As I mentioned before, I spent last fall in Utah climbing every moment that I wasn’t working. This was great, but it lead to my body feeling pretty tired and injured by the end of the season, which all culminated in a pretty disappointing trip to Red Rocks/Moe’s Valley at the end of December. It wasn’t disappointing just because I didn’t send everything I wanted, I actually made really good progress on my projects, but it was hard to be on a trip and feel like I wasn’t at my peak fitness and just feeling every bit of the mounting fatigue from the fall climbing season.
At the beginning of a new year, I always like to take a look back at the previous year and analyze my successes and failures, and determine what I want to focus on in the upcoming year. These focuses are then refined into a list of goals for the year. I like to encompass all aspects of my life in these goals: work, relationships, self-improvement, and of course climbing. This year though, it was hard for me to come up with concrete climbing goals because I was feeling so fatigued and discouraged… I then found out that my sister’s wedding (which would take place in Scottsdale, AZ at the end of February) was only a 4 hour drive from Red Rocks. If I wanted to send my projects there, this would be the perfect opportunity. This gave me some much needed motivation, and I decided that this year I want to start really projecting again outside. I spent the majority of last year doing a volume of climbs that I could get within one or two sessions, which was great for me both mentally and physically, but I do miss the feeling of working on things that really push me to my limits. First goals for the year, try to send my projects on my trip.
After taking some much needed rest at the beginning of January, I then had to figure out how to get my body back to its peak fitness for the trip… Enter Kris Peters.
Kris Peters is a well-known climbing trainer out of Boulder, Colorado. He recently teamed up with Training Beta (an excellent website and podcast series that discusses all things climbing) and was offering personalized 5-week training plans. I decided to jump on this opportunity and put the fate of my trip into someone else’s hands. I sent Kris a brief bio of my climbing and a short clip of me working on Scare Tactics Right (V9), which is one of my projects down in Red Rocks. My goal for this training was to send this problem as well as Dead Rabbit (V10) in Moe’s Valley. I told him that I assumed that what I was lacking was power endurance, since I had done all of the individual moves on both of my projects, but couldn’t seem to put them together. After watching the clip I sent, Kris emailed me back and gave me a brief breakdown of my strengths and weaknesses:
- Closing my fingers around the holds
- Trying hard
- Shoulder strength
- Keeping my feet on the wall
He told me that yes, power endurance was probably an issue, but also my feet cut on several moves, indicating that I don’t have enough body tension and am therefore wasting a good deal of energy, which is why I probably didn’t have enough left in the tank to finish the climb. My 5-week plan would focus on core strength, shoulder strength, finger strength, and power endurance. This feedback from Kris was really great to hear because it is something that I hadn’t thought of, but it made total sense. This alone felt like it was worth the price of the training plan.
The actual training plan consisted of 5 detailed workouts per week, with two rest days, preferably one being an “active” rest day. When I first started, I will admit that it took me a bit to figure out how to get the whole list of exercises done within a manageable amount of time… It was taking me about 3-4 hours to get through everything on some days, especially days that involved hangboarding because there are specified rest periods between each set of workouts. After a few workouts I figured out that if I was going to be able to actually complete these sessions every time, I needed to utilize those rest periods by doing sets of other exercises on my list. Once I figured this out, my workouts generally took between 2-2.5 hours, with a couple longer sessions on Wednesday’s and Saturday’s.
Now that I have completed the 5-week plan, here is my summary on what I thought, both good and bad…
Let’s start with the bad.
- First off, it was really HARD!!! Haha this is probably a good thing, but when you are doing the workouts it is hard to keep in mind that working on your weaknesses is always going to feel harder, but it is worth it in the end.
- It was super time consuming.. Like I said, the workouts were long, but I did tell Kris that my work schedule was pretty light at the moment and I had ample time for training, so I’m sure Kris modifies things based on each client’s schedule.
- It was lonely. I was doing the training by myself and only had a training partner on a couple days of the week. Often times my friends would be upstairs climbing and I would have to go downstairs by myself to do my workouts. If you don’t have a training partner, you definitely lose some of the social aspect of climbing when embarking on something like this. I just had to keep in mind it would be worth it in the end!
- My body was in a constant state of fatigue. This is what should be expected when doing any training program, but definitely with training hard 5 days a week, I never felt fully recovered or SUPER strong when climbing in the gym. I assume that after taking a period of tapering and rest, I will be able to see all of the gains from the training.
- It takes a great amount of self-discipline. Kris gives you the training plan, but the rest is up to you to actually follow through and do the workouts. There were plenty of days where I just wasn’t feeling it, and plenty of workouts where I wanted to quit halfway through, but I just had to keep reminding myself that this is what I signed up for, and if I wanted to improve, this was the way to do it. I’m actually pretty proud of myself that I didn’t skip a single workout during the 5 weeks!
Now for the good.
- Kris was very responsive with questions, which was great, and you can tell that he cares about his clients meeting their goals.
- I’ve done a lot of training in the past couple years, but this is the first time I have ever worked with someone else. I was able to push myself even farther because someone else was telling me how many reps/sets/workouts to do.
- It was really great that even though I had a very specific goal, every workout within a week’s period was different. This kept the training from getting monotonous, which is super helpful!
- I learned a lot of new workouts and exercises that I will definitely use in the future!
- I was able to train really hard, 5 days a week, and not only avoid injury, but also help recover any nagging injuries I had prior to training!
- The training was effective. I haven’t gotten back on my projects yet, so I don’t know whether or not I will send, but I can tell that I am stronger. Even when my body is fatigued from working out three days in a row, I can see the gains I’ve gotten over the past 5 weeks. I’m climbing harder than ever in the gym and week to week I have seen improvements in my training!
In summary, I would definitely do another round of training with Kris! I’m headed down to Arizona this week and then off to Red Rocks/Moe’s Valley. Wish me luck!!!