• steve bechtel interview #3
TBP 080 :: Steve Bechtel on How to Create Your Own Training Plan 2017-12-11T11:09:22+00:00

Project Description

Date: June 1st, 2017

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About Steve Bechtel

Steve Bechtel is a well-known climbing trainer, and I’ve had him on the podcast 2 other times now (here and here). I think he’ll just be a regular on the show because we all love listening to him so much. Steve runs ClimbStrong.com, a website where he writes articles and training programs for climbers. He also runs a gym in Lander, WY called Elemental Performance and Fitness, where he works with climbers and athletes of all kinds.

This episode was recorded a couple days after I got back from teaching nutrition at his Climbing Coaching Seminar in Lander, so we had a lot to talk about. We recapped what the seminar was all about (climbing training), who it was for (climbers and coaches), and when the next one will be August in Salt Lake City.

After that we delved into some details about climbing training – so many details – including his new book that he just published, Logical Progression. We also have it up on the site in ebook format (link no longer available). I honestly don’t know how he has time to put out so many books on top of running a gym, maintaining his website, doing these trainings, and doing interviews with me all the time.

Steve Bechtel Interview Details

  • Strength minimums for climbers (what we should be able to do off the climbing wall)
  • Non-linear vs periodized plans
  • His evolving training styles
  • What’s wrong with Barre classes
  • Why CrossFit makes you bulk up
  • His fingerboarding method
  • Examples of Strength, Power, and Strength Endurance days
  • Does grip strength correlate with climbing performance

Steve Bechtel Links

Training Programs for You

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…

climbing training programs

Please Review The Podcast on iTunes

Please give the podcast an honest review on iTunes here to help the show reach more curious climbers around the world.

Transcript

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, and today we are on Episode 80, where I talked with Steve Bechtel.

Steve Bechtel is a trainer- he’s pretty well known in the climbing world, and I’ve had him on the podcast two other times. We also sell one of his books, called “Strength”, on TrainingBeta, so we’re big fans of Steve Bechtel. I actually just got back from Lander a couple of weeks ago. I told you guys that I was teaching nutrition at a seminar that he put on at his gym, called Elemental Performance and Fitness, in Lander. About fifteen coaches from all over the country and the world came to hear him, a few other coaches , and me, talk about training for climbing.

He’s going to be putting more of those on, and we are going to talk about what we taught people in that seminar in this podcast episode. He also is telling you guys- he’s giving you guys a lot of great information in this one. He’s telling you how to make a strength session, a power session, and a strength-endurance session. Like, detailed what to do on each both those days, and also how to create a training program throughout the year basically, for yourself. So we all get into that. He is with climbstrong.com, where he does blog posts, and he has training programs available over there. You can also find the information from the seminars at climbstrong.com.

Now, we’re going to talk about how to make your own training program, but if you don’t feel like creating your own training program, I just want to remind you that we have training programs that are already created for you, over at trainingbeta.com. So if you don’t feel like figuring out how many sets, how many reps, what drills, and what exercises to do, you can go to trainingbeta.com and you can find a program for boulderers, a program for route climbers, programs for finger strength. So, trainingbeta.com. But if you want to make your own program, here is Steve Bechtel to tell you how to do it. Enjoy.

Neely Quinn: Welcome back to the show Steve, thanks very much for being with me today.

Steve Bechtel: Well I appreciate you having me back on. I feel like it’s a real honor, and especially to have- I guess this is our third visit.

Neely Quinn: Yeah, our third of hopefully many, because people love your episodes- they’re always some of the most popular ones.

Steve Bechtel: My goal, as always, is to overtake Adam Ondra, maybe in total. Like if I get to add all of the listens of all three, I’ll catch up to his one.

Neely Quinn: Oh you’ve definitely way outdone him in that way, for sure, yeah. So today, we are going to be talking about the seminar. I was just in Lander hanging out with you- we finally got to meet in person. Why don’t you tell me what we did this past weekend and how it went?

Steve Bechtel: Well I think it was even when we talked a couple of years ago, we both felt that there was a need for some sort of climber education- climbing coach education. As my business and life has developed, I get more and more requests from climbing coaches and professionals for information. Everything from programming to running a business to assessments of athletes. We’ve been having this thing brew for quite a while, and some time at the end of last year, my friend Zeke got in touch with me, and said “Hey listen, I want to learn about strength training my athletes”, and he wanted to come in for a three day intensive on his own. Then he suggested that to make it worth everybody’s time that we do something with a few more coaches.

Charlie Manganello and I decided to open up this climbing coaches event for fifteen climbing coaches, and that was in December of 2016, we decided to do it. When we opened it up, it filled within like 48 hours.

Neely Quinn: That’s crazy.

Steve Bechtel: Yeah, and so clearly, there’s an interest in it. I think the climbing coaches are very serious. We’ve tried holding- I remember when we first did , like, “come learn to train for climbing”- just training for private individuals- we would be lucky if there was maybe three people or something. So we really struggled with it. But the coaching this is so much more important. People really take their career and their job seriously, and so we decided to build this event. Over the five months between when we opened it up and today, we’ve really worked on the curriculum, worked on building a good team of presenters, including you. What are we- two days out form finishing the event- and we’ve already gotten a ton of great feedback from the coaches that came up.

Neely Quinn: That’s great- people like it.

Steve Bechtel: Yeah, and so what we tried to do was look at what do you need to do, to help athletes get better at climbing. Although we all know about the training stuff, we know about getting stronger, and power, and setting up these workouts, what we really went into was programming, how to run group classes, the big nutritional issues that come up wth athletes, assessment of athletes, and then really habit change and helping them to stay motivated to follow the program. Within the course of a couple of long days, it seems like we were able to cover most of those bases.

Neely Quinn: Yeah, I mean, I was surprised that Tyler Nelson did all of that stuff on physiology, and some on anatomy, and really delved into how the body works, and energy systems. That was super interesting to me, and I think that people probably appreciated that.

Steve Bechtel: Yeah, and that’s when I first started talking to Tyler, it doesn’t take you long to figure out that this guy really knows what he’s talking about. I felt like if we are going to put on a really great event, we want to keep finding these people and getting them in front of coaches. It’s like with you- there are a ton of people that know about nutrition, but can they articulate it? Can they give you useable tools that you can take home, and on Monday implement them with your athletes? That’s what we really look for, and same with Tyler. He didn’t teach a really crazy assessment of individuals. He said “Watch the way they climb, see what happens when they put their hands over head, what happens when they squat, and then make your decision on how you want to train them”.

Neely Quinn: Yeah, yeah which is good. And that was interesting too, because yes there were climbing coaches and trainers there, but a lot of these people, they don’t have any certificates behind their name or anything, so what is it that you want people to come away with? Do you want this to become a certificate program?

