Deliberate Practice

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Deliberate Practice

Post by pigsteak » Wed Aug 10, 2011 11:55 am

I put this in the sport forum since it is a given trad daddies don't train.

I have been reading all those recent books that attempt to debunk innate abilities as the keys to world class performance. They also debunk what most people consider "training" and call it nothing more than a mere exercise in wasting time.

For example, if you go to the gym and climb the same old routes, and do the same old routines, you will peak, plateau, and then lose your zest for getting better. The premise holds tru for climbing outside too...if you stay in the safety zone of your climbing (toproping, off slabs, only 11's, or whatever) then you are bound to a life of mediocrity in climbing performance.

SO the authors go on to assert that with "deliberate practice" we can dramatically improve our level of performance. I am assuming for climbers that means quite a few grades higher than where you are at now. My question is this. For those who truly understand and follow deliberate practice, are you seeing real gains? For those who wallow in continual staleness with climbing, why do you accept less than your best?

For example, I find myself always shooting to "get back in shape" and gauge that by how long it takes me to send a 12a. But rarely do I look further down the road and think about climbing 13a. And if I do indeed "think about it", I never do anything about it. I continue my same routine of running 30 minutes, basic stretching, and then go to the indoor gym without a plan. ON weekends when outside, I have no plan either, just jump on whatever hits me at the moment.

Would "deliberate" practice ruin the climbing experience for some of you, or is it an excuse to continually suck, and then play it down with a litany of excuses? You know the ones: I climb for fun, I climb for the friends, it's about getting outside, grades don't matter, etc....

Just curious where you stand.....
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Re: Deliberate Practice

Post by milspecmark » Wed Aug 10, 2011 12:14 pm

This is only my 3rd year of climbing, but I do alot of "deliberate practice" if you will. I try to climb outdoors at the red as many times as I can in the summer, while Running 30 min per day. In the winter I hang on my hangboard in several variations until I fail / fall 10 times. I do this 3 days per week in the winter.

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Re: Deliberate Practice

Post by climb2core » Wed Aug 10, 2011 12:42 pm

My 2 cents (As a former nationally competitive gymnast and now orthopedic physical therapist)

1.) To get seriously better, you have to make serious commitments to the sport. As a gymnast, I spent 5+ hours a day 5-6 days a week training. 1.5 hours of that were strength training, 1/2 of stretching, 3 hours of skills. I look at my "training" for climbing now and it is a joke by comparison. 2-3 days a week for 2-3 hours in the gym at best, and 4 days a month on the rock. So, I guess my first recommendation to deliberate training would to be to deliberately commit the time to train.

2.) So assuming you have upped the quantity... how do you improve the quality? I am a big believer in sport specific training. Identify your biggest weakness... what keeps you from sending? For me right now, it is lack of endurance. So, I try to work endurance and simulate the difficulty and type of climbing I do most.... steep, a few hard moves separated by good rests. My goal is to climb 13a so I believe that power will also become more of a problem when I pick a route to project. And then I will set up boulder problems that will help me train the moves I need to work to help me again. So the second thing I would say is know your weakness, and work on it specifically.

3.) You gotta know your body and your limits. A 40 year old chuffer can't train the same as an 18 year old crusher. Maybe you have to choose your routes more carefully and bias towards non tweaking enduro or sloper type stuff. Train with in the limits of your physiological envelope to heal and recover.

