Go from #CouchtoCrush to Save The South!

It’s the second day of spring, and I am feelin’ fresh. Yesterday involved a little core training and a trail running session with Heather from A Colorado Gal, and today I’ve already gotten in some climbing and foam rolling. I’ve been extra motivated in my Couch-to-Crush training lately – and for good reason.

Tally Rock Gym’s 5th annual
Save The South Bouldering Comp is on the 28th!Tallahassee Rock Gym Save The South

I had originally planned on finally competing (always the organizer, never the climber), but since I’m emceeing again, I’ve decided to just climb for fun – but the event has still been a great source of inspiration.

Whether you’re training for Save The South, or just want to finally send a project at your local crag, pick a goal to look forward to. It’ll help keep you motivated, and give you a reason to get up and get movin’ on those mornings when your bed feels particularly cozy.

In honor of my favorite climbing event of all-time, I’ve put together a Save The South training workout. The climbs at Tally Rock Gym really engage your upper body and core, so this circuit focuses on arms and abs. Start your session with 20 minutes of cardio (or 30 minutes of bouldering), then launch into the workout below. Top your day off with some foam rolling and 15 minutes with your rice bucket – and bam, you’re one step closer to crushing.

The Save The South #CouchtoCrush Climbing Training Workout

If you want to kick things up a notch: do crunchy frogs instead of knee-ups, and grab a weighted ball to bounce during each Russian twist rep.

To celebrate the training season, the first #CouchtoCrush giveaway is dedicated to everyone gearing up for Save The South. I’ll be bringing a few prize packages down to the event, including this one:

#CouchtoCrush Giveaway

Wanna get your hands on a gorgeous handmade Kendal Jackson chalkbag, Nature Valley’s new Nut Crisp bars, ClimbOn salve and tape (you know, for all the outdoors crushing you’re about to do)? Share your training + climbing journey with the #CouchtoCrush hashtag! And, for the rest of the training series, anyone who tags #SaveTheSouth in their photos gets an extra entry to the giveaways. I’ll announce the winner of this package at the comp!

I’m so excited about Save The South next weekend. It’s an incredible fundraiser for the Southeastern Climbers Coalition, and the road trip down to Florida is going to be the perfect way to welcome spring. Big love to all the sponsors who are supporting Save The South – y’all rock:

Moja Gear, So iLL, The Crash PadKendal Jackson Bags,
Dirtbag ClimbersRock Candy HoldsMad Rock ClimbingGrassLands Brewing Company,
Teknik Handholds IncEvolvAlternative Baking Company, Momo’s PizzaSurepaw Dog Gear, and more!

PS: If you’re a southeastern climber, or just looking for an excuse to visit the greatest rock gym ever built, register for Save The South ASAP! You can stop by TRG in person, or pre-register on the phone, or sign up the morning of the event. I can’t wait to see everyone there for a weekend of Tallahassee Rock Gym southern lovin’. Pass me the corn nuggets!

Getting Started

Training is what you make it, and sometimes it’s intimidating to figure out where to get started. Yeah, of course we all want to be lifting our bodyweight from the first time we lift that barbell – but that’s just not going to happen. Beginnings tend to be humble. That’s totally okay. Facts only: On my first day in the weight room, I struggled through bicep curls with 7.5 lb dumbbells. One of the worst things you can do to yourself is to go too hard from the start. You’ve been living the couch potato life, you can’t expect your body to crush just yet. Take it easy, and find pride in the fact that you’re here doing it and pushing yourself closer to crush-mode.

#couchtocrush guide to getting started with climbing training

You have to get started somewhere, here’s how to do it right:

  • Always warm up. I like to start my sessions with 20-60 minutes of cardio or (easy) bouldering. A good warm up session will activate your body and help you prevent injury.
  • Remember to breathe. This is a big issue for me with climbing in general – I always concentrate so hard on what I’m doing that I forget to breathe. Focus on your breath and form while working out. Hop on a treadmill or elliptical, climb a few laps on auto-belay, take a jog around the block – whatever works for you.
  • Drink water – drink all the water! Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Your body is going to be working hard, so make sure you keep it well hydrated. You’ll perform better and feel better. Aim for a gallon a day (the health benefits are plentiful for those of us who are properly hydrated).
  • Mix things up. From triggering different parts of your body to just keeping things exciting, I’m a big advocate for switching things up during your training sessions. Create a schedule that combines lifting, climbing, core training, hangboards, cardio, yoga, and recovery exercises. Combine two on days when you’re feeling strong, and don’t be afraid to swap a lift day for some yoga if your body really isn’t feelin’ it.
  • Train with a partner. I’ve done many training/workout/climbing plans, and this is the first one I’ve ever actually committed to in the long run – largely because I have a great training partner. Our lady-time gym sessions have up to four of us at a time, and we text each other throughout the week about our upcoming sessions. Training partners provide excellent accountability and motivation.

