Today was the start of week #1 for Feats of Strength. We’ve moved away from Foundations and are now getting more serious about our acquisition of strength. The exercises are pretty simple, the reps are fewer, we will be upping our sets every week, and the loads are A LOT bigger.
3-5 reps was the order of the day, trying to finish feeling like you had a rep or 2 to spare. Remember kids, we are strength training. As in trying to get stronger. As in THAT IS THE GOAL. Not to be confused with other types of conditioning, we are not working on your anaerobic threshold, lactate clearance, aerobic capacity, etc. etc. etc. Maximal tension, minimal muscle damage. You know. . . strength training.
As you can see, the exercises are pretty simple. Amazing how easy it is to compensate with such simple motions. We stuck to a 2:5 tempo and focused on what it means to stop at the right time. A lot of unlearning to do from what I could see. Anyone that ground to a halt in mid rep got barked at.
Next week, well, it just gets heavier. And heavier. And heavier.
Let’s keep our eyes on the prize folks. Keep your focus clear. Don’t confuse apples for oranges.
A nice way to check in. See where we’re at. Clear the cobwebs. And that we did. Don’t forget, this is a new training cycle, and this was Test Day 1 of 3. This is a nine week training cycle for this program. We are intent on keeping everyone fit for their skiing, but also getting a jump start on the late winter and spring mountaineering.
I hate all non-Apple computers. Not sure why, because there are so many other things that I don’t understand and bear no ill will towards. But PC’s. Grrrrr. My animosity this time is due to the fact that the results from this Test Day are NO WHERE TO BE FOUND! Gone. Zoink. Poof.
Sorry about that. Human error most likely. But I am going to continue to blame Microsoft.
The class was a pretty standard test day. The Peaks and Valleys portion was a combo of 3 exercises instead of just one. I chose this because of the more varied demands of Mountaineering. There was about a minute of rest between each group of 3. We took another minute before the game of Peaks and Valleys. 10 minutes was a long time to contend with, and by and large everyone managed pretty well.
If you are feeling game, you should give it a shot on your own. Or show up next Wednesday. I’m gonna do it again. We need some data to make some comparisons. The only way to get it is to collect it. And it’s not like everyone doesn’t need the practice.
Backcountry skiing is dangerous, especially this year where we live. So far, I’ve witnessed one of the more hazardous and unpredictable snowpacks that I’ve ever seen. But no matter the location or the stability, we all accept a certain level of risk in chasing the pow that takes us out of the sterility of the ski area to begin with. One rider’s acceptable risk might be vastly different from another’s. However, I think we can all agree that avoiding avalanche burial is the desired outcome.
Enter the Backcountry Access (BCA) Float Pack. It is one of several airbag packs that operate on the Brazil nut effect. This states that larger objects tend to stay on top of smaller ones while in turbulence (avalanche). When deployed, you become the nut, and theoretically, remain on top of the avalanche debris. This theory is being increasingly tested by one successful “save” after another. The most recent took place here in Colorado:
These packs have two distinct shortcomings. They are heavy- about twice the weight of a comparable pack without a Float system. And they are expensive. However, each additional save that’s attributed to this pack makes these criticisms less viable in my book.
There are three different Float packs available from BCA. I prefer the 36 liter model, which is built for folks that need the additional volume of a larger daypack. For 2011/12, BCA fine-tuned this pack to include all of the features that make their other packs so great. The pack includes ample storage space, back panel access, internal shovel/probe pockets, waist belt pockets, ski and snowboard carry system, lined goggle pocket and hydration sleeve. The internal frame and load lifter straps make the additional weight of the pack quite manageable.
I believe that in the near future, we will see these packs become a standard part of our avalanche rescue kits. But with such a great option out there now, why wait? We should continue to make smart and conservative decisions in the backcountry, but we’re all prone to the same errors that catch people in avalanches. Stacking the odds in your favor is never a bad thing.
I was really excited about tonights class. I not only got to bring back a couple of classic exercises that we haven’t done in a really long time, but I also got to introduce a couple of new things from the CWall laboratory.
We haven’t Deadlifted in a while, and there were several options: 12kg, 20kg, 24kg, and 40kg. Sumo style all the way!
The Metronome was a great change up for the core training routine. Keep your shoulders down, your legs straight, and stop holding onto the edge of the mat!
The One Arm Kick Thrus while holding a kettlebell definitely were a crowd pleaser. Keep your eye on the bell!
