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January 6, 2014 posted by

Prep Block: Don’t Get Injured!

Prep Block: Don’t Get Injured!

By request, I’m going to record both before and after stats for each of my year’s 14 training blocks. These blocks are not all going to be traditional (or how would we learn?). The most obvious example being the performance or peak blocks that will be (hopefully) road trips focused on nothing but climbing as hard or as much as possible. With that in mind, block one is a prep block.

I’d better backtrack a sec, since some of you may not be familiar with peridodizational training. This week I’ll post some stuff on the basics of this, as well as how you can apply it to whatever you’re doing, along with links to old articles for those of you who want to dig. Today, since the training block is already in progress, let’s just focus on what’s going on now.

I once wrote about a prep block and called it “training to train”. While this seems weird to someone who’s primary aim with exercise is to get into shape, and athlete has different needs. Targeted training is often very specific and, thus, taxing on certain areas of the body. Knees for cyclists, feet for runners, fingers for climbers, elbows for tennis players, and so on. Training to train is getting your body ready for the rigors of specific training so that you can go hard without getting injured.

The foundation phase, which I’ll get to next block, is what generally covers overall body preparation to protect these areas. However, based on a lot of research I’ve changed my foundation phases to be more intense, so much so that I want to do an entire block getting my body ready for it. I’ll discuss the particulars of the more difficult foundation phase next month, but it’s based on the practices of a bunch of athletes who have changed the templates for there sport, as well as my friend Phil, a long-time partner in experimental diet and training regimens who’s seen amazing strength gains by greatly ramping up his foundation training. He’s been promising to post his logs at some point which will be very interesting for climbers. This new template is very exciting.

The reason I feel the need to prep for this is that I followed a massive physical output—my birthday challenge—with a prolonged period of rest (active rest) and I’m unsure where I’m at, physically. I can’t tell if I’m still broken down due to central nervous system overload, which always happens to a degree during mass efforts is hard to gauge. In some areas I’m restless and ready to get at it. In others I feel weak and awful. My skin is also soft, mainly due to the shift to daily snow, and it needs to be toughened up, so there’s plenty of things to focus on that aren’t physically dangerous.

With these unknowns, a strict program is a gamble. So I’ve begun training without a plan. I plan each day based upon how I feel from the previous. In general, I don’t push too hard, though I also don’t go easy. Climbing days are not a muerte (full on), but not so lazy that I don’t get pumped out and fail. Training is high-ish volume and fairly low intensity.  The goal is that after a few weeks I’ll have a base of fitness and be sure about how to advance it. This haphazardness greatly reduces the chance of overtraining and injury. It doesn’t increase fitness as quickly as a targeted program, but it’s far safer.

Don’t diet during a prep block. It’s vital that you eat enough to recover. You can eat clean, of course (it’s always better), but your goal should be to ensure plenty of nutrients to support your training. If you have weight to lose you very well might start losing it, but save those goals for another time.

I’m using A, B, and C workouts to design my training. Here is a three part series on what this is, which you’ll hear more about later as well. For this block—tentatively planned as three weeks—I try and do on A workout, one or two B workouts, one or two climbing days (light B days), and C workouts the other days. We’ll get to workout specifics later. For now, just know that A workouts take multiple days to recovery from. B workouts generally 48 hours, and C workouts can be done daily. Note the word “try”. During this block, everything is an idea. Whether it’s done or not is based totally on how I feel on a given day around the goal of not getting injured.

Specifics for this phase aren’t worth discussing because they are specific to me. You should do what feels right for you. Push your body, but not too hard. It should feel better over time, not more broken down. Your skin should toughen up. You should feel better at your given sport, but nowhere near top form. You’ll know if it’s going well because after a couple of weeks you should get restless, like you’re ready to get after things full bore. Until you do, you’re not ready for move on and should continue training to train.

pic: alex messenger

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