Date: October 17th, 2018
About Lattice Training’s Tom Randall and Ollie Torr
Tom Randall and Ollie Torr are the head trainers and founders at www.latticetraining.com, and in this second interview with them, we talked about some training hacks for people who don’t have a lot of spare time to train. Our first interview was all about what their data/research tells them about training. Ollie Torr is a V13 boulderer, 5.14 climber, 5.13 trad climber and former competitive gymnast, who holds a Master’s degree in Sports Science. Tom Randall is a professional climber who climbs 5.14 crack and offwidth, 5.14 sport, and V13.
Both of them have put their skills as climbers and their passion for the scientific process to use at Lattice Training, where they do in-depth analyses of all of their clients and coach them to reach their goals. After working with thousands of climbers over the years, they’ve noted that many of them have very limited time to train, whether it’s because they travel a lot, they have young children, or just full-time work with other life responsibilities. We dedicated this episode to helping those people out.
If you want to train with Tom and Ollie, or learn about their athlete profiling system, contact them at www.latticetraining.com.
Lattice Training Interview Details
These are the 5 training hacks we discussed in detail:
- Using a fingerboard to train power endurance and endurance
- How to schedule your training around your busy life
- When to prioritize climbing outside vs training inside
- Their perfect 1-hour session
- The optimal bare-bones home training set-up
Lattice Training Links
Training Programs by TrainingBeta
Do you want a well-laid-out, easy-to-follow training program that will get you stronger quickly? Here’s what we have to offer on TrainingBeta. Something for everyone…
- Personal Training Online: www.trainingbeta.com/mercedes
- For Boulderers: Bouldering Training Program for boulderers of all abilities
- For Route Climbers: Route Climbing Training Program for route climbers of all abilities
- Finger Strength : www.trainingbeta.com/fingers
- All of our training programs: Training Programs Page
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Neely Quinn: Welcome to the TrainingBeta podcast where I talk with climbers and trainers about how we can get a little better at our favorite sport. I’m your host, Neely Quinn. I haven’t talked to you in awhile. My life has been crazy.
I was gone for awhile because my father passed away and that was pretty tough. At the same time we are renovating our new house which turns out to be one of the most satisfying things I’ve ever done in my life. I haven’t been able to climb and train much but swinging sledge hammers and painting and knocking down walls and doing all this stuff is actually really hard work and it’s very satisfying to me.
That’s been fun and then last week I got to go to Minneapolis for the Performance Climbing Coach seminar that Steve Bechtel puts on. I get to teach the nutrition side of that. It was super fun. I really enjoy hanging out with all of those guys. We have such a blast and we had about 20-25 participants. Thank you guys for coming out. We were hosted by the Minneapolis Bouldering Project which is an amazing bouldering gym if you are ever passing through Minneapolis or if you live there.
Now I’m home and I’m a little bit more settled. We have less to do with the house so I got to sit down today with Tom Randall and Ollie Torr of Lattice Training. They’re in the UK, in Sheffield, and they’re pretty well known now as climbing trainers.
Tom Randall is also a professional climber. He was one of the Wide Boyz and that’s where he got his first fame. Then Ollie Torr is his partner at Lattice Training. They’re both really strong, well-rounded climbers.
Ollie is a V13 boulderer, a 5.13 trad climber, and a 5.14 sport climber. Tom Randall is a 5.14 sport climber and a 5.14 trad climber. They’re both super strong and they love training and they put this love of training into www.latticetraining.com. They made the Lattice Board, they made the new Crimpd app which is a fantastic training tool, and they now have a podcast, they have a blog – they’re just way into it.
They’re also way into data. They do these in depth analyses of their clients who are either in England with them or they’re all over the world. They see people remotely, too. They have all this data from thousands of climbers and that’s what we talked about in our first episode with them, my first interview with them last year. This interview we’re going to be talking more about the coaching side of things as opposed to the data.
What they’ve noticed and what I’ve noticed also with my nutrition clients is that people are starved for time. They have travel schedules, they have young children who take up a lot of time, or people have full time jobs and responsibilities on top of that. Training can sort of go to the wayside for people who are busy. People are wondering, ‘I only have an hour today. Is it even worth it for me to train?’ These are the people that we’re going to be talking to and about through this whole episode.
They have found five really good hacks, or just guidelines, for people to follow in order to make the best use of their time and still get stronger. I’m going to let them tell you all about that.
Just one quick reminder that this podcast is an offshoot of the website www.trainingbeta.com which is all about training for climbing. We have blog posts and original articles from climbers all over the world. We also have training programs and those training programs are very easy to use, they’re affordable, and you can find them at www.trainingbeta.com. In the ‘Programs’ tab at the top you’ll find everything that we offer. Every time you make a purchase it helps support this podcast and everything we do at TrainingBeta so we really appreciate it.
Without further adieu, here are Tom Randall and Ollie Torr of Lattice Training. I will talk to you on the other side. Enjoy!
Neely Quinn: Welcome to the show, Tom and Ollie. Thanks very much for being with me again.
Tom Randall: Hey Neely! Good to be back.
Ollie Torr: Hey Neely!
Neely Quinn: How are you guys? What have you guys been doing?
Tom Randall: We’re all very good, thank you. This is Tom, by the way. We’ve been pretty busy recently with working on the coaching and profiling that we’ve done. As me and you chat occasionally about what we’re doing and as the industry is growing, there’s so much exciting stuff going on that it’s just great being involved with coaching and training at the moment.
Neely Quinn: Yeah, it’s pretty cool how it’s blowing up.
Ollie Torr: Yeah, it’s amazing at the moment, the amount of people that have contacted us from all over the world, actually. It’s been in academia as well, actually, which has been really interesting to see all of the research that’s going on and the people that are doing it from a coach’s perspective but also in terms of studying it at university.
Neely Quinn: Oh. Do you guys want to talk about that right now? Or should we talk about something a little lighter first?
Tom Randall: I’ll give you kind of a brief rundown. As lots of people know, we’re really interested in research and furthering the sports science behind what we do as a coaching group. This year we put a lot of time into doing more research and studies looking at the data we’ve collected over the years and looking at the validity and the reliability of that data. Secondly, we’ve partnered up with academic universities or academic institutions – these are universities in the UK – to do some additional studies. I won’t go into the in depth details on it but just to say that if you follow our social media and things like that, as soon as we have information and we have interesting findings that we think are useful to all the climbers out there, we put it out there and try to share it as much as possible. We feel it’s really important to try and contribute back to the climbing community.
Neely Quinn: Yeah, it’s amazing. What kinds of things – do you want to just touch on what kinds of things are being studied?
Ollie Torr: In terms of the general areas of research it’s exploding all over the place, particularly with the 2020 Olympics coming on. Regarding the stuff that we’ve been lucky enough to be involved in, like Tom said, one of the things that we’ve been doing recently is that all of the data we’ve collected over the years with thousands of climbers, we’re starting to write that up in academic journals and showing how reliable the testing methods are across different groups of climbers.
We’re also creating intelligent models that take into account the anthropometrics of the person and their climbing experience. That helps us to profile and predict a climber’s performance much better than it used to be.
Neely Quinn: So you feel like you can take a client, get their anthropometrics – is that what the word is?
Tom & Ollie: Yep.
Neely Quinn: That’s their vital data. You feel like you can take all of that, test them, and then predict better how hard they’re going to climb?
Ollie Torr: Exactly, and vice versa you can take a certain type of climb or a certain type of movement and you can work backwards from that.
One of the interesting things is we’ve had all of this data for a while now and we all know that there’s differences between the really tall climber or the really short climber, the really stocky guy or someone’s who is quite skinny, between female athletes and male adult athletes and juvenile athletes, but now we’ve actually started to run the numbers on a much more sophisticated statistical model. That allows us to be far more detailed and individualized to the person themselves.
At the moment we’ve taken a couple of steps in that direction but we’ve got loads more to come.
Neely Quinn: Do you feel like you’re better trainers now because of this?