Steve Bechtel: Well, we’ve talked about it, but all of the presenters and the people that are interested in this have jobs. Trying to build it into a certification requires some large level of administration in both making sure hat we can test the individuals, and that we can continually provide them with educational opportunities, and then a way to track their continuing education and all that sort of thing. I think that’s potentially a future of this, but at this point, we’re just interested- we have so many people that just want the knowledge, that they’re going to come, and they’re going to say “Okay, for two and a half days I’m just gong to get immersed and learn how to coach these athletes”. So for now, there won’t be any certification involved. But yeah, maybe in a year, two years down the read, there will be.

In the meantime, what we want to do is take this to different locations, get as close as we can to coaches, and put the information out there. But it doesn’t seem- like, Lander is remote, and didn’t seem any problem to get people to come from a long way away.

Neely Quinn: Yeah I mean, Freddy came from England.

Steve Bechtel: Yeah.

Neely Quinn: That was crazy.

Steve Bechtel: And Rachel came up from Florida, and Michael from Georgia. I think the coaches that really are interested in becoming better, if we held it in Patagonia they would go. What we really want to do is make sure we get the right group of people to present, and we are going to hold them in the best locations. And so far, we only have one more planned, and that’s the event in Salt Lake City at the beginning of August.

Neely Quinn: So what were the main takeaways that people got from it? What did they learn from it in the feedback forum.

Steve Bechtel: So far- and like I said we’ve only had a few early responders on the feedback- the one thing was like, “How do I communicate with my athlete? How do we set measurable and achievable goals, and how do we get the athlete moving in the direction that they want to go?”. For most of these coaches, when people reach out to a coach, it’s because they’ve tried everything else. Most of the athletes that contact me have read all of the climbing training books, and they read all the blogs, and they’re still not getting what they want out of their training. It’s probably the same for you, you know? You’ve probably talked to people that have already tried the South Beach Diet. They’ve already tried following this or that plan, and it hasn’t worked. So being able to talk to coaches about step 1, step 2, step 3, it was the number one feedback. The other one was, how do we put together a program? What’s a year program look like? We talked about year long programs for climbers, for boulderers, and then even multi-sport stuff, where we are trying to train a person who wants to be a runner and a climber, that sort of thing.

Neely Quinn: Yeah we covered a lot of stuff. One question I have, and then Iw ant to move on to your book and all this other good stuff we are going to talk about, is we did a coupe workouts in your gym, which by the way, your gym is fantastic, and is way bigger than I thought it was going to be. I walked in and I was like “This is a legit gym!”, so good work on that.

Steve Bechtel: Thank  you.

Neely Quinn: So we did these workouts, and some of them included kind of complicated exercises, movements, including the deadlift, and a few other things. Do you feel confident that the trainers that were in those classes are going to be able to go home and help their clients, or their students, do that?

Steve Bechtel: Not at first. What we want is for those guys to be able to take the templates that we gave them, say “We are going to do a squatting movement here, we are going to do a pressing movement here, we are going to do a core movement here”, and then use exercises that they are already familiar with and feel comfortable teaching. Then, as they practice the movements they learned with us, they’ll gain a certain level of mastery and be able to pass that on to their athletes. That’s one of the things that’s really interesting about potentially moving to a certification. We could say “These are the ten exercises we are going to cover, we are going to test, we are going to learn”, and provide that information several months out in advance, so that they can start to practice those before they walk through the door. Then all we have to do is refine those movements and say “Yes, you’ve got it, coach it like you do it”. That’s a really tough thing, but if you’ve been to any 24 Hour Fitness, there’s a lot of personal trainers teaching shit that they don’t know.

Neely Quinn: Yeah.

Steve Bechtel: And so what we really want to do is say “Hey, stay within your wheel house, believe in your training philosophy, and teach from what you know”. And that’s something that we put forth to these coaches, is your training philosophy should be built on what you believe in, and has worked for you and your athletes. One of the things that happens if you just buy into a program, is that you might not have experience with that, and you might not have seen any results from it, because you haven’t tested it. I encourage the coaches I talk to to start conservative and start from what they really, really believe in.

Neely Quinn: Okay. That’s a good answer. Yeah, everybody has to start somewhere, and there’s all kinds of training out there. It seems like the better you want to be at those complicated movements and teaching them to people the more courses you have to take to really perfect them.

Steve Bechtel: Right, and I think that going to conferences- whether they’re climbing specific or not- seeking out other things like gymnastics training, even if you go into track and field, or triathlon, whatever it is, wherever there’s continuing opportunities for education we really need to jump into those.

Neely Quinn: Yeah.

Steve Bechtel: And that’s more and more available. There are more “How the Train” classes at gyms now, there are knowledgable coaches cropping up all over the place in big cities all across the country and the world. And then there are governing bodies that are really trying to make something happen along those lines.

Neely Quinn: Really? In climbing?

Steve Bechtel: Yeah, but just not in the U.S.

Neely Quinn: Oh.

Steve Bechtel: I really had the great opportunity to get involved with some of the Canadian National stuff, and those guys are on the ball as far as getting ready for the Olympics, and doing great training camps for their teams, and bringing in a lot of experts. You see that in a lot of the European countries too. I think that over the next four to five years we’ll see a lot more as far as a lot of great coaching plans, and long term athletic development. I know Canada has done a great job of building their long term athletic development program, so they can say “Oh, you’re an 8 year old and you want to be a great climber, here’s what you do”, and they provide that to all of the gyms across the country.

Neely Quinn: Do you feel like you would be a good resource for people if they’re trying to train their teams for the Olympics? Or train themselves?

Steve Bechtel: Well we are still working on that, right? They way the Olympics are looking is difficulty bouldering, lead difficulty climbing, and speed climbing. The current crop of professional climbers, with maybe the exception of Sean McColl, and not great speed climbers. And they guys that are great speed climbers aren’t as good on the bouldering and difficulty. So these 12 and 14 year old kids that are really thinking about climbing as an Olympic sport are having to also implement explosive speed training into their programs. Although it might not be what you or I love about climbing, it is part of what the organized sport is going to, and so the coaches need to be able to train those athletes correctly.

I’ve been talking with Chris Neff who is the Canadian Youth National coach, and the head coach at Triangle Rock at North Carolina is Brad Hilbert, and he’s really got some great ideas on speed. So, you know, it’s coming around. People are learning, and I really am interested in it, and I’ve been enjoying working on those programs.

Neely Quinn: Yeah it’s pretty interesting stuff. I commentated at routes Nationals and watched that at the end, and it was just like a whirlwind of activity- I had no idea what to say about it.

Steve Bechtel: Right? But you know, honestly, unless you know what’s going on with climbing, watching lead difficulty climbing is very boring and time consuming, especially indoor stuff. So speed climbing, you only have to be engaged for ten seconds.

Neely Quinn: Yeah, or two.

