ARCing during iceclimbing prep

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  • #13910

    As winter comes closer and the trailrunning season is mostly over for me I set my sight onto iceclimbing. The last few winters I was more focused on skitouring but with my alpine ambitions increasing I feel like I need to become a better ice-/mixedclimber so that will be my focus this winter. In the past, I have climbed up to WI3+/4- lead and WI5/5+ toprope but always felt like I wasn’t really physically well prepared (and I definitely didn’t climb enough ice to develop very good technique).
    I read up on all the brilliant resources on this site, especially the Training for Ice and Mixed Climbing article. I started with the transition period two weeks ago doing core 2-3x/week and doing some bouldering.

    Now I found a really nice wood stack which is suited for some drytooling (see picture). It is maybe 20-25m wide, 3-4m high and the picks stick super good the in wood. I feel like it would be very beneficial to do some ARC style sessions on tools but am unsure how that could fit into the general schedule.
    The stack is ideal for traversing and the one time I climbed on it I always kicked the feet into the face of the trunks (to develop better technique and work the calve a bit more) but did a mix of swinging and hooking with the tools. If I only swing the tools and use the “steeper” positions (picks in the trucks sticking the furthest out and feet furthest in) I got pumped quite quickly but hooking makes it way easier and there are very good rest positions. I did 3*20 minutes trying to control the pump and shaking as much as needed. I felt my forearms quite a bit the next day but think it will become quite a bit less taxing quickly.

    Is this ARCing comparable with aerobic base running in the sense that I can just mix it in during all different phases of the ice-training as general conditioning?
    During the transition phase, I plan to combine it with the core sessions since my gym is very close by. During the max strength and ME phase that is probably too much but I could just do it on a different day instead. Maybe 1-2x/week starting with 60 minutes and building to 90 minutes?

    I appreciate any inputs.

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    Anonymous on #13925

    Yes ARC (as per the Andersen brothers book) is analogous to the aerobic bae training you do for running and skiing. A couple of ARC sessions a week will really help build endurance when combined with the strength sessions. We do have two very effective plans for ice climbing training. At your level I would recommend the beginner/intermediate plan We use this plan for a many clients and it works great. However doing your own plan is fine and it sounds like you’ve got a good start on it.


    jakob.melchior on #13963

    Thanks Scott for your reply.

    Wow a couple of sessions a week was more than I expected. In that regard how should the intensity exactly be for those sessions. So far I did between 40 and 60 minutes of climbing time during the sessions (split up into 10-20 minute blocs with short rest in between) and definitely feel it for 1-2 days afterwards. So not quite comparable with running aerobic training yet where I would feel back to normal after maybe 8-12h for a 60 minutes sessions Z2 run. Maybe I just need some more time to adapt. At the moment I just try to not get too pumped and take rest as needed to keep the intensity low.

    In your ARC article for indoor climbing you suggest sessions of 2-3 times 30 minutes with 30 minutes rest. For indoor climbing where you have to switch for belays that makes total sense but am I right to assume that shorter rests are better when traversing on one’s own? So maybe 2-3 times 30 minutes with only 10 minutes in between? Or maybe even 60-90 minutes straight with resting/shaking on the wall?

    I was already looking into that training plan. I definitely have to re-read some chapters in your book first before planning the training in more detail. My plan is to start more focused strength training roughly in the beginning/middle of November as I feel like I do need some more conditioning before. Am I right to assume that this strength training plan start with the base phase right away without a transition phase?

    Steve House on #13990

    @jakob.melchior Using my treadwall on a fairly steep setting I have migrated to having people start with 1 minute on, 1 minute rest. Try that for 10-12 rounds. If that feels okay then go 2′ on/1′ rest and then 3′ on, 1′ rest. This is much more time efficient than the 30 minutes sessions which are assuming the climbing is not overhanging since not many people can climb overhanging terrain for 30 minutes straight.

    Alan Russell on #14394

    That’s really interesting. Does that mean that your ARC sessions have increased in intensity? Is the climbing time still the same i.e. 60-90 minutes per session?


    Steve House on #14432

    In a sense, but for me if I’m climbing on anything that is not overhanging I never get pumped and this is the case with a lot of people. So in a way, yes, the intensity is increasing because the climbing is harder. But I think this makes the training much more specific to my forearms, and secondarily, my core. Which are the two muscle groups I care about and two that don’t get worked by ARCing on anything vertical or less than vertical.

    This will not be the case for everyone.

    Make sense?

    Alan Russell on #14491

    Not sure! I thought that ARC training should not lead to a pump. The protocol of 10-12 x 1-3 min’s on, 1 min off looks similar to anaerobic, rather than aerobic endurance (as I understand them). Is the purpose of the exercise to provide aerobic and anaerobic stimulus, or anaerobic / strength stimulus for someone who already does / has done a lot of aerobic climbing training?


    Steve House on #14520

    Alan-Maybe we’re thinking of two different kinds of ‘pump’. I’m not advising for a blow-out pump like i can not hold on anymore. I am talking about a nice feeling of a good flow of blood to the forearms, but one that allows one to continue climbing. I would agree that a full “pump” would be anaerobic. Maybe we need a grading system 1-10 for pump with 10 not beling able to hold on any more. I’m looking for a 2-3… Does that help?

    Alan Russell on #14541

    Ah ok. So do you still do any of the 2-3 x 20-30 minutes climbing training (like this or has the 10-12 x 1-3 minutes on, 1 minute off replaced them? It sounds a little like TINSTAAFL!

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