mo, to put it bluntly, you're an asshole." As I'm a gay, it's a compliment. Thanks. 
OffLine User Deactivated
  2009-09-21 08:11:26    
Jeffrey " Skateboarding, surfing, snowboarding, and climbing are all examples of sports that don't require any type of formal training" Can you develop this please? How do these sports differ from say gymnastics or boxing? Does human physiology somehow apply to certain sports but not other? Do you thing Sharma is talking a) about his personal motivation b)research based facts on climbing?
OnLine Jens Larssen
  2009-09-21 08:16:53    
I do not think Adam Ondra or Chris Sharma, or any climber who focus on rock climbing, would get any better even if they changed their climbing style and started to follow strict training programmes. The reason for this is that I think climbing is unique when it comes to the mental challenge. If they would follow a strict programme they would get in better physical shape but they would loose it mentally, and thus be worse climbers.
OffLine User Deactivated
  2009-09-21 08:40:49    
I might agree with you Jens but only in the sense that those two climbers seem to have a negative attitude when it comes to trainingg programmes. I would further agree that in a sport where lifestyle-aproach is dominant, a majority of people will display the same kind of philospphy and therefore gain nothing by trying things they surely will not follow, but this is not proof of anything else than if you don't like training programs you'll get no benefit of them. Human physiology applies for us all ,though this guys probably are not human :-) It has be proven enough times. Regarding " climbing is unique when it comes to the mental challenge" No comment
OffLine User Deactivated
  2009-09-21 08:51:33    
" If they would follow a strict programme they would get in better physical shape but they would loose it mentally, and thus be worse climbers." Yes! Finally you admitted it! So you think progammed training would get them (or anybdy else?) in better shape. Think what motivated people with their capacity and who love both programmed training and otudoors climbing would do. Ist's all about motivation! Thanks Jens!!
OnLine Jens Larssen
  2009-09-21 08:51:42    
It is only natural that trainers like yourself say that strict training programmes are good as you would loose your job if you would not convince others to follow them. I do not of course have any proof saying that is good or bad to follow a strict training programme, only like you a theory that most rock climbers would not gain anything from them. However, as most of the best rock climbers in the world do not follow a strict programme it might not be a good idea to try to implement programmes on youngsters, unless you just want to be a competition climber.
OffLine User Deactivated
  2009-09-21 09:04:20    
First. I don't work as a trainer I just train people as it is part of my lifestyle and dont't ask for money or other compensations so I would loose nothing. I would be perfectly happy if anyone could prove this approach wrong. And yes I only have a theory just like you. A meaningful diference woul be that sports scientists have been researching around for more than hundred years prooving things rather than inferring och guessing.
Second. I agree people into comp climbing should always combine with uotdoor climbing and eventually go further after ending therir competing careers. Third- It took years to read that you think thar programs could improve Ondras or Sharmas physical fitness. The rest is about motivation :-))
OffLine CristiT
  2009-09-21 09:56:13    
hi i am not a specialist so please don't hit me if i say stupids things here...anyway my personal oppinion is that going out to climb sometimes is harder than performing some exercises in a hall...the problems at rock could require more things maybe new moves...instead of doing the same moves in a hall....in this way the body/mental works more and sometimes in a new direction ...so i think going out to the rock is much better than doing the same exercises in a hall just to train....and more than this, it is a much better training !
OffLine User Deactivated
  2009-09-21 10:09:27    
CristiT youre just right. The challenge on rock is usually of more intenste. Some call it training, other don't but this don't mean that you can't be structured on rock.
OnLine Jens Larssen
  2009-09-21 10:21:02    
As Chris Sharma says, "why spend 8 hrs in the gym everyday if you can go outside and just climb". Chris does whatever he feels like and he is not following a strict programme. He just enjoys climbing and this has made him #1.
OffLine User Deactivated
  2009-09-21 12:24:12    
Jens, I am going to tell you a little secret, because I dont want you to be last to know it: Chris is not the #1. And please, dont be so naïve.
OnLine Jens Larssen
  2009-09-21 12:37:44    
Chris was awarded the rock climber of 2008 by the Arco Rock Master award. He was also appointed the climber of the year in 2008 by 8a.nu. Please tell me the secret if you know who is #1 according to you.
OffLine vladimir arnaoudov
  2009-09-21 13:44:27    
what about people who enjoy training more than climbing, like Malcolm Smith?  :)
OnLine Jens Larssen
  2009-09-21 15:07:57    
Excately, there are many climbers who enjoy training and strict training programmes. Of course, they will improve from this training. I would also say that for most other sport, you will not be #1 without a training programme. The fun thing is that this is not necessary for climbing. For some climbers, I do think a strict training programme can be contra productive but of course everyone is unique.
OffLine User Deactivated
  2009-09-21 18:01:00    
I agree
OffLine grigri
  2009-09-21 18:40:12    
Maybe climbing is different in that the synergy of all the aspects that create a great performance is extremely complex. Far more than 'games' played in a controlled manmade environment. IE there are so many factors to outdoor climbing that it is difficult to prepare for all of these in a gym.