The Sit Thru’s are combo of a Front Plank and a Seated Pike. You shoot your legs between your arms to move from one position to the next, back and forth, back and forth. Long arms help, but a strong set of abdominals, hip flexors, and shoulders are better.
Tonights Mystery Event was a Fight Gone Way Wrong. 60 seconds at each station with a heart rate incentive set at a whopping 97%. That’s right, if you can’t get up to 97% of your max, you don’t get to take a break. A brutal ass kicking.
We are two weeks from Test Day! Don’t no time off yet!
Today was the last day of SPC Foundations. We added some more hip work to help everyone’s range of motion and stability, whether it be for indoor climbing and bouldering, skiing, or mountaineering. We got in a lot of sets today: 5! Everyone was a shade of crimson darker by set 4, and set 5 was a pressure cooker. Nice war face everyone!
The Hip Extension and the Hip Abduction were the new kids on the block this week. Not too complicated. Remember, everyone should be able to crush a walnut with their butt by the end of the winter. There will be a test. . .
Next week we are changing things up: SPC: Feats of Strength! We are going to reduce our number of exercises, drop the reps, up the weights, and add some other format changes to help get everyone solid and resilient. This will be a 4 week cycle, so don’t miss out.
And by the way, I put the workouts up so that you can do them on your own. No more of this once a week crap. It’s time everyone put in some more personal time in the weight room!
The Boulder Climbing Series is a very social and user friendly competition series. It is a great way to get into sport climbing competition, test yourself to see how your winter training is going, or just get a great workout and hang out with friends. But make no mistake, it is a competiton. There are rules, scorecards, and prizes. And let’s face it; there is something about the word “competition” that puts a little edge on things. Often enough, the pressure from even the most casual of events is enough to frustrate our efforts. Here are four things to think about that will help make your BCS experience more fun.
#1Understand the rules. Sounds like a no-brainer, but not knowing the rules is a very common, very frustrating mistake. Fortunately this pitfall is totally avoidable. Make sure that you are there for the Rules Meeting at the beginning of every competiton. Don’t be shy about asking questions.
#2Get enough scores on your card. Sounds simple, but you would be surprised at how many people miss this one. At the BCS we usually take your top 3 routes and add those points together for your final competition score. If you only have 2 routes completed by the end of the event, one of those three scores will be a ZERO!
It is amazing how quickly 3 hours can zip by. I usually tell my athletes to be ready to go as soon as the competiton starts. That way they can get points on their score card sooner rather than later.
#3Warming up on competiton routes and non-competition routes. This is a biggie. Time and comp routes are limited. Should you warm up on competition routes or on the other routes scattered throughout the gym? The advantage of warming up on comp routes is that you help to ensure #1, getting enough scores on your card. The disadvantage is that you will have to wait in line for your turn, which may take a while.
If you want to really play it well, put your score card in the queue and do a little bit of timing math. It takes 4-5 minutes for one competitor’s turn at bat. If there are 5 people ahead of you in line, and they are all successful on the route (a big if sometimes) we are talking about 20-25 minutes of waiting. While your score card is in line, you can be off warming up on a route that is not part of the competition. Just make sure that you make it back in time.
#4Watch other climbers. This is a REDPOINT format competition. That means that not only do you get to try routes more than once, but you also get to watch other people climb them. Other than climbing it yourself, watching other climbers is the most valuable source of information about a route that you will get. Use it.
There are always several BRC staff around to help you get the most out of your competition experience at the Boulder Climbing Series. Please don’t hesitate to ask if you have questions or if you need something. This competition series is for you, and we are here to help.
Our ski conditioning program only has one week left, which means that this is going to be one tough week. All of our exercises now have very high heart rate potential to help you with your focus when things start to get uncomfortable. We did the exact same thing on Tuesday night as we did on Wednesday at noon, so if you missed them here it is:
We finished things up with a Mystery Event called Sissyphus. 4 exercises back to back with a set number or reps. When you get through all 4 you start again. The goal is to pace yourself and keep moving for the whole 7 minute round. It’s pretty tough and your goal is to keep your heart rate as low as possible while maintaining constant motion and perfect form.
Next week is our last Ski Conditioning class. We will be switching to another sport specific topic: CWall: X-Cardio for the mountains. Check the BRC calendar for more detail descriptions of the new class topics.
At first glance I thought the Marmot Spire Pants were bibs, and bibs are often just too hot for me on the up portion of the day. But they are really pants with suspenders, which are easily removable.However with the back yoke for the suspenders being mesh, the sweat factor is a non-issue. As it turns out, I have yet to remove them and kind of like wearing the waist loose with the suspenders holding up the pants.