When my training day includes some time in the weight room at the gym (which I do about 3 times a week), the workout goes as follows: First, drink water (and top off your water bottle). Begin with 10-20 minutes of cardio until you break a sweat. Drink more water and stretch out a bit. Then do three sets of three different exercises, 10-12 reps per exercise. Cool down with 10-15 minutes of light core exercises and active yoga.

Here’s a quick 9-exercise workout to get you started with weights:Arms and shoulders workout guide for the #couchtocrush climbing training.

Start sharing your training photos on Instagram + Twitter with the #couchtocrush hashtag – you could win gear like ClimbOn! skin salve, handcrafted Kendal Jackson Bags chalkbags, and more!

Note: I shouldn’t even have to be saying this – but I’m not a personal trainer, nor a nutritionist. I’m a climber who wants to climb better, and I’m sharing what works for me. Proceed at your own risk. Except for the drink more water thing, you shouldn’t have to question my authority on that one. 

The #CouchtoCrush Challenge

The idea of going from couch potato status to crush-mode began back in September when I got a ludicrous idea to sign myself up for a hefty birthday challenge after a six-month break from climbing. I trained and tried my hardest – but after my birthday, afternoon sessions at the climbing gym were quickly replaced with a new job and new obstacles (read: new excuses).

About a month ago, I found myself back in the gym. This time, I had a partner to keep me accountable, a steady work schedule to plan around, and a membership at a rock gym complete with a fitness area, yoga studio, cycling room, crossfit box, and the works. It’s been a transformative experience, and a lot of readers expressed interest in a post about what my training consists of – so I decided to turn it into a series of #couchtocrush guides.

#couchtocrush climbing training guide What’s in the #couchtocrush guide series?

Getting Started

Ricebuckets + Foam-rolling

Core Training

Climbing + Hangboards

Fitness-ing

Nutrition

Recovery + Injury

I’m certainly no expert, so I combined my experiences with resources from around the climbing community to help you educate yourself on how to create your ultimate #couchtocrush training plan. I’ve been pushing myself with the goal of getting back in shape in time for Tally Rock Gym’s annual Save The South bouldering competition – what’s your reason for going from #couchtocrush?

Be sure to share your training photos on Instagram + Twitter with the #couchtocrush hashtag – I’ll be selecting the best photos for a chance to win prizes like ClimbOn! skin salve, handcrafted Kendal Jackson Bags chalkbags, and more!

The main guides will roll out starting tomorrow, but since so many people asked about my workouts, here’s a bonus post about getting started with a few quick breakdown of one of my morning circuits with Heather. A few quick tips? Drink a lot of water. Start waking up earlier. Think about what you’re putting into your body (and how you can be healthier). Climb with intention at the rock gym. And do more yoga while you’re at it. 

The most important part of the plan? Commit. Get up and get yourself to the gym. Just do it. I schlep myself to Movement Denver at 7:00 AM on weekdays mornings – always sans make-up, sometimes with pillow lines on my face, usually still half-asleep. But I get there, and after a few minutes of grumbling, I’m always stoked to train. Let’s do this!

Update on my Triple Crown climbing training (and failures) – and a GIVEAWAY!

Exactly 13 days ago, I began my four-week training effort to prepare me for the Triple Crown Bouldering Series competition at Hound Ears in North Carolina on October 6th. My original inspiration came from the “Fit for Fall in 4 Weeks” training program published on DPMclimbing.com

But it didn’t work so well.

Yes, that’s right, I failed at adhering to the program’s daily regimen. I began the first few days doing exactly what the training schedule called for, which totally whooped my rear end, but quickly realized that this cookie-cutter plan wasn’t going to work for my personal goals. There is one glaring reason why I have decided to make some changes to my 30-day training program:

The schedule didn’t include daily climbing.