Tom Randall: I suppose that intrinsically we don’t become better trainers just because we have a model or data, but we become a trainer with a more useful tool. It’s something that I do a lot of explaining with because I do coach education and I run courses and workshops on how to train others and how to understand the basic physiology. I’m always trying to explain to people that it’s great knowing all the academic knowledge and numbers and geeky science and stuff but unless you underpin that with some really good, solid, sound coaching expertise and experience over the years, it is all for nothing, really, so it’s great to be able to combine this academia with a coaching experience.
Ollie and I have kind of been coaching for most of our lives. I’ve been coaching since I was a teenager.
Ollie Torr: It feels like it.
Tom Randall: So you just combine good solid experience with that sports science and it’s a lovely thing to do to work with individuals and help them.
Neely Quinn: Just for the people who don’t know who you guys are, can you just give us an introduction of what you do on a daily basis?
Ollie Torr: I’m a full-time coach and with Tom I founded Lattice Training. On a day-to-day basis I’m working with clients remotely and close to home, doing training plans specifically and looking at the physiology of their training and then also doing one-to-one coaching and group coaching, looking at all sorts of areas such as technique, competition tactics, and even just basic stuff like confidence on a rope.
I come from a background in sports science so I’ve got a degree in sports science and a masters in strength and conditioning. I still am trying to be the best all around climber I can be. I’ve climbed 5.14 sport, V13, and 5.13 trad – I think if I’ve got the grades right – and then I’ve been terrified on several big walls now so I will not claim to be a good big wall climber but I am trying my best.
Neely Quinn: I mean, that speaks. You are a good overall climber and that’s very rare. That does speak to your ability to coach and train yourself.
Ollie Torr: Yeah, I mean that’s why I got into this in the first place, to be honest. I went to study sports science at university and it was one of the two main climbing universities in the UK. The reason I started looking into all of the training stuff over the years was I just wanted to get better for myself. I suddenly realized the passion of helping someone else achieve their goals in any area of climbing was just so much fun as well. It shared motivation with me. If I can get psyched with my own climbing, that’s great, but if I get psyched for someone else’s that’s also great.
Neely Quinn: Cool. And Tom?
Tom Randall: I suppose I’m more of a mixture of coach and professional climber. My methods and the styles I take with the work I do on a daily basis is I try and blend that element of myself, trying to perform and train and make that year on year progression, with the coaching that I then deliver to individuals. I inform it with all the sports science work that I have behind Lattice but then my experience as an athlete myself and having had a really, really long – and dare I say somewhat hard won – journey. I’m definitely not a talented, easy gainer in sporting ability. I really try and blend those two together so that I can show people that yes, you can be a coach and you can help people along the way but you know what? I have trod that exact same path. I know how hard it is and how hard you have to work and I always hope that when I talk to people they see that I’m in their shoes as well and I can explain that in a really ‘real’ sense. For me it’s a mixture of performing myself but also working with individuals.
Neely Quinn: And then also it sounds like training other trainers.
Tom Randall: Yeah, yeah. I work for the British Mountaineering Council as a course deliverer on training science or training plan structures and their physiology courses, which are delivered to coaches around the UK. I do some workshops abroad when I go to climbing gyms and teach those coaches there how to write training plans and understand the physiology.
Neely Quinn: Nice. You guys are such a wealth of knowledge and I’m really happy that you’re willing to be on the podcast over and over. This stuff is really interesting and you guys have so much experience.
Tell me, what are we talking about today?
Tom Randall: One of the things that we’ve been asked about quite a lot of times is: what is the best way to train for people that are time poor? Are there any time hacks or training hacks for people that need to fit their training around difficult lives or busy lives, whether they have families or busy work schedules or they work in remote places. We thought looking at these time hacks and maximizing your training and your progression in a short space of time might be a really useful discussion for people that are listening at home.
Neely Quinn: I mean, what are the main challenges that you see people coming up against when they don’t have very much time? Who are these people?
Ollie Torr: Typically we find that we’re working with a lot of people who have either a very, very busy work schedule and that often comes with complications of traveling all over the place, especially in the US because you can fly and travel internally in the country so easily. Secondly is relatively new parents with kids that are between 0-7 years old, where the workload is still quite high and they have a high dependency on you as a parent.
Those people really, I think, struggle to work out how to take their previous lifestyle of lots of spare time where they know how to train and fit that into a format where it’s intelligently thought through but kind of lacks any spare – they don’t have much of a buffer zone of not using their time to the greatest degree of efficiency. They’re wondering, ‘How do I go from having 10 hours a week spare to get on the wall to now at very best I’ve got four hours a week spare?’
Tom Randall: I was going to say that apart from when we worked for the national teams or youth climbers, I would say these sort of people have always made the majority of our clients or the people we work with. I would say that the vast group of climbers that wants coaching or need help with this are those normal professionals with lives and very busy work schedules. It’s definitely a need and this conversation is useful to the masses.
Neely Quinn: Okay, so basically a lot of them are these three people: frequent travelers, new parents, and normal people with regular jobs who also want to climb.
Ollie Torr: Yeah, and wondering how to fit in that thing they know exists, which is the training. Often, lots of people know how to train but how do you fit it into that really short amount of space of time? Sometimes you can’t put that time exactly where you wanted it. It’s no longer available to have 8:00-10:00PM every evening. It doesn’t exist anymore. You’ve got to be at home with the kids and what to do with that?
We’ve really enjoyed working through the process of tips and tricks and methods and strategies to work around that because it’s fascinating to do it. You can still make progression. You’ve just got to be a little bit more clever about it.
Neely Quinn: That’s the real question here. Do you see a lot of success with this kind of person?
Tom Randall: Oh yeah, 100%. It definitely takes a lot of grit and determination from the person themselves and they’ve really got to want it but the gains are absolutely there to be made. We’ve seen some really, really good successes and some amazing progressions from people with such limited time or really challenging lifestyles. With a bit of motivation and using these hacks and little tricks and tips, they’ve really maximized their time. We’ve even been surprised with how many gains some people have been able to make and then still lead very normal lives.
Neely Quinn: You’re like, ‘You did what?’
Ollie Torr: But it’s really interesting because underneath it I feel like the secret source to it is that when you start to lack time and you do something active about that, so it’s planning and coming up with a strategy, it really causes you to focus. When you apply more focus to a situation or scenario you often end up with better quality. These people go from having a lot of spare time to not much and suddenly they’ve got so much focus and quality in those sessions that the gains are, in fact, sometimes better because they never had that before. There was no need for it so they flaked it.
Neely Quinn: Yeah, it makes sense. I think a lot of people just have three or four hours, four days a week, and they go to the gym and they just mess around.
Tom Randall: Yeah, and I used to do that before I had kids. If I look back and look at the most productive years of my own personal training it started in 2011 when I had my first child. I became so much more resourceful because I had loads of my training ‘free’ time taken away.
Neely Quinn: Well thanks to your kid, then.
Tom Randall: [laughs] And the second, which has made it even more complicated.
Neely Quinn: So how much time do these people actually have, would you say?
Ollie Torr: It tends to vary a lot, depending on the person, but usually when we see new parents it’s random hours. They’re not able to go to the wall for two or three hours in the evening. They get 45 minutes in the morning, they might get half an hour break in the middle of the day, they might have an hour really late in the evening, and that usually happens sporadically throughout the week. They’ve got to learn to break up a session, structure their days in advance, and just make the most of those short windows.
We might get the busy professional who’s doing 10-hour days in a very busy office or working as a lawyer, for example, and then they really need to get to the wall. They’ve got an hour or two before it shuts and then they’ve got to go home, eat, and strategize all of those little areas so that they can go in, do what they need to do, and get out so that they’re getting ready for the next day of busy work.
Neely Quinn: Alright, so this really is like you’ve got to be a master planner to figure this out and make it happen.
Tom Randall: Yeah, you basically become good at planning, you get good at strategy, and we all know that this is a really effective tool to use in situations like this. It’s just not easy. It’s not a simple, easy ride. It takes a bit of effort but it’s very doable and I always want to give that message to everyone out there. Yes, you might have a tricky situation to deal with and it’s not going to be an easy ride but it is definitely doable.
Neely Quinn: Okay. So let’s talk about what I think is the low-hanging fruit for these people, because finger strength is so important. Can we talk about that?