Steve Bechtel: Yeah, the new speed world record just got put up again- those guys are getting so ridiculously fast, it’s crazy.

Neely Quinn: Alright, so one of the things I wanted to talk to you about, one of your talks was called “Program Design”, and the other one was “Session Design”. That was on the second day of the seminar. You literally just wrote a book about that. So, can we talk about that?

Steve Bechtel: Yeah, well, you know, it’s interesting Neely, because a lot of people confuse “sessions” and “programs”, because they think in terms of the workout, or even in terms of the exercise. We will have climbers that are so honed in on hangboarding, that they’re like “I’m going to do my hangboard workout”- but hangboarding is just one exercise. So we want to do is make sure they have a long view that starts down at the level of the exercise, then moves up to the level of the training session or workout, then moves up to the level of the week, then the month, then the year, and all the way up to the career. The coach needs to start looking at the career of the athlete right away.

What we do, is we say “Let’s build a program and propose that to the athlete- will this work within the framework of your life, your schedule, etc”. Then let’s test it out. Run it for a month- did it work, did it not. One of the things we talked about a lot was athlete compliance. If an athlete is only 30% compliant with a program, there’s something wrong with the program. It’s not that the athlete doesn’t have the chops, it usually means that it’s too far out of their normal day to day habit, so we need to make those changes gradually.

One of the things I’ve come up with over the last few years is trying to figure out a program that works really, really well, for people who aren’t especially organized. Or, who have a schedule that they don’t have as much control over as they’d like. So that’s what this latest project was about. Basically, what it is, is I’ve written a book on non-linear periodization, and what that is, in contrast to linear periodization, is a training program where you cycle between discreet sessions in sequence. What I mean by that is you would do a strength session, where you would do some hangboarding and maybe some weight training, working on your ability to develop force. The following session would be an explosive session, a bouldering session with some campusing, that sort of thing. And then the third session in the series, would be one where we would be developing some sort of endurance, whether it’s power endurance or stamina. And then we would start back into the cycle.

What happens in this sort of thing, is you’re no longer tied to the weekly cycle, and you just do these training sessions when you are available. So if you have four days a week, your sessions would be strength, power, endurance, and then strength. Then you start the next week over with power, and then we would just follow that sequence of three for maybe 8-10 weeks until we need to change those sessions. Usually one specific session is good for about ten repeats before we need to change the stimulus a little bit.

Neely Quinn: You mean at all, or would you be upping your weights and changing your everything during those weeks?

Steve Bechtel: Yeah, you would up your weight, but what happens is you would see those weights increase for six or seven or eight sessions. Then all of a sudden, everything in your program will level off, and at that point, you’ve seen that the body has adapted to that stimulus, and then we need to move on to the next thing. And you can still stay with the sequence, but maybe we would change the exercises slightly. We would maybe move from a 5 second hang on the hangboard, to a 10 second change. Just make some slight changes, plus it keeps you from getting bored.

So what this does it that it allows people to see longer performance cycles, than on a traditional periodized plan- and let me just explain the traditional periodized plan here. Most periodized plans will say, for this four week period we are going to do strength, then for four weeks we are going to do power, and then for four weeks we are going to do endurance. The problem is, those abilities degrade when you stop training them. So if I do strength for four weeks, when I’m in the endurance plan, my strength has dropped off significantly. So instead of doing your ten strength sessions in January, and then ten power sessions in February, ten endurance sessions in March, you would just alternate between those for the same twelve week period. We would be doing strength all the way through, power all the way through, and endurance all the way through. It doesn’t always work great for everybody, but it’s unbelievable the great results we’ve seen compared to what I would call an inferior linear training program.

Neely Quinn: Okay. How long have you been working on this with your athletes?

Steve Bechtel: I think the first cycle that I tried was in 2002 or something. We’d been coaching it maybe since ’05 or ’06, so maybe ten or eleven years. But what was really cool about this book, and it was really nerve-wracking for me, is that I wrote the original text early last year, and then I put it out there. I got in touch with a bunch of people on the Climb Strong mailing list, and I said “Hey, I just wrote this book. If anybody is looking for a training program to try, I’d like you to check this out, read through the book, tell me what you don’t understand, tell me how the training program goes, and we will go from there”. I had maybe twenty four people that did the program and then went through and did copy editing in the book, and said “This part didn’t work”, or “This workout was too long”. It was really nerve-wracking for me, because putting yourself out there and getting that kind of feedback is always challenging, but they were so helpful. It made the program just that much better. Boy, we had a lot of people that went into it, didn’t expect to have success, I think they were just being nice to me and said “Oh yeah I’ll do it for a month”.

I have a guy out at Smith Rock in Oregon, and he’s really knowledgeable in training, and he’s got these great training programs and we’ll pass some information back and forth. He was like “I’ll try it for a month”, and he was just blown away. He was like “I didn’t expect it to work”, but he’s now implemented a lot of it into his plan.

Neely Quinn: And he improved?

Steve Bechtel: Yeah, and you know, when you get up to a certain level, and uptick in improvement is really great. If somebody improves from 5.4 to 5.7, I’m not really sure it’s my program. But if you go from 13d to 14b, having been stuck at 13d, I think he’s probably seeing some pretty good improvements there.

Neely Quinn: Yeah. What’s the book called?

Steve Bechtel: It’s called Logical Progression. We’ve got it for sale on Amazon and stuff, but here pretty quick you’ll be able to download it on TrainingBeta, right?

Neely Quinn: Yes.

Steve Bechtel: Now you’re committed!

[laughs]. I know in the next few weeks it’ll be up.

Neely Quinn: Yeah for sure. Okay cool. So how would you say that it compares to the strength book?

Steve Bechtel: Well strength is just about methods of generating strength. Just how to do the exercises, how to program and strength phase, and really how to build your base, so to speak. Logical Progression would be a performance oriented book, where it’s like, open this up, here’s your training plan, go for it, and you’re going to redpoint hard stuff. The strength book really lacks anything in specific programming in that way. It’s more a manual that people will refer back to, year after year, on methods of strength for climbing.

Neely Quinn: Neely Quinn: Are there actual workouts, like session designs, in the Logical Progression book?

Steve Bechtel: Yes, and I did several of them as examples. One of the things that’s really interesting, unless you put an example in, people just kind of take it as gospel. What I want is for people to try- the real magic of it is the series. The setup of going from strength to power to endurance. I want them to try it out, and then either you can plug in just about any strength workout that you really like, any power workouts that you really like. If you’re a campus board person, and a kettle bell person, your power workout can be kettle bells and campus board. If you’re more into the Olympic lifts, or if you’re more into just bouldering, that’s what goes into the power. I think the sequence is what people are finding really amazing- so the exact sessions start with what I show you, and then modify it to your own needs.

Neely Quinn: Okay. But, you can’t just, on the first day of power, do three exercises and then the next day of power do three completely different exercises, or could you?