In fact, the ONE day at the end of the four weeks that called for a real climbing day insisted that I not “go all out” on any projects. Uh, that’s just not going to happen. There were three ‘light’ climbing days spread out over the last two weeks, but let’s get real – I need to climb, every day.

While I definitely think that the Fit for Fall in 4 Weeks program is a great training method, it’s simply not the one for me at this point in time. It would be an ideal thing to do if I was feeling a bit burnt out on climbing and wanted to switch up my fitness, but right now, I’m psyched on climbing, and can’t bear to pull myself away from my projects.

So I’m changing things up a bit.

I really liked a lot of aspects of the original plan, and I’m going to stick with the factors that worked for me, like drinking a gallon of water every day, cutting out junk/processed foods, incorporating frequent aerobic exercising into my week, and balancing those lighter aerobic days with intense workout days. But, my friends, there will be climbing.

 Here’s what I’ve been doing:

  • Morning hangboard sessions: I am fortunate enough to live with a group of dirtbag climber boys, so I have a little woodie climbing wall and hangboard set up on the front porch. Each morning, I begin my day with a series of hangs, and a little circuit of lock-offs and movements on the wall. With stretching before and after, of course. I’ll be doing this at least four days a week.
  • Aerobic exercise: To round out all the workouts and climbing days, I really enjoy the aerobics encouraged by the Fit for Fall in 4 Weeks program. Niko and I have started riding our bikes to the gym on Mondays for climbing club meetings, and we’re going to dabble in our first trail running experience this week.
  • Indo-boarding: If you have an indo-board, I would highly suggest integrating it into your training. My housemates watch TV every evening, and I discovered that an hour spent on the indoboard instead of the couch is a great way to sneak a little exercise into my nights. It’s great for practicing balance, and I really like doing squats on it. There’s a whole series of indo board exercises you can try.
  • Core workouts: Aside from finger and shoulder strength, one of the things I really wanted to focus my training on is improving my core. Two of my lady climber friends turned me onto the P90x Ab Ripper workout, and I absolutely LOVE it. I’ve been doing this 3 times per week, and plan to up that to 4 days/week. Between eating right and the ab workouts, I’ve already gotten a 4-pack back.
  • Climbing: One of my buddies once said, “The best way to train for climbing, is to climb.” – And I couldn’t agree more. I’ve been incorporating a mix of lighter climbing days when I’ve done a big workout with harder climbing days where I project routes. Mixing rope climbing with my bouldering is another area where I’ve seen myself getting stronger.
  • Rest Days: Folks, no matter how strong you are, what kind of training you’re doing, or how long you’ve been at it – you need to take rest days. I’ve taken two thus far, one of which I spent walking a few miles at a greenway for three hours. Listen to your body, always.

[Read more…]

30 Days to Triple Crown at Hound Ears – My 4-week Climbing Challenge

Last week, my adventure soul-sister Gina Bégin announced the beginning of her first 90-day challenge in a series of training hauls designed to prepare her for an epic race in Patagonia. Almost immediately, the outdoor community erupted with declarations of all sorts of personal challenges – and naturally, I hopped on board too.

With an upcoming full year of traveling to climb all over the country, I reckoned I ought to really start overhauling my training to elevate my climbing to the next level before the journey begins in late January. I knew I wanted to push my limits, but I didn’t have a solid direction.

This morning, in a perfectly timed twist of fate, everything came together – thanks to Dead Point Mag’s “Fit For Fall in 4 Weeks” article (and Aiguille Rock Climbing for posting it on their Pinterest boards).

I woke up a bit early today, and began my morning social media scouring, which quickly led me to the article. Maybe it was the coffee coursing through my body, or the general hype on the idea of finding a formal plan for my climbing, but the moment I read the article, I was fully committed.

Combining both fitness training and a not-so-strict (but still slightly demanding) diet, this four week climbing regimen targets four elements that can be effectively improved within a single month: “strength to weight ratio, hand and forearm muscular efficiency, and mobility.” Along with hangboard exercises, the plan calls for a lot of yoga, aerobics, rice bucket workouts, and fitness circuits.

Bring it on.

As I mapped out the 30 days of dedication and perseverance, I noticed that my 4-week plan is perfectly aligned with one of the best events of the season: the Triple Crown bouldering competition at Hound Ears in Boone, North Carolina.

