Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Strength and Power, what's the difference?

Strength and Power are two different abilities that muscles may have. It is easy to confuse the two terms but the most simplistic way to describe them is this;

  1. Strength - The ability for the muscle to stay contracted under a maximum load.
  2. Power - The ability to generate the contraction of strength.

In short, Strength is Static and Power is Dynamic.

If we look at climbing terms, there are many different types of strength involved in climbing:

  • Hand Strength - Strength required to hold on.
  • Arm/Back Strength - Strength required to bend your arms.
  • Core Body Strength - Strength required to keep your feet and hips in place.
  • Power - Ability to move quickly and in control. maintenance 
  • Opposing Muscle Strength - Non-climbing muscles that you must strengthen in order to keep joints and muscles balanced.

The strengths can be trained using isolation movements, focusing on a specific set of muscles, while power is best trained using compound movements, possibly numerous muscle groups with movements involving more than one joint.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Muscle Stretching (Author Unknown)

I was going through all my documents and research I have built up over the years and I found this as a word document, I can't remember where it came from and who wrote it... so I can't credit anyone, but it is a pretty good piece on Muscle Stretching and I thought it was worth sharing... 

When you work out or engage in sports you stretch your muscles and ligaments beyond normal daily limits. Extreme muscle stretching may damage the muscle or ligament. There are several good stretches to limber your muscles prior to working out. Controlled warm up and muscle stretching adds flexibility needed for the extended movements during sports. The flexibility you get from stretching will improve your climbing performance.

Advantages of Muscle Stretching: 
  1. Before Sports: Muscle stretching improves circulation and blood flow--gives muscles the added flexibility to move freely 
  2. During Sports: Muscle stretching improves coordination, balance, accuracy and makes your muscles less prone to injury 
  3. After Sports: Muscle stretching improves recovery time 


Stretching helps improve muscle imbalances. A muscle imbalance is caused when some muscles are more warmed up and ready for exertion than others. Daily activities do not require the same extension and range of movements your muscles get during sports. If your muscles are not stretched equally, they are said to be imbalanced. Muscle imbalance makes you less coordinated and can contribute to injury such as pulled or strained muscles.

Types of Muscle Stretching.

Two types of muscle stretching help prepare an athlete for best performance. The stretching that provides best results is "Static" and "Dynamic" muscle stretching.
  1. Static Muscle Stretching. This type of stretching is the way to increase flexibility. Hold the stretch with low force for a long time…this is static muscle stretching. It's important not to use too much pressure. Remain alert to your body's automatic stretch reflex. Keep the degree of stretch and force under the level of the stretch reflex point. Hold the low force against the pull of your muscle for a number of seconds. Count the seconds silently to your self. Repeat the stretch in sets for the same length of time and force. You can create passive muscle stretching by holding it with yoru other arm or leg, or have a partner apply pressure. 
  2. Dynamic Muscle Stretching. This type of stretching is done by gradually increasing the stretch distance and speed of movement with each successive repetition in a particular direction. Control the movement so the limit of the muscle gradually increases. Do not use quick movements for dynamic muscle stretching. Slow controlled side to side movement of legs or arms or torso is dynamic stretching. Perform dynamic stretching in sets of 5 to 10 repetitions. Continue to increase the range of motion until you reach the maximum without over stretching. Listen to your body.

Prepare for Muscle Stretching Routines.

Warm up. Before you start muscle stretching routines you need to warm up. Go to the warm up wall for some low intensity bouldering patterns. Do low intensity bouldering for about five minutes using big holds and big foot holds. Alternately you could jog, do jumping jacks, a few sit-ups and pushups. Prepare muscles for stretching by increasing blood flow. Your warm up should be just to the point when you just break a sweat. The goal of the warm up is to increase your heart rate for about five minutes. At this point you are ready for stretching your muscles.
Stretch Reflex. If you skip the warm up or try to stretch too aggressively, a nerve reflex called the "stretch reflex" takes place. Stretch reflex is an automatic response caused when nerve fibers are stretched. Stretch reflex causes your muscle to contract against the direction of muscle stretch. This could lead to mild pulled muscle or pain which reduces athletic performance. By being aware of the stretch reflex you can prevent it. Breathe deliberately during muscle helps you relax and control the stretch. Stay relaxed while you stretch, work up to flexibility gradually and stay in control of your muscles to help prevent the automatic stretch reflex.