Steve Bechtel: You could, but you wouldn’t see the same great results. What we want is for that power workout to progress over the course of an entire training cycle. What I would say, and I generally recommend, is eight to ten similar sessions, because you’ve done that stuff where you campus ladders, and maybe box jumps or something. If you don’t do it regularly enough, your body doesn’t adapt to that. That’s the issue that we see with a lot of group fitness stuff, like Crossfit, where the programming is random enough that we don’t teach those movements to our bodies. The stimulus isn’t frequent enough.

The analogy that I always use is, if you’re reading a book and you only read one or two pages every month, you sort of forgot what happened the last month you read it, and that’s what happens with these exercises. So I would say, keep it simple, keep it to a few that you know well, and keep it to things you can measure. So it’s like, can I do more weight here, did this particular edge hang feel better? Because if you’re not measuring the progress on these, it’s easy to fall into the same trap that you fall into with a Zumba class, where you could just be down the same shit over and over and nothing is happening.

[laughter]

I mean, just getting sweaty is not an indicator of a good workout.

Neely Quinn: Yeah, you have a lot of great metaphors, by the way. Just listening to you for like, thirty hours straight last week [laughs], basically half the time you’re talking about climbing and half the time you’re just making metaphors about fishing or reading text books or whatever, and it’s really effective, but also funny.

Steve Bechtel: Normally, it’s just making fun of Zumba.

Neely Quinn: Or Crossfit [laughs].

Steve Bechtel: Or the big target now is Barre Class.

Neely Quinn: Yeah, why don’t you like Barre Class?

Steve Bechtel: It’s interesting, I think we talked about this this weekend. Barre class is all about the toning and burning, and toning- like there are these things that we should call, like, “red light words”- things that you should be afraid of. If a windowless van drives up to your kid’s playground, the hairs on the back of your neck should prickle up, because you’re like “Ah, child molester”. Well if a coach talks to you about toning, or lengthening, or getting the burn, or shaping, you should run away.

[laughter]

It sounds like a joke, but anybody that uses those terms is basically saying that they don’t know what they’re doing. We don’t lengthen muscles. If you’re 5’2” and you want that long lean look, well too bad, you’re still going to be 5’2”. And the same thing with shaping, and all that sort of thing- and that’s the thing with this Barre Class. It’s high repetition, medium load, focused on the legs and the hips, and as we know, with high repetition, medium load training, the primary outcome of that training is hypertrophy. When somebody signs up for a Barre Class, I think the last thing they want is to have a bigger butt or a bigger thigh.

Neely Quinn: Yes, that is probably true. So you’re saying that Barre Classes, and usually Crossfit classes, might make you bulk up?

Steve Bechtel: They can, and a lot of it depends on what you’re eating during that time. If you’re eating any excess food, your body’s hypertrophy response is elevated. Greg Classman who is the founder of Crossfit said that the best way to put on mass- he had an article early on in Crossfit- the best way to put on mass is Crossfit with Steroids- by taking Steroids and doing Crossfit. Then after that was to do regular body building with Steroids, and then the third best way to put on mass is just Crossfit.

Neely Quinn: He said that?

Steve Bechtel: Yeah, and that’s not my words, it’s his. And so, I’m like, wow, gosh, I don’t really want to put on mass. Maybe that’s not the best idea. We actually did, back in maybe ’04 ’05, we did a lot of Crossfit, Nick Czarnecki and I tested it out for climbing. It didn’t work out for us and so we moved on. My big beef with it- I think, like I said, it’s a great novice program and it’s a very good way to learn some of the lifts. My big beef with it is that it’s not specific. It’s not training for climbing. That’s where we really want people to succeed, we want to have something that makes them better at climbing, because that’s the process that we are all in love with.

Neely Quinn: What do you say about it? It’s training for training or something?

Steve Bechtel: Oh yeah, I would just say it’s a really good way to learn about certain exercises. But other than that, training to be tired, you know, fatigue is generally the result people look for. It’s like “I’m sore, I’m sweaty, I’m tired”. That isn’t how we get stronger. That’s not how we build strength. If you get fatigued in a workout you’re not optimizing for strength, because fatigue creates endurance. What happens is people neglect strength and conditioning in favor of conditioning and more conditioning. There’s a culture around the whole thing, but it’s only a general fitness culture. General fitness is a pre-requisite for high level performance, but it doesn’t create high level performance.

Neely Quinn: You just said fatigue is not an indicator of gaining strength, basically. I know that people on this podcast, who listen to this podcast, have heard that before. But it still sort of comes as a shock, because you think that you’re supposed to go into the gym and feel like you can’t drive your car home at the end of it. So, are you saying that you should have no fagitue at the end of a session, or what’s the actual situation?

Well, there’s a great saying, and it’s that “A workout should give you more than it takes away from you”. What happens when we are training for strength, is the loads are very very high, and they’re delivered in very very short phases. Like, five seconds on the hang board, and then rest a minute. And you’re like “Wow, I’m not even pumped”. You look at the loading parameters of strength or power, and we talked a lot about this with energy system work this last weekend. We want to be done with that loading in five to ten seconds. We talked about the bull in a rodeo. There’s a reason that the rodeo rings the buzzer at eight seconds. It’s because the bull stops being able to display power after eight seconds. If you rode him for fifteen seconds it would be really, really boring, because the first eight seconds would be amazing, and then the next seven seconds he’d be just jogging around the arena.

So what happens, you go in and you see people that are lifting, like heavy Olympic lifting, you’ll have people that are lifting three and four and five hundred pounds in cleans, right? That’s a lot of power, but they’re only doing it for one to two reps. If I go in and I put 95lbs on the bar, and I clean it fifteen times, that’s a display of power endurance, and it’s not really making me all that strong, but it is making me very very fatigued. Fatigue requires a lot of recovery. So what I really want is to do things that make my body adapt to be stronger, because fatigue management in climbing is really specific to forearm muscular endurance. We don’t get, like, our lats don’t get tired, our pecs don’t get tired, our abs don’t get tired. For the most part, a generally athletic person won’t have normal body-wide fatigue, it’s almost all local forearm pump. Trying to go into that fatigue in our training is a little bit misdirected.

Neely Quinn: Okay, so after an hour long strength session or something, or maybe not even, you should come out and be able to drive your car completely perfectly home, and not feel tired.

Steve Bechtel: Yeah, right. And that’s the thing. If you train strength regularly, and that’s what we really advocate, is that you train strength almost year round, all the time. You know, you think about getting on the hangboard, all the time. I don’t want you to get pumped on the hangboard. I want you to try something that’s difficult for you, and achieve it. So say we are hanging on a 12mm edge, and I’m going to put some weight on my harness, and I’m going to start with ten pounds. I’m going to do maybe four sets of five seconds. Then, the next session, I want to be able to advance that. I don’t care how it felt, as long as the next session I can go heavier, or go to a smaller hold. I can intensify it.

