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Rab's strength phase

19 Feb 2013

About a week and a half ago, Tim and I met up with Rab to look at exercises to move him into a strength phase.  After a month of exercises to improve his pattern of movement, his pull ups were looking a lot better.  My (and Tim's) challenge as a coach is that Rab can't really boulder (his aims are sport routes) as his ankles are shot at.  Only 1 week before he'd had an ankle operation.  How to increase strength then?

Rab TRX power row Tim demoing the TRX power row

So what we came up with were a series of supersets: a combination of 2 exercises run back to back.  The first exercise was a TRX exercise to activate the muscles and pattern of movement, followed up by a climbing exercise.  After this TRX power row above, Rab had lock and hover exercises to do on the bouldering wall.

Rab offset pull ups Offset pull ups with feet on

On the same vein, trying to increase Rab's lock is the next superset.  First slam a medicine ball to the ground to activate the lats.  Secondly, the offset pull ups as above.  Rab is making the perfect position above.  When he is stronger he can eliminate one foot and then both feet.

Rab chest press 2 TRX chest press

We ran more exericises involving more locking off but off course, the antagonist muscles are still important.  You can't increase the strength of one muscle (eg bicep), if the antagonist muscle (tricep) is weak (and small).  So above is the more advanced chest press (compared to the previous one).

Rab TRX side plank TRX side plank

Finally, not forgetting core, it's time to increase the difficulty, now adding some instability and twisting.

So two more weeks of fingerboard, the above exercises and also some fingery boulder problems near to the ground (to protect Rab's ankles), it will be time next month for Rab to apply to some routes and redpointing projects.

To find out more about Tim's strength and conditioning exercises visit  http://www.peakprofitness.com/.  And if you are interested in getting a training plan read more here.

Stavanger, Norway

07 Feb 2013

I am back now safe and sound after a weekend in Norway, which certainly had an impact.  On Friday I enjoyed my stop-over at Copenhagen airport, halfway between gazing at the expensive shops and being immersed in my fantastic Andre Agassi book (you have to read this).

Flying into Stavanger was really incredible – my first ever sight of Norway – a sea of mountains.  Frozen lakes and holiday cabins were dotted everywhere and fjords pushed through into unlikely parts of the landscape.  I was amazed by such a complex geography. 

Stavanger as advertised

Stavanger sits on the coast and the oil industry is a big feature of the local economy.  I was picked up by my host, Liz and she welcomed me into her lovely home.  After my early start I was certainly feeling tired and the welcome meal, accompanied by half of the board of the Bratte Rogalands Venner climbing club. was most delicious.

Stavanger stadium

This climbing club had invited me to run 3 coaching sessions on the Saturday.  All female groups.  Beginners, up to 6b and over 6b.  Stavanger wall was an interesting place to run these courses.  On the one hand you would kill for this to be your local wall and on the other you would like to hide.  Inside a new stadium and next to a dramatic ice rink with speed skaters whizzing by, you can’t miss the neck craning angles, wondering how anyone can hold on way up high.  The European Youth Championships will be held there later this year.

Stavanger icerink

The participants were really really psyched though and I think everyone learnt something new.  This wall is not a beginner wall in the slightest, with not a slab or vertical wall in sight, so we focused on basic body positioning.  In the second group I covered route reading and other tactics to improve confidence.  In the third group we covered some training tips and I think the fingerboard and pull up session gave lots of people a new direction.

Stavanger wall

However on my part I knew something wasn’t right.  By midday I was freezing cold and I pretty much knew I was ill AGAIN.  Things didn’t improve but my slideshow in the evening went really well... considering.  Saturday night was a fit of feverish pockets of sleep and seriously wondered how I could possibly work on the Sunday.  But this is the problem of a self employed person and you just have to buckle down and get on with it.

Stavanger team

Somehow I did just that on the Sunday.  There were 9 local coaches and I ran through lots of ideas for coaching young people and discussing how this effectively ‘elite’ wall could be adapted for people still developing basic movement skills.  I stopped 2 hours short of the end and collapsed back at Liz’s house.

Back at Copenhagen airport, Andre kept me going and at times, in my staggering state, I drifted into shops I didn’t have the money for.  Finally we were circling over Manchester, and I was amazed at the beauty of the lights below.  I had to double take, thinking come on, this is ‘Manchester’ but I don’t think I was thinking straight until I slumped home on the sofa.

Thank you so much Bratte Rogalands Venner for inviting me and to Liz for looking after such a pathetic invalid.  Next time I will be in full spirits!