Muscle Stretching Routines.
  1. Slow Torso Twists. Place hands on hips and twist left then right in sets. Use the dynamic stretching technique to stretch the torso muscles. Be careful not to twist suddenly and do not use swinging momentum to increase the range of twist on the muscle or you risk overstretching. Flexibility in the torso muscles will improve important movements used in climbing.
  2. Backbend. Put your palms of your hands flat on the floor and arch your back both directions. This stretches and ads flexibility for muscles in the lower back.
  3. Modified Hurdler's Stretch. Extend one leg behind you and the other in front. Lean forward and backward to gently stretch the quadriceps. This stretch limbers muscles needed to perform leg climbing moves such as extending to reach a foot hold or heel hook, or lifting your leg high for a foot hold.
  4. Thigh Stretch. Stretch your adductor inner thigh and abductor outer thigh muscles. Stretch the front and back of the thigh quadriceps muscles and back of the hamstring muscles. This will give you full range of motion for climbing moves such as drop-knee and getting close to the wall with legs spread.
  5. Toe Touches. Keep your knees straight and your back bent. Place your feet about a meter apart. Touch your right toes with both fingertips, then the left toes. Continue to extend using dynamic stretching. Gives you flexibility for climbing moves needed to extend the leg while the body position is bent. 
Do not:
  • Do not ignore your body. Do not stretch to the point of pain. 
  • Do not stretch a muscle beyond its natural range. 
  • Do not bounce when performing muscle stretching. 
  • Do not hold your breath. Continue to breathe deliberately while stretching 
  • Do not extend to the point of muscle stretch reflex. 

  • Do warm up your muscles for least five minutes prior to stretching. 
  • Do pay attention to your body, feel your muscle's natural limit. 
  • Do start stretching slowly and work into your full extension. 
  • Do be patient. Take your time and do it right. 
  • Do breathe deeply to your full lung capacity. 
  • Do concentrate on staying relaxed. 
  • Do stretch even when you are sore. 

Summary of Muscle Stretching.

Muscles and ligaments are not immediately ready for the extreme range of motion required in sports. Prepare for muscle stretching routines with a 5 minute warm up, enough to break a sweat. After warm up, perform muscle stretching routines until muscles are limber. Avoid muscle stretch reflex, which can cause damage to the muscle and hinder performance. The flexibility you get from muscle stretching will improve your performance in sports.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

April run to work...

With tales of snow in Scotland and rain in Yorkshire filtering down through Twitter I remembered last years very short lived summer and decided now was as good a time as any to get the running shoes out and do the cross country route to work.

So this morning whilst the Northern quarter of the UK was waking up to Rain and Snow I thoroughly enjoyed a 11.6 mile cross country run, with clear blue skies over Leicestershire…

The forecast for tomorrow is -1 and the clouds have well and truly rolled in so it has made the run in all the more worth while!!

Whistle Way in Leicestershire

Coming over the farm track Lubbesthorpe Bridal Road

Heading towards Leicester Forest East

Heading towards Leicester Forest East

Heading towards Leicester Forest East

Coming in towards the only stretch or road... 

Monday, 2 April 2012

Finger Board training

Training Anaerobic Endurance with "Pyramids"

Pyramid training simulates the way your forearm muscles might work in climbing a long boulder problem or medium-length sport route. In this way, it tends to train forearm endurance over pure strength. As shown in Figure 6.2, one run through the pyramid involves seven hangs on the same pair of holds.

The rest interval between each hang is just five seconds, so a complete cycle will take just under one-and-a-half minutes. Take a one-minute rest, before performing another pyramid cycle on a different set of holds. Your goal is seven to fifteen total sets.

As you progress through the sets, strive to hit all the primary grip positions including full- and half-crimp, all the two-finger pocket "teams," pinch grip, and open-hand slopers. It's good to vary the size of the holds used for a given set based on your level of fatigue, but be sure to stay "on schedule" in terms of the timing of your hangs and rest intervals.

Use the same pair of holds and follow each step precisely with just a five second rest between each step.

That is, hang: four seconds, rest: five seconds, hang: six seconds, rest: five seconds, hang: eight seconds, rest five seconds, and so on.

Training Contact Strength with "Repeaters"

Repeaters may be the single best fingerboard regimen as they will build contact strength (i.e. maximum grip strength). One set of repeaters involves a series of ten, maximum-intensity hangs on the same pair of holds. Each hang should last just three to ten seconds each, so you may need to wear a 10-pound weight belt (or use smaller holds) to make this a difficult task. Rest just a five-seconds between each of the ten hangs. The complete set of repeaters should take around two minutes and, of course, lead to a growing forearm pump.

Take a two-minute rest before launching into your next set of ten repeaters. Use a different pair of holds for each set of ten repeaters, beginning with your most "problem" or difficult grips, and then gradually progress to larger holds as you fatigue. It's also good to vary the grip positions trained to spread out the neuromuscular stimulus. For instance, you might begin with shallow two-finger pockets, then progress to small crimps, narrow pinches, small slopers, shallow three-finger pockets, medium crimps, deep two-finger pockets, medium slopers, medium crimps, and large slopers. Therefore, performing one set of repeaters (ten repetitions) for each of these ten grip positions would result in a total of 100 near-maximal contractions--a pretty good finger workout!

More ideas for Finger Strength Training can be found on Eric Hörst site here;