When to Vary Strength Workouts

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  • #52978

    For the past 5 months, I have been closely adhering to a max strength program similar to the one in the Rock Alpinists Training Program, but am wondering if it may be time to switch things up or use my workout time more efficiently. I’m very, very green to training, so I apologize if there are obvious answers I may have missed.

    I’ve gotten much stronger, and am still continually increasing weight, but with 5 months done, I am not certain if I would benefit from some variation.

    Currently I do a 15-20 min. Killer Core, followed by couplets of 4-3-2 reps with increasing weight, (i.e. 4 reps upper, 4 reps lower, 4 reps upper, 4 reps lower, 3 min. rest, 3 reps upper, 3 reps lower, 3 reps upper, 3 reps lower, 3 min. rest) with pull-ups & step-ups, and ring dips & step offs. I went from not being able to do more than a couple unweighted ring dips to 4x60lbs, 3x65lbs, and 2x70lbs (at maybe 90% of failure), so it’s definitely been productive for me. In between each couplet, I rest for 3 minutes. In total, this take about 55-60 minutes.

    The four questions I have are:

    1. If I working toward alpinist and rock strength, are straight, weighted pull-ups/dips sufficient for 5+ months for upper body if increasing weight or should I plan for different moves?

    2. Somewhat related, if I should add other moves like weighted ring push-ups or weighted rows, is there a way to make the workout take about the same amount of time? I’m not counting minutes, but I’m starting to get the impression I should be doing more with the 60-90 minutes I allot for the strength workouts than what I’m currently getting

    3. Should I modify my 4/3/2 rep couplets with increasing weights to a different structure?

    4. A lot (but not all) of the literature suggests avoiding going to failure to avoid building unnecessary muscle mass, is this correct?

  • Participant
    TerryLui on #53179

    Hey Mishary,
    I can speak to a couple of your questions:

    1) When training in general, the more specific your training movements can be to the chosen activity, the better. Judging by your descriptions, it sounds like you’re aiming to climb alpine rock (instead of ice/mixed alpine whereby you’re using ice tools). If that’s the case, then I’d say varying the style of pull-ups will offer benefits for you. You can see some pull-up variations in this link:

    For the towel pull up, try 1 arm on the pull up bar, 1 arm on the towel for an offset pull up. That’s a fun one 🙂

    Also depending on the difficulty level of your rock climbs, you may consider factoring in some hangboarding.

    2) Again specificity will be something you’ll want to consider when adding/modifying the workout program. Also, remember that more is not always better. You only have 24 hours and spending that time on more sport specific training will yield you a better “return on investment”

    3) Deferred to others.

    4) Correct.

    Anonymous on #53194

    Terry’s correct on this. But filling in a few gaps here:
    The kind of strength you’ve been doing is referred to as “general” as in non sport specific. It is good to have a high level of base or general strength but after a point, and I think you’ve reached it you will benefit more from shifting to more sport specific training. This can come in the form Terry is suggesting of semi-sport specific exercises like the odd set towel pulls. There are a ton of variations of this sort of thing. You just want the exercise to look a bit more like climbing. Actual climbing specific exercises will be your eventual goal.

    Regarding #3. I’d drop this general Max protocol now and move to more climbing specific work. ARCing, Hang board max hangs, repeaters, Bouldering 4x4s.

    I hope this helps.

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