Im certainly no top climber but the few times I have tried the periodized programmes put forward by Horst and others I have found them to be a sure fire recipe for injury. And - no - my climbing did not improve, rather I ended up spending months off nursing ruined elbows and shoulders. The only time my performance went anywhere was when I was simply going climbing at new places as often as possible. Just climb on the rock and do yoga, leave the training stuff to WC contenders and fanatics!!! :-)
OffLine Gabor Szekely
  2009-09-22 01:40:57    
"However, as most of the best rock climbers in the world do not follow a strict programme it might not be a good idea to try to implement programmes on youngsters, unless you just want to be a competition climber."

I don't really agree with any of this.. just because Chris, Adam, and Dave Graham don't follow specific training programs, doesn't mean they wouldn't be stronger if they did.. theyd have to try first and see how it goes, Id assume.
Also, all these people you list are incredibly naturally talented climbers, who may not need to train as much to be in their best shape. Most people arent like that, though. Personally, I feel like if I only climb on rock for a while and dont do any training, I get a lot weaker.
Patxi, Ramon, Edu Marin, Magnus Midtboe, etc.... all of them train hard in the gym and then climb their best on rock. Why not use them as an example? Why are Chris and Adam so superior?
Im pretty sure, as the old saying goes, to each his own..
OffLine slopergroper
  2009-09-22 06:32:22    
I have a couple of ideas and quibbles with this debate.  First of, I think that all this talk about strict training programs probably is much more in line with watching the Russian train in a Rocky sequel than modern training regimes.  From what I've heard from good trainers, variety of exercises and constant adjustments of routines, together with careful attention to the natural cycles of recovery and motivation unique to each individual, are what make successful training.  The idea of some regimented work-out routine is not only unmotivating for many people, it's quite dated.  That's not to say periodization doesn't work, but that it has more to do with each climber's rhythm (and being in touch with that rhythm), then structured draconian training. Which gets me to my main point that Chris and Adam are likely not strong despite some lack of training, but exactly because they do have a very successful implicit training program.  Particularly Chris is likely very in tune with his body (required recovery, etc.) and follows a form of periodization that works for him without having to think about it.  He also practices a good amount of yoga (at least he used to), which probably quite successfully emulate what others do for strength and flexibility in a gym.  My point being, I think it is wrong to jump to the conclusion that certain climbers don't train just because they don't do it in some regimented fashion in a stinky climbing gym. On a slightly different note, I also don't totally buy the "mental aspects" argument that Jens seems to have latched onto.  While the mental game in climbing is probably somewhat different, most sports at the elite competition level have large mental components.  Hence, many athletes also train for high pressure situation appropriate to their sport.  I don't see why climbing should be any different, i.e. why you couldn't train for those situations. My theory is that climbing successfully requires such a great variety of physical and mental skills that narrow, regimented training is not very appropriate.  As a gymnast, for any aparstus there is a fairly finite number of elements.  It therefore makes sense to master each (or a selection of them) through repetition under various amounts of high-pressure circumstances.  However, for climbers there are almost infinitely many physical puzzles that can be created.  Repetition training of even general moves probably pays small dividends compared to general conditioning, fast problem solving, and good route reading skills.  Climbing on a great variety of real rock is probably the best training for that, which is why I think Chris and Adam stand out. Perhaps more of a mystery is why David Graham has never been able to translate his skills on rock into doing well in comps.  Perhaps something about the format really doesn't suit him?
OnLine Jens Larssen
  2009-09-22 07:09:56    
In most other sports, a strict training programme is the only way forward. My ambition with this debate is to point out that it seems like in climbing you can reach world class also if you just climb for fun. I do think that in some cases and for some persons, a strict training programme can be negative. Climbing is unique and you do not have to follow a strict training programme to be #1. If you follow a strict programme you will get stronger but maybe mentally weaker as programmes tend to kill create anxiety.
OffLine Jos Dehaes
  2009-09-22 12:34:18    
Chris/Adam are so good, despite not training, because of their raw talent, and they spend a lot of time in many different types of climbing.

I feel they would be even (physically) better if they would train, but why would they, as they are enjoying themselves.

