Climbing training holds
Systems training is regularly used amongst a variety of climbers, however, the proper method and benefits of this type of training are rarely understood.
Systems training is used to work a type of movement, particular grip or body part in isolation. It incorporates simple exercises that are easily replicated and allow an overload in the otherwise neglected areas.
The only rule of thumb whilst systems training is that you must be specific when planning your exercises, it is essential the ‘systems’ replicate the area in which you aim to benefit.
Systems training is usually split into 2 main sections, Grip training and Body training. This enables you to work very closely on your weaknesses and reap large rewards from your hard work.
Systems’ training is usually performed statically, holding positions or grips for around 5 seconds before releasing or moving into the next position.
Within each exercise, I prefer to train each position/ grip twice each side; this is four moves in total making one set. A successful session should contain between 5 and 8 sets, resting about 4 or 5 minutes between each set.
Systems training – Grips
There are three types of grip:
- Half crimped
- Open handed
It is usual for a climber to prefer a certain grip. However, if you want to progress in climbing it becomes impossible to neglect the weaker grip positions. The beauty of static systems training is that you can work on your weaker grip/s under control and in isolation, hence minimising the risk of injury and maximising the benefits. Because the exercises are very basic, it is possible to easily see increases in strength throughout your training period.
To complete this session, you will need at least 2 holds that are very similar and require use of the grip you want to train i.e. if you are working pockets, you will need to have 2 holds that can be held comfortably as pockets, the same goes for crimps and slopers.
The angle of your boulder wall is also of importance; if you are attempting to train finger strength, a wall set at 50 degrees will require a hold too large for effective gains in finger strength. I recommend a wall between 15 and 40 degrees overhanging. The Moon board as featured in these video clips is ideal.
Once you have identified the grip you want to train:
1. Place two appropriate holds about 50 cm apart on your boulder wall (if this is not possible, you can improvise by using two similar holds that are within reach).
2. Mark or add two small/ medium sized footholds (about 1 cm thick) underneath the handholds, so that you are able to stand on the foothold with a slight bend in both your knee, and elbow.
3. With your left hand on the grip and your right foot diagonally opposite on the foothold pull onto the wall and hold a static position, for between 5 and 8 seconds, concentrating on keeping good posture and keeping the grip position.
4. After 5 – 8 seconds, place your right hand on the opposite handhold and your left foot diagonally opposite on the left foot hold. Remove both your left hand and right foot and hold this position for 5 – 8 seconds.
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