Ollie Torr: You’re definitely right in that finger strength is an area that everybody needs. If we were looking at the general qualities that most climbers need, finger strength is definitely one of those main facets that across the grades is a really, really useful thing to work. The priority might change if you’re a 5.10 climber or 5.14, but in general it’s definitely something you can do in a very short space of time. The main thing that we would use to do that, and that’s a very easy thing to use, is a fingerboard but the main mistake we see people making by using a fingerboard is that they put it up in an area of the house that’s not very accessible. If you’re training finger strength you need to have a tool that’s really there for you to be able to use. It’s got to be very accessible. You’ve got to be able to get on it straight away, do the training that you need to do so that you can finish quickly and then move on to the rest of your day. If you put it up in the basement where you’ve got to get through a load of gardening equipment and ducking under beams and you’ve got to brush the cobwebs off and then start hanging, you’re far less likely to get on that fingerboard.
Tom Randall: I would further back that up by saying that as a parent, I’ve also found it very useful to have a fingerboard in the kitchen – the place between the kitchen and the living room – because it means that you can still be social and talk to people and hang out with others whilst doing these training sessions. It sounds like a bit of a compromise and maybe that you’re not being the best parent or husband, but it’s a really effective use of time if you’ve decided that you need to make these or use these kind of strategies.
Neely Quinn: Right. I mean I have mine between my kitchen and my living room, too. We have a TRX hanging from the middle of the doorway between the kitchen and the living room but it does do just that to us. It’s like, ‘This is easy, I can take just five minutes to do something right now,’ but I think that some people don’t like the looks of it. Do you have anything to say about that?
Tom Randall: Oh, I don’t know. I like the look of my fingerboard.
Ollie Torr: What can I say? Put up one of those bamboo screens maybe.
Neely Quinn: In the doorway?
Ollie Torr: Yeah, hang a bamboo screen. A bamboo screen saves everything and don’t forget to hoover up after all the chalk is in the floor.
Neely Quinn: Exactly. So fingerboarding – we know where to put it in our house, we know to put it in a place where we’re actually going to use it, but what else do we need to know?
Ollie Torr: One of the key things about using a fingerboard is you can get so much specific climbing stimulus just using that one tool. You mentioned finger strength before. That’s kind of the obvious thing that you can train. You can definitely get your forearms strong so you can apply force through your fingers, which is a key quality that most climbers need, but one of the things that we use it for with those time-poor people, the ones who have 30 minutes in the morning, 45 minutes in the middle of the day, is they can train the rest of their energy systems – whether it’s power endurance, whether it’s the anaerobic system – they can do that all on a fingerboard just by using a couple of clever sessions. It means they get really, really good stimulus to the forearm without having to go to a climbing wall.
Neely Quinn: Okay, how do you train power endurance on a fingerboard.?
Tom Randall: The trick to doing all of the energy system work and in this case power endurance, is that you need to have a process of working out what percentage of your maximum that you’re operating at. This requires two steps. First of all, you want to do a basic benchmarking exercise. You need to find out: what is your 100% maximum? Kind of like the equivalent of a one-rep max in the gym. For us, we typically use something that’s around a 5, 7, or 10-second hang. It’s debatable which is the best or most appropriate time period to use for determining your maximum but it’s roughly in that window. That’s as hard or as high intensity as you can possibly hang for that 5-7 or 10-second window.
For example you may be able to hang for five seconds with five kilos weight taken off or added to your body weight. With that ability to be able to benchmark and find out your maximum, it’s very simple to then work out a percentage of that maximum using math. You have your body weight plus the weighted element that you added in, whether that’s added weight or weight taken off. That number means you can set intensities at 40%, 50%, 60%, all the way up to 100% for any particular session and therefore if you choose to train something like power endurance, for example, then you’d be operating in that 60-70% maximum window. It’s just a really simple math calculation to work out how much you need to take off or add to body weight and you can get on with your climbing session on a fingerboard.
Neely Quinn: Okay, so what’s the kind of workout that you would do for power endurance?
Tom Randall: The easiest one to do would be to replicate the contraction and relaxation cycles that you might see on a climbing exercise. That’s going to either be something like a 7/3 repeater or a 5/2 repeater set. That’s 7 seconds of hanging, 3 seconds of relaxation, or 5 seconds of hanging, 2 seconds of relaxation.
If we were doing our power endurance, in this case we would be hanging at 60% of our maximum and then doing a repeater set on 7/3 continually, so 7 on/3 off, 7 on/ 3 off until you reach a point where you fail. You’re pumped and you fall off the fingerboard, you take a nice big significant rest to de-pump, and then you could do a number of further sets of this. That’s a really nice power endurance stimulus and training set for the forearm on a fingerboard.
Neely Quinn: I’ve never heard of fingerboarding till failure.
Tom Randall: Yes, it’s really easy to do if you get this intensity level right. Lots of people go, ‘Well, I’m used to working on strength on a fingerboard,’ which of course it was originally designed for, but we’ve found that for those people that are really struggling for time, you can still create those adaptations and you can still stimulate that muscle in the forearm in exactly the same way you would on a climbing wall but guess what – you’re going to do a much shorter warm-up, you haven’t got to walk out of your house, and you’re getting the same physiological gains that you’re looking for.
Neely Quinn: When do you know when to stop? Like how many sets do you do? How do you know how many sets are enough?
Tom Randall: It comes down to the individual, of course, and how well trained they are. I would say for a beginner or intermediate level climber, you want to continue until you’ve felt in a couple of the sets that you’ve got pretty pumped and you’ve reached failure but you don’t want to extend that too much. Don’t push too deep into the session. Just experience that failure and that pump level in the forearm. Of course, if you’re at a very high level, an elite, well trained athlete, then you can push those sets really quite far and you can do a number of them to create that feeling and that stimulus within the forearm.
Neely Quinn: So it just depends on how much you’ve trained in the past?
Tom Randall: Yes, it’s all about the training history. It’s always very hard to give generic answers to someone for a power endurance session and say, “Everyone can train four sets,” but you can certainly say that one set is not going to be that much stimulus and 10 sets is going to be, for almost every single case, too much. Most people are going to sit in that middle band of around 4-8 sets.
Neely Quinn: Alright. So that’s power endurance. Any other energy systems you want to talk about on the fingerboard?
Ollie Torr: A really, really interesting exercise for people to do is that at 40% maximum, like Tom just said, using that 7 seconds on/3 seconds off repeater cycle, but if you’re doing that at 40% maximum you’re going to be really slowly, gradually building the level of pump and it’s going to be much more indicative of the endurance of the forearm. If you have a go at it it’s one of the weirdest feelings in the world, where you think, ‘I am definitely going to fall off. I am definitely going to fall off.’ Three minutes later you’re still going and you’re praying that you’re going to fall off any moment. For some reason – well, because of the conditioning of your forearms – you’re able just to keep going a lot further than you think. It’s a fantastic stimulus for your ams.
It’s also a really good exercise in showing how much you can still exert in terms of force, even though you feel like you’re completely exhausted. To further what Tom said on the power endurance, when you’re trying to test these areas or train 40%, 50%, or 60%, it’s a really good exercise to think, ‘What grip positions do I really need to work on?’
An example of that is here in the Peak District a lot of the climbing is very crimpy. If I was to train on the fingerboard doing those same exercises in an open grip position, that’s going to give me some really good stimulus and I’m sure it would definitely help in terms of the fitness of my forearm muscles however, as soon as I go into that full crimp or half crimp it’s really, really going to suddenly make it a lot harder because I’m not used to holding that same position. If you work on the specific grip positions for your goals or just train in different grip positions between sessions, that’s a really, really good way to make sure that any type of hold that you come up to on a route you’re already very well trained and you’re not suddenly going to get that terminal pump that makes you fall off.
Neely Quinn: Then going back to the 40% max, were you saying that you were just holding on and holding on? Or are you doing repeaters on that for the endurance workout?
Ollie Torr: Definitely doing the repeaters. One thing that we found through a lot of the testing is that continual hangs doesn’t seem to produce as good a stimulus but if you’re doing the repeater cycles it’s going to replicate what actually happens while you’re climbing.
Neely Quinn: Right, you’re having tension and then you’re letting go and then you’re having tension. Any other energy system you want to talk about?