4.) Set your goals and give yourself the motivation to get it done. Tell your buddies your goal. Make it public. Find someone in a similar situation and push each other. Is your goal to send 13a? If so, how about this... My goal is to send a 13 this fall even though I only have a total of 2 12b's sends to my name. But I am willing to bet a case of beer and pizza that I will gitt'r done before you... ;)

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Re: Deliberate Practice

Post by One-Fall » Wed Aug 10, 2011 1:08 pm

Porkchop, dinner is on me.
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Re: Deliberate Practice

Post by pawilkes » Wed Aug 10, 2011 1:09 pm

When i moved to Lexington I decided that I needed to build a solid base of climbing skills before trying to progress to the next level. (At the risk of sounding like Redpoint, I got this idea largely from Eric Horst training books although I took it to an extreme). To develop my base, I decided to climb all the three star and up 5.11 sport routes in the gorge. I figured if I managed this, I would gain a huge movement library and the strength to move in to the low 12s without flailing up them. When it got too hot to climb near my limit and I realized that two star 11s were worth doing the goal devolved into climbing all the sport routes under 5.12 in the gorge which I came with in half a dozen from accomplishing at one point. I also started trying to loose weight. I wasn't fat but cycling had given me meaty legs so I started working out on an elliptical machine 30-45 minutes 4 days a week at a high cadence and low resistance to try thin down my legs (I can't run or else I would have done that, its more effective.) It worked a bit, I went from 185 to 175 and I think I was at my lowest when I sent my project. I also started eating differentially. I didn't diet as much as stop eating as much crap (ie soda, chips, candy). This helped a lot so get off the MD sauce Kipp!

Did it work? I didn't see any improvement in my hardest send for the first couple years because I didn't get on many harder routes but my volume of 11+ routes increased. At the start of my third year in the Red I started running out of 11's to do so, rather than commanding my partners to climb where I had stuff to do all the time (I certainly did it part of the time, thanks y'all) when I went to cliffs where I had done all the easier routes, I got on easier 12s and started knocking them off with surprising ease. My "training" method seemed to work although it was a very slow progression. Also noteworthy is that I never had any over climbing related injuries in this time. I never pushed my body to the breaking point.

Had I stayed in KY longer, I would probably be working my through most of the 12a's and 12b's still. However, as my time in KY grew to an end I decided I wanted to climb something harder before I left. I saw 13 as a golden grade, something that to strive for so I did. The opening of Bluegrass Boulders facilitated this goal and I actually developed a training schedule with days dedicated to endurance on the treadwall and days dedicated to power endurance doing 4x4s. I got stronger but I also got hurt because I over trained. It wasn't nearly as fun as just going in and doing problems. I found myself going into the gym because I "had" to.

C2C comment about telling people about it also comes into play here: if you tell people you're going to do it it makes you more accountable. I can't tell you how many people would come up to me at the Red and ask how many 11's I had left. They all though it was a crazy goal and I think they wanted to hear that I had given up on it and some wanted to hear I was progressing.

I limited myself to one project day a weekend because I knew I would burn myself and my partners out if I didn't. I trained hard for two and a half months before getting on my project and It took four days over the course of three weeks to send it. I was exhilarated after sending it but afterwards I had little motivation to climb. I had a lot of other stuff going on getting ready to move so that was probably part of it. When I got to SLC, I had a blast getting on routes because it was all new, all fun. I am not climbing as hard right now but I'm having a lot more fun than when I was training for the "big" one. Personally, I think the high volume of stuff at or near your limit before raising the roof was a more enjoyable approach to climbing, although it wasn't really training.
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Re: Deliberate Practice

Post by pigsteak » Wed Aug 10, 2011 1:13 pm

to be sure, the authors were very specific about what "deliberate training" was.....you nailed it with identifying weaknesses and then working soley on them until they become second nature.