But then when it comes time to train endurance, what we want to do is take our strength levels and some point and extend the amount of time that we can display that. At that point, we are interested in creating fatigue, but at that point we are doing energy system work, rather than building strength.

Neely Quinn: Okay, so in your strength day, you might do this hangboarding, but it will be like the five sets of five seconds with one minute in between. But then, on the endurance day, you might also do a hangboard session, but it will look different?

Steve Bechtel: Yeah, and hangboarding for endurance is really tedious. God, there are great stories of people getting in super good shape on a hangboard. But what we would do would be like bouldering intervals, linked problems, route repeats, things like that. If you are on a hangboard, the loading parameters would be different. You’d go to more longer sessions at a slightly lower intensity.

Neely Quinn: Is that where the Anderson Brother’s seven seconds on three seconds off would come into play?

Steve Bechtel: That repeater protocol is actually quite good at building strength, but it is pulled from more of a hypertrophy thing, because the loading is really… in a minute, you’re loading for like forty seconds of that minute. So forty seconds of load, we know that moves into the lactic energy system. We’ve moved away from pure strength building. But the compromise that they made there was, hey, we need to make this more sports specific, because out there on the rock we rarely get to hold on for five seconds and then rest. It’s usually hold for five, move, hold for five, move. So theirs moves a little bit more towards sports specificity, but it moves a little away from pure strength. I think it’s a safe way for people to move, because if you’re doing repeaters, you’re less likely to pick a weight that’s going to destroy you. So that’s the safety thing there. I still love trying to figure out ways to do unloaded hangboarding, where you go to smaller holds, go to single arm hangs, that sort of thing, just to keep it a little simpler in the gym.

Neely Quinn: Yeah, you have some interesting thoughts on hangboarding. Like only using a couple of holds, right?

Steve Bechtel: Yeah. There’s this- I remember when I was really young, the first Metolius board came out, and it had all different types of holds on it, so you could train pockets, and it had this crazy thing where you could grab with all of your fingers in a spider grip or something, and there’s pinches, and pockets, and all kinds of different edges and jugs. I think the variety is confusing to people. Really, if you look at the joint angle variance, and what that means is when we are gaining static strength, we have a joint angle variance of around fifteen to twenty percent. We don’t need to train a whole bunch of different joint angles of the fingers- we can probably get away with a little bit less, like training just in the half crimp position. And then for pockets, you can get away- you can get a lot of pocket strength by holding just three finger pockets, unless you have real specific needs. Here in Lander we have a lot of pockets, so we do a lot of single finger hangs, but for the most part, people can get away with a lot fewer hold positions than they think.

These new boards that are coming out- I know that Tension has a new board coming that’s basically got a ton of different sizes of edges, and a few little pockets, like just the monos. But the idea is that you would train your pockets on the edges, and then the mono sits a little bit different, so you train the monos like that. But yeah, trying to simplify it for people, to understand that they don’t need a whole bunch of different things. To me, a really complicated hangboard is one of those Cybex circuits in a 24hr fitness, they have to do all the body parts, when really you can get away with one or two really big bang exercises.

Neely Quinn: Yeah. You said earlier that you want people to train strength throughout the year, right?

Steve Bechtel: Yeah, that’s correct. And strength is the master quality. All facets of fitness required in climbing are derivatives of strength. What I mean when I say that, is when you have greater strength, you can then generate more power. If you have greater strength, endurance is at a smaller percentage of your capability. So, what happens, and especially after age 25 or so, we start to see decline in our muscle mass and in our ability to generate force. So I think that everybody’s go to should be a basic strength program that includes hangboarding, includes developing- even off-season, I would say developing general grip strength, with weight training at those spring loaded grippers, things like that. We just decline in strength way faster than we would like.

What I would say there, though, when I talk abut year round training, is that during the high performance phase and redpointing, you’re not going to also be having a high performance phase in the weight room. So when we talk about strength training year round, we can go really hard. In the winter, I might have my athletes train strength three days a week, and train big heavy sessions. But in the summer or during redpoint season, they might only be training strength once every ten days. We have a lot of our athletes train strength the same day as a redpoint day, like they come down from the crag, hit the gym, and maybe it’s only 20-25 minutes, but we can deliver that strength stimulus and then get them recovering as quickly as possible afterward.

Neely Quinn: Okay, so doing it on the same day is acceptable.

Steve Bechtel: Right, because if I’m redpointing on Sunday and then I came into the gym and train Monday, I might not be ready to redpoint again until Thursday. So I start spreading out my performance climbing days- and we are all about climbing. As much as I talk abut training and training and training, the reason why we do this is because we like climbing. Really we are trying to maximize for good climbing days as often as possible.

Neely Quinn: You said that you might only have people do a strength day every ten days when they’re trying to send something?

Steve Bechtel: Yup.

Neely Quinn: Okay.

Steve Bechtel: And that depends really on the individual, and so let me explain that, and then I’ll explain how that relates to a normal program. If you come in and I can get you to do your normal strength work, and I’m seeing, okay, Neely’s numbers are staying really solid, she can still do this hang, she’s doing this on her leg work, her core strength is still really good, and we are training once every five days, I’ll test pushing it out to every six days. Whatever it takes to maintain that level of strength through a performance phase, I want to do the least we can possibly do. I’m not in love with having you in the gym, I’m in love with having you send hard routes. So if I can keep your strength up, and like I said we’ve seen some athletes that can come in and hit the hangboard, hit the weights, probably ever nine to ten days for maybe a three month period, great, that’s really good.

When we get complaints about the lack of specifics in some of our programs, I’ll say, it’s four to six weeks, do this series of ten sessions. You might only need four weeks to get through those ten sessions, where another athlete might need six to get through, and actually- you remember we talked earlier about how you go through until that stimulus is no longer being delivered?

Neely Quinn: Right.

Steve Bechtel: Then you move on, and so it is really variable. The more specific, the more difficult it is to fit that with lots and lots of athletes.

Neely Quinn: Yeah. Yeah, I have a few questions here. One of them is- so you’re saying- the premise of your book, the Logical Progression book, is to have a strength day, and then an explosive day, and then an endurance day. And then go through that for eight to ten weeks. And then do you just do the same thing, but you change it to make it a little bit different, right? You just keep going through that through the whole year. What I would love, because people love information that they can actually use, is can you give me an example of a strength day, an explosive day, and then an endurance day?

Steve Bechtel: Well that actually costs $19.95.

[laughter]

Yeah so a strength day [laughs]- sweeten the deal- no, I think that’s a good point. Most of the questions I’ll get after we do a podcast, Neely, is what specifically do I do here? Okay, so, one of the things for a strength day. We are going to come into the gym, and most climbing gyms have integrated facilities where they have weights, and a hangboard. For a strength day, what we might have you do is have you come in and have you work two major movement patterns. Maybe we will do a squatting exercise- maybe we will have you do three sets of five reps. We will have you do a pulling exercise, like dumbbell row, for three sets of five, and then a couple of these high intensity core exercises, like ab wheel rollouts or hanging straight leg raises.

