Training on Ice Tools question

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    Topic
  • #47385
    luv2sharpen
    Participant

    I have been incorporating some very climbing specific strength/movement training into my routine, executing one armed ice tool pull+lockoff on a 20 degree overhanging wall with my feet on foot holds. This has been helping me build both strength and coordination for overhanging terrain (a noticeable hole in my movement patterns). Wondering your thoughts on gripping the tool handle without using the pinkie rest vs using the pinkie rest.

    My conundrum comes from the desire to get more out of the exercise (ie added grip strength stimulus along with the larger pulling muscles) versus training my motor skills to link overgripping with steep terrain/movement patterns.

    AND wondering whether your thoughts change based on the climber’s background/access to real ice climbing? For example I imagine a newer climber or one who can’t practice technique on routes would need to be more concerned with poor motor programming through training versus a more experienced climber who practices technique on the real deal more often.

    I’ve seen the photos/illustrations of Steve in the book hanging from tools without using the pinkie rest, for strength phases of the program, but doing this during a deadhang seems less “risky” to good climbing technique/motor patterns since we rarely use anything resembling a dead hang in real climbing…right?

Posted In: Alpinism

  • Keymaster
    Steve House on #47659

    Hi @luv2sharpen (nice handle)

    I generally don’t use pinky rests in training. But first, let me address your specific questions:

    My conundrum comes from the desire to get more out of the exercise (ie added grip strength stimulus along with the larger pulling muscles) versus training my motor skills to link overgripping with steep terrain/movement patterns.

    I personally think that training grip control/overgripping is very important. I will often, especially in early season, but also on hard leads consciously relax my grip to close to the minimum needed. I think this is a great tool. I don’t get pumped on regular ice climbing because, I believe, I create so many mini-rests by all these little relaxation exercises. Watch an experienced ice climber drop their arm and shake out their grip just between swings. Going leashless was a revolution here because we learned to let go of the tools and at the same time relax our grips. I’ll often swing, get the stick, and then swap my other hand to the bump grip and then immediately shake out the hand that just was doing the work of getting the stick. Make sense?

    AND wondering whether your thoughts change based on the climber’s background/access to real ice climbing? For example I imagine a newer climber or one who can’t practice technique on routes would need to be more concerned with poor motor programming through training versus a more experienced climber who practices technique on the real deal more often.
    Yes. Exactly. For most new climbers we recommend they simply climb and get feedback/instruction on their climbing as often as possible for at least a few seasons and not worry about training until they hit intermediate or inter-adv. levels.

    I’ve seen the photos/illustrations of Steve in the book hanging from tools without using the pinkie rest, for strength phases of the program, but doing this during a deadhang seems less “risky” to good climbing technique/motor patterns since we rarely use anything resembling a dead hang in real climbing…right?

    I have to admit I’m unclear here as to your question. Let me try to re-state it so my answer might make sense. That training without the pinkie rest in play could be risky to good climbing technique but since we rarely use deadhangs, it’s okay.

    Here’s my thought: In real life I grip the tool where I have to grip the tool to make the moves. And that can be all kinds of different places on mixed routes. I never use pinkie rests because I want the specific training of having to grip an ice tool unsupported. I don’t think about it much more than trying to incorporate as much sport-specific (ice-tool holding-on) training as possible.

    Hope this helps,
    Steve

    Participant
    alitvale77799 on #54545

    Watch an experienced ice climber drop their arm and shake out their grip just between swings.

    Participant
    luv2sharpen on #72920

    If someone asked me this same question today, this is how I would answer it with my current understanding:
    Consider what you’re actually trying to train, and then isolate that and train it. Don’t try to train too many adaptations in a single exercise or workout. Especially for max strength/power training, whatever fails first is what is getting the primary stimulus.

    For example:
    If you want to train maximum grip strength on tools, then do that. This means dead hanging without the pinkie rests in order to require maximal gripping force which results in maximal strength adaptations in the grip muscles. Don’t think you’re going to get max strength adaptations during technique training or body tension training.

    Full body twist-locks on a steep wall will most easily target strength/power in the larger pulling and core muscles specific to climbing, if done on large enough holds or tools. Whatever fails first is what will get the primary stimulus, so use good enough holds that you can hold on for the full length of each rep.

    Use moderate to intermediate difficulty routes to practice good climbing technique, including time spent on technique drills. During this time, focus on climbing efficiently, smoothly, and without a pump for as long as possible. This will include holding on to the tools as lightly as possible to stay attached, and taking advantage of the pinkie rests. Keyword: PRACTICE – not training. Though this volume will contribute to local muscular and global aerobic capacity if you keep your heartrate/intensity in check, and the duration is long enough.

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