With two way full side zips, it is easy to ventilate the upper legs while the lower legs stay protected from the powder. Lightweight and fully waterproof Goretex construction with 3 zippered pockets and built in gaiters completes the package. Speaking of the gaiters, I hate struggling with gaiters too tight to fit over my ski boots, the fit is perfect on these.
I have been wearing these primarily for skiing, both lift served and backcountry, as well as for teaching avalanche courses which involve a lot of wallowing in the snow. They have performed very well for all my uses and have kept me warm in the 70mph winds we have been having.
I plan to try them out ice climbing soon and have a hunch that they will do just fine, though a harness may restrict access to the pockets and they do have a looser fit than I am used to in an ice climbing pant, so we’ll see.
Designed as a ski pant, I give them 2 thumbs up for design, construction and comfort when used as such.
The colors available (I have the yellow) are just a bonus and a nice change from the black, black or more black choices in technical pants I have become accustomed to for the last decade.All in all a pant I am quite happy with. They are not so lightweight that I will rip them up easily, but the they will let me rip up the slopes! Mark Hammond Head Mountain Guide Colorado Mountain School
I never said I was going to be nice. And sometimes that means a Level 3 when you expect Level 2. I admit it. It was a throw down. And everyone did a great job rolling with the punches. Class consisted of all the exercises having high heart rate potential, and everyone definitely felt it. At one point everyone was over 94%. If class had been full the Margarita Challenge would have been met. But it was good practice for next time;-)
The Mystery Event was not a heart rate incentive game for a change. A time based game of Hard and Fast was our closeout event. We played for 7.5 minutes with 45 seconds on Flying Chickens and 30 seconds off with Front Planks. Ouch.
For all you self motivated folks out there here is what we did just in case you want to re-create this monster on your own:
Watch out with the heavy rope. Face plant potential.
The step swing definitely put the zap on people psyche. Just remember that it’s feet apart when the kettlebell comes down!
The turtle burpee was a new hybrid. If we could get everyone to keep from stopping on that one, as well as the box jump, then we’d be getting somewhere. Don’t stop and take a picture after every rep. You’re not a tourist.
The frogger burpee is definitely a new favorite of mine. And just like the video game, you need to keep moving or you’ll get squished!
All in all it was a great class, and everyone tolerated my ranting about warming up with great patience. But they were a bit of a captive audience. . .
Today SPC class was an exploration of cadence. This is probably the most overlooked variable when it comes to strength training. And it is kind of a big deal. Most of the time people are only concentrating on the obvious variables, like weight, reps, sets, etc. Some may go the extra mile and think about posture and range of motion. But if you do repetition 1 at twice the speed of rep 6, are they really the same thing? I would say. . . well. . . duh?! Of course not. Enter the metronome. Tic tok tic tok. . . More accurate and consistent than counting in your head. 5 seconds of concentric, and 2 of eccentric. 7 seconds per rep. Nice and measurable, just the way I like it.
Here is todays workout. I added seated military press today. You can expect more additions next week. Each exercise has a pretty predictable way of messing up the posture or cadence or range of motion. Once you know what those are it is a lot easier to prevent them. We managed to get 4 sets of everything in today: 2 warmup sets and 2 heavy sets. Next week I expect the same, but with a little more work and a new exercise or two.
Everyone did a great job today and I think that the transition to our next training phase is going to go pretty smoothly. As long as everyone stays consistent!
The Scarpa Maestrale is the lightest four buckle boot on the market and is designed to be the perfect touring boot. What does this mean? For me it means a touring boot that fits my foot well (Intuition Liners are a must for me, and remember to shell size. If you don’t know how, please ask a salesperson for help) has a great range of motion in the cuff while touring, is Dynafit compatible, is stiff enough to move bigger (larger than 100mm underfoot) skis, and does not weigh more than concrete.
How does the Maestrale fit into these parameters? The boot fits me really well. I am a 26.5 and the intuition liner when formed filled every little area between my foot and the shell. When in touring mode the range of motion may not reach the claimed 40 degrees, but I am also not physically able to use 40 degrees efficiently for more than a few strides. It is Dynafit compatible, and is just stiff enough for larger skis in backcountry snow conditions.