Then we would move on to the hangboard stuff where you would do maybe three different hand positions, five sets each of maybe five seconds. This is just one general program that works well for a lot of people. That whole thing should take forty-five to sixty minutes, and then we’re done. We write down what we did on the dumbbell row and what we did on the squats, and then our weight on the hangboard, and then we move onto the power session, knowing that in a week or so in the future we are going to hit that strength session again, and we want to advance on what we did in that session.

Neely Quinn: And how much rest would you do between each strength and power day?

Steve Bechtel: That’s really up to the individual. Depending how explosive that person is going to be on the bouldering day, they may need 24 hours between, they may need 48 hours between. Let’s say you do strength Monday- most people I would say, try Wednesday and you can start with with that. Then in the power day, I really like limit bouldering. The problem is most people’s bouldering sessions aren’t really limit oriented. Like, a limit bouldering session to me, features the general warm up where you would get warm. The whole thing is get into the gym, get warm enough that you feel like you want to take off your sweatshirt and get down to a t-shirt. We’ll do rowing machine, or the AirDyne bikes, and then ten or so minutes of movement prep. That’s that multi-planer, multi-joint exercises just to get your body ready to do some explosive work.

Then we do a specific bouldering warmup after that, and the way I set it up, is say your max bouldering grade is v8. So your first set will be just to do some problems back to back- easy problems, v1s and v2s, that add up all the way to your max grade, which is v8. So you would do four v2s in a row. Just kind of moving quickly through those. Then we take a little bit of a rest, and then we go a little bit harder, and we would do maybe three v3s, so that would add up to about v8 as well, so we are starting to do some harder stuff. Then we will do two problems that are pretty explosive in nature, that are maybe half that grade, like v4. So say, do a couple of challenging v4s. Then maybe a couple of specific hangs on the hangboard, so that whole thing, between the general warmup and specific warmup takes 30-35 minutes. If you’ve ever done pure limit bouldering, that makes complete sense. A lot of other people are like “Whoa whoa whoa, I like to warmup in 5 minutes”, but the whole thing is to prime your body to generate maximum force and to be really, really ready for it. Taking your time with a big long warmup is going to be primary for a limit bouldering session.

We’ll take maybe another 45-60 minutes to work these hard boulder problems that would be at that athlete’s limit. Maybe once every three or four sessions they’ll send one, but other than that they are just trying really hard stuff.

Neely Quinn: Are they going to the top, or are they just doing the hardest moves on the boulders, or what are they doing?

Steve Bechtel: Well, you know when you are working a hard problem, it might just be the hardest moves for quite a while. We talked about that- when we are trying to create maximum power, we need to stay under that 10 seconds of work. But as you go through the phase, and you get better and better, you’ll start to send problems and you’ll delve into that 20-25 second range for sending a problem. But for the most part, you’re working these things in sections, and that’s why limit bouldering develops your power so well- because we keep it down in that anaerobic, alactic energy zone that’s under 10 seconds. You’re better able to develop power there, plus it keeps you focused on those moves.

Neely Quinn: So you would maybe suggest to people, even if the crux is in the middle of the boulder, climb up to it on jugs and do those moves?

Steve Bechtel: Yeah. It’s just like you’re working it, working a route. For some reason people get the concept of working routes- and I should put it this way: route climbers get the concept of working routes, but they don’t quite get bouldering. But hard boulderers, they understand that sometimes it’s just to go out and hold onto the crux holds and get your feet off the ground, and you might send three weeks just doing that.

There was a classic story in Britain in the 90s of this boulder problem where the whole thing was just to hold onto these two holds and get your feet up off the ground, and then it was another eight years before somebody did a move off those holds.  So that’s what limit bouldering is. It’s got to be at your limit- you’ve got to be trying moves you can’t do. It’s super maximal- 105% of your max.

Neely Quinn: And then 5 minutes of rest at least, between attempts?

Steve Bechtel: Yeah, and if you want to shorten that up you can do core work or mobility in between. The best thing to do is keep your head in the game though, and not get sucked into social media, or reading, or something else. Think about, how can I give this gift of this session to myself? How can I spend the next 3 minutes making myself a better climber, rather than switching gears and going and reading something about politics or something.

So that’s the power, or the explosive session that I recommend. Then we would move into energy system work, or what we would call a strength endurance session. And for that one, again, we might be a couple of days later, maybe even three days later, so if we train strength on Monday, power on Wednesday, we might do the energy system work on Saturday. And this is a flexible program- if you’re going to go out and redpoint on Saturday, we’ll just push the energy system work to Monday, it’s no big deal. But with the strength endurance day, what we will do is these short intervals, which you’ll do a problem every 3 minutes. So a boulder problem will usually take you about 40 seconds- a normal boulder problem in a commercial gym now. So every 3 minutes you’re going to do a boulder problem. It takes you 40 seconds, you rest 2 minutes 20 seconds.

At the beginning of minute 3 you do another problem, minute 6 a problem, minute 9, minute 12, minute 15. So you end up doing six problems, and then take a nice big rest, maybe 10 or 15 minutes. So they are full long boulder problems, you’re getting a little bit fatigued. These are close to your onsight level or maybe little easier- if you’re a v8 limit boulderer, these are maybe closer to v5. Your strength endurance sessions might even be a v4. But really we are trying to get a little bit of fatigue, then recover, a little bit of fatigue, then recover. So we’ll do that 15 minutes worth of problems, six problems in 15 minutes, and then take a little break and then repeat that two more times, and you can fit that within an hour.

Neely Quinn: Hmm. It’s like a modified version of a 4×4. Why not just a 4×4?

Steve Bechtel: The 4×4 is fine, and I do like those. It’s a little bit- this would be more intense. The problem would be harder than you could use in a 4×4, because we are doing one problem and then resting 2 minutes, rather than doing four problems back to back. But yeah, it’s the same thing. I mean, it’s not the same thing, but it’s the same idea. What’s really important is that our adaptations to energy system work are very specific. So if you are getting ready for a climb that’s going to take  you 25 seconds, I don’t feel like you need to be doing a lot of conditioning beyond 25 seconds. If your climb is going to take you 15 minutes, well we don’t need to be doing a lot of high intensity stuff, because anything you can do for 15 minutes isn’t all that hard.

You want to tailor this part of the program to your specific needs, or your specific weaknesses, you know? I’m pretty good at long sustained endurance, and so power endurance would be more beneficial to me, because that’s a harder facet of the sport for me.

Neely Quinn: Okay.

