Before the Pump

For our education technology course, we have been asked to engage in an “open inquiry” where we will blog about our learning journey in something that we are passionate about. We have chosen to write about our training progress made in a sport we are both very passionate about – rock climbing.

Our website consists of different categories, which can be found on the left sidebar menu. The category “Workout Wednesday” will include posts about our weekly training sessions and general thoughts and feelings about the process. The category “Feature Friday” will include information about beginner climbing terminology, interviews, and community events. Lastly, the category ” Safety Sunday” will be a space for us to provide weekly information on health resources and safety tips as it applies to climbing.

Over the next three months, we will be experiencing plenty of sweat, yelling, flappers, callouses, and sore muscles. We start this challenge on Friday, January, 11th. Follow us as we provide updates throughout the semester on our progress.

-Carly & Matt

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No Pain No Gain… Right?

We have come to the end of our first-month training and so far it has been a positive learning experience for both of us! Check out our video where we talk about our progress made thus far, and our thoughts entering into week five of our training program. We will be training endurance twice a week, with one day of hangboarding. We are excited to start seeing some consistent improvement!

-Matt & Carly

With Great Hands, Comes Great Responsibility

This week we interviewed a physiotherapist, Lauren Rex, from Active Recovery Physiotherapy to learn what it takes to develop and maintain hand strength.

Q: I have heard before that beginner climbers should not train/ use hang boards in their first year of climbing? Why is that?

A: For beginners, it is important to “just climb” instead of focusing on hanging as a method to get stronger. This is because as a beginner you are still stimulating the muscles you want to develop. It is suggested that only once you have hit a plateau you are ready to begin adding hanging into your climbing routine. That being said, all climbers should work on the smaller muscles in the hands. You can work these using simple exercises such as finger glides and other exercises (demonstrations are provided in the document below).

Q: What should intermediate climbers be mindful of when implementing a training regime?

A: For more intermediate climbers that have already incorporated hanging into a climbing session, Lauren suggests engaging in a proper crimp technique meaning you aren’t letting your first digit hyperextend on the small holds.

Q: What are some common injuries seen in climbing?

A: Common injuries that climbers experience are tendonitis, otherwise known as tennis elbow and golfer elbow. These are overuse injuries caused by the constant shortening of the muscles in the forearm while climbing. In order to heal the injuries, Lauren suggests eccentric exercises to lengthen the muscles. To do the exercises use a weight and do wrist curls focus on controlling the speed of the weight on the downward motion to allow the muscles to lengthen under the pressure.

If you are finding it difficult to fit training into your schedule, or you do not have enough money to purchase training equipment (such as rehab putty or a Digiflex tool) it is important to remember that there are lots of simple hand exercises that can be done without the use of any equipment at all! It is easy to strengthen your hands while watching your favorite tv show or while you are waiting for the bus ( which they never seem to show up on time).

We hope you find this information useful, and safe climbing out there!

-Matt & Carly

WAIT! Just HOLD On…

Have you ever come into a climbing gym and seen a ton of weird looking holds on the wall? Have you ever wanted to learn what you’re supposed to do with them? Well today is your lucky day. We are providing you an up-to-date guide to climber lingo.

Hold Types:

  • Jug – Every climber’s best friend! SLAM DUNKS in basketball use the same hand motion/position. Jugs are typically large holds that you can fit your entire hand on, sometimes even both hands. Beginner routes are usually made up entirely of jugs.
  • Edge – Imagine hanging from a table or grabbing the top of your fridge. These are holds that are flat on top. This means that generally your four fingers are able to grab/fit on the hold.
  • Crimp/Chip – When a door is closed but you still try and open it by using the space in between the door and the wall. Nobody likes these (except Carly because she has baby hands). Crimps are small holds similar to edges, however, are usually only held with the fingertips. Look at your hands, the first bend in your finger joint would be what holds on to a crimp.

  • Pinch – Grab a dictionary off a shelf. When your thumb is engaged on a hold opposite from your fingers and you’re squeezing, that is a pinch. Pinches are notorious for tiring your forearms, otherwise known as becoming “pumped”.

  • Sloper – Cup your ears, that’s the way you want your hand to look when you’re holding a sloper. These holds have no edges or lip of any kind and are rounded holds on top. Usually beginner routes don’t use these types of holds because they can be difficult to use and require more advanced technique.
  • Pocket – Shove your fingers into a small hole. This is what a pocket feels like. When using pockets you want to use your two-three strongest fingers as your pinkie generally does not fit. Because of this, using pockets sometimes requires accuracy and precision.

Please note that in this world and in climbing, everything will vary. These holds vary in depth, width, texture, position, amount of space for your fingers…etc. You will have your preferences, but make sure you love all shapes and sizes (of holds) 😉

Beasts in the Making

This week has been a little crazier than we had anticipated due to our home gym Boulderhouse being closed for Open Boulder Provincials this weekend. Because of this, we had to seek out an alternative training space and ended up climbing at Crag X for one of the days. Wednesday was the first official day of our training program to start off the first four weeks of our training cycle.

We did 10 sets of weighted hangs on various types of hangboards between 7-10 seconds and worked our power moves on the campus boards. On the “Beastmaker” hangboard, Matt was using a 50lb weight with a half crimp hang and a 30lb weight with a sloper hang. Using the 1-inch wooden edges, he was also successful in practicing his power moves. Carly did 10 second hangs holding both a half-crimp grip and pinches with a 10 lb weight. She practiced her power moves on the campus board using the wooden jugs. During Carly’s campusing she ripped a chunk of skin off and will have to tape her hand for a few more sessions as it heals (ripped skin in climbing is called a “flapper”).

Overall, we are feeling excited about getting stronger, however, are worried about fitting in all our training while also making time for regular fun climbing and schoolwork.

-Matt & Carly

Taking it into our own Hands

The first four weeks of our training schedule will consist of hand strength and power training sessions, which we will complete three times a week on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays. We will provide various weekly updates on our progress and information pertaining to different topics relating to climbing. We are not training experts by any means, but we are excited to learn more throughout the process!

In order to begin training we have taken our starting strength and power statistics to determine our baseline: 

Sloper Hangs: Matt=24.78s Carly=8.93s
Crimp Hangs: M=21s C=41.82s
Pinch Hangs: M=12.36s C=8.31s
Micro Crimp Max: M=10mm C=9mm
Campus Board: M=10rungs C=2rungs
Campus Bumps: M=1-3-5 C=1-2-3
Max Pull ups: M=15 C=6
Max Grip Strength (Right): M=50.9kg C=34kg
Max Grip Strength (Left): M=62.4kg C=38.2kg