Climbing is easy. Training is hard.-Patxi Usobiaga
I’ve been training now for 10 weeks and looking at my stats, not much has changed. I weigh about the same. According to my scale my body fat is about the same. I currently feel tired, beat up, and yesterday I fell off a route that I do easily when I’m not training. Most importantly, since I began this program to rehab my back and it’s hurting as I type this, so you might think I’m a fool for doing all this work in the first place. If my back isn’t better, I’m not climbing better, and I can’t even oil myself up and pose anyone down then why, pray tell, am I bothering to train at all?
It’s a fair question and I have a very reasonable answer; it’s my job. I need to experiment if just to get a better idea about what works and doesn’t. That way when we film a program to sell we have a better understanding of why it works the way it does. Theory is great and all, but when it comes to training programs practicality is all that matters. We run our prospective programs through test groups and use those who succeed to market our products. But before we test a product on the masses we test it on me, and I use my experience to decide if it’s ready to test on a larger audience or if it needs to change.
But that isn’t the real answer. I trained like this when it wasn’t my job . It’s my passion, and has been so since I was a little kid. I like to see how training affects the body and I’m always looking for the next great secret. And even though some of my experimental training programs have worked and others have not it’s pretty safe to say that training as an overall lifestyle works pretty well. As I approach 50 I can look back and say that I’ve put my body through the wringer and it still works better than most. I’ve had a countless number of minor injuries but I’ve avoided major injury and never had a surgery. And while pushing my limits has resulted in overtraining, minor breakdown, mistiming a peak and countless other setbacks my body’s ability to perform, according to the Jack LaLanne age test , still pegs me at 29, the peak age for a human.
Countless hours are frittered away discussing training theory; what works, what doesn’t; is Insanity better than P90X?, Crossfit better than HIIT?, Mentzer’s “Heavy Duty” or Arnold’s “Encyclopedia”?, yadda, yadda, yadda…. You know what works? Exercise. Do enough of it and you’ll be fit. The rest is nitpicking.
But that’s not to discount the importance of training scientifically or even the merits of my modern version of the Workout From Hell. If you want to maximize your body’s ability to perform than you need to train it specifically. During the years I was climbing hard and training I improved systematically every year. Many of my friends, who didn’t train and only climbed, never improved. Their performance would vary slightly at times but, basically, they remained the same over the years. My performance would dip wildly throughout the year as I’d be training for a specific peak. The casual observer would see the non-training group climbing better most of the time. But during peak phases, the only thing that really matters to an athlete, my performance would improve more than theirs each year like clockwork. In a year or two it was hard to tell the difference but after 5 years of solid training my peak periods started to improve to the point where those guys didn’t want me getting near their projects. Training works, but you need to be regimented and patient.
Which brings me back to the WFH. I was fit to begin with, only injured, so I wasn’t looking for a lot of change in the mirror or on the scale. Intensity has increased as my workouts have become more movement oriented, causing new adaptation to occur and, hence, my feeling beat up. I strained a different muscle in my back but it’s minor and my actual injury seems fine. I was horrible climbing yesterday because I went straight after my workout to see how it would affect me. That it did means that my training is working. My upper body muscles are larger so my body fat scale is probably wrong (they are almost always wrong anyway). Power is always a challenge for me. I knew this final phase was going to create problems. But I’m both positive and psyched. I think it’s working. Sadly, I still can’t pose anyone down .
pics n’ vids: patxi, ‘my talent is being a masochist’ from the film progression and the posing master, ed corney.