March 24, 2012 posted by

Training For 9a

I haven’t found any inspiring vids in lately so this week’s Psyche is a training article from UK hardman James McHaffie. Known primarily as a trad climber, McHaffie made sport climbing headlines with an ascent of Big Bang, 9a, a route that had thwarted so many famous climbers that it held a mystical reputation as virtually impossible. What ultimately impressive about this ascent is that Big Bang was two full grades harder than anything McHaffie had climbed previously, which took a boatload of training and, per usual for sport climbing, some inspired dieting. The interview also benefits from the standard English droll wit.

From RCUK:

Climbing something at my limit and improving at it actually meant climbing less, as I’d need one and a half to two rest days before serious attempts and to be much more reflective about where/why I’d fallen.

I’ve got a proper sweet tooth which doesn’t matter too much when you’re ledge shuffling on E7s but I have had to have a break from them for steep hard sport climbs!

While McHaffie’s approach is only somewhat scientific what’s most interesting about this article is how much sense it make to the average climber. Yes, he did a lot of hard and focused training and lost weight but, unlike some of what you read/see about vision quests, he didn’t embark of some sort of Spartan adventure where it was touch and go as to whether he’d do the route or get so injured he’d never climb again. While those make great tales, not very many of us could mimic Rich Simpson’s training for Action Direct without suffering a serious injury. This plan could be followed by anyone who’s been climbing regularly, though—of course—you’ll need to substitute appropriate grades for own level.

1 Comment

  • In a training cycle, when would you advise incorporating this type of block into the overall scheme? Say a 2 week cycle was done – when would you see its gains in performance and how long would they last and need to be repeated?Im starting a few blocks of 3-4 week segments structured into 3 month cycles with a week break between them and am interested how I would fit this in to 'test'

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