Steve Bechtel: And I’ve got a couple of different examples. Strength endurance we will do a couple of different interval protocols in there. But really, the take home on that, whatever you are doing for your energy system work, needs to be rest and developed over time. If you’re not going session to session and looking for an improvement there, you’re sort of getting pumped for no reason.

Neely Quinn: Okay. Yeah so, on the strength day, you didn’t mention climbing, but you could climb on that day, right?

Steve Bechtel: Yeah. And I would just be really aware of- you know, the real rule in climbing is: does it negatively affect my performance? And if it does, don’t do it. So if you climb along with your hangboard sessions and it seems like you’re not getting any stronger, your climbing isn’t improving, you’re doing something wrong. So go back, reassess, and then see what you are doing. One of the big take homes from the performance climbing coach thing this weekend, with all of these coaches, is almost always, when an athlete is seeing issues in their training, it’s because they’re trying to do too much. They’re trying to fit too many things into their training. Really, the ultimate training program, is the one that is stripped down to the bare minimum and is providing fabulous results.

Neely Quinn: It seems like what you are trying to say there, is maybe if you are trying to go out and send something, maybe don’t do a strength workout beforehand- maybe do it afterward or not at all, if it’s affecting you?

Steve Bechtel: Right. And so with a program like this, if you are cycling through the non-linear cycle, off season  might have you training four, five, some athletes even six days a week on it. But in season, when you are trying to send, it may be two days a week of training, and three days a week at the crag. So really, it’s allowing yourself to back off the gas and understand that recovery, eating right, sleeping right, and all of those things are just as important as how hard you go in the gym.

Neely Quinn: Yeah. Man. I wanted to talk to you about so many more things. We had a list of stuff, but let’s see. Maybe we can talk about one more thing in the next five minutes, because you had mentioned that you wanted to talk about strength minimums for climbers. Do you want to talk about that for just a little bit?

Steve Bechtel: Yeah- so one of the things that we see is this unlimited idea on strength. People are like “Well I don’t want to just benchpress and deadlift. I want to get good enough and move onto climbing”. And really what we want is for you to be strong enough to do the correct skills of the sport. Like if you can’t keep your hips in as you are climbing out of a cave at Rifle, it’s not an indication of your finger strength, it’s an indication of your ability to create tension in your posterior chain. So if you can’t do that, you are no longer executing the movement correctly, and therefore your climbing is inefficient. So what we look at is- people are like “Well how many pull-ups do I need to be able to do”, and whatever else. And this is just ballpark stuff, but it seems like high performing climbers can usually do ten or more pull-ups.

What was interesting, is we did this survey a few years ago. Strengths went up as we compared climbing grade to how strong these guys were. We tested maybe sixty or so athletes. From 5.9 to 5.10 to 5.11, they kept getting stronger and stronger. 5.12 to 5.14 it almost plateaued. What that showed us is that most of them got to this minimum level of strength, and then beyond that it became a factor of how aggressive they were with their actual climbing, and then how good their technique is. But it’s not like the 5.14 guys could do a hundred pull-ups and the 5.12 guys could only do 15. They were all in the realm- I mean some of them could do forty or something- but we had 5.14 people that could do just ten pull-ups. Which is great, that’s good to know- if you can do ten pull-ups, you can go on and work on something else. Being able to do more starts to be a diminishing return.

Then we look at the antagonist, like trying to have some amount of pressing strength. So usually for normal collegiate level athletes, they’ll look for a benchpress of bodyweight and a half- that seems like a lot to me. So if the males can benchpress their bodyweight, I’m pretty happy. Females can do 3/4 of their body weight, that’s pretty good. All of the climbers should be able to bodyweight and a half in a deadlift. You’ve got some people that have gotten fabulously strong on those. I think maybe Charlie can do three times his bodyweight.

Neely Quinn: Oh my god.

Steve Bechtel: Yeah he’s a strong dude. You can tell because he’s so bulked up.

Neely Quinn: He’s not- he’s super small [laughter].

Steve Bechtel: Anyway, you should be able to dead hang a 20mm edge for 30 seconds. Everybody needs to get to that point.

Neely Quinn: What’s a 20mm edge?

Steve Bechtel: Oh, in American? I think it’s like 2/3 of an inch?

Neely Quinn: So like a small campus rung?

Steve Bechtel: Yeah…

Neely Quinn: Is that 18?

Steve Bechtel: I think that’s 18, yeah. You know, yes, a 20mm is a good place to start. And that’s a long hang- 30 seconds? We almost never do that. But that’s one of the indicators that we got to this elite level athletes, and the 5.12 guys can maybe hang in the 20-3- second range, and the elite guys were going way over that.

Neely Quinn: Really?

Steve Bechtel: You know the Zlag board has this test that they do at these events- they have the Zlag board contest. That’s 20mm edge- the middle edge on those boards. The elites are over 2 minutes on a dead hang on that. They basically correlated like, if you can hang 2 minutes and 30 seconds, you’re going to be climbing 5.15. If you’re going to be hanging 2 minutes, you climb 5.14. They got some pretty good numbers on that. I don’t know the exact, but it’s pretty interesting.

Neely Quinn: I wanted to quickly mention- you know the strength test for your hang, your grip strength? What’s that thing called?

Steve Bechtel: The dynamometer?

Neely Quinn: Yeah the dynamometer. I wanted to bring that up because you have a really cool story about that.

Steve Bechtel: Oh yeah. Well it was at the- gosh it was the Climber’s Festival several years ago. They had a physical therapy outfit that was testing grip strengths, and I was really psyched because Tony Yaniro was there, Steve Petro, and Todd Skinner and a few of these other super pros of the day. I went in there and I squeezed it and I came out ahead of all four of those guys, or three of those guys. And I was in the lead, and I was all psyched, and was like “My training works, I’m dedicated, I’m a great athlete, my hard work has gotten me somewhere”. But then my brother, who’s not a climber, also squeezed the dynamometer, and he got second place, like right behind me. And then my Dad, who was in his 50s at the time, he squeezed it, and he got third place right behind the two of us. I was like “Oh no! I don’t want to discount this to genetics! I want it to be all about my handwork!”.

But yeah, the dynamometer is really interesting, and I love it as a test of readiness to train strength. What happens is, if your nervous system is fatigued from a previous strength session, it will show up in your ability to squeeze that dynamometer. If I can go in a normally squeeze 200lbs on that thing, and I come into the gym, get warmed up, and I try the test and I’m only squeezing 160, then I know that I’m not up to it- my nervous system isn’t recovered, and I know that that day I shouldn’t be training strength, because I need more recovery. That’s a really easy indicator of are your athletes ready to go or not. Usually 20%- I think that’s what Michael was talking about, he uses it in his gym in Atlanta- is 20%. If they are down 20%, have them work on their stretching that day.

Neely Quinn: Yeah, that’s a cool tool. And not everybody has a dynamometer.

Steve Bechtel: Right.