Tom Randall: One other thing I want to just add on to Ollie’s point about this 40% training you can do on a fingerboard is that it’s a very low intensity aerobic exercise and it’s great as an endurance session on the fingerboard. It is somewhat – it’s not the most interesting session to do ever but one thing to be aware of is some individuals may have a very low endurance capacity so they should be aware that if you’re going to go away and try this session, don’t be a total stickler to saying, “I’ve got to do this at 40% because I heard Ollie say this on the podcast at 40%.” Be flexible to maybe drop it down to 35% or even 30% of your maximum if you’re finding this doesn’t feel like a really low level endurance aerobic exercise. Don’t get honed in on specific intensities just because you saw it written somewhere or you heard it somewhere. Go for that feeling of how it feels when you do that session.
Neely Quinn: Okay, and how it should feel is kind of what Ollie was saying, where you’re just holding on and you keep holding on and you surprise yourself that you’re still holding on?
Ollie Torr: Yeah. I always say that it’s like a warm feeling that grows in the forearm. You’ll know for sure that you’re working and you’re doing these continual hangs and it’s actually incredibly – even though I’ve done it loads, it’s kind of hard to explain how it feels because it’s such an unusual feeling. I would have thought the first time I ever did it as a climber that’s climbed for years and years and years, I’d go, ‘Oh yeah, I know this feeling,’ but it’s kind of unusual because it’s so highly aerobic because the intensity is so low. You’re never even touching a crux move like you do or a slightly harder move like you might do on a climbing wall, climbing around on big holds. It’s so consistent in intensity. It’s just a gradually growing warm feeling. There’s a mild discomfort of pump in the background but it’s really nowhere near you failing and you can go a really long time doing it.
Neely Quinn: So are the sets the same at 4-8ish?
Ollie Torr: You might want to do a few less sets on that one, just because you are going to last a long time. Depending on how long you last you might want to go to 2, 3, or 4 sets of that. Like Tom said, once again, it’s dependent on the individual.
One thing I would definitely say, though, regarding all of this sort of training, all of the fingerboard and energy systems as well, is to make sure they’re safe and that you’re going to avoid any sort of injury. You should be able to maintain that same strict position that you started with and that’s in regards to your finger position, your elbow position, and your shoulder position. If you’re hanging in a really nice place underneath the fingerboard and you’ve got enough muscle engagement and your forearms are in half crimp, towards the end of the sets if your fingers are still in half crimp and your elbows aren’t flaring up, you’ve not got your chicken winging on, your shoulders are still down and they’re not next to your ears. As soon as that starts to happen, if any of those areas are starting to give way, then that’s when you should finish the exercise because that’s when injury does often happen. It’s when you’ve got a load on the joints and they’re starting to extend when they’re already fatigued.
Neely Quinn: So do you think that a 5.10 or 5.9 climber, who doesn’t have time to get to the wall very often and they have a fingerboard at home, do you think that they should be doing this?
Tom Randall: The coach’s answer on this is always going to be that it comes down to – and I hope I don’t sound like a broken record when I say this but it comes down to the individual, and really you should see it as a sliding spectrum of risk. The lesser experienced individual who’s spent less time climbing, less time training and at a lower level should think about this more carefully and approach someone that they trust with more experience and who is suited to give them some level of advice in this, whether it’s a friend, a professional, a coach down at the wall where they’re climbing, to see what they think is suitable for them. That level of risk slowly decreases over time as someone goes up the climbing grades and also has more training and climbing experience.
Neely Quinn: So okay – do you think it would be useful to have a low level climber put their feet on something, on the ground or on their tiptoes, and do this?
Ollie Torr: I mean it all comes down to the intensity of the exercise. Whether they’re doing it with their feet on or with a pulley, it doesn’t really matter as long as for that individual the intensity has changed significantly compared to their benchmark, like Tom said earlier. That low end climber, say someone is climbing 5.10, their benchmark will be at a set level and all of their percentages of that maximum will be dependent upon their benchmark. Exactly the same for a 5.14 climber. It should all be relative to the individual.
Neely Quinn: Okay.
Tom Randall: I’ll give you another example of this. I was doing a workshop a couple of weekends ago and I was working with an individual who is climbing around the low 5.10s. We did a bit of benchmarking and found out what their finger strength was and then I showed him this 40% fingerboarding session, so a very low intensity, high volume fingerboard session. We had something like – I’ll give it in US – around 100 pounds added to the pulley so that was being taken off his body weight. When he hung on the pulley and he had his harness on, he said to me, “I practically feel like I’m floating,” and it was because he had so much body weight taken off on that exercise that that felt incredibly easy for him. That was still that aerobic stimulus for him despite the fact that he had very low levels of finger strength and he wasn’t a very strong climber. It’s all about this benchmarking that you can do and it’s really easy to control it when you use math and a simple benchmarking test to start.
Neely Quinn: Okay, so what you’re saying is a lower level climber, like 5.9 or 5.10, this person can do this they should need to make sure that their form is correct and that they’re doing everything right and maybe consult with somebody about that.
Ollie Torr: 100% and to give the straight answer, just a coagulate example from a client I’ve worked with in the past, this person went to work on the Antarctic survey so they didn’t have access to a climbing wall or any rock that didn’t have snow all over it. If they were to do training like this and they were a 5.9 or 5.10 climber and they came back to climbing afterwards, when they returned they would be a fitter climber compared to if they didn’t do it. It will definitely make a good stimulus if you’re unable to get to the climbing wall.
Neely Quinn: Okay. Let’s see – is there anything else we need to talk about with fingerboarding?
Tom Randall: I think that probably covers the main points of it, yeah.
Neely Quinn: So overall, fingerboarding is a good tool for people who don’t have a wall available. What about when people are living out of hotels or something a lot?
Ollie Torr: The portable fingerboard has got to be the king there. If you can get your hands on one of those portable fingerboards they’re really nice and light. Most of us carry them to the crag nowadays. You can hang them up and there’s a couple of methods for that. You can have a pull-up bar that goes between your door frames or my preferred method is taking a couple of skyhooks and damaging the door frames above the hotel wall in the rooms. That seems to work quite well. If you can do that, that’s brilliant. If not, there are a few options but that’s the ideal.
Neely Quinn: Cool. That’s easy.
The next thing we’re going to talk about is how to schedule all of this in because, Ollie you touched on it a little bit, people will have 45 minutes in the morning and then a half hour at lunch, etcetera, etcetera. Do you want to talk about common experiences you hear about with people and how they schedule their lives?
Tom Randall: The first strategy that we found to be very effective is splitting your sessions across the day. People that struggle with time often say, “If you were to put all of my little blocks of time, a half an hour or 45 minutes across the day together, then I kind of do have around two hours to do some training. I don’t have that because they’re in tiny little blocks,” so we try and encourage people to take those small blocks that might be spread around the day and still fill those with a training stimulus. We call these ‘split sessions’ and it’s actually what a lot of professional athletes do with how they schedule their training. We’re big fans of it. We’ve been doing it a number of years and most people find it entirely rewarding and a really nice process to use in terms of training.
Neely Quinn: Okay.
Tom Randall: That would look like, for example, someone who gets up and does half an hour of fingerboarding early in the morning before going to work then they may come home after work and do a quick TRX session before dinner. They cook dinner for everyone in the family and then perhaps they have a home training wall in their basement and they fit a further half an hour down in the basement on some bouldering, for example. It’s all in half an hour blocks but over the day.
Neely Quinn: I mean, an hour and a half is a pretty good amount of time.
Tom Randall: Yeah.
Neely Quinn: Honestly, it seems like this is a good idea for people who don’t even have this issue with scheduling because then you’re well-rested between the phases of your training session. Is that wrong or right?
Ollie Torr: I think it’s definitely right. Like Tom said, in the ideal scenario you’re a full time athlete and that’s probably still how you would train. You would make sure that you were working the different stimulus at different areas of the day because, like you said, you’ll get a rest in between each and you’ll really maximize all of those sessions.