Photo by Andrew Kornylak.

This legendary crag has access so limited that the only day of the year you can climb there is during the Triple Crown event. Niko and I had made it a goal to attend a few days ago, and now with the 4-week challenge ending the Thursday before the competition, it seemed like destiny. I’m registering us both today – it’s going to be my first outdoor climbing competition, so I’m both very nervous, and very stoked.

The best part? Two months ago, I got a mysterious fortune cookie. It read:

Remember three months from this date. Good things are in store for you.”

As luck would have it, that date happens to be October 6th – the first day of the Hound Ears competition. Coincidence? I think not.

So, today marks the first day of my climbing challenge. What’s in store for me this week? Well, first comes the dietary aspect. During the first week, all I have to remember to do is drink a gallon of water every day. For those of us who live by Nalgene, that means four full Nalgenes a day. Easy, right?

Here’s this week’s training schedule:

Day 1: Aerobic training, and the first hangboard workout, including a 9-minute rice bucket session. For the aerobic portion, I’ll be riding my bike to and from the rock gym.
Day 2: Full body workout circuit, including my not-so-favorite exercise, push-ups.
Day 3: Yoga and the second hangboard/rice bucket progression. My lovely friend Katie is a yoga instructor, and she offered to teach me a few things to get my personal yoga sessions tuned-in.
Day 4: Another total body workout circuit.
Day 5: Aerobics. I might (read: MIGHT) try running. It will probably be more of a speed-walking/jogging, but I’m going to try.
Day 6: A second day of yoga, and the third hangboard/rice bucket circuit.
Day 7: Another aerobic day.

Doesn’t seem too hard, right? One of the reasons I felt drawn to this particular training schedule is that it doesn’t seem so outrageous. Yes, it’s going to kick my ass – but it doesn’t seem undoable.

Stay tuned as I power through this first week, and prepare for the second week of this climbing challenge.

PS: I’m also cutting out soda. Perhaps the hardest challenge of all. Seriously, I’m dying already. There has been a small bottle of Sprite sitting in the fridge for a week, and I’m about to assault it.

Do you have a personal challenge you’d like to begin?
Put it out there, let me know, and let’s keep each other inspired to stick to our goals! 

How I broke through my biggest climbing plateau

One of the most frustrating things about advancing as a climber is the inevitable plateau one reaches between grades. As a novice, most hit their first big challenge when advancing beyond V3, and after that, you’ll pretty much find yourself struggling between every other grade – except perhaps the V5-V6 transition (I hope).

I sent my first V4 nearly two years ago; The Mane Event at Stone Fort in Tennessee. It was a big milestone for me, but I had no idea that it would take me so long to beat my next big challenge.

This weekend, I finally broke the plateau.

Over the past few weeks at Tally Rock Gym, I’ve noticed a significant advancement in my indoor sends – but nothing counts until you make it happen outside. I started sending my V5 bouldering projects at the gym, and was determined to solidify it with a big outdoor send during my final summer trip out to Tennessee and Georgia.

My first V5 send was Steam Roller, a burly little roof problem that comes over a lip to a sloped top-out. At first, I couldn’t get past the first moves where I had to lift my toosh off a pesky boulder beneath the climb to pull out over the lip – but a little crafty footwork helped me out with a high heel hook that kept me from smacking on the slab below. Personally, the biggest accomplishment on the send was sticking the finishing moves. Slopers are NOT my thing, and yet with Niko’s encouragement I conquered the holds and achieved my first outdoor V5.

The second big moment for me came when I sent Sunnie Rose on the second go. Admittedly, this route feels pretty damn soft for its grade – but considering that it wasn’t downgraded in the guidebook like The Wave (which used to be a V6 and is now a V5); I’ll take it. The route was suggested to me multiple times by both Tally Rock Gym climbers and the fellas at The Crash Pad hostel in Chattanooga – so I figured it was worth the attempt.

When you first take a gander at this boulder, it doesn’t look like a cake walk. The holds are unassuming from afar, but once you get on the sweet sandstone, everything falls into place. My send of Sunnie Rose was only successful because I was full of one of the most important factors in climbing: confidence.

So, how can you propel yourself to the
next level in climbing like I did?

[Read more…]