I am merely curious how many take climbing as a "sport" versus a recreational outing. As the authors state, 99% of golfers will never get better because they only play occasionally. And going to the range and hitting a bucket of balls is not practice in their definition. It is a waste of time because it does not hone in on any specific weakness.
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Re: Deliberate Practice

Post by climb2core » Wed Aug 10, 2011 1:20 pm

pigsteak wrote: I am merely curious how many take climbing as a "sport" versus a recreational outing. As the authors state, 99% of golfers will never get better because they only play occasionally. And going to the range and hitting a bucket of balls is not practice in their definition. It is a waste of time because it does not hone in on any specific weakness.
99% of us are recreational climbers no matter what we think. I am convinced you can be a 5.13 recreational climber. Or else I will never send one, LOL. :)

Oh, and I find it hard to believe that you are just merely "curious" about how people view their rock climbing if you are reading books on deliberate training... It is ok to dream Piggy. Shoot for the moon, if you miss you still end up in the stars :)
Last edited by climb2core on Wed Aug 10, 2011 2:27 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Deliberate Practice

Post by pawilkes » Wed Aug 10, 2011 1:37 pm

when i decided that I wanted to train for my project, I trained my weaknesses with respect to the route. I got fit before I got on it and then once I got on it and realized that my endurance was my limiting factor, I focused on improving my endurance by doing 30 minute treadwall sessions and increasing the steepness every time i completed 30 minutes at a given angle.
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Re: Deliberate Practice

Post by caribe » Wed Aug 10, 2011 1:37 pm

pawilkes wrote:At the start of my third year in the Red I started running out of 11's to do so, rather than commanding my partners to climb where I had stuff to do all the time (I certainly did it part of the time, thanks y'all)
Worded too unceremoniously given that it gave me harrowing flashbacks of climbing with L'enfant terrible :D during his 11 proj.

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Re: Deliberate Practice

Post by sendit » Wed Aug 10, 2011 3:23 pm

Real deliberate practice is hard as shit and usually sucks when you are doing it, which is why the majority never do and only the truly dedicated can do it over an extended period of time. Does it equate to an increase in performance - of course! it's almost an absurd question. Those guys and gals that put in the work punishing themselves in the gym and out at the crag see gains most can never imagine. In order to do it however, it takes an almost maniacal dedication to climbing. There will be always be those few freaks who don't need to train as hard, but the vast majority of the top notch climbers train like animals, leaving the gym sweaty and hungry for more they want it that bad.
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Re: Deliberate Practice

Post by pawilkes » Wed Aug 10, 2011 3:28 pm

caribe wrote:
pawilkes wrote:At the start of my third year in the Red I started running out of 11's to do so, rather than commanding my partners to climb where I had stuff to do all the time (I certainly did it part of the time, thanks y'all)
Worded too unceremoniously given that it gave me harrowing flashbacks of climbing with L'enfant terrible :D during his 11 proj.
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Re: Deliberate Practice

Post by tbwilsonky » Wed Aug 10, 2011 3:45 pm

sendit wrote:does it equate to an increase in performance - of course! it's almost an absurd question.
almost? psh. yes. focused - well-informed - training works.
Last edited by tbwilsonky on Wed Aug 10, 2011 4:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Deliberate Practice

Post by climb2core » Wed Aug 10, 2011 4:00 pm

tbwilsonky wrote:
sendit wrote:does it equate to an increase in performance - of course! it's almost an absurd question.
almost? psh. yes, of course, focused - well-informed - training works.
Pigsteak already knows all the answers to the questions he is asking... he is just trying to evoke an emotional response. What a troll!! ;)

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Re: Deliberate Practice

Post by bcombs » Wed Aug 10, 2011 4:00 pm

climb2core wrote: Shoot for the moon, if you miss you still end up in the stars :)
Dude, seriously?

Pig, just follow Lee around and do what he does. Good to go. Or quit your day job and follow Hampton around. Either way you're golden.

Your post is interesting. I didn't know that others spent as much time in "getting in shape" mode as I did. While I enjoyed it, I was all over the place with the regimen. There were long stretches where I didn't even climb, just running, cross fit / weight lifting and trying to lose weight. Good luck with your goals this fall.

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Re: Deliberate Practice

Post by climb2core » Wed Aug 10, 2011 4:11 pm

bcombs wrote:
climb2core wrote: Shoot for the moon, if you miss you still end up in the stars :)
Dude, seriously?

Dude, not serious, seriously.

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