For the people that have got a bit more of a complicated schedule, all it takes is just splitting their sessions maybe a little bit further apart or into smaller areas of the day. For example, a really good friend of mine who is absolutely phenomenal at sticking with his training plan is up at 5:30 every morning to go on his fingerboard and do his conditioning. After he has sorted his young child out, gone to work, come back and spent time with the family he’s back in the garage doing more training in the evening. He just gets on with it and it’s absolutely amazing to see the amount of volume of training he gets done in these very short windows of the day.
Neely Quinn: Did you say every morning?
Ollie Torr: Most mornings, yeah, at 5:30 in the morning and then 8-9 at night. He’s an absolute hero so it makes me feel lazy.
Neely Quinn: Well I mean, do you think that’s even good for someone to do it almost every morning?
Ollie Torr: Not every morning needs to be the same intensity so it all comes down to what you’re doing. You can train every day if you wanted to. The training can be different, though. I would include stretching, TRX, and antagonist work. That still classifies as training in my eyes so you can do something everyday if you wanted to but it comes down to your motivation and how vigilant you are with the stimulus that you’re trying to create.
Neely Quinn: I guess if you’re going to be climbing 3-5 days a week then it’s no different if you’re not actually climbing to fingerboard 3-5 days a week.
Ollie Torr: And like I said, in terms of doing it everyday, that might just not be fingerboarding, that would be loads of different types of training. This particular person wouldn’t fingerboard five days a week but he would certainly do something.
Neely Quinn: Okay. So you had said that this person in particular does fingerboarding in the morning, TRX in the evening or afternoon, and then goes on his home wall at night, for instance. Is that how you would say to schedule the different things at different times of the day?
Tom Randall: It mostly comes down to the whole theory of how you stack intensities across the day. If you really come into the nitty gritty, there’s a number of different strategies that you can use and different arguments that you can propose for how you stack the intensities.
We’ve found that as a general rule, and you can apply this to most people and it will work, you put the highest intensity work earliest in the day. The stuff where you’ve got to focus and put that quality into very high intensity strength work, you want to put that early on. The lower intensity, lower skill work is later on in the day when you’re carrying more fatigue from earlier in the day. It’s all about stacking the intensity and the skill level in those exercises but you can kind of get stuck in the weeds if you start breaking it down. There are a number of different theories for exactly how you do that but that rule won’t do you harm. We’ll say that’s definitely true.
Neely Quinn: Okay. That’s really interesting that it can go so many different ways. You could hangboard in the morning and it could be max hangs and then in the evening, if you got on your home wall, you could be doing more like power endurance or endurance work circuits.
Tom Randall: Exactly, and that would be the way to do it. You wouldn’t do power endurance in the morning at 7:00 or 8:00AM on your fingerboard and then try and do your max hangs in the evening. That wouldn’t be the way to go.
Ollie Torr: I would say when you’re doing this type of training and you are trying to do that high intensity stuff in the morning, just get up a little bit earlier and have a really structured and rigid warm-up because that’s usually the bit where people fall down. If you happen to get up a little bit later and you’ve still got this session planned, you might try and jump into that session and make sure you get it done but because you are just waking up and your body is starting to move, you need to make sure that that warm-up is really good and structured.
Neely Quinn: Okay, right. So that takes priority.
Ollie Torr: Right. I’d much rather someone do one less set of an exercise in the morning and make sure they have a really good warm-up then get all of their sets done and rush the warm-up. Really, all of these time hacks come down to consistency. The biggest threat to consistency is injury so warm-up priority number one and then getting the sets done is priority number two.
Neely Quinn: I’m just running through these different scenarios that could happen and questions that people might have. One thing would be, if you did want to limit boulder and say you did have a Moon Board or a home wall at home, and you also need to hangboard that day, you would probably need to limit boulder in the morning, right?
Tom Randall: It depends on the intensity. If you’re talking about true limit bouldering – so this is project level and at your absolute maximum you could do 2-3-4 moves in a row – then the way I would schedule it would be to make sure the fingerboarding is recruitment style fingerboarding. The very highest intensity but for a very short duration so that you’re staying away from exhaustion and fatigue in that session, so not repeater style fingerboarding. Then when you come to the evening you would do your limit bouldering.
I do that myself a lot with my own training. I will do fingerboarding, recruitment style with max hangs, in the morning and then boulder in the evening. Actually, sometimes in the afternoon I feel rested enough. I wouldn’t do it the other way around. I don’t feel like I would get the same quality in the max hangs recruitment style fingerboarding in the evening if I had already done a limit bouldering session. There’s no way I can do true max hang fingerboarding after even a 20-minute bouldering session.
Neely Quinn: Okay, got it.
Tom Randall: And it’s all about quality. That’s what it comes down to. When you’re doing that very hard strength work, if you’re losing 5% to quality – otherwise known as intensity in that session – then you’re just not going to have the same physiological response.
Neely Quinn: So overall, though, you can do both in a day. You just have to be smart about which ones you’re doing first and leave the more intense ones for when you’re more rested.
Tom Randall: Exactly, and it’s always got to be done in a respect to your training history and the depth of climbing and training that you’ve done previously. This example here we’ve kind of just run through is a really nice way of ordering things but if you have an individual who has never fingerboarded before or has barely done any limit bouldering, it would be a mistake to add both into a day. It is about easing in slowly and not just throwing yourself at this combination of events because it seems like a useful way to use your time. It’s got to be progressive.
Neely Quinn: Right, so do one for awhile or separate them by a couple of days, you mean?
Ollie Torr: Yeah, either separating them or at least create a habit or a training depth in that particular methodology of training so that your body is adapted to it.
Neely Quinn: What about the people who work all day, they have families, they’re tired and they come home from work and they’re mentally exhausted and they don’t want to train. [laughs]
Tom Randall: This is definitely something that I think gets underestimated quite a lot. It’s very easy for someone to say, “Well, you’ve just got to get the training done and make sure. Once you get started you’ll be fine,” because we definitely need to react to what’s going on in life, whether it’s unusual stresses going on or its fatigue from work and from family and everything else. One thing I would always, always say – and this is pretty much across the board – is make sure you play it safe and go for what’s consistent, then make sure you plan ahead.
Playing it safe and consistent, by that I mean you’re much better off planning for those times that you know you’ll be able to get that time in. You’re going to plan for one hour of training, not the optimal two that you might get sometimes, because that means you’re much more likely to do it and do it at a much higher quality. If we’re always reaching at slightly beyond what we want, that’s not going to help that fatigue and the rest of the time that we’re trying to put in with the family.
Just go for what you think you can do on a regular basis and be really realistic with yourself. Sometimes you might be tired and sometimes it’s probably not worth going in to do that extra training session because you won’t be able to give it the motivation and the quality that it needs to actually create a stimulus. Plan ahead and try and create a nice, structured, organized week where you’re playing within your strengths and within the time that you have.
Neely Quinn: Got it. This is all sage advice for people. I think we’ve covered scheduling. Is there anything else about scheduling life around training or vice versa?
Tom Randall: I would say that there’s one more thing that I find very useful to help with people, and I’m sure you’ll have something to contribute on this, is the nutrition timing for this is really important. Like you said, if you’re coming back from a very long day of work – and most people are tired and they’ll spend a bit of time with the kids or family – it’s something that you have to think about like, ‘When am I going to grab a quick snack or something to eat? Or that coffee that’s going to help me train?’ Just planning that ahead so you don’t go into the garage or you don’t get down to the wall at last and you suddenly go, ‘Actually, I haven’t eaten all day and I’m really hungry and I’m too tired to do anything.’ Just have a quick think about that and it means you’ll always be prepared and just keep snacks on you the whole time.
Neely Quinn: Yeah, I’ll just add my two cents in there because this is something I’ve been thinking about as you guys have been talking. With my nutrition clients this is a major crux in their lives, just planning their meal timing and making it work for their training. My main answer to this is to make sure that people are having consistent meals throughout the day. Like they eat breakfast before they train, or at least part of it before they train and then the rest of it after, then they have a big lunch and an ample snack and then they have dinner. They’re never in a state where they’re starving and they’re always ready to go. I think that’s super important and I’m glad that you brought that up.
So that’s scheduling. The next thing we want to talk about is whether or not people should climb outside, and also how to fit that into a super busy schedule.
