H.I.T. me please: Training for strength and endurance (and frat boys)

A few years ago I was at my most favorite bouldering location of all time: Joe’s Valley in Utah.  Naise and I had found this amazing problem that climbed out of a completely flat roof in a cave.  It was powerful and delicate and balancy all at the same time.  I worked on it for about half an hour or so, but just couldn’t get all the moves to go.  

That’s about when frat-boy showed up.  He didn’t have an athletic curve in his body.  Probably a good 50 pounds heavier than me, he walks up to MY problem and asks if I mind if he gives it a try.   Me, being the kind, cordial person you all know me to be, said “sure”.  (OK, I may have smirked just a bit as well . . . you know, that kind of smirk that says: ‘You’re about to get your a** handed to you son.’)

Ya, you guessed it: He on-sighted it!  

Needless to say, my ego came down a few notches.   I realized two things at that moment: 1. My technique could use some serious improvement and 2. I’m not as strong as I thought I was. (I guess I also learned to keep my smirks to myself).

So in my next few blogs we are going to look at a tool that can help you (and me) with both:  The System’s Wall at Bliss.

This week’s focus will be on the H.I.T. (Hypergravity Isolation Training) Strips.  These bad boys were developed by training guru Eric Hörst, and as the name implies, the idea is to isolate specific grips and train with hyper-gravity (while the coolest way to do this is to just turn up the gravity a bit on the planet earth gravity app, most of us mortals simply add a weight vest to stimulate the effect).

The idea is pretty simple.  Pick a grip to work (you can use an open crimp on the outside edges, an open hand/jug in the middle, two-finger pockets on either side of the jug, or pinch grips on the outside.).  Next start seated on floor with both hands on lower strip or pinch (Feet are open, meaning any foot you can find is fair game.)  Then, using standard climbing specific movement, move first one hand to the same grip on the second strip followed by the other hand to the third strip. Keep moving until both hands are on top strip the then climb down in the same way.  Once back to the bottom strip you go up again and continue to failure (until you can no longer hold on).

Now, the trick is to add weight with either a weight vest or belt so that you cannot do more than 24 moves without falling (each time you move a hand, count one move). Keep a log book so that you can see the progress you are making and generally start a session with whichever grip is hardest for you.  Do two or three sets of each grip before moving on to a new grip and take a 3 minute break between sets. 

Another use of the H.I.T. strips is to use them for endurance training. One of my favorites for this is using the Tabata protocol.   Developed by Japanese physician, Dr Izumi Tabata, it involves 20 seconds of 110% effort workout followed by 10 second rests and repeating eight times for a total of 4 minutes.  Sounds easy enough, right?  Trust me, it can be the longest 4 minutes of your life!  But here’s the cool thing: When Dr Tabata did his research he found that individuals participating in this four minute workout five days per week for six weeks had equal or even better gains in aerobic and anaerobic conditioning compared to control test subjects that did one hour of moderate intense exercise five days a week for the same six weeks!  In fact, anaerobic conditioning improved 28%.  Exactly what you would want if you were a route climber who keeps pumping out three quarters of the way up your route.

The idea is the same as the H.I.T. workout, except you don’t wear a weight vest.  Have a friend hold a stop watch; or better yet, down load a timer app (like ‘seconds’).  Now, climb up and down H.I.T. strips as fast as you possibly can for 20 seconds, drop off for 10 seconds, and then repeat again for a total of eight intervals.  

Finally, an added benefit of anaerobic training is that once you finish, your body keeps burning calories for hours;which may just burn off that last little bit of muffin top that you’ve been toten’ up all those climbs😁.

I’m thinking frat-boy could use some of this. 

Until next time . . .

Climb hard and Follow Your Bliss,


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