Friday, October 23, 2009


Another confession:

I think about grades... a lot.

The idea of grades is quite interesting if we could expand on them a bit.

I'd like to run some experiments where you test a climbers overall strength along with weight, reach and experience.

It's interesting for me to watch a climber at the gym doing pull-ups, dips, campusing, dead hangs and compare them to another climber who has climbed the same amount of time but who does not spend the time training as above. Sometimes the non-trainer climbs harder grades.

Lets put it like this. If someone can do twice as much pull-ups, twice as much dips, is better at campusing but ends up climbing two grades lower, what is the reason?

Is climbing about grip strength? Does technique matter most?

Or is it a mental aspect that makes grades attainable for some and not others?

I know of climbers who can do one-arm pull-ups but haven't cracked double digits. Seems strange to me because I always felt like finger strength and lock off ability make for strong climbers.

The best climbers in the world are not necessarily the best athletes in the sport.

So what makes a strong climber?

My theory is muscle recruitment. The best use everything at once, they push their bodies to as close to one hundred percent as possible.

Chris Sharma Pachamama 9a+ from Campblog on Vimeo.


Fred said...

You could even go further as some climbers climb harder on Indoors than outdoors or even at competitions.

It could have something to do with commitment ?! the motivation to climb outdoors or indoors or even to do some climbing related exercises like campus acts different in each individual.

Some could do campusing at almost 100% of their developed capabilities and others don't have the motivation to try so hard on a stupid exercise and stay around 75%
The same could be said for outdoors some climbers go beyond their know capabilities because they try harder than others...

Other aspect is that different body type require different abilities to do the same move or grade.
Skinier climbers, dont require so much strength as their relative weight works for them. Shorter climbers develop more relative strength as they need to reach further and to jump higher, or hold without feet more often. Shorter limbs work better physically to develop strength but worse on long reaches...

Climbing related exercises, and stunts like dyno, double, dyno, one arm pull-ups, finger strength, flexibility are important but don't make the climber


Trent (Merely) Hoover said...

I think the physical part of the equation is purely based on strength to weight ratio - but as you have largely guessed, this factor is still important in pullups (which are not a good indicator of climbing ability).

In fact, I suspect physical strength plays a role that accounts for no more than 40 - 50% of a person's climbing accomplishments.

Climbing is primarily a skill-based activity, similar to martial arts. Being able to benchpress 300 pounds (while impressive and no doubt helpful) is of little use when squared up against G. St-Pierre. Skills, my man, it's all about skills.

I, for example, am supremely weak. I am pretty sure I have never done 20 pullups in a row. And I only once did ONE one-arm pullup. Yet I managed to get up a few hard things, and suspect that if I had tried hard AT ALL, I would have climbed a bunch of double-digit stuff.

Skills, my man, skills.

m. said...

So is that the be all end all? Skills that is. I think you can extremely strong but lack the skill to jump to the mutant level. However I also believe you can be relatively weak and climb super hard routes and problems. To me this is very interesting and gives me hope! haha