Tom Randall: This one is a really interesting subject and it’s one that comes up with almost every single person that I talk to. Most of the time, we’re committed to a training schedule and we want to make those gains but ultimately, we’re really motivated and driven by the things that we climb outside. That’s our passion of why we’re in this sport. Making that compromise between this game of being inside and training and making physiological gains versus performing and enjoying and doing that thing outside is a very tough balance when you’re lacking time.
We all know that time at the crag is not exactly short. You’ve got to drive there, you’ve got to warm-up, you might have to interact with a partner and belay them, and it takes up big chunks of time. I’ve found this myself as I’ve become more time poor, I’ve had to climb a little bit more by myself and boulder more often. It’s something that I’m highly aware of. The overarching thing that you want to look at is this element of skill in a climber versus strength. That’s going to be reflected in the broadest possible sense in your journey through that grade spectrum as a climber.
At the lower grades and with less experience, your skill levels are going to be lower and that’s going to slowly improve over the years. You want to try and really make some sacrifices and prioritize that outside, skill-based work when you’re lower down the grade scale. As you go higher up in the grade scale your skill becomes less of a limiting factor and basic levels of strength or physiological attributes will become more of a limiting factor, therefore you have to make more of a sacrifice on some of the indoor training and maybe pull back a little bit on the outdoor climbing that we all really enjoy doing.
Neely Quinn: Okay, so it’s just a balancing act depending on how hard you climb, basically.
Ollie Torr: Yeah, and deciding what areas you have to improve. If someone is an absolutely brilliant movement specialist with a fantastic technique, they might want to spend more time doing the training and vice versa. If you’re really strong in the gym and you keep trying to climb something outside but it’s your movement that’s letting you down then that’s where you need to spend more time.
I will be relatively blunt there in saying that one thing that we do come up with quite a lot is people trying to make significant changes or gains in their fitness or strength yet they are trying to peak every weekend that they have an opportunity. People really do need to prioritize what they want to do in terms of – if I want to go outside every weekend and I’m in a training phase, I need to sort of give up the idea that I’m not going to be fatigued for that weekend and I can’t perform at my best every weekend.
Neely Quinn: That’s super common for people to just train all the time and wonder why they’re not sending.
Ollie Torr: Exactly. You’ve got to think about when you want to perform and when you want to train. Since we’ve been talking about time hacks, if someone’s got very limited time and they’re already a very skillful climber then maybe you should just sacrifice some of those outdoor sessions and really get some training done. If you don’t do that and you keep climbing outside you might get better and you might get the stimulus that you need but you won’t get it as efficiently. It might mean that you’re going to be staying at that plateau for much longer than you need to because you’re not willing to sacrifice the outdoor time.
If that’s what you enjoy and that’s what you really want to do then that’s absolutely fine but if you really want to make the gains, you need to think about what the priority is.
Neely Quinn: That’s good. You know, I hear this a lot from trainers about skill versus strength and I think that a lot of people hear that and they’re like, ‘I’m pretty skilled, I think I just need to get stronger.’ It’s also easier, you know? It’s easier to pinpoint your deficits in strength than skill. What do you guys look for in clients for skills? How do I know if my skills are what are actually holding me back?
Ollie Torr: One thing I’d definitely say to everyone is that just because you’re skilled indoors or on a climbing board or in a certain area of climbing doesn’t mean that you’re skilled in the area that you want to be. A really good example of that is people climbing extremely well at bouldering inside and then they go outdoor at the start of the sport climbing season and they try to climb on routes and all of a sudden they’ve come from climbing V6 really easily inside to not being able to do a V4 crux. Skill is definitely specific to the thing that you’re trying to achieve.
In terms of knowing whether you are skillful or not, it’s going to come down to how much energy expenditure you’re putting into that specific area we just spoke about. For example, if you find it really easy to transfer your finger strength into different grip positions on the type of rock that you’re trying to perform then that might mean that you’re actually applying skillful movement. If you’re finding yourself pulling down really, really hard all of the time and you feel like you’re working at your absolute maximum, then that probably means that you’re not using your body in the most skillful manner.
Tom Randall: There is also a broad categorization that you can see in terms of profiling and data in climbers. If you were to strip out – let’s say we have a hundred climbers all climbing 5.12 and we run them through a profiling tool kit and we take out the top 10 fittest, strongest individuals of all those 5.12 climbers. Those are the people that kind of surprise us with how strong their fingers were, how fit they were, how much power endurance they have, how flexible they are, all those key physiological factors. If you strip that top 10% out I won’t say 9 times out of 10 but 7 times out of 10 those people will be the lowest skilled climbers and the people that, if you’re going to brutally honest, could do with prioritizing a bit more time on the skill acquisition work whether that’s outdoors or if they don’t have access to outdoors they’ll have to do it indoors.
Neely Quinn: So obviously it would be helpful for them to test with you guys or with a trainer who does testing like that. Also I feel like that can be one of those things where your friends are always saying, “You’re so strong!” but you’re still not climbing as hard as you want to. That would be a good key or sign that you need to work on your skills.
Ollie Torr: Yeah, it’s been really interesting, actually, because we’ve got a lot of this. What happens if you test someone and they’re really strong and they’re really fit but they can’t climb very well outside? How do you train someone like that? The answer is usually we don’t. The reason being is we say to them, “Look, you’re already really strong and you’re already really fit. Here’s the numbers that prove that. We’ve worked with people that are climbing much harder with less strength and less fitness. The areas that you need to improve are going to be on the movement, the tactics, and the skill-based stuff.”
That’s great for the person to hear in many ways because now they can spend less time on the fingerboard or less time doing specific exercises. They could go and work on their skills or they could work with a coach one-to-one, but the same thing again, it’s just about optimizing your time and gaining the information. If they keep going along being told that they’re super strong and super fit, because they’re not quite sure, they’ll carry on training trying to get stronger and fitter and answering the questions of not climbing a certain grade using the same methods that they were before.
Neely Quinn: Okay, got it.
Tom Randall: That’s a pretty good point you made there about if you go to the gym and people constantly tell you, year after year, “Hey, you’re so strong! Why are you so strong yet you’ve not done this?” That’s a good little indication that you need to have a slightly harder look at what you’re doing.
Neely Quinn: Right. Okay, cool. I think we’re good with talking about climbing outside and prioritizing. Is there anything else you want to add?
Ollie Torr: No, that’s all good for us.
Neely Quinn: Okay. The next thing I want to talk about is: what if somebody just has one hour? They have one hour, three days a week. What do they do in that hour?
Tom Randall: So this is a block of time that I think most people can find in their day, even if they are quite limited. I wanted to run through a one hour session that a mid-level climber who has a reasonable level of climbing and training experience could do in just one hour. It would be a really nice physiological stimulus in that one hour. This can also be done in relatively limited facilities. If we were to break it down, this is the kind of session where you’ve got to go at it with quality and you’ve really got to not sit around and talk and chat. You’ve got to get on with the training.
There’s basically four parts to a one hour session that you can do. First of all, you’ve got to get warmed-up. I’ve seen this before where people say, “Hey, you can do this really great session in one hour,” but actually it doesn’t even include the warm-up. I’m going to say that warm-up is in there.
In my experience, and I do this with my own climbing as well, if you’re very focused and really, really get on with it, you can do a good quality warm-up in just 15 minutes if you really go for it. That then leaves you 45 minutes in your session. From there I’m playing this ‘stacking the intensities’ game.
I’ll aim for doing a fingerboard session right at the start which will be a recruitment, max strength/max hang-style session. That can be something like five times for 10-second hangs. You might be taking around one and a half minutes of rest between those hangs and doing a 10-second max hang. That’s going to take the next 10 minutes up so that’s your fingerboard recruitment, max hang work.
You move straight from that after a couple minutes rest and go on to a bouldering wall, whether that’s a normal bouldering wall or a system board, and you do some limit bouldering which is going to be highly skillful, high enough in intensity that it’s going to provide a stimulus, and just enough volume to also help find that physiological stimulus. I recommend something like a 3×2 session. That’s doing three problems but doing them twice each and putting just two and a half minutes rest between each of those attempts on the boulder problem. That’s going to take six minutes to do each boulder problem twice and of course if you’re doing three boulder problems, that’s 18 minutes.
