Different kinds of specific strength training

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  • #8295

    OK, two scenarios:

    First, this season I’ve done the 8-week ice and mixed program, and have now moved into a maintenance period. I do the specified one arm hangs and max grip strength exercises. Typically these involve hanging from an ice axe for not more than 10 seconds, and adding weight (backpack, hip belt) if it’s possible to hang longer. I usually release a one arm hang somewhere between 5 and 10 seconds, when my grip starts to weaken or I start to shake. My understanding is that this exercise stresses muscles but not to complete failure. I progressively got stronger, despite the fact that I never felt burning forearms and weak muscles, the pump that you sometimes get climbing. So that’s one kind of specific strength training. I don’t know what to call it: max strength training?

    Second, I recently went on a two week ski holiday with my family. On some snowy days, I escaped to the bouldering gym with my ice tools (the picks are modified so that I can climb on plastic holds). I bouldered with the ice tools on a wall that was about 15 degrees overhanging. I did sessions of between 3-5 minutes. Between each session I would rest completely before doing the next. I managed about 4 sessions each time. During these sessions the fatigue slowly build in my forearms until I had to really fight to hold onto the tools. I stopped when I just couldn’t hold on any longer. After these sessions my forearms were so tired that it was hard to manipulate the zipper on my jacket or sign my name on a piece of paper. My muscles were spent. It was a very different fatigue that what I felt following the first exercises I described. Again, I don’t know what to call this kind of specific strength training: endurance strength training?

    So, how do these two types of specific strength training fit into an overall plan, or not?

    Is there any benefit to doing the second kind of training I described, or is it counterproductive in some way?

    If there is a way to incorporate this second kind of strength training, when would it be best, in the beginning, middle, end of a progressive training program.

    I’m of two minds. On one hand, I can understand doing the max exercises, recruiting all the fibers you can, training you nerves and muscles to grip maximally, not conditioning them to failure. On the other hand, it seems that the longer sessions could be beneficial as well, or perhaps destructive?


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    Anonymous on #8298

    The first type of strength training is max strength. It’s normal not to feel any muscle soreness because the increase in strength comes primarily from fiber recruitment.

    I would call the second type muscular endurance training or “power endurance”. The latter label is more common among climbers. Pure endurance training would be much easier.

    The second type of strength training is definitely useful, especially for climbers. When to include it depends on how much easier training you’ve done to support it. As I understand it, typically power endurance training would happen at the end of a program after a base of both easy endurance and max strength has been completed. Including it too soon will lessen the gains that you get from it.

    Anonymous on #8639

    Thanks for your reply, and my apologies for my late response. You answered my question, and pointed me in the right direction.

    Anonymous on #8644

    Thanks, Bruno. No worries.

    A highly recommended book–which I hope to dig into shortly–is The Rock Climber’s Training Manual by the Anderson brothers. It sounds like it does a good job of explaining different intensities and how they apply to rock climbing.

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