Maximizing Your Potential

A great article by Pavel ( Click Here )

Here is the summary (backed up by good info and references):

In summary, to maximize your potential productivity you need to, in addition to training right, do whatever it takes to become happy and healthy.

  • Train right.
  • Rest enough.
  • Eat well. Supplement right—or not at all.
  • Get your head in the right place.
  • Take up autogenic training or meditation.
  • Study your body’s natural rhythms and live and train in sync with them.
  • Engage in natural health practices: outdoor activities, tempering, sauna, massage, etc.
  • Learn moderation.

Some key takeaways that I got from reading this article:

  1. Train at a consistent time during the day, optimally at the natural peak of your productivity.  For me, that is around 6 pm, or around 11 am if I’m busy in the evening.
  2. Take a long break once a year (probably in winter).  I have the hardest time with this.  Right now, my body has forced a break on me.  It’ll happen one way or another.
  3. Choose “send” times that work with your natural productivity peaks. For long days, (like big walling), do most of your work in the morning, take a long siesta, then do a shorter session of work in the evening.  Working through lunch will deteriorate your potential productivity.


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Supercharge Your Training By Getting More Sleep

A short article at Sparta Point reinforces the idea that SLEEP IS AS IMPORTANT AS TRAINING.  I’ve been a big fan of sleep ever since I read a quote in Easy Strength that said something like “strength loves rest”.  If you want to get stronger (and healthier, and prevent injury, and…) then take your sleep more seriously.

Here are some of my favorite sleep tips:

  • Get 8-10 hours of quality sleep every night.
  • Use a white noise machine to block out neighborhood or house noise, or wear ear plugs.
  • Get blackout shades or wear a sleep mask.
  • Sleep in a comfortable bed.
  • Turn off TV/Technology 2 hours before bed.
  • Don’t eat or drink 2 hours before bed.
  • Write out your next day’s to-do list before bed.


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Excellent Review of Hangboarding Literature

I was going to write a post about isometrics, but then I found this:

Steve’s hangboarding recommendations based on his review:

  • Single hangs of 9 – 12 seconds with a 2 – 3 minute rest in between sets.
  • Number of sets per grip  3 – 9 sets.
  • Total amount of time hanging should be between 40 and 120 seconds. 
  • Training weight is determined by total weight that can be hung from the grip being trained for 13 seconds.

I would add the idea that training full crimps (minimally) every hangboard session might be good practice.  I do 3 reps of 10 secs on very small edges, no added weight.  I feel like it’s a good “reminder” for my fingers.



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I like to eat real food, but for efficiency, I sometimes do smoothies.

Here’s my standard recipe:

  1. 1/3 cup Trader Joes mixed berries (frozen)
  2. 2/3 cup water
  3. 1-2 scoops undenatured whey
  4. 1 scoop branch chain amino acids (powdered)

Here’s a great infographic from Precision Nutrition on how to make your own super shake. It has some great ideas:

It reminded me about three whole food options to add to my smoothie, (1) nuts/seeds, (2) leafy greens and (3) yogurt.  I’ve used pumpkin seeds, spinach, and yogurt in my smoothies before, and I like them both.  It doesn’t change the texture or taste much, and I feel better about getting real food in my smoothie instead of just weird supplements.

Here’s my new smoothie:

  1. 1/3 cup Trader Joes mixed berries (frozen)
  2. 2/3 cup Trader Joes soy beverage
  3. 1-2 scoops undenatured whey
  4. 1 scoop branch chain amino acids (powdered)
  5. 2 Tbsp raw pumpkin seeds
  6. 1/3 cup loosely packed spinach
  7. 2 big spoonfuls of plain yogurt
  8. Half a banana

What do you put in your smoothie?


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Protein Powder

As a health nut, I shy away from anything that isn’t “food”.  So my use of protein powders isn’t something that I’m particularly proud of.  That being said, I’ve found that it’s very challenging for me to get a good amount of protein in my day without using supplements.

Note:  I’m mostly a fish eating vegetarian that goes easy on the dairy.  So my food sources of protein are mostly beans, nuts and fish.  Fish is the most concentrated source.  Your options are probably not the same as mine.  If you can get enough protein in your diet without supplements, do it.

Show me the whey

I’ve put a lot of thought and research into protein powders over the years, and the one I’m most comfortable using is undenatured whey protein.  Here are the reasons:

  • It’s relatively cheap (per gram of protein) – That’s compared to vegan sources.
  • It’s easy to digest for most – Even for me who has dairy issues; it doesn’t seem to upset my gut too much.
  • It might help your immune system – This is the big one.  Undenatured whey has been shown to increase your glutathione levels which could keep you from getting sick (and stopping your training).