Your session so far is warm-up 15 minutes, fingerboard 10 minutes, 18 minutes of limit bouldering, and I’m now left with around 15 minutes or so in my session. You can do a clever little way of training some basic endurance training in with a conditioning exercise. I’m going to choose core, for example, in this one. You can do a 1 on/1 off, so one minute on, one minute off during this exercise. You would pick a medium intensity climbing circuit or perhaps a medium intensity top roping section at your wall and you’ll do one minute of climbing on it, lower down to the ground or jump off the wall, and then do a conditioning exercise. In this case I say it’s pretty simple to do core work on the floor for one minute, so that’s your rest period. Go back on and repeat that for eight cycles to create 16 minutes of training. That would be one minute of endurance, one minute of core, one minute endurance, one minute of core.
You get to the end of that and you’ve taken up an hour and you’re going to be hot and sweaty, you’ve had a decent workout, you’ve worked a number of different energy systems, and that’s a really nice session which I feel like I could give to literally thousands of climbers around the world. If they stuck to that and they were consistent with it, even if we were doing this two times a week and they were truly consistent with it and put good quality into those sessions, they would make pretty significant gains.
Neely Quinn: After you were done with that your body would be like, ‘What just happened?’ [laughs]
Ollie Torr: It’s amazing what you can do with one hour.
Neely Quinn: No, that’s incredible. You have to be so efficient with your time and be on top of it, like you’re saying.
Tom Randall: Yeah, and I kind of really speak from the voice of experience with this. I’ve become super efficient with my time on this kind of stuff and I never ever look at a one hour session like this anymore and go, ‘Oh, this sucks. I’ve only got one hour to train.’ I’m actually thinking, ‘Woah. This is going to be an intense one hour and when I’m done with my one hour I’m going to be very happy to sit down and relax.’
Neely Quinn: I hate to compare it to this but it kind of reminds me of a CrossFit class. Are you super offended right now?
Tom Randall: No, I think because I haven’t worked out of gyms in the general PT industry, I haven’t got this whole big hangup with CrossFit. It doesn’t offend me at all.
Ollie Torr: Don’t get us wrong, you will be the least sociable person down at the wall but you will get your training in.
Neely Quinn: One question on the circuits: how hard should they be relative to your max redpoint level?
Tom Randall: For a 1 on/1 off session, this is the endurance session, you’re looking for something around your onsight grade of route climbing. The important note here is that it’s one minute of your onsight grade so that’s never going to feel that hard. Let’s say we’ve got John Doe who onsights at 5.12b. If he’s only going up a 5.12b circuit or a 5.12 route for one minute, that doesn’t actually end up being a 5.12. He’s not climbing a 5.12 eight times in a row. He’s just doing a one minute experience of a 5.12 intensity.
Neely Quinn: So another thing is if you’re doing autobelays or something, a lot of times those take you 2-3 minutes or longer to get up a route. You would just climb for a minute and then drop off, no matter where you are on the route?
Ollie Torr: Yeah, exactly. A really good way of doing that is just having your interval time on a phone at the bottom and as soon as you hear that beep, just let go and wait for the next beep to get started again. I mean, obviously the aim is to try to climb normally so don’t suddenly speed up to try and get as high as possible because all we’re after is the time stimulus. The only problem with the autobelay is trying to unclip, do the core exercise, then clip back in and go.
Neely Quinn: Right. It seems like it would work way better on boulders.
Ollie Torr: Yeah, boulders or circuits or just linking boulders is perfect.
Neely Quinn: Okay, cool. That’s the best advice ever. Here’s one perfect hour for you.
Tom Randall: Yeah, it’s definitely a good use of time and I’m just so pleased when I hear about people going and trying these things out. I’ll see them down at the wall and they’ll go, ‘Oh yeah, I tried this workout that I heard you talking about and it’s brilliant. I’ve been using it for three months and I’ve been making all this improvement in terms of the stuff that I’m climbing outside.’ I love hearing that stuff.
Ollie Torr: I would say if people want to try this, spend one day at your local wall or facility where you’re going to try to do the training and go through each section of the training, maybe over a day or two, and work out which routes or circuits that you want to do. Then you know exactly where you’ve got to go around the wall and what areas you’re going to do and the right boulder problems to use, the right circuits to use, so that the next time you go you can really maximize that time and know exactly where you’re going to go and where you’re going to do it.
Neely Quinn: Yeah, I think that’s really good advice because I’ve tried to do things at my own gym and I’m like, ‘This is not going to take one minute.’ Me getting up the wall and then climbing back down the wall, even on the bouldering, is still two minutes so yeah, I think that’s really good advice.
So that’s our perfect one hour session. The last thing that I want to ask you about is if people know that it’s going to better for them to be training at home, whether it’s because they just don’t have a gym nearby or whatever, what is the optimal setup for them? What should they have?
Ollie Torr: I actually think with what you said earlier that you have the optimal setup. In our opinion, having a fingerboard setup with a TRX is usually the best thing that you can do, with that being that you don’t have room for a home board or some kind of specific climbing wall. Having a fingerboard with a pulley setup with some extra weights so you can do all the stuff that we talked about earlier, whether it’s strength or endurance or power endurance, all on the fingerboard, that’s absolutely brilliant.
Conditioning-wise, there’s so much you can do with body weight and using TRX or rings that that’s kind of all you need. The intensity can be changed really, really quickly by changing the levers that you’re using or the sets and reps of the exercise.
Neely Quinn: Okay, so I’m perfect [laughs] and everybody should have a fingerboard setup somewhere they’re going to use it and a TRX. Actually, if you’re not only time poor but also money poor, we found a TRX-like setup that’s not TRX and it’s half the cost and it works just fine. Anyway, you don’t think people need to have weights of any kind of anything?
Tom Randall: I think having weights that you can use on a pulley system to take weight away from your body for the fingerboarding or adding weight to the body for the fingerboarding for strength is really useful, but in terms of having Olympic bars or dumbbells or barbells, usually it’s not needed. If we’re talking about just having a few useful bits of equipment, the fingerboard and TRX can do a huge range of exercises that will really benefit your climbing.
Neely Quinn: Okay, and we haven’t really talked very much about the exercises you would do on a TRX or using the TRX as rings or body weight stuff. Do you guys maybe want to just say five things you could easily do at home using those things?
Ollie Torr: Yeah. One of the main things I like to use or get clients to do is I-Y-T. I think people tend to know what that means. Extending your body into an ‘I’ position with hands above the head, a ‘Y’ position, and then back into a ‘T’ position. You can do this facing down or facing back upwards so a supine position or a prone position. That means you’re going to be working all of those muscles that have core and compression and then doing it the other way means you’re going to work all of those external rotators that really supports the shoulder strength.
In terms of other exercises, there’s some great ones that you can do in terms of Supermans, whether that’s working your core tension again or doing any sort of low rows that works that upper body.
The main thing to make sure you’re doing is to know that you’re doing the exercises correctly and at the right intensity. To make it intense enough you can change the angle of your body by either raising the TRX rings or walking backwards or forwards. For the exercises themselves just try and make sure you watch a really good demo or find some decent pictures online with some advice.
Actually, the Crimpd app that we were talking about, and we can talk about it in a little bit, has some great sessions on there which means you can follow that and follow the rests and sets periods as needed.
Neely Quinn: Okay, we actually didn’t talk about the Crimpd app. Do you guys want to tell me about your app?
Tom Randall: For some time we’ve realized that there was a need – and I think lots and lots of coaches are in a similar situation – for when you’re working with individuals, they want a simple way to explain the form and the sets and reps and the methodology for doing certain training sessions in climbing. With that in mind we’ve developed, with some guys over in the States, this Crimpd app which is a training app for climbing. It’s specifically for climbing so it has our endurance work, power endurance or strength endurance, power, strength, fingerboarding, and strength and conditioning work all included.
It’s broken down into sections and when you download the app and you get into it it immediately asks you, ‘What do you want to train today?’ so you can just filter through and decide what kind of work you want to get into. As you move into each section you’ll have a number of recommended sessions that you can complete with guidance on how to do them and also a log book which is associated with it so you can record how much of that type of training you’ve done.