I have been able to ski the Maestrale with the K2 Coombacks (102 underfoot) and the LaSportiva Hi5 (105 underfoot) in variable conditions from spring corn, to wind crust a few inches thick. The boot skied precisely and comfortably in all conditions besides the wind crust. This may have been the skier more than the boot, but I would love a little extra stiffness as Colorado seems to have variable snow conditions on occasion. On two occasions I skied a groomed run at the area and was pleasantly surprised at how well the boot held up at speeds.
The asymmetrical tongue makes the boot easy for entry and exit, while the alpine tounge closure seems to hold my lower foot quite stable and precisely. The buckles are light and seem to be holding up and the power strap is effective and even has a bit of elastic that helps secure it. The walk ski mechanism is easy to use (seems like all boots these days), and I would recommend the Maestrale as a great lightweight, four buckle, touring boot. If you are looking for a boot that handles drops, faster speeds, and crushes the crud, this is not the boot for you. For that check out the Scarpa Mobe.
Today’s ski conditioning was mostly a repeat of last night’s event. Like last night it was full, so the Margarita Challenge was in effect. And like last night, close but no cigar. The box jumps really put the zap on a couple of people today. But with a little encouragement everyone got it in gear eventually. The “heavy” rope almost took out a couple of people. Watch out for that thing. It’s heavy.
The Mystery Event today was a game of Hard & Fast. The idea with this one is to do one exercise to 93% of your max, and then switch to the other until your heart rate drops to 85%. Kind of an “active” recovery game of Peaks & Valleys. Flying Chickens made up the Fast portion, and sitting in Pike Position was the hard portion.
Much like with the overhead squats during the warmup, the pikes seem to require a little lesson in anatomy and the definition of certain words. For those of you who were in class, the “knee” is the joint between your ankle and your hip. And for our purposes “straight” means “not bent.” That should help next time I say “Keep your knees straight!”
I was feeling pretty chipper tonight, and everyone got to experience the full effect of my enthusiasm. We had a full class which means that the Margarita Challenge was in play. Also I unveiled a new exercise and changed a bunch of stuff around from last week. We even had some new recruits testing their fortitude along side the veterans. All in all it was a great class with a Peaks and Valleys Mystery Event. Burpees and Flying Chickens were on the menu and I didn’t give any slack on the 93% peaks. Here was the plan for your collection:
The Double Mountain Pushup was today’s new creation. A combo of the double mountain climber and a pushup. The pushup can be done from the feet or the knees. Whichever you prefer.
The addition of the heavy rope definitely was a crowd pleaser. And folks, one hop per revolution please. This isn’t a playground.
Next week we are going to be throwing in a lot of agility work, so make sure you’ve rested up. There is no prize for “1st One to Fall Down” or “Best Faceplant.”
Today’s SPC class was another full one with a more pointed repeat of last Tuesday. As you know we are in a strength building phase, and this was week #2. Everyone is showing more affinity for the exercises and are really starting to move their “fighting” weight around. But damn, that whole tempo thing is a killer. When I say 5 Mississippi, I mean ALL 4 SYLLABLES please. We’ve been focusing on concentric contractions over 5 seconds and eccentric contractions over 2. That way we can minimize muscle damage and recovery time between workouts. But it’s not like it’s that easy. Everyone needs to get super comfortable leaving their egos outside the weight room and not lifting as much weight as they think they “should.” Everyone is stronger than they think, but it’s the numbers that they’ve got all wrong!
Here is todays workout incase you wanted to do it on your own. Remember, this whole lifting to “failure” thing is kind of a gooey mess. I like to remind people that if they aren’t maintaining the proper posture for the exercise, the prescribed range of motion, or maintaining their cadence IT IS OVER! DONE! FINITO! Some may disagree, and I’m okay with that. The weight room is one of the single most stupid places to get hurt (other than the bathtub).
Next week we are going to add an exercise or two. Show up to class and you’ll find out first. Or you can wait for me to write another blog. But showing up is more fun.
Climbers are pretty finicky when it comes to climbing gear…any climbing gear. This is especially true, however, when dealing with climbing gloves because it’s with our hands that we feel connected to the mountain.
