Saturday, 8 October 2016

Gaining Weight

Dirty feet
It's pre-season here in Madrid so I'm trying to drag my body into some semblance of form for when the conditions really arrive. This year I've had to adapt to changing circumstances.

The free climbing wall in Cuidad Universitaria that I raved about in a previous blog post is now closed indefinitely. From what I hear, a child climbed on top of the wall and somebody raised concerns about health and safety. It's terrible that this type of culture is now arriving in Spain. I always enjoyed seeing a cheerful disregard for risk here that would never be allowed in England. 

Flippancy aside, this was a blow to my normal training in September. That wall had the Ty Landman training holy trinity:

"My tip for getting stronger is to climb steep, straight angles, 30-45 degrees; big moves between bad holds, where you must keep your feet on. This develops footwork and body tension. No heel hooks, toe hooks or anything like that, just basic straightforward pulling".

Couldn't have put it better myself. Overhanging, fingery holds and bad feet in combination with a great community of setters. It shall definitely be missed. There's a Facebook campaign to reopen the wall here. I'm sure they'd appreciate the numbers even if you've never climbed there before.  

So this has led to my only training being on the fingerboard this month. Which is fine, when I was in Extremadura I trained on the fingerboard for months on end with not a lot of actual climbing. This led  to being mad strong but with no sense feeling for the rock. Here in Madrid this is less of a problem. I can build a base early on and start venturing outside later as the temperatures begin to drop. 

The problem I'm facing is the inevitable finger strength plateau that comes with doing the same fingerboard routine for many years. The way I tried to get gains last season was by dropping fingers from my crimp lineup. Although this was certainly effective, it does tend to lead to injury in my case. I always thought my little finger was: "a stubby cocktail sausage", but it turned out that loosing it blows out my ring finger.

So how to increase the load in a way that doesn't lead to tweaks? Weight vest! At the beginning of the month I bought a 20kg weight vest from that wonderful supplier of elite climbing gear: Decathlon. I've been training with it for the whole month, and it's definitely increased the intensity! I've been doing from two to four hours a day (one of the privileges of unemployment) When I wake up in the morning my finger joints are so stiff that I have to warm them up for ten minutes before i can do anything that requires hands.

Early in the month, I noticed minor tweaks in the knuckle of my right hand, but nothing that I couldn't train through. Now it seems my body can handle the weight, as long as i take a long time to warm up. 

So has it worked? I'm gonna have to wait until I get on rock before I'll be able to say if it's given me the bump that I hope it has. Having said this, initial signs are looking good: when you take it off you feel weightless and all the hangs feel easy. I'm hoping that outside every hold will feel a little better and a little more secure but who knows? Time will tell. 

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