Just talking about that TRX training, you can go in and look up some TRX and rings training within the app and it will give you a short video demonstration of it and then you can record how many times you’re doing that per week and start to track that as well.
Neely Quinn: I mean, that’s pretty amazing. Do you have a lot of people using it?
Ollie Torr: Yeah, we’ve got quite a lot of people using it and they’re really active when they are using it. That seems to be growing really, really quickly so we’re super happy to see that people are responding well. One of the fantastic features about it, thanks to the guys that are making it, Pete and Mike and Kevin, is that particularly Peter started this off with his own analytics, looking at his plan. He was very, very geeky about it and he worked with us for awhile and he absolutely loves the numbers.
He’s made this analytics page which means you can see how much training you’ve done that week in every single area and then how it corresponds monthly and every three months. You can see that you’re actually doing the right thing and if you’re training towards a certain goal you can retrospectively look back and see, ‘Have I been doing the right thing? What kind of training have I been doing? When have I been doing it? At what intensity? Have I improved?’ It’s got all this information that’s just in there automatically. You just need to log the workout and say where you did it and when you did it.
Neely Quinn: That’s really cool. And it’s called Crimpd? It’s spelled differently though, right?
Ollie Torr: Yeah, it’s Crimpd. You can find that on the iTunes store for IOS and for Android.
Neely Quinn: How much does it cost?
Ollie Torr: It’s free.
Neely Quinn: You guys are very generous for doing that for free. [laughs]
Tom Randall: It kind of comes back to this whole philosophy of how we want to operate as coaches. We’re so passionate about trying to develop and carry forward coaching and sports science within climbing over the years and trying to deliver as much of that as possible back to the climbing community and the people that we work with on a much closer basis. We feel like if we can all do this as coaches and everyone can contribute as a community, we can push everything forward at a much faster rate and the benefits will just triple or quadruple everything. We just want to show as much as possible by example that that’s the right thing to do and if we can all contribute, it’s going to be a great community to be involved with.
Neely Quinn: So other people could put in their training plans or whatever into it?
Ollie Torr: What we’re going to do is we’re developing the app and currently, at the moment, we’re about to release loads of new features to it in the coming year. That will include being able to have your own training in there, having your training plans, having assessment tools which are already on there, and we’ve got loads and loads of developments that are underway and we’re really excited to see where it goes. We’re going to try and release them as soon as possible, like Tom said, because we can’t keep it to ourselves any longer. We’re really psyched to share it with everyone.
Neely Quinn: Cool. Where can people find you and actually, are you taking new clients right now?
Ollie Torr: We’re always trying our best to, absolutely.
Tom Randall: Yeah, at the moment we offer two different training plan services. We have a premium package which is sort of like an all singing, all dancing, high level training plan which has all of our training, constant coach support, a physio support behind it, all the data, the analytics, and then we have a slightly easier access, shorter time frame plan that we’ve just released recently. All of it is available to view on the website and people can find more information on there.
I think if anyone interacts with us on social media or asks us questions, we’re always really willing to tell people whatever they need to know or point them in the right direction if we can’t help.
Neely Quinn: And where can they find you online?
Ollie Torr: Best place is our website, www.latticetraining.com and then on social media we are pretty active on Instagram. I think our account is probably called @latticetraining and just like you do with TrainingBeta, we have a community page as well on Facebook where people are really active and they share lots of information. When I saw the community page that you setup I was so inspired by it and thought, ‘This is just brilliant that everyone is sharing stuff,’ so we’ve got one as well. I think it’s great what we see in those community pages.
Neely Quinn: Yeah, people are very active on there.
Ollie Torr: Yeah.
Neely Quinn: It’s really cool.
Alright, I think that’s all that we wanted to talk about. Is there anything else you wanted to add?
Tom Randall: It seems like we’ve gone through loads of different stuff and mostly I suppose we just want to leave that message to everyone that this whole deal or situation of lacking time and having to strategize around it is a doable thing. You can get through it. It’s not simple, it’s going to take a little bit of work, but everyone should be reassured that there’s hundreds of people out there that are managing it and are getting rewards from it so just get stuck in and think about what you’re doing and apply that strategy.
Ollie Torr: And don’t be afraid to ask for help with it, either, because like Tom said there’s so many people going through this so I’m sure someone’s got an answer to the question that you have. If you need a little bit of help, whether it’s just motivation using these discussion boards or working with a coach or anything else, it’s much better just to talk to someone else about it and share your experience.
Neely Quinn: Cool. Thank you guys very much. I’m sure this is going to be really inspirational to people who have very little time. It’s actually inspiring me right now in the middle of my hone renovations so thanks for your wisdom, thanks for coming on the show again, and I’ll talk to you guys soon.
Tom Randall: Thanks so much for having us.
Ollie Torr: Thank you very much.
Neely Quinn: I hope you enjoyed that interview with Tom Randall and Ollie Torr. I think they’re great. I love talking to them and I think that their information is super useful and clear. I appreciate them being on the show. You can find them at www.latticetraining.com or on Instagram, like they said. Their Crimpd app they talked about you can find online as well.
I have talked about putting little snippets of nutrition information into the ending of the show and so today I thought I would talk about what to eat at the crag. This is a conundrum for a lot of people because they don’t think that they should be full meals. It’s more convenient and time efficient to just bring a bunch of bars but it’s not what I think is super effective for climbers.
If you think about it, when we go outside to climb, this is our time to perform because it’s not usually something that happens for most of us. It’s our time to be out for as long as we can be and it’s supposed to be fun. As much as we can do nutritionally to make our performance good, to keep our energy high, that’s going to help all of those things happen.
If I were to talk to an endurance athlete like a runner – because these are people who compete a lot, right? – if a runner was going to go do a competition I wouldn’t tell them to change their diet completely on the day of a race because it’s unpredictable how your stomach is going to deal with that food. It’s not going to be what your body is used to and it may not fuel you as well as you know other foods have fueled you on training days.
I try to tell people to keep their climbing outside days as similar to their indoor training days as possible. Basically, it’s just bring the same food that you always eat to the crag. I know that this sounds really difficult and weird but Tupperware is an amazing invention and ice packs are super useful if you live in a hot area. I know people are worried about bringing food out that’s going to go bad. Well, I do it all the time and I’ve never had an issue with it. I know that it can totally be done, especially if you’re really used to taking leftovers from the night before to work for lunch. That can be really useful on climbing days, too. If you just make more than you need at dinner on a Friday night and you’re going climbing on a Saturday, you just bring those leftovers in a Tupperware that you put a rubberband around and you stick it into a bag with a cooler pack. That’s your main meal.
If you’re going to be out for 8-9 hours or 10-12, then you need to bring two of those meals because all of us eat two meals within an eight-hour period, usually. You want to bring two meals but also you’re going to be doing a lot of work out there so you need extra snacks. You need to bring those bars. I’ll bring Paleo cookies out there with or I’ll bring crepes with honey, a little thing so I don’t have to carry around a big tub of it, or just anything sort of sugary. As climbers we do use our anaerobic energy system which requires carbohydrates so we do need more carbs on climbing days.
I would just say bring ample food. When I say a meal you’re going to want it to be plenty of protein. If you’re a meat eater, bring plenty of meat on a sandwich with a little bit of avocado or some form of fat source, then a starch source so your two pieces of bread or in my case, it would be a crepe or some rice in a bowl with veggies and meat or eggs or something like that. Your starch, your fat, your ample protein, and you’re going to have at least one meal like that and then snacks on top of it that are mostly focused around carbs.
That’s basically what I would say. Just bring enough. I know that when I don’t have enough food I don’t feel like climbing and I definitely don’t climb well. Just do yourself a favor and bring enough food and fuel yourself like you normally do on normal training days.
That’s my two cents on crag food. I hope that’s helpful. If you ever have questions you’re welcome to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m seeing clients and you can email me about that if you’re interested in becoming a client. Also, if you have other topics that you want me to talk about, go right ahead and send those to me. I’m way open to suggestions.
I guess that’s it for today. Thank you so much for listening all the way to the end. You can find us at www.trainingbeta.com, on Facebook and Instagram @trainingbeta, and our Facebook group can be found at www.trainingbeta.com/community. Thanks again and I’ll talk to you soon.