Other tips:

  • Watch the additives – Try to get the purest undenatured whey protein; it’s still usually sweetened and flavored a bit.
  • Stir it in. – I still blend mine sometimes, but that can screw up the proteins that give you the immune boosting benefit, so it’s best to stir it gently into your smoothie or beverage.
  • Add it to your workout water – I take a big Klean Kanteen, through in a scoop of protein, a scoop of Skratch Labs Hydration mix, and a scoop of powdered BCAA’s.  And I drink this through my workout.
  • Take some before bed – Read more at the Climb Healthy blog.
  • Focus on food sources of protein – Please. It just makes sense.

Hope this helps.

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A Modified Density Bouldering Program

Steve Bechtel taught me about density bouldering.  I’ve had fun with it in the past, but haven’t spent much time with it recently.  Recently though, my endurance has gone flat, and I don’t like the feel of it.  My plans to train some power have been sidetracked, and I’m also just not really psyched about it right now.  I know this probably isn’t the best reason to try something new, but I don’t got a lot of other things going on, so I’m sort of haphazardly shifting gears.   Hopefully, I won’t screw things up too badly.

This program starts off with some fairly easy sessions for me.  But they are still taxing to the skin, and I think it’s best if I build up to some harder sessions right now.  I just got done training max strength for about 6 weeks (too long), which means that I haven’t worked any “problems” that are longer than 1 to 3 moves total.

If you’re going to run this program yourself, I’d start with a ladder that you can comfortably complete (PLE 6-8).  Then you alternate between hard days and medium days. For progressions, I dropped the top of the ladder on hard days by one rung to create the next “medium” day.  Then to progress the hard days, I added a grade to the bottom of the ladder. The next hard day, I increased the middle of the ladder, and then the top rung on the next hard day, and so on.  Pretty simple, but it works.

It’s a bit more drawn out than Steve recommends for a power endurance phase, but I think the wave will make it tolerable, and maybe even make it stick better.  We’ll see.

Density Bouldering =

20 mins work, 20 mins rest, 20 mins work, with the goal being to cram as much volume in those 20 mins of work as possible.
This is modified in this program in 2 ways. (1) Intensity is increased by bouldering difficulty instead of adding volume. And (2) problems are done every 2 minutes instead of just doing as much as possible in 20 mins.
Do boulder ladders in sets of 3.
3 sets = 9 total M’s
An “M” is:
  • up, down, up, down;
  • minimal rest;
  • down climb any holds;
  • don’t touch the ground until you finish the M.
Do one M on the top of each 2 mins and rest the remainder of the 2 mins.
Start timer for 2 mins and do a V1 M, then rest until the timer goes off.  Start timer again for 2 mins, do a V2, then rest for the remainder of the 2 mins.  Continue with V3 .  Repeat for 6 more M’s (V1-V2-V3, V1-V2-V3), then rest for 20 mins, then do another round of 9 problems (V1-V2-V3, V1-V2-V3, V1-V2-V3 M’s)
Progression – 2-3x/week sessions wave between hard and medium days for about 4 weeks total.
  1. V1-V2-V3, V1-V2-V3, V1-V2-V3
  2. V1-V2-V2, V1-V2-V2, V1-V2-V2
  3. 2-2-3
  4. 2-2-2
  5. 2-3-3
  6. 2-3-2
  7. 2-3-4
  8. 2-3-3
  9. 3-3-4
  10. 3-3-3
  11. 3-4-4
  12. 3-4-3
  13. 3-4-5

Let me know what you think.

Measuring Progress (or Stagnation or Failure)

After reading this article from PN ( ) I was reminded of how challenging it is to measure the results of my climbing training. I’ve even slacked off with my training journals because of this.  My journals showed progress on paper, but it didn’t feel like it was enough to keep me motivated with my climbing goals (the real problem was that I didn’t have any climbing goals that were related to my training, but that’s another story).

I like to see progress.  I like knowing that I’m getting better.  So for those of us who train and climb mostly indoors – where the grades are inconsistent, and the problems are always changing – what sort of metrics can we keep to know that we’re on the right track?  You need a way to evaluate your training program, to make sure that your work is being rewarded, and to know when you need to make course corrections.

Consistency Is Key

The best way is to measure your relationship to something that is not changing (standard).  For me, the only things in my gym that stay the same are the weights, the hangboard, and the campus board.  If you have a static system board, or a project wall at your gym, then you can use these too.  I’ve been working on my hangboards using Eva Lopez’s ideas, and now I’m venturing into some power training on the campus board.