Neely Quinn: Even if they have those grip squeezer things- the really simple ones.

Steve Bechtel: Yeah if you can close a certain squeezer, that’s great. But dynamometers are cheap enough that it’s worth investing in if you are interested in recover. The one that we recommend, the company is called Camry, like the Toyota. They’re like 30 something bucks- I think you can get them on Amazon. The really nice ones are a few hundred at you can usually get access to those through physical therapists.

Neely Quinn: Yeah, and a closing note on that- yours and my hardest redpoints are the same, but I squeezed like a 75, and I think yours was 190, right?

Steve Bechtel: Right [laughs]. But it’s because I climb in Mad Rock shoes.

[laughter]

No, I think the real story there is the redpoint that I did was really hard for the grade-

Neely Quinn: Okay, yeah… [laughs]

Steve Bechtel: And the one you did was super soft [laughs]. No, I don’t know. But it is really interesting, because you look back on the original test done on climbers, was Phil Watts and Dave Martin, I think it was in 1988 or ’89 at the Snowbird competition. One of the weakest on the grip strength was Didier Rabotou, who won the competition. The guy who won the grip test as I recall, got last place in the competition. So it’s not really a good indicator of how you climb, but it is a good indicator of your personal readiness for training.

Neely Quinn: Yeah, okay, cool. Well I know you have some stuff to do, people to train, so I am going to let you go. Any closing thoughts, any last thoughts?

Steve Bechtel: Um, the only thing is, if there is a coach listing and they are interested in this training, they should get in touch with me through the Climb Strong website. We will get you all the details so you know what the coach education program is about. The next one is in August of 2017, I think it’s the first week in Salt Lake City. It’ll be August 4th, 5th, and 6th. It will feature me, Charlie, and Tyler Nelson, and hopefully Neely if we can talk her into coming, and maybe some more superstars as we run across them.

Neely Quinn: Thank you so much for you time again, and thank you very much for last weekend, I learned a lot and it was a ton of fun. We’ll do it again soon.

Steve Bechtel: Yeah, keep educating the people, and I will talk to you soon.

Neely Quinn: Alright, thanks Steve.

Steve Bechtel: Bye.

Neely Quinn: Alright I hope you enjoyed that interview with Steve Bechtel. You can find Steve on Instagram at @climb.strong, on Facebook at Climb Strong, and then his website is climbstrong.com. On his website you’ll be able to find any upcoming seminars that he is doing for climbers and coaches, and hopefully I’ll be doing them with him. You’ll also find on his website all of his books and all of this training programs. I really don’t know how he finds time to write all of these books, but he has one called Strength, that we sell the e-book for on TrainingBeta, he sells the paper version on his site. We will soon have his new book that we were just talking about, called Logical Progression, in an e-book format, but he sells it in a paper format. I have it, and it’s really, really good. Then he also has a book all about deadlifting, which is amazing because I think a lot of people have pretty bad form, just because they’ve never really learned too much about deadlifting, so definitely check that out if you are interested in deadlifting.

I am going to be seeing Steve again, pretty soon, at the International Climber’s Festival in Lander, in July. TrainingBeta is doing to have a booth there, we are going to have a pinch strength contest going on, and I’ll also be sitting on the training panel talking about nutrition. I’m pretty excited about that, and I’ll see you there, and I think that’s all I’ve got for you today. I will talk to you next week, I’m not really sure who I have coming on the podcast next week- we will find out. Thanks for your support, and remember if you want any other training information, more podcasts, training programs, blog posts, videos, we have it all at trainingbeta.com. Thanks so much for listening!

TrainingBeta is a site dedicated to training for rock climbing. We provide resources and information about training for routes, bouldering, finger strength, mental training, nutrition for climbers, and everything in between. Check out our blog, our interviews on the TrainingBeta Podcast, our rock climbing training programs, personal training for climbing, and nutrition for climbers.


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2 Comments

  1. Richard June 13, 2017 at 7:11 pm - Reply

    This was a great podcast. One question that causes me constant confusion with training programs is differentiating between a strength vs power exercise, especially when it comes to weight training. Hangboarding versus compusing is an obvious differentiation between strength and power. But when is a weight exercise strength vs power? I’ve often heard the difference between strength and power is that strength is static, whereas power needs to involve movement. Is a single max weight pull-up strength or power? Or a single rep max weight curl or benchpress? Are those strength or power exercises? Given that Steve describes the strength workout as doing squats or dumbbell rows, why are these strength versus power? I would have guessed most weight exercises would be power, with negatives being an exception as they are trying to hold the weight instead of moving the weight. If you could help answer this question, it would clear up a lot and help me with my own training programs.

    • Neely Quinn June 20, 2017 at 2:36 pm - Reply

      Hi Richard – I asked Steve to answer this question, and I’ll make a blog post out of this conversation if you don’t mind. It’s a good question. Here’s what Steve said:

      When we start talking about the technical side of training, there is frequently confusion between the terms strength and power, and rightfully so in climbing. Strength and power are closely married in our sport, so much of the differentiation is irrelevant and artificial. Let me quickly define the two:

      Strength is the ability to generate force, regardless of the time it takes. Picking up a heavy weight or holding onto a small edge are both displays of strength.

      Power is strength displayed over time, or strength x speed. Jumping into the air or catching an edge at the end of a long reach are both displays of power.

      We often tell people that power exercises are the ones you can’t do slowly or stop in the middle of. You can see this clearly if you compare a squat (strength) versus a box jump (power). If you stop in the middle of the box jump, you can’t complete the rep. In climbing movement, many climbers move too statically, dependent almost exclusively on strength, and thus limit their progress. Optimal movement requires a good mix of both.

      Confusion arises when we hear things like “strength and power are best developed in sets less than 10 seconds in length.” Well, which is it? Am I training strength in this exercise or power? Go back to the speed question when in doubt. A 1-rep max weighted pull-up is a very slow movement, so would be on the strength end of the continuum. A single max double on the campus board would be a power movement, at the other end of the continuum. Most climbs require that we move back and forth between these two qualities constantly.

      There is also a good deal of confusion between the different types of strength. In simple terms, there are three movement types we do for strength:

      Eccentric, where the muscle lengthens under load, as in lowering down after a pull-up.

      Concentric, where the muscle shortens under load, as in pulling up to the bar.

      Isometric, where the muscle is held statically under load, as in locking off at the top.

      In climbing, finger strength is generally displayed isometrically, and the majority of the other muscles operate first concentrically, then isometrically. Most weight training movements feature all three actions in each repetition.

      The take home is that strength is the master quality. By getting stronger, you develop a greater potential for power. Your training should feature both explosive exercises and slow strength exercises. Most of all, your supplemental strength training should support your sport-specific training, rather than overtaking it. The goal of supplemental resistance training is to keep climbers injury-free and to help them be better athletes.

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