Academy Post 2

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Core Training Podcast

So this week I was in the process of creating a new training plan for myself (perks of the job). I often like to try out new and up & coming ideas, or old ones that I have recently found out about and liked. This lead to me evaluating my ‘areas for improvement’ and tackling my core strength and routine (or lack of it).

As a frequent listener to the Training Beta podcasts, I put forward a question to Neely Quinn, the owner and founder of the website (

My question was:

“As we know, pure strength building often requires low reps and high weight. My question is, why are the core muscles treated differently, especially when the use of the core in climbing is often dynamic and explosive for just a few seconds at a time, and not always medium to low intensity as many core workouts tend to be?”

Kris (a very successful and reputable trainer in the Denver/Boulder area of the States) replied with a great answer and one that leaves plenty of room for exploration and experimentation. However from this answer I got an idea. Implementing a periodised program just for the core muscles maybe appropriate? This would be as part of your weekly workouts, but could be separate from your other overall cycles, i.e. be in your power phase but add on a high rep core workout after your upper body power workouts.

The Example Plan:

  • Week 1-6 – Get the core strength to a good level by using a high rep methods.
  • Week 7-11 – Move that into a more medium reps, low weight exercises
  • Week 12-14 – Finally up to a couple of very high intense sessions (low rep, high weight),
  • Week 15-16 – Followed by a rest period.

This cycling may be inline with current best practice in training principles as a whole, as well as fits into what Kris said on the podcast. As with all workouts, new or old, listening to your body and avoiding injury at all costs is paramount. This should be a consideration all the way through any training, especially at the high weight phases. Good form and appropriate rests between sets and workouts is most definitely advised! Getting a coach, knowledgeable friend or even a mirror should help keep good form and therefore aid in injury avoidance.

I hope this post may provide room for thought and maybe even a stronger core for you! I know I am going to embark on trying it and if it works, WA HEY! I’ll report my findings in due course.

The podcast in question can be found here.

Mindfulness for Climbing

Being in the moment is just one of those feelings that climbing can facilitate. Its just you and the climb, the fight to the top and if you have it in you that go to get there. It would be nice to find this more consistently and reach this advantageous and desirable state of mindfulness, wouldn’t it?

But hold on, maybe you can? mental techniques are there to be practiced which allow you to better prepare and deal with those battles more effectively.

An article from Crux Crush by psychiatric clinical nurse specialist Anna Enright, discusses mindfulness and how it can be used to benefit your climbing. Anna has experience working directly with youth teams in climbing settings directly aimed at increasing their competition performance.

“Training focus and awareness is key. Climbing is inherently a mindful activity. Focusing on the route and visualizing moving to the finish is an exercise most climbers engage in. Unfortunately, once on the climb, especially if it is challenging, we lose focus and forget to scan ahead, breathe and allow our body to direct us… If mindful, one can observe this is happening and using the breath, the eyes, and the feel of the holds can help shift the focus back to the present and climb.”

Anna Enright

Mental techniques included:

  • Focus on breath, sounds & body awareness
  • Visualizing peak performance
  • Writing a competition scripts

The tactics outlined are further explained in the articles on the CruxCrush website. These techniques can be used in all forms of your climbing. So if you solely climb indoors, want to gain that extra percent for outdoor projects or enter local/national comps, give this a well written article a read and try them out!

Click Here: Mindfulness in Climbing – Crux Crush

5 Top Tips for Solid Heel Hooking Skills

There are a mountain of different techniques that will benefit your climbing. The more relevant technique you can implement when climbing the easier you can make it on your muscles and connective tissues.

This post is a focus on uses footwork and the techniques you can use to help provide you with not only a base of support, but also aiding your points of suspension. Heel hooks can help in all kind of ways and there is no one way which is best for every type of heel hook. Playing around with the placements, positions and body positions coming into the move are all important elements for a heel hook to be successful!

  • Placement – Where to place is as important as whether to place it at all. If possible try and find divots, dishes, bumps, edges or some sort of feature that will help with keeping good contact!
  • Position – This will vary depending on the move and direction you want to go. However, to engage as many muscles (and therefore as much strength and power) as possible, try to open the hips, tilt the knee out and using the outside of the heel. Sometimes using the bottom of the heel helps to though, so don’t expect a one way only method for heel hook positioning. Experiment!
  • Third Arm – Once you’ve placed and positioned your heel and body, pull in with it like a third (or 4th?) arm. Using those major leg muscles to pull you into the wall and make progress.
  • Release – You’ve done the move, but it’s not quite over yet. Make sure on release of the heel that your in balance and have a good grasp of that next hold or position. Release the heel slowly, move weight back over your other limbs to ensure as little energy is spent as possible. This heel hook release can have a big effect on the body tension created, so be controlled!
  • Confidence – Lastly, have confidence in the heel hook. The more you trust it the better it/you will perform! If it does pop off, address one or all of the previous tips to try and enhance it. Just because it popped off once, does not mean it’s the wrong choice of move.

There are many different types and ways of using heel hooks (layaway, mantles, resting, hugging and heel caming to name but a few). This skill is a very useful one to have in your repitoure and one I use extensively! Have fun and make up as many different climbs as possible to practice, practice, practice!