For average people, I guess everybody knows that 'just climbing a lot' is not going to improve you beyond some point (typically 7a-ish, but depending on your talent/body composition). To break through this plateau requires targeted training.
OffLine fridolin sent
  2009-09-22 15:31:24    
i really do think, that climbing daily on rock is a very intense training in a sport that is  highly dependent on coordination and mental skills. so it is just not true that these people don't train. what i think is true however, is that an indoor training programme would probably be a WRONG training for ROCK climbing. so jens might be right with his theory, that some climbers would get worse if they followed that kind of training. usually, you can look at the training programmes of world-class athletes do get an idea of what a good training might look like. in a sport where a 16 year old takes apart the worlds elite this does not apply. i think, we simply have no idea if adam is running the 100m in 9.5 or in 10.5 seconds...so lets wait another 30 years.
OffLine Balázs Rau
  2009-09-22 19:50:24    
I remember Chris saying that he used to do 1 finger pullups as training for one of the 5.15-s he did.
OffLine andreas hautmann
  2009-09-22 20:10:24    
wolfgang has always trained ...
OffLine Balázs Rau
  2009-09-22 21:41:20    
Dani Andrada's thoughts on training (and him training) : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=54VtaVbJdLo
OffLine Svet
  2009-09-23 11:29:29    
how differnt? quite. i previosly assumed it's uniqe, as theres some trancendental part (climbers are not like others....  bla-bla-bla), but now i don't think  just like this. climbing is common SPORT. and of course, speaking about if training schedules are means for improvement, id say now, OF COURSE, only periodization, and programm, and recovery, and all shit like pharma and steroids (which is 95% of case doping # 1 in professional sports today) will be very good to gain maximum result. climbing is pure sport, and 100 % its physical aspect is regulated by laws of SPORT.i ts stupid to keep saying another 100 years, that there's such a super mental-psy-abstract-moral-philosophical-godly -bla-bla bla aspect ))) that climbers may not train hardly and scheduled way to be best. bullshit. its all other way. climbing is low-paid sport, and so there are literally no money for keeping trainers, masseurs, doctors, etc, like in more paid sports. its also not in Olympics, so state wont care too much, cuz its not question of state prestige. Yes, bu the way W. Gullich was 1st too 100% prove that climbing hard means sport (not lifestyle), and so is 1st of all strict training !! of course, sharma and adam would favor much if they had a coach, and strict training programm..   by the way, it seems to me that there still are at least 2 bright examples of fact that strict training = top climbing success: Patxi and Johanna. both win. and of course, its wrong to say Chris is #1  )))  he is not pure sportsman. he is lifestyle hero ))) and there s noth bad in it. yes he is (has been)  strong at rock, and will almost sure fail to win at comps like WCup and so on. and he knows it. but his bunch of spare time and love towards nature and sponsors+natural strength  allows him to do hard things like 9b's. but it doesnt mean he is # 1. at least u have to separate things like  #1 outdoor climbing lifestyle dude, and #1 all-around climbing sportsman
PS  all sports have mental part))))  ALL. 4 example chess. its only mental. then boxing - seems least mental, but it is: boxers looks at each others eyes, and tune in 4 fight mentally.
1.inspiration is shit, if u train, u do it on schedule, and thats it. u improve, and that inspires u)
2.all sports are mental, not only climbing.
3. fear of body damage is also in all other sports. even safest thing like chess is dangerous)))  a true story: a man was playing chess online far into the night, with both screen and a board in front, and when he suddenly fell asleep, he hit a queen with his eye, and unfortunately, lost the eye. sorry for him, but )))
OffLine fridolin sent
  2009-09-23 13:14:55    
btw.... who is this guy that is just claiming he did realization 9b!!!! in ceuse second go... with a personal best of 8b+... this is getting weirder...
OffLine slopergroper
  2009-09-23 19:13:13    
I think the point of my earlier post was largely missed: climbing on a large variety of rock outside with the intensity that Sharma or Ondra do is a form of training. The Andrada video was instructive.  In it, he points out that training in a gym is the best way to get stronger.  That is likely true and not something I would dispute.  However, strength is only ONE component of being a good climber.  Furthermore, if strength is not a particular climber's weakness (Sharma was blessed with unnatural upper body and grip strength even before he started climbing), then getting stronger in a gym will pay relatively small dividends. The building of a large library of muscle memory for moves and techniques should not be underestimated.  Climbing on a large variety of different rock is an excellent training method for building this kind of repertoire, and I think it goes a long ways towards explaining why Chris and Adam are so good.  Of course, both started with incredible talent, but they have clearly also worked beyond what pure talent would allow them to do. Btw, I still think that Neuman / Goddard's "Performance Rock Climbing" gives the best comprehensive overview of training for climbing, even though many advances have been made in terms of specific techniques.
OffLine Michael Shishlyaev
  2009-09-24 01:41:03    
I see some reasons why hard periodical training is not about climbing at all:
- Climbing is a young sport and not Olympic.
- There are not enough competitors in the sport-climbing.
- Climbers mostly are not motivated financially.

I think we will see the same situation as in traditional Olympic sports when climbing become Olypmic: hard daily trainings using more or less standard cyclic programms.