My Metrics

Currently I only have a couple of metrics to work with:


2nd smallest rung of the DRC V5.12 board with 50 lbs for 10 secs x 3

Plate Pinches

25lbs 3×3

After spending some time with the campus board, I’ll have an idea of how to track progress there as well.  I don’t plan on spending a lot of time on the campus board.  I feel like I still have much to learn from working boulders. But it’s just one more tool to evaluate my training programs.

I also onsight about V6 or V7 in my gym, but that can change dramatically based on route setting variables, so I try not to use this to evaluate progress.  It’s just a rough guide.

The problem with these indoor metrics is that your strength on the hangboard and campus board are only minimally related to your ability to climb hard boulders.  That’s why I’m going to do some bouldering outside this year.  It will be a chance for me to measure the effectiveness of my training.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to battle with the same boulders, season after season, and keep seeing progress.  Even if I lose the battle, I can use that info to change up my training and keep it efficient and effective.

How do you measure the effectiveness of your climbing training?



Bang for Your Buck Weight Training

Remember the 80/20 rule.  80% of your training time (aka “almost all of it”) should be spent on climbing practice and maybe climbing specific strength training (depending on your training age). Only 20%  of your training time (aka “not very much”) should be spent with a good general weight program.

That means if you have 8 hours a week to train, you should only be under the iron for about 1.5 hours, maybe even less.  That’s only 3 weight sessions if you’re doing 1/2 hour sessions.  BETTER KEEP IT SIMPLE AND EFFICIENT!

Here’s a good article by Dan John that lists a few of his” Bang for the Buck” exercises for each tool (kettlebell, barbell, etc.)

The article is a great read.  Dan gives away many of his secrets for free, but I’d encourage you to buy his book, Easy Strength.  Why would you want to work harder than you have to?  Anyways, here’s the snippet for you lazies out there:

For the kettlebell, it’s the swing, the goblet squat, and the get-up. The TRX and various rings give us the horizontal pull, the one-arm pull, and the various T, Y and I’s for the upper back. For the Mini-Band, those five-dollar small rubber wraps, the Lateral Walk will teach you more about your butt than an anatomy class. Simply, wrap the band around both of your socks and walk sideways (laterally) like a shuffle step in basketball. Too easy? Just keep going…

For the barbell, it’s the deadlift and the press (all varieties). Mastery of this simple list will give any athlete all they need from the weightroom and any person the body of their dreams. Mastery walks hand in hand with simplicity.


I don’t agree with all of his recommendations, but you get the point.  Here it is in case you don’t get the point:  You don’t have much time so make it count.

Also, always think about how your weight training crosses over to your climbing.  If there are two great squat movements, but one of them is more helpful for climbing, ditch the less specific one immediately, no matter how fun it is.  Save your fun for climbing.  Find other ways to have fun in the weight room.

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Work Your Squat Depth

Squats are powerful medicine, but they can also tighten up the hips pretty bad if you’re not careful.  Tight hips = bad climbing technique = you don’t climb so good.

If squatting is part of your training program, make sure you focus on the depth of your squat (your range of motion).  Do drills, correctives, foam rolling, and stretches that help you squat deeper.  And unload the bar enough so that you’re always (or almost always) squatting with your full range of motion. As a climber, your squat depth is far more important than how much weight you have on the bar.

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Kettlebell Swing

Today, I bought a 20 kg (44lb) kettlebell from a guy off Craigslist.  I’ve been wanting to add weight to my double KB swings.  I just tried a set of 20, and it felt awesome.  It reminded me of the last time I added weight about 8 months ago.  I can’t believe I waited so long.  I’m so excited to get comfortable at this level….and then get a 24 kg KB!

The power of the KB swing is something for all aging climbers to consider, since power starts to decline after the age of 25.  Aging climbers need to maintain as much type II muscle fibers as they can.  Once you learn how to do the KB swing safely, it’s a great exercise to maintain power throughout the body.  Mix it up with your squats and deadlifts and you’re going to see a big difference.

Here’s Pavel’s take on the KB swing:  Best Hip Hinge Exercise

Note:  The swing is not a movement to take lightly.  There are hundreds of youtube videos of people doing terrible swings.  Do your homework before adding this exercise to your arsenal.  Consult an RKC or someone who understands movement and biomechanics.  I know movement and posture very well, yet I’ve had a bugger of a time teaching people the swing.

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