Since our hands are so integral to climbing, it stands to reason that climbing gloves should be tough, warm, grippy, dexterous, sexy and functional. Enter Black Diamond’s Punisher gloves…they fit the bill.When in doubt, the Punisher gloves are my go-to glove because they excel in a variety of conditions and uses. Gloves, unlike mittens, aren’t designed for uber-cold conditions and yet I’ve used my Punishers for below-zero climbs in Rocky Mountain Nat’l Park for years. As long as you’re hydrated, well fed and active, these gloves provide ample protection from the cold. When leading on ice, it can be downright dangerous to climb with a bulky glove: carabiners are hard to open, screws are easily dropped and the rope is fumbled. Not good. However, too-thin gloves sacrifice the warmth for their nimbleness and for most of us frostbite just isn’t an option. The BD Punisher gloves strike a near-perfect balance between these two worlds of warmth and dexterity, in my opinion. My test? If I can’t manipulate a small, fickle zipper with my gloves on, they don’t pass.
The Punishers have a thin plastic membrane built in that keeps the gloves functionally waterproof. Although this membrane inhibits breathability, it’s also crucial to have in cold, alpine environments. The palms are grippy leather that usually take some time before they saturate and freeze. My trick is to have two pairs of Punishers, one for the climbing/belaying and another pair zipped inside my jackets, close to my body. When one pair gets wet, I swap them out for the dry pair and at least warm up the first pair, and so on. Other features include a small-but-effective gauntlet to keep snow and ice from pouring into your jacket’s sleeves while your arms are overhead and a finger loop on each glove. This finger loop functions as a quick way to remove the glove one-handed in a pinch (it helps to have a BD ice clipper on your harness: just hook the finger loop on the clipper and pull your hand out of the glove). Again, this little feature isn’t something I use very often but it sure helps when you’re hanging by one arm, need to get your other glove off and your mouth/teeth are incapacitated for some reason.
These gloves excel in the worlds of cold, snow and ice. With near daily use, my Punishers typically last me a few seasons. Again, they’re my go-to glove from ice to moderate mixed climbing, from heinous alpine to easy mountaineering. They do almost everything perfectly. Oh, and they’re sexy.
Test Day for the CWall Level 2 class went really well. Fundamentally it was the same as the Test Day for Level 1, but with one very important difference. Instead of a 5 minute round of Peaks and Valleys using burpees as our exercise medium, we did 10 minutes of burpees, high knees, split jumps, and kick thrus! Each of these exercises is very different from a biomechanics perspective, and rotating through them provides a greater challenge for the test. Way to go everyone! It was rough.
Here is the HR Monitor sign out sheet so you can cross reference with your results:
Remember, we will be doing test days on a regular basis. You won’t get fitter if you don’t stay consistent!
That’s right, tonight was the CWall Level 2 Test Day. For the most part it was the exact same thing as Monday’s Level 1 Test Day. . . with one serious exception. Instead of doing just burpees peaks and valleys, we did a medley of 4 exercises instead: burpees, high knees, split jumps, and kick thrus. Each of these exercises is very different mechanically and have different demands. And instead of 5 minutes, we took it all the way to 10.
Today was the first day of our three week Foundations training cycle. As you can see we started out with several of the basics, with a lot of rest in between so everyone could concentrate on their form. 4 sets of each trying to fail between 6-8 reps. These weights got pretty heavy, but everyone did a great job. Next week we’ll add another exercise, take out a rest, and make a couple of other changes to spice things up.
Today was the first day of our three week Foundations training cycle. As you can see we started out with several of the basics, with a lot of rest in between so everyone could concentrate on their form. 4 sets of each trying to fail between 6-8 reps. These weights got pretty heavy, but everyone did a great job. Next week we’ll add another exercise and make a couple of other changes to spice things up.
Today was another good day for the skiers as we made it through our 3rd week of this training cycle. It was high heart rates all the way with the same exercises that we used last night during our Tuesday night CWall Ski Conditioning program.
We had a full class today, and that means that the Margarita Challenge was in full effect. As many of you know The Margarita Challenge is only for full classes that can get everyone on the room to get their heart rate past 93% of their personal max at the same time. If they pull it off, I will make EVERYONE in class the best margarita in the state. Hand crafted by yours truly. Obviously we will meet on a different day for this celebration of exertion, otherwise we’d have a lot of cheap dates on our hands. The Margarita Challenge has only been met twice in the last two years. Today everyone made a great bid for the title, but unfortunately fell a bit short in the heart rate department. Close, but no margarita.
The big difference in today’s class is that we tuned it down a little bit with a more traditional Lightning Round at the end. Instead of 40 seconds on and 5 seconds off between exercises, we bumped it down to 30 seconds on. This didn’t really make a difference for the Margarita challenge however, seeing as the only real chance for success is in the first 3 rounds of class. After that